This week Resident Association Councillor Graham Williamson writes for the Havering Daily.
There are many threats to our borough some of which are not unique to us. Knife and other crimes and the movement of gangs into Havering to name just a few of them.
However, Havering faces two particular challenges which may be damaging to our residents ‘quality of life’.
Firstly, since last year, the Council was faced with over the next four years a shortfall in funds of over £60m. We either cut our services or we increase income in some way. It is not an easy choice but clearly increasing car parking charges, closing (possibly) libraries or forcing car permit charges onto residents, is not popular nor fair.
Personally, as indeed the RA’s suggested but were ignored, cutting back on some of the Council bureaucracy and propaganda expenses is the way to go instead. Ultimately ceasing to provide some non-statutory services is better than providing a poor service across all of our Dept’s.
Secondly, the other serious threat to our borough is over-development. The Government and London Mayor are determined to force us to provide land to build up to 30,000 properties (mainly non-family apartments) over the next decade or so. This target is unrealistic. Less than half of Havering’s land is brownfield and, even if they cram properties into it, it will still not be enough. Inevitably our much beloved Greenbelt will be built on too!
Apart from our skylines being ruined, green spaces concreted over, our roads congested, and parking spaces reduced, it is also unsustainable. The services that residents rely upon i.e. doctors, dentists, schools, leisure facilities etc will come under intense pressure.
Presently, the Council has calculated that some £577m is required over the next four years to provide the necessary infrastructure that a growing population will need. Unfortunately, it is predicted that we will have only raised £200m i.e. only 35% of the total by then. Thus, most of these vital resources will not be delivered leaving our residents to share and compete with new residents what we already have (which is not nearly enough!).
I do fear for the future of our borough and without a vigorous defence of our suburban environment, sadly lacking at present, within 10 years Havering will become unrecognisable.