August is always a nerve-racking month for students given the release of A Level and GCSE exam results. It has been a particularly tough year for Havering students, teachers and parents with the disruption to learning from the pandemic. Everyone has worked hard to adapt to these difficult circumstances but getting the right grading and assessment system in place was always going to be a big challenge. Further to concerns expressed to me by students at Havering Sixth Form College about grading, certain subjects I arranged an urgent meeting with College Principal, Janet Smith. Janet confirmed that the College would actively consider all appeals and for some subjects undertake a wholesale review that will determine whether the right grade boundaries were applied. I hope that my meeting with Janet will lead to an outcome that reassures students of the integrity of their eventual grades and helps with their next stage of education or the first steps in their working lives.
Over the summer, I also hosted a meeting bringing together Cllr. O’Sullivan and representatives of Thames Water, Havering Council, Network Rail, and Transport for London (TfL) to discuss flooding along Abbs Cross Lane and parts of Harold Wood and Harold Hill. In that meeting, it was agreed that stakeholders would share their data, map overlays, and conduct a site visit together to understand the infrastructure and potential cause of flooding along Abbs Cross Lane. I will be updating affected residents directly and hope we can finally get to the nub of the issue.
I know that green spaces throughout Hornchurch and Upminster were a lifeline to residents during the pandemic. As the Government gears up to host the COP26 climate conference later this year, I met with our local Thames Chase Trust to discuss potential work we could do together to improve our local environment and invest even more in those precious green spaces. Thames Chase was designated one of ten community forests who received substantial funding from the Government in the Trees for Climate programme. Over 10,000 trees have already been planted and they have the substantial ambition of planting 30 hectares this year alone. I also asked what further support we could give in assisting the replacement of the condemned bridge connecting Harold Wood Park and Pages Wood.
Charities, faith and local community groups have been vital in supporting residents throughout the pandemic and I met with Philip Goldsmith of Harold Hill Salvation Army to learn about their experience and the support they provide to constituents. I know that beyond hosting events for its members and providing much needed social activities, the Salvation Army are a lifeline for many families and regularly provide fresh produce for those who need it. I also had the pleasure of attending the annual breakfast meeting of the Havering Association for People with Disabilities and learned about the tremendous work of a local singing group with those suffering from dementia.