Soda siphon cartridges found on several streets hail depressing new era of addiction

Wilson Chowdhry - Friday, April 20, 2018

Chairman of the East Ilford Betterment Partnership Wilson Chowdhry has been meeting with residents this week to seek their views on what needs they have for their local area.

During a visit to a resident of Westrow Gardens he was informed of a new legal-high craze that is affecting young people in Mayfield ward.

Their drug of choice is not marijuana or ecstasy, rather, their high comes in innocent-looking, silver soda siphon cartridges. Filled with nitrous oxide - also known as laughing gas - they are sold in the street and many local places including 'pound shops'. 

The gas is inhaled immediately and induces a brief but mind-tingling sensation - something users describe as an out-of-body experience. The nitrous oxide cartridges are also relatively cheap and though sold in batches, cost around 10p each.

Nitrous oxide, delivered in steel capsules, has for decades been widely used in the catering industry, for the production of whipped cream and within soda spritzers for carbonating drinks.
The craze for nitrous oxide, nicknamed "hippy crack", has grown to the extent that 470,000 people aged 16 to 59 have tried it in the past year in Britain alone, according to Home Office figures. That number includes 7.6 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds, compared with the 4.2 per cent who have tried cocaine and 3.9 per cent who have taken ecstasy.

The sight of burst balloons and spent nitrous oxide cartridges has become a nuisance in Mayfield ward and no doubt other Redbridge ward. The craze has been particularly virulent in East London and is being compared to the widespread glue sniffing addiction in the 1980s.

While Wilson Chowdhry was delivering newsletters to residents in Mayfield and Clementswood wards' he found silver canisters on several roads, including Westrow Gardens, Gordon Road, South Park Terrace and Capel Road.

Mr Chowdhry, said:
"It is alarming to see how many people are using these legal highs.

"Local residents have been collecting bags of these items and have raised complaints with the council and local police but little seems to have been done to stop this new craze.

"Recent evidence proves a link with death and serious health conditions, moreover it is known to be a craze that attracts younger users.

"The only way to tackle the problem is to provide stricter guidelines for purchase of the items, such as raising the age of consent for purchase. Sellers need to be made responsible for sales to older persons, ensuring they do not exhibit signs of 'gas abuse".

Investigation onto the craze has revealed serious health concerns. It has been blamed for 17 deaths in Britain between 2006 and 2012, according to coroners' court data, and the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 400 councils across England and Wales, has issued a health warning about the dangers of inhaling the gas.

The notice says regular intake of nitrous oxide can lead to oxygen deprivation, which can result in loss of blood pressure, fainting and even heart attacks. Prolonged exposure can cause anaemia, bone marrow suppression and poisoning of the central nervous system, says the LGA, adding that it is particularly concerned at internet clips posted on social networking sites showing children inhaling the gas.

Inhaling nitrous oxide using unsafe methods for extended periods of time can cause brain damage and death, stated a group called DrugScience: "These risks are unlikely with the common balloon method."

In a strikingly graphic description of the gas' physical effect, DrugScience says, "When someone inhales nitrous oxide, the gas rapidly dissolves into the bloodstream, and hits the brain within seconds. Effects vary between people and are rarely quite the same twice, but a rush of dizziness and euphoria is normal, and people often burst out laughing. Sound is oddly distorted, voices and music often turning into a throbbing roar like a helicopter.

"Hallucinations are possible, from simple moving bright dots to complete detailed dreamscapes, although most users do not experience complex hallucinations." The experience, it says, "ends swiftly with the peak lasting a few seconds and the user back to normal within two minutes".

Mr Chowdhry, has raised this issue with Mayfield and Clementswood Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams and Redbridge ASB Team, on behalf of local residents.

Regular Community festival is on the cards after positive negotiation with Redbridge Council

Wilson Chowdhry - Friday, April 06, 2018

Redbridge Museum Stall at our 2015 Ilford Mammoth Event

Concerned about the singularly commercial aspect of the regular markets in Ilford, Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the EIBP challenged for a new series of monthly events that will include a free bouncy castle and artworkshops at weekends and some free live performances, in our attempt to make the town centre a more lively and exciting place for visitors and residents.

Permission has thus far been granted for two consecutive events from:
23rd - 28th April 2018
21st - 28th May 2018

Further monthly dates have also been pencilled in and will hopefully be ratified in the coming weeks following the success of our initial events.

We are hosting an event for St George's day. The day will include live performances by performers giving up their time to engage with the community; creating an atmosphere of joy around a long lost traditional celebration, that will allow young people to learn about the story of St George and how it impacted on past generations.

These events will encourage the community to interact with each other, developing a stronger and more supportive society. There will be a variety of professional commercial stalls helping to raise money to fund these events that will enhance the local economy without being to onerous as we will restrict stalls to one of a kind and limit the number to 15 per day.

Besides commercial stalls we will also have a number of community and charity stalls, that will provide access to free services that enhance the quality of life for local people and increase the number of referrals to charities targeting those in need. This is the most important part of our event which we hope will expand as community groups and charities learn about our event and assess the value of reaching out in this fashion based on our expected success.

Whatever happens, the performances and stalls will liven up the town centre and fullfill people with a sense of community spirit. We hope in future years to establish one of the most vibrant boroughs in London which may bring us closer to eventually winning the title of Borough of Culture under the Mayor of London Programe.

If you are a commercial stall, Community group, Charity or performance group wishing to participate in our events for April and May, please get in contact by emailing or telephone Wilson Chowdhry on 02085140861.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the East Ilford Betterment Partnership, said:

"The disappointment that was felt by the failure to hold an Easter Parade in Ilford Town Centre this year was a reminder to me that our comunity has to challenge our Council authority, to ensure community is represented in all the decisions for our local area - especially local events.

"Financial obligations and political pressures mean that borough events focus on how much money they can raise, more so then how much benefit they bring to local people - a process that destroys our sense of society as avarice trumps love for one another.

"We hope our events bring back a sense of community, help restore pride in our local community and provide clear pathways for help for those that so desperately need it. London over the last two months has for the first time in recorded history overtaken New York for murder rates and Redbridge has contributed to this awful social malaise.
"Moreover links with ilford to the the London Bridge terrorist attack highlights the need to fight intolerance and unite our diverse communities.

"It may seem a bit far-fetched but EIBP believes that community cohesion events that promote commonly shared interests and cultural diversity on a platform of fun can break down the barriers that divide us. Happiness is infectious and we intend to spread this as widely as we can."

A party on the streets for our Ilford mammoth event.

Snowman brings cheer to freezing children

Wilson Chowdhry - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Chairman of the EIBP Wilson Chowdhry and his daughters were up from 6am to make a snowman to greet children as they travelled to SS Peters and Paul's school this morning.

Redbridge like most London Boroughs have a number of schools disrupted by the snow. If you want to keep updated on schools that are closed due to the weather as we enter the coldest part of the winter freeze brought about by the Siberian Beast then (click here)


Closures Wednesday 28 February 2018:

Seven Kings Primary School
Woodlands Primary School
Gresham Drive
Barley Lane
Chadwell Primary School
Roding Primary School
Ursuline Academy Ilford
Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School
Aldborough Primary School
Avanti Court Primary School
Grove Primary School
Glade Primary School
St Bede's
Hatton School and its two satellite classes are closed to staff and pupils today
Al-Noor Primary School
Chadwell Heath Academy
Loxford School Secondary and Primary
Clore Tikva School
Ilford County High School
Little Heath School
Aldersbrook Children's Centre
Cleveland Primary School - school will open to pupils at 9.30am Wednesday 28 February 2018

Parks and open spaces

No disruptions

Bins and Recycling collections

No disruptions

Council buildings

No disruptions


No disruptions


Police meeting finally confirmed for 9th April at 6.30pm

Wilson Chowdhry - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Today we received an email from the Clementswood/Mayfield Police Safer Neighbourhood Team confirming they are able to attend a crime meeting on 9th April 2018. It does mean there is still some delay and I can only apologise to you all for raising your hopes for a meeting sooner then the date provided.

Event:          Crime Meeting with Local Police
Time:            6.30pm
Date:            9th April 2018
Guests:        Danny O'Brien Anti-Knife UK

I have good news to share that 30 new officers are to be assigned to Redbridge to tackle the growing crime in our borough.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he will invest an additional £60million into the Metropolitan Police Service, which will generate 1,000 more officers across the capital. Read an Ilford Recorder update (click here)

Crime Meeting cancelled while we await availability of Police

Wilson Chowdhry - Thursday, February 08, 2018

The East Ilford Betterment Partnership crime meeting to be held on Friday 9th February has been cancelled while we await a date that is suitable for local police to attend.

In the meanwhile, I would like to advise you that Redbridge Council has agreed a budget of £1.5m to improve boroughwide security measures due to the huge increase in crime over the last two years.  Measures to be implemented include an expansion of CCTV provision and improved lighting.  You can read more in the Ilford Recorder (click here).

The securing of South Park and dredging of the pond within was simply part of an investigation into a missing man. The Yellow Advertiser wrote about this (click here)

Later the same day the main search moved to the grounds of St Mary's church including the cemetery - after artefacts belonging to the missing man were found there (click here)

Later that evening my friend Ryan and I who were watching the forensic team in the rear of the graveyard, by standing on the external stairwell of flats nearby were shocked when we saw the uncovering of the dead body.  We have some unclear footage of this.  The Ilford recorder the next morning confirmed the finding of the dead body and an arrest.  They explained that the body showed visible signs of  extensive violence to the head region of the corpse.  A murder investigation continues (click here).

We will keep you posted on any developments and the date for the proposed crime meeting.

South Park shrouded in mystery as police cordon off park for three days and dredge pond!

Wilson Chowdhry - Thursday, February 01, 2018

Concerned residents of Ilford have been contacting the East Ilford Betterment Partnership  to enquire into the mysterious closure of South Park for a three day police investigation, during which dozens  of police officers with nets and scuba drivers have been dredging the park pond, searching for clues for a crime the community know nothing about.

Already many have surmised that the intense investigation is part of a murder inquiry, but Police have not responded to communication from the EIBP who have inquired on behalf of local people who have become alarmed over the intense nature and length of the investigation.

All five gates to the park have been chained securely shut and have poster affixed to them that states: "The park will remain closed due to police incident, sorry for any inconvenience this may cause."

Chairman of the East Ilford Betterment Partnership, Wilson Chowdhry, said:

"My daughter and I usually run within the park confines every morning but it is not the inconvenience we are concerned about, it is the potential safety of users of the park and fears that a serial killer may even be in our midst, considering the length and depth of the investigation.

"I am bemused that concerned local residents are being told nothing about the situation and that by keeping us in the dark, community suspicion and fear is being allowed to fester.

"This is a very well used local park with Green flag status and of course such action will be felt by the community immediately and intrinsically.  It is imperative that local statutory authorities keep residents informed on their safety during such forced measures."

Hannah Chowdhry loks frightened by the police sign at the gates on South Park Road

Hannah Chowdhry, a  volunteer for East Ilford Betterment Partnership, said:

"I have always loved South Park it is a great place to meet friends and keep active.  This latest police action however has made me very apprehensive and now I would not go without my mum or dad being with me."

A crime meeting is being organised for next week and local residents are invited to join us.  We will be seeking the presence of police officers and wish to discuss the increase in burglaries, shootings and stabbing that have made life in Ilford one fraught with fear over the last 6 months.  We will also be inviting Danny O'Brien Chairman of Ant-knife UK and Mark Glazer of the National Neighbourhood Watch Association to join us and share ideas for how to keep ourselves safe during this difficult period where crime is palpably increasing.

Event:                 EIBP Local crime meeting
Date:                  Friday 9th February 2018
Time:                  19:00
Locataion:          Clementswood Comunity Centre, 14 Connaught Road, Ilfrod, Esex, IG1 1RN
Contact:             Wilson Chowdhry on 020 8514 0861 or email:

A police tape cordon surround the pond at South Park

A 24 hoir police presence protects the area of the park that is being investigated.

Red warning tape demarcates an investigation site boundary

The beams from a police car keep watch over the park at night.

Every gate is locked and contains a police closure notice.

The police notice explains that an investigation is taking place.

An evening static police presence ensures the crime scene is protected 24 hours a day

Clementswood Ward - Ilford Town Centre and Ilford Lane Operations

Wilson Chowdhry - Thursday, December 14, 2017


Clementswood Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team assisting at a High Road Baptist Church community event. 

Here is an update EIBP has obtained from the Local Safer Neighbourhoods Teams that illustrates the hard work they are putting in place to make our community safer for Residents.  In the new year we hope to organise a crime meeting at Clementswood Community Centre, to discuss the huge increase in violent crime we have seen locally over the last 6 months. Please look out for an email at the start of 2018:

Good Afternoon,

We are writing to you to provide an update on what work has been happening on Clementswood Ward and on surrounding wards in recent months.

An operation in Ilford Town Centre commenced in September 2017 by Ilford Town Centre Team in response to increasing reports of drug dealing and associated criminal activity.

  • The operation also focuses on vulnerable people caught up in this criminal activity
  • The operation has been run in partnership with London Borough of Redbridge Local Authority and British Transport Police
  • Outreach work and support is being provided jointly with Redbridge Social Services
  • There have been over 70 arrests and prosecutions since the operation commenced
  • 12 arrests have been for drug supply offences
  • 8 arrests for weapons - 5 knives, 2 baseball bats, 1 knuckle duster and 1 imitation firearm
  • A number of other arrests have been made for offences such as Robbery, Burglary, Drug Possession etc.
  • The operation will continue over the Christmas period up until the end of 2017
  • Any members of the public with information relating to the operation are asked to contact Ilford Town Centre Team on 0208 345 3464 or alternatively Crime-stoppers on 0800 555 111
  • Associated anti-social behaviour in the Ilford Lane area was also targeted.
  • The operation has been run in partnership with Barking & Dagenham police, London Borough of Redbridge Local Authority and outreach workers.
  • Since the operation began there have been 40 arrests and 37 cautions for prostitution.
  • In the locality of the operation (Loxford ward) during August 2017, the following crime reductions were achieved compared to August 2016: All crime = 21% reduction, Robbery = 33% reduction, Sexual offences = 50%, reduction, Violence against the person = 21% reduction.
  • A survey of local residents and business owners conducted at the start of the operation and repeated October 2017, indicates a substantial increase in police confidence in dealing with prostitution in Ilford Lane.


Redbridge's lack of counselling services leaves families shattered

Wilson Chowdhry - Thursday, December 07, 2017

The lack of solutions for women involved in domestic violence has triggered an Ilford based charity to initiate a free counselling service.

When a local Pakistani Christian woman from Ilford sought assistance from local police after alcohol induced violence became a regular pattern in her family home, she learned that her efforts to create a safe and stable environment for their children began a unfortunate domino effect that resulted in more anguish for their fragile family.

After experiencing escalated violence, which was not present during the early first years of their marriage, the woman felt she had no choice but to legally separate from her husband. As a result her stepdaughter was taken out of the home by family services and separated from her four other siblings. As if losing an additional family member under such trying circumstances was not enough, the housing department then sought to evict the family from their subsidized unit that now had one room too many. The elevated stress and emergency meetings consequentially made it impossible for the mother of five to continue her new job in the medical field.

The odds ostensibly seem stacked against this family and it is regrettable that adequate counselling and family intervention services were not available in the community to assist them at an earlier juncture. It seems even possible help such as assistance with relocation, that could be offered by the Bourough, only serve to divide the family further.

BPCA is taking measures to intervene to stop this snowballing series of lamentable actions happening to this family, and hopes to provide much needed counselling services at their community centre that will prevent them from happening to other vulnerable families in Redbridge.

On Sunday November 5th 2017 the years of abuse and violence finally had their toll and Mrs X [Real name protected] says she was forced to call the police after she was severely choked after intervening in a public argument that her husband was having with, two drivers who had crashed outside their home.

When police arrived at her home Mrs X decided she had enough and pressed for charges to be laid against her husband for criminal damage and domestic violence.

Mrs X told BPCA that this was not the first time that her husband had attacked or verbally abused her, nor was it the first time that she had had to call the police. However it was the first time she had been brave enough to press charges because previously for the benefit of the children and because she still loved her husband she had at the very last moment backed out of it.

But after fives years of a worsening situation that was fuelled by alcohol she felt that she could no longer take the abuse. Mrs X has complained that during her time with her husband she has been spat at several times, suffers daily swearing, undergoes regular taunting and ridicule some of it quite racist because she is in an interracial marriage and she has been grabbed around the neck violently many times before. All of the above has led her to becoming very depressed and she feels she now needs some time out to recover and feels her children need it too.

"Many times my husband would hurt me by grabbing me by my face and then forcing me to listen to his intimidating words. and would then say, sorry as he didn't mean to hurt me.

" My son has believed for a long time that that all our arguments are because of him - which is not true.

"Things got to a stage that I could no longer cope with, it all had to stop. {My husband] is angry with the world and he directs his anger into belittling us all the time as if we are nothing. So I have been forced to apply for separation as I felt there was no love left between us."

The separation had heartbreaking consequences and an eight year old daughter was wrenched from the family unit by social services as she was officially in the custody of her father. The daughter is his child through a previous marriage just as Mrs X's eldest son is her child through a previous marriage. During her initial meeting with BPCA Mrs X said:

"My husband has shattered our family. Brothers have lost a sister and a sister has lost the family home in which she grew up with her 4 brothers. She has lost a mother again because of choices made by adults."

That was not her only tragedy, the removal of the daughter now invalidated her council supported home. Mrs X was officially homeless. Her housing status was compounded by the fact that her tenancy agreement and the housing support being received was in the name of her husband.

Worse still the recent employment Mrs X had started three weeks earlier became impossible to continue. Mrs X could not arrange or afford childcare and had to lose her part-time employment as a medical nurse at a GP, losing a valuable £28 per hour contract and most importantly a job that she loved and valued, that totally justified her years of training to become a professional nurse.

Mrs X informed the housing department of her dire circumstances immediately by telephone but no response was received till a week later, after BPCA sent an email to all the senior officers in the housing department.

Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA, accompanied Mrs X to her first meeting with a Housing officer at Redbridge. The officer noted all the details of her personal circumstances and created a file for record purposes. He also arranged a date for her to return to the offices to apply for a new housing claim with Mrs X as the lead beneficiary. He confirmed that they could not help with counselling services despite Mrs X's exhibited panic levels.

Sadly for Mrs X someone in the housing department sent an email to her landlord and informed them that she was no longer entitled to housing support. The landlord reacted unlawfully and threatened to evict her with only 24 hours notice and even went as far as stating he would change the locks on the house after the imminent deadline.

In a fit of panic Mrs X asked BPCA for help and Mr Chowdhry advised her to re-contact Housing and ask them to rectify the issue. Full of tears and uncertain of her future Mrs X asked for a 'stay of execution' and prayed desperately that her landlord would not evict her over the weekend as he had indicated, while she asked him to stretch his deadline till after she met with an housing officer on the Monday. The whole situation exacerbated her already immense anxiety.

The housing benefit officer explained that they would correct the error and apologised for the undue pressure she had been put through. They completed an application for housing benefit for her and put Mr Chowdhry through to a senior officer who confirmed that due to the nature of her very complex case and the size of the family they would be registered as homeless, however he would ensure she was not moved to a bed and breakfast and would remain in their current five bed house until a four bed house became available. Once again they reiterated that they would not be help with any pathway to counselling services for Mrs X despite her by now obvious depression and anxiety.

At this point Mrs X was not willing to return to a relationship with her husband. She said:

"I know one thing. I am a million times better without my husband. I had one son before I met him and could have had a great life with just one son, after loving him and putting my trust in him, I find that I am homeless with 4 sons, I love all my sons but feel this life is so unfair for them.

Since then however, with the help of High Road Baptist Church and the BPCA she has been receiving regular support and some biblically based counselling. Pastor Andrew Wilis organised a meeting between the husband and Mrs X, hoping to see if their was any hope for salvaging the marriage of seven years.

It became very obvious that the husband was taking the action taken by Mrs X very seriously. Not only had he committed to attending anger management classes but was also subscribed to a rehabilitation programme to get him off his alcohol addiction.

However at this juncture Mrs X was not willing to listen to her husband as she had felt she had heard it all before. She continued to press charges and was hoping that her husband would be convicted in court on 12th November 2017.

However the husband was not convicted making it essential that Mrs X allow access to his children as no injunction had been granted. After a chance meeting with the Husband on the streets Mr Chowdhry asked if Mrs X would allow him to speak her. A meetings was agreed at her home and Mr Chowdhry his wife and another BPCA volunteer acted as chaperones. Mrs X, agreed with her husband that when he was not drinking he was a completely different person and still the man that she fell in love with many years ago. When he drank alcohol his personality would completely change. Mrs X told her husband that their was still a small slither of hope for their marriage - dependent on the husband being able to control or terminate his drinking. He explained that he has started attending both alcoholism rehabilitation and anger management sessions and was committed to regaining her trust,

The husband also informed Mrs X outright that he would not place any pressure on her, but would put in every effort to change his life around and prove he still loved her. Mrs X has made no solid committments at this stage but has agreed to allow him occasional access to the children and to end the period of separation if he sticks it out with his programmes and proves to her he had changed.

Nothing is set in stone and there is still some huge friction between the couple but the husband is now attending the sessions regularly and has been off alcohol for three weeks. Mrs X has even been on one session with him.

Mrs X, is not sure what the future holds for her, her husband is in the same situation, but they are in a better position now and are talking with one another which is a great start. Something that would have been far from possible had it not been for intervention by her church and the BPCA. At one point Mrs X was asking Redbridge Council to consider helping her move away far from London, that distance would have killed the relationship and created a real sense of betrayal in the mind of the husband, we have been told. His main fear would have been the loss of easy access to his children and the inability to communicate effectively with his wife. Mrs X was only days away from a move to Norfolk till that meeting with the husband in her home, potentially a game-changer.

Mrs X is totally disappointed with the lack of opportunity for professional counselling in the borough, she said:

"Life can be hard and I believe my husband's drinking has worsened because he has never received treatment for it. He drank casually when younger and then began to use it to cope with depression and boredom, resulting in an addiction.

"I called the police so many times when the drunkenness became violent but did not press charges, I wanted to preserve my marriage and wanted a strong family unit for my family. Despite all the reports I have never been offered counselling and even this time though Women's Refuge have said they will provide counselling - three weeks on I am still waiting.

"Most counselling services come at a cost but people in my situation have many mouths to feed and the cost is prohibitive. Something has to be done to make such services more accessible.

"If it was not for my church and the BPCA I would now be far from London and with little future left, I would not be able to work as I have to care for my young children. This would not be an ideal position.

"I still have not decided on my future but hope and pray my husband will change, I still love him and yearn for him to defeat alcoholism. The help and support I have received has made me realise that many marriages would stand a better chance if professional help was more readily available, I hope the London Borough of Redbridge takes notes of my concern as in the long run this would also save them lots of expense."

British Pakistani Christian Association, are hoping to initiate free counselling services at their community centre and will be applying for grants to support this. A volunteer has offered some hours counselling for Mrs X and BPCA are in the process of expanding their insurance to allow for this, after which the service will be provided free of charge. If you would like to support the free counselling sessions at our community centre then please (click here) so we can continue to help local people cope with grief, anxiety, stress and violence.  Our services will be provided to allcomers irrespective of their faith.

EIBP secures grant for British Science Week Workshops

Wilson Chowdhry - Thursday, December 07, 2017

East Ilford Betterment Partnership has secured a grant from the British Science Association that will enable us to hold some science workshops in March next year, for British science week.

The workshops will cover three age groups 4-7, 8-11 and 12 -15 year olds and the main theme will be the Ilford Mammoth and Geological Redbridge.

Our workshops will be held on the first three weekends of March and we are asking interested families to email us at their earliest convenience, as we expect as in previous years that all our sessions will be oversubscribed.  If you wish to apply email

As part of the sessions we will be taking children to see the replica Ilford Mammoth skull that EIBP has loaned to Redbridge Museum (click here)

Bring Baby Jesus Back to Redbridge

Wilson Chowdhry - Wednesday, December 06, 2017

After vandals destroyed the last Christmas Nativity scene figures in 2001, Redbridge Council decided to terminate the annual expression of the Christian faith, removing the captivating reminder of the birth of Jesus, which is the very reason for the celebration of Christmas. The Council have instead chosen to focus on Christmas Trees and Santa as local celebrations of Christmas become increasingly commercial.

However Churches of Redbridge have hit back and on a front page article in the Ilford Recorder this week (click here) demanded the return of the Nativity to the town hall steps, in order to preserve an ancient British custom and to revert to the true meaning of Christmas.

Moreover, In an on-line poll undertaken by the Ilford Recorder to which over 600 people responded - which is a very good number of responses for their surveys - over 83% of those polled were in favour of a return of the nativity scene.

Several local residents were quoted in the article, the majority of them seemed in favour:

"Herbert Street commented under our Facebook post: “Like most people in the UK I have no religion but the Nativity is as much a part of the Christmas tradition as Father Christmas and mince pies, so yes.

"Facebook user Caroline Cruse said: “Irrespective of the fact that some people don’t celebrate Christmas, a great many people do. It is a tradition that ought to continue as a symbolic representation of what Christmas means.” wrote the Ilford Recorder.

Some commentators were less favourable:
"Ben Waters joined the debate and added: “The last one in about 2001 was vandalised beyond repair, I think Christmas lights and decorations are suitable.”
"Tj Bhamra shared a similar viewpoint and said it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money as it is likely to be vandalised." Wrote the Ilford Recorder,

Redbridge Council said it has no plans to put one in but will assist any group that wants to.

“We celebrate all religious and cultural events, and the council would be happy to work with any group wanting to place a Nativity scene in the town centre to help them to identify a suitable location,” said council leader Jas Athwal

“This year we’ll be continuing to work with Ilford Business Improvement District (BID) to support the Christmas tree and outdoor lights in Ilford, as well as the festive decorations in our other town centres.”

The Ilford Recorder quoted Ben Colins of BID (referred to by Mr Athwal), who said:

“There are no plans to install a Nativity scene in the town centre this Christmas.
“There is a Santa’s Grotto in The Exchange from November 25 up to and including Christmas Eve, which is the most frequently requested attraction by the public.
“There is a Reindeer Trail to encourage families to shop their way around Ilford, a Christmas guide (printed and online) and much more which we will announce officially soon.”

Mr Ben Collins obviously missed the point of all the earlier discussion.

However rather surprisingly, Chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations Farouk Ismail said he was “all for” a Nativity scene in Ilford.

“It is good to have Christmas celebrated in the way Christians do and it will take it away from commercialism to what it is meant to be.”

His comments and many of the others illustrating quite clearly that it is not just Christians who would like to see the return of the nativity scene to Ilford.

Our initial discussions with Redbridge Facilities Management Department were stonewalled. In fact when our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry referred to the comments by the Leader of the Council who committed the council to 'work with any group' in reintroducing the nativity, he was met with a look of complete unbelief. However the management team agreed to look into the matter. Mr Chowdhry called daily and 8 days later demanded a meeting at the town hall steps telling council staff that he would not accept any further delay as any nativity purchased would need to be bought soon to be in time for Christmas. After some wrangling a location was agreed. Now we have to raise the funds!

British Pakistani Christian Association, based in East Ilford are now collecting funds for a professional Nativity scene, which will be bought with the purpose of being displayed at the steps of Ilford Town Hall each year.   East lford Betterment Partnership are supporting this project as we feel the nativity will benefit residents of Ilford. the majority of whom are in favour.

The Nativity set will be installed by a different primary school or church Sunday School, to remind children of the importance of the birth of Christ and help them understand the origins of the Christmas celebration.

The Nativity scene will counter the commercialism that has swamped British Christmas' and placed so many of us in debt when we should be rejoicing in the new hope that Christ brings to mankind.

An 11 piece Nativity set made from painted fibreglass will cost £800 and will include Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. Its robust and relatively vandal-proof, moreover the quality of the figurines is excellent.   It is evident from the article in the Ilford recorder that people of all faiths and none are in favour of a return of this ancient British custom.

To help us raise the funds to bring the nativity back to Ilford you can donate via our chuffed crowd fund campaign (click here) , or donate to  the BPCA via a more direct means with less charges by choosing from the options (here)