On Saturday 12 September a Covid-19 testing site opened in the car park at the Cherry Tree junction in South Hornchurch. Jon Cruddas MP was contacted by many local businesses and residents regarding the site, Jon's team visited on the day to speak directly with those concerned.
Residents and businesses explained that there was no consultation in the surrounding area, and it was set up at short public notice. Businesses allege that the site has had an immediate impact on footfall, and has taken up the only place available for car parking in the vicinity of local shops.
Jon Cruddas MP said: "I went straight to Havering Council echoing the concerns of my constituents, and I visited the site today to speak with local residents and businesses. By all accounts, this testing facility is in the wrong place. On Saturday there were reports of queueing cars backed up in all directions causing disruption to local businesses. I was particularly concerned about the short notice in which it was set up, I was only notified Friday evening."
Havering's Director of Public Health has responded to Jon Cruddas explaining that the council has no intention of moving the testing site to a different location; "Cherry Tree Lane meets the basic requirements, is in the right area and close to housing. A cancellation resulted in an opportunity to locate a centre there becoming available sooner than expected and given the situation we face, we agreed to proceed. Had we had time, we would have consulted with residents beforehand however the sudden increase in cases forced our hand."
The Director of Public Health also outlined that this site is for ‘walk-ins' and is intended for people who rely on public transport. It was also reiterated that the testing centres are by appointment only which can be arranged by calling NHS 119 or by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Jon Cruddas added: "I requested that the site be moved to Bretons where there is ample space for people travelling by foot, cycle, car or public transport. At this time, opening a testing site and expecting people not to travel by car is very naïve. Neighbouring boroughs are consulting and working with local people to ensure that these testing centres are properly sited."
Following the issues at the testing centre over the weekend Jon wants to hear from South Hornchurch residents about what they think. Should the testing centre be relocated? Did you receive any forewarning of its establishment? Are you concerned that people will be coming from outside the area to get tested? Email your view to firstname.lastname@example.org