07:00PM, Thursday 24 December 2020
This shows we really can change things
‘Today is a good day’, Fiona Hewer told the December 17 cabinet meeting.
The Chair of Wild Maidenhead was right.
Cabinet went on to approve the council’s climate and environment strategy, and to endorse our proposed RBWM single use plastic strategy.
The list of people who deserve our thanks is long.
With regard to the plastic strategy in particular, thanks are due to Jessica Reid and Phil Norris who spent the first lockdown writing the document and tolerating my numerous editorial interventions; to Councillor Donna Stimson who successfully championed the strategy from submission through to endorsement with her usual enthusiasm; to the officers of the sustainability team who clearly saw the route to adoption at our very first meeting, and achieved it by exactly that route; and to the councillors from all parties who lobbied and supported our efforts, in particular to Councillor Andrew Johnson for his support throughout.
I’d also like to thank Fiona and the other stakeholders – particularly Mike Copland, Dave Scarbrough and Susy Shearer – who provided help whenever I asked for it, despite having their own campaigns, the public consultation, and life competing for their time.
Last, but nowhere near least, I’d like to thank the followers and supporters of Plastic Free Windsor, Plastic Free Maidenhead, Filling Good, and the other environmental groups in the borough, who successfully lobbied councillors to adopt the plastic strategy, in response to a communication plan implemented by our own superb volunteers.
If I’ve learnt one thing this year, it’s that if we, the community, can find our collective voice, we can make a difference.
We can change things and we can get things done.
If the council and the community can work together, there’s no limit.
I’m looking forward to next year, which will be even harder as we begin implementation of both strategies, and to achieving even more, together, as our collective voice gets louder.
Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy Christmas and New Year.
Plastic Free Windsor
It’s called a lay-by for a good reason
We all enjoy decorating the homes, trees and our shopping centres at Christmas time.
But I draw a line (no pun intended) when along come the men from highways and by-ways and proceed to place two yellow lines along the kerb edge... within a lay-by.
If this is the new color for Christmas 2020 it is NOT appreciated outside a retail car forecourt and garage service reception entrance.
Yes, last Monday lunchtime, up rolled some men who proceeded to place the offending lines within the lay-by on the front of Exlers garage in Switchback Road South in Furze Platt.
So now, no clients can stop to use the garage, no postman, no auto-parts van man and no Amazon van to supply any of the neighbouring houses or the businesses.
Who arranged the work and where was the consultation with the residents and what purpose are the lines for?
No one at the council is available for comment, was the reply I received on my enquiry at the council offices.
Just a waste of money.
Danger of reasonable views being ignored
I am writing regarding the outline planning application for an eight-storey block of 49 flats on the west side of York Stream, overlooking Fotherby Court.
Permissions have already been granted for two other eight-storey blocks of flats on adjoining land, all of which will oppressively overlook the Fotherby Court estate, removing privacy and sunlight to the mainly two-storey properties in Fotherby on the other side of the stream.
When the town centre redevelopment was being earnestly considered and discussed five years ago, assurances were given that where the redevelopment met the older parts of the town, the new buildings would have softer edges in height terms. Furthermore The Environment Agency’s policy and RBWM’s own adopted Waterwork Framework Policy sought an eight-metre buffer zone not to be built on from the water’s edge.
These assurances and policies have been ignored and brushed aside in respect of the previous permissions and within this application.
In respect of the already granted permissions the eminently reasonable views and needs of residents have been ignored.
Is that about to happen again?
Having green space has never felt so important
The stage 2 Hearings concerning the Borough Local Plan are now complete and the outcome rests with the Government appointed Inspector, Louise Phillips.
However, I wonder if the Government’s revisions to the controversial planning algorithm will affect the Borough Local Plan.
The Government’s revised plans will now prioritise building in urban areas most in need of development.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is not in this category.
The original proposals were heavily criticised by many Conservative backbenches including Theresa May, amid fears it would lead to a surge in house building in green belt constituencies.
The updated algorithm will focus on developing family houses in 20 of England’s largest cities and making the most of vacant buildings and underused land.
Considerable development is already taking place in Maidenhead town centre and this will increase significantly if the Borough Local Plan is approved in its entirety.
However, of greater concern are the proposals to build on large areas of greenbelt land and in particular Maidenhead Golf Course which is on the outskirts of the town centre. The pandemic has shown us all the importance of green space.
The petition, containing almost 4,000 signatures, proposing to turn the golf course into a great park would provide enormous health benefits and pleasure to the residents of Maidenhead and surrounding areas.
Much ‘rubbish’ is food waste and recycling
I am aware that there is at least one petition circulating to keep the black bin collection weekly.
We have of course started a consultation on all our proposed changes and every response is welcomed and will inform the final decision.
Can I try to explain to those residents who are concerned.
Whilst this proposal will save money the prime reason for doing it is to support our Climate Change Strategy.
Most longer-term residents will remember when we just had a single dustbin.
RBWM then added small boxes to recycle glass and cardboard.
We now have a large waste bin and a large recycling bin and a food waste bin.
In my own case we only put out the black bin every three or four weeks because we try to recycle everything.
We will supply extra food waste bins and blue bins to residents who require them.
It is our duty as individuals and as a borough and a country to recycle everything we can.
Food waste is used to generate methane and electricity and the residue is used as top dressing for farmers.
I really don’t understand why every household does not separate food waste. Collections of blue bins and food waste will remain weekly.
Cllr DAVID COPPINGER
Lead member for Planning, Environmental Services and Maidenhead
Heathrow leaders are pursuing a dead horse
Thank you for your article regarding last week’s Supreme Court ruling that the previous Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling’s decision to recommend a Heathrow third runway was not unlawful.
To those very reasonably opposed to a third runway this might seem a disastrous result, however it will likely in the long-term be very positive.
There are various compelling reasons why Heathrow should not proceed with its expansion plans, which bring another 50 per cent or an additional 700 flights per day over Windsor, Maidenhead, Slough and surrounding areas.
The Supreme Court ruling has spotlit these issues with many recent media articles.
Included are the ever-increasing calls and need for action on climate change, with our council and others declaring for Net Zero by 2050, the Government’s new plan just two weeks ago in the build up to its hosting of the COP26 UN Climate Change conference in November 2021 which has set a target for a 68 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2030, and its own ‘levelling-up’ promise and agenda for Midland and Northern regions.
The Government’s own Climate Change Committee (CCC) just two weeks ago outlined that polluting emissions from aviation must reduce by 80 per cent by 2035, instead of previously by 2050, and that expansion at Heathrow would require constraint and even closing one or more regional airports.
Continuing with Heathrow expansion goes against both the Government’s climate change objectives and ‘levelling-up’ agenda.
Heathrow says that it has a sustainable plan, however that is only for its own buildings, facilities and vehicles, and it conveniently omits the CO2 and noxious gases generated by existing aircraft and an extra 700 planes a day.
Like so many of Heathrow's promises, this is just hot air and won't enable us to achieve Net Zero aviation by 2050.
The CCC estimates that bio and sustainable synthetic fuels for aviation will only make up to 50 per cent by 2050.
The Court also confirmed that any Heathrow planning application would need to meet these current objectives, which for the above reasons will not be possible.
Heathrow's main objectives are its intense pursuit of dividends for foreign shareholders, amounting to £4bn over the last eight years.
Last year Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye took home £2.6m and its 49 directors earned an average of £400k each.
And they want the public to pay for the £550m (twice their £265m budget) that they've spent so far just producing and marketing their third runway plans.
We must urgently develop more responsible plans for national aviation and the climate.
Chris Grayling's Airports National Policy Statement, allowing Heathrow to submit its planning application, was only ever about Heathrow and was based on the 2008 Climate Change Act.
The Government should now replace that statement with a true ‘national’ policy, taking into account the aviation needs of the country as a whole, and within the framework of its new climate and levelling-up objectives.
And Heathrow should stop wasting huge amounts of public money and effort pursuing its dead cause.
COVID-19 has prompted a reassessment of priorities not to live by past standards. Let's use the opportunity to grow back better.
Tithe Barn Drive
Between Maidenhead and Windsor
EU issues: use a search engine for research
Once again Phil Jones of the federalist European Movement wants to go back over old ground.
As his letter (Viewpoint, December 17), headed ‘Ireland and UK not in Schengen Agreement’, mainly repeated parts of his letter of November 14, 2019, headed ‘Irish border differs from Schengen Area’, my reply would be much the same as I gave in my letter of November 21, 2019, headed ‘Why no movement on Liechtenstein proposal?’
And once again I suggest he puts ‘An Offer the EU and UK Cannot Refuse’ into Google, when he will find the August 2019 paper by Sir Jonathan Faull and Professors Joseph Weiler and Daniel Sarmiento – a proposal similar to the Liechtenstein proposal, but expertly elaborated.
Dr D R Cooper
Belmont Park Avenue
Freedom, power and personal responsibility
The dismissal of an Eton master for insisting on his right to free speech is just one worm that has escaped from the can.
Others include some alumni of Cambridge University objecting to the drawing up of a code of conduct on respecting others; bullying government ministers and senior government advisers being let off; the reluctance to have the Covid inoculation.
They are all connected by those in power not wanting to acknowledge that their actions asserting personal freedoms are not free, someone has to pay.
Be it women, those discriminated against, the bullied, respecters of experts and the law – we all suffer as a result as the social cohesion of society breaks down.
Compassion and democracy itself are diminished to a point where hate and mistrust prevail.
Individuals with power have the upper hand and those without have nowhere to go. Society needs to ask the question – do we want to pursue the Trumpian way?
I suspect not, in which case the powerful must defer to the rule of law and show respect and compassion to those not as powerful as themselves.
The hallmark of a civilised society.
Policy Officer, Windsor Labour Party
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