07:00PM, Friday 07 May 2021
Tories could lose seats along with town hall
The local Conservatives must have a short memory by putting the future of our much-loved town hall back on the agenda.
The last occasion was the local elections in 2003 when residents made their feelings known at the ballot box resulting in 14 Conservative councillors losing their seats, including the then leader Michael Lawrence, with the Liberal Democrats taking back control.
The town hall is Maidenhead’s ‘civic heart’ for many reasons which include the Desborough Suite hired by local amateur arts groups and a dignified outside meeting place for Remembrance Sunday and other civic events.
Ensure town has a proper civic focal point
Anyone who has ventured beyond the public areas of our town hall is aware that it has been functionally inadequate for years – and especially now since COVID.
Clearly the council has to consider the options for its future. Along with the Library opposite it has given us a well used and appreciated focal point as part of a distinctive civic quarter.
So we urge the Council to be open in its deliberations and engage fully with the community to ensure that whatever emerges is something of which we can all be proud.
Chair, Maidenhead Civic Society
Litter, traffic lights and people on a long lunch
I concur with your correspondent Mary Watt (Viewpoint, April 29) that Maidenhead is inundated with rubbish, and the disappearing litter bins are contributing to this excess.
The bin that used to be at the bottom of High Town Road, adjacent to the Frascati Way underpass, has disappeared, despite overflowing most of the time.
Is it a coincidence that these bins have disappeared when the council is employing new litter wardens from District Enforcement, that appear to be on a ‘commission’ basis?
The A404 is best tackled when the road, or its access roads, are closed for maintenance.
The traffic lights at junction 8/9 were out of action for a week some time ago following heavy rain and have not functioned correctly since.
The predominant traffic from the A404 takes precedence over that from A308 (M).
In an effort to avoid this junction this week to get to Wokingham, I took another route.
There were roadworks on the A308 by the M4 bridge adjacent to Upper Bray Road, another set of traffic lights on the Holyport Road bend near Moneyrow Green, and Ascot Road was subject to delay with traffic lights near the turn for Paley Street.
All these in addition to the almost permanent lights on the Ascot Road over the new motorway bridge.
Despite the M4 being closed on several weekends the RBWM has decided to allow two sets of roadworks along the A4 at the Oldfield Road junction and at Castle Hill, when additional traffic is likely from the motorway closure.
Is there anyone working in the Highways Department or are they out to lunch? (A long one at that too!)
Danger of careless scooter riders
While walking home under the railway bridge last Friday at about 5.30pm, I was narrowly missed by a youth in dark clothing hurtling along on an electric scooter.
The scooter made no sound at all, and after swerving around me it turned across the road in front of two cyclists, who shouted at him.
He then proceeded on the footpath up Shoppenhangers Road.
It is bad enough when cyclists zoom up on footpaths with no bells to warn pedestrians, but now there is the added danger from illegally ridden electric scooters travelling at speed which could cause serious injury to innocent people.
Critic should look at vaccination success
In response to your anonymous correspondent (Viewpoint, April 29) having a rant about Boris, I would like to make the following comments to him/ her.
The civil war in Downing Street as he/she puts it is in fact with the BBC holier-than-thou political reporters (one in particular, the BBC resident gloom-meister) and the general media, who are jumping up and down with glee with their ‘leaks’.
The truth of the matter is that none of them can accept the fact that the government have done so well with the vaccinations programme.
As a former Remainer, having reflected on the total shambles regarding the EU countries with their totally inefficient vaccination programmes I am now very grateful for Brexit and that we are now leading the way in the world with such a massive rollout.
If your correspondent had watched the press briefing from Downing Street on Tuesday, Mr Hancock announced the good news that the Government have now ordered a further 60 million doses for autumn boosters jabs.
Your correspondent also notes that the Government is lacking in actions.
Perhaps he/she is not aware that last year, Matt Hancock rejected the EU trying to bully us to join their vaccination ordering process, and thankfully decided we would go it alone by ordering many millions of vaccinations from several different pharmaceutical companies well before MHRA approval.
It was a huge gamble but paid off massively.
Had Mr Hancock not made these decisions we would now be in a very different place.
Can I also remind your Anon that in April 2020, Boris nearly died from Covid and took a while to recover whilst his cohorts in messrs Raab and Hancock took the reins.
The rollout and success of the massive vaccination programme is a combined effort of Kate Bingham, Nadhim Zahawi, the NHS, the army, pharmacies and all volunteers, all contributing their bit.
He/she asks the question: do we have the politicians we deserve?
Well an 80-seat majority at the 2019 General Election would indicate that the UK would say yes.
I shudder to think what the alternative would have been throughout the pandemic.
Not since the Second World War has a Government had such a difficult health and economic crisis to deal with, as we look to coming out the other side.
Legal challenge to revised Irish protocol
I am sorry if James Aidan (Viewpoint, April 29) or anyone else was ‘baffled’ by my last letter, and I shall certainly endeavour to write with greater clarity in the future.
Mr Aidan pointed out in his letter that some people seek the dissolution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
But I suggest that we should not expect to find too many of them in the ranks of the Tory party.
To quote our own Tory MP Theresa May speaking in July 2016, after the Queen had asked her to take over from David Cameron: “Not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party and that word unionist is very important to me.”
“It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
So I dare say that she, and many other local Tories, will be keen to support the forthcoming legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s revised Irish protocol, which it is alleged ‘breaches the Act of Union 1800, the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Belfast Agreement and indeed the Article 50 process’.
The first hearing will start in Belfast High Court on May 13, and the case will most likely end up in the UK Supreme Court.
Full details may easily be found by googling for the phrase ‘Defending the Union of the UK’, and committed unionists of all parties and all parts of the UK may wish to assist on the ‘David’ side of this ‘David and Goliath’ struggle.
Dr D R COOPER
Belmont Park Avenue
European Commission acts as a safeguard
Both the UK and Ireland being in the European Union and its predecessors has indeed been important to the integrity of the United Kingdom, in reply to James Aidan (April 29).
Both countries have been in the same customs union since 1973 and the same single market since 1992.
There has been cross-border regional development.
There have been special EU programmes for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region.
Guy Verhofstadt MEP mentioned the efforts that the EU has made in the European Parliament soon after the 2016 referendum.
John Major, Tony Blair, Gerry Adams and the USA’s George Mitchell have all been involved.
Verhofstadt said he went to Belfast thinking it would be like Berlin but was shocked to find there are still tensions (tinyurl.com/hapsdkq).
Northern Ireland has a special status protected by the Good Friday Agreement and now also by the NI Protocol.
The unique circumstances of NI was one of the three top issues named by the European Council for negotiation with the UK.
The others were citizens’ rights and financial settlement.
Does ‘every country have equal weight’ in the EU? Yes and no.
Yes in that treaty changes have to be unanimous.
Some things have to be decided unanimously.
Others require a qualified majority vote based on 55 per cent of countries representing 65 per cent of the total population.
There is also such a thing as a blocking minority.
The role of the European Commission is another safeguard, because its job is to find the common interest and to be independent – helping to avoid selfish national interests.
The EU’s court is also important because it gives governments, businesses and individuals a way to get redress if they feel they are not getting what they are supposed to under the treaties.
In the European Parliament, seats are weighted towards the smaller members.
For example, tiny Malta, with a population similar to the city of Bristol, has 6 MEPs in the European Parliament–- the same number as the 6 MEPs that represented the South West of England including Gibraltar.
Member, European Movement UK
Reasons stack up to protect the greenbelt
On Friday, April 23, coroner Phillip Barlow called for national air pollution limits to be reduced after air pollution led to the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi in South London.
Here in Maidenhead, EU air pollution levels are frequently breached in our town centre.
As well as hundreds of new flats being built in our town centre, there are plans to put thousands of new homes on Maidenhead golf course.
So, not only will we lose our green lung, where thousands of trees absorb some of the fine particulate matter in our atmosphere, we will also have many more cars on our already busy roads.
At the same time, in celebration of Earth Day, our council launched a four-week ‘climate change campaign’, with one week focusing on ‘protecting nature and the role the natural world plays in helping us fight climate change’.
Can anyone explain to me how destroying the 132 acres of green space providing habitat for many types of plants, animals and insects, squares with this objective?
We have experienced one of the driest Aprils on record and devastating fires have raged across the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.
There’s more and more evidence that our climate is changing fast.
We can expect more floods, storms, droughts and fires making food production more challenging.
For anyone with their eyes open, the reasons to protect greenspace in our community are stacking up.
Our council must take action now to protect the golf course greenbelt, for the sake of biodiversity and people, especially children.
Cllr GEOFF HILL
The Borough First, Oldfield
A student from Maidenhead who suspects she was spiked with a needle on a night out after waking up in hospital the next day has urged people to report similar incidents to the police.