Viewpoint: 'Political' claim about traffic lights angers readers

This week's Viewpoint features strong words from readers over claims there was a 'political element' to some complaints about the Oldfield Road/A4 roadworks in Maidenhead.

Adding insult to the injury of traffic hell

My blood is boiling and I am seeing red from reading your article headed ‘Playing politics over traffic light works?’ (Advertiser, June 17)

For Cllr Clark to refer to ‘political element to some complaints’ without naming the people he is accusing is defamatory to all of us who have written to him, the officers and The Advertiser about this issue.

The complaints are real, not imaginary and Cllr Clark wants to live in this area and see for himself – the chaos this decision is causing and the prospect that it will not be better when the permanent traffic lights are installed.

His apologies are ‘empty soundbites’ .

If Cllr Clark believes that traffic lights in preference to a roundabout are progress then he is living in ‘cloud cuckoo land’.

Everyone I have spoken to agrees that this is a crazy decision and they include passers by, workmen working on the project and the police.

Try accusing them of ‘playing politics’ and all you will get is abuse back.

We live with this nightmare and the people I refer to experience it daily.

What a waste of taxpayers’ money and the only benefit I can see is that it provides employment for those working on the project.

JON REEKIE

Oldacres

Maidenhead


Will desperation make motorists move away?

Well, it now seems that Cllr Clark, the man unfortunately in the frame for the ‘Great Oldfield Road Robbery’ feels a ‘political element’ has crept into some complaints regarding this pointless project.

I see that, apart from being Lead Member for Defending the Indefensible, he is also Lead member for Transport, Infrastructure and Digital Connectivity.

I must say that does all sound pretty exhausting.

This whole exercise would be bad enough if it weren’t for all the other interminable concurrent roadworks in Maidenhead.

But it gets worse.

From last week’s Advertiser I learnt that the project was ‘originally due to be completed by May 20’. Was it?

I now see it is ‘due to be completed by the first week of July with NIGHT TIME CLOSURE of the A4 for resurfacing’.

I take it that’s July 2021?

I wonder if they’ll manage to co-ordinate the closure of the A4 with that of the weekend closure of the M4? Could be interesting.

All this delay might be acceptable if at the end of it all there would be a bright new dawn for driving through Maidenhead.

But there won’t be.

From the same article, I learnt that six or seven years ago the same change was tried and abandoned because it caused even more delays.

That’s what traffic lights always do, they cause delays.

As I said in an email to Cllr Clark, please look at Marlow – a far more beautiful town than Maidenhead, that’s super busy, but with NO traffic lights.

Interestingly I have noticed that the tailbacks are not quite so bad as when the roadworks started.

Why is that?

Have some motorists decided in desperation to get therapy, move home or quit their jobs?

No, more likely it is because they are learning to navigate the back doubles through Ray Mill Road East and West, Ray Park Road and Cordwallis Road.

And having learned these routes, they will remember them.

Therefore, even when the works are finally completed, at busy times these side roads will probably be even more used as rat-runs than before.

Then The Mysterious Officers, the people I believe are really to blame for the ‘Great Oldfield Road Robbery’, will probably push to replace the mini roundabout at the junction of Ray Mill Road West and Cookham Road with, you guessed it… more traffic lights.

But apologies for getting a little bit political here.

MALCOLM JAMES STRETTEN

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


The councillor for wishful thinking

How interesting that Cllr Gerry Clark has hit out at the ’political element to some complaints’ regarding the Oldfield Road roundabout works.

He refers to Cllr Geoffrey Hill’s observation that previous traffic lights on the A4 were replaced because they impeded the traffic flow as ‘point scoring’, as he does Cllr Hill’s observations on the daily delays he experiences as a result of Cllr Clark’s folly.

Cllr Hill is actually making empirical observations, but it would seem that Cllr Clark cannot see beyond the prism of his narrow council cocoon, further that he himself is the one attempting (and failing) to score petty political points as a result of having no facts (other than some incorrect ones) to support his own woeful arguments and wishful thinking.

The vandalism Cllr Clark is inflicting on Maidenhead’s main thoroughfare, the evidence of which he appears incapable of comprehending, would seem to be less important to him than local party politics, so from his ivory tower he ignores the daily aggravation he continues to cause the borough’s residents.

I doubt whether Cllr Clark ever reviews his sabotage of the A4, but he should be made aware that the endless tailbacks are not the sole consequence of his obduracy inasmuch as the minor roads all around are clogged by locals avoiding his A4 roadblock.

I know this because I am one of them.

The only political card I can play will be available at the next local election, and although I accept that my teaspoon of dynamite might not make much difference, the by-election result in Chesham & Amersham this week shows what can happen to a political party that consistently takes its voters for granted.

I would urge Cllr Clark to consider this, wake up to reality and quickly reverse course, however politically humiliating this might prove in the short term.

DAVID HOWGRAVE-GRAHAM

Thames Crescent

Maidenhead


Proud of my teachers but sad for my town

I have always been proud to call Maidenhead my home; the town I grew up in, the town where my wonderful family live and the town of a gazillion memories from my youth.

But on my most recent visit in early June, I have serious questions as to whether the current council actually share that same sense of pride?

I was born at 14 St Marks Road, went to school at Alwyn, then Courthouse and then Newlands before heading to Uni at Loughborough

I did a paper-round at Tinkers for about four years, was a member of Maidenhead Tennis Club with my great friend Jackie and had Saturday jobs at the Tuck In, Freeman Hardy Willis and Mothercare.

I still have my Maidenhead Advertiser clippings from school and Brownie events and our school sport successes – of which frankly there were many.

The Newlands hockey team in the mid 80s were a force to be reckoned with and Miss Doyle and Miss Sandom, well, you rocked – and it was during this time that I made some lifelong friends.

And despite having lived abroad for the past 20 or so years on every regular visit home I just felt good about being back – and it always felt that there was so much to be proud of.

Until now.

Maidenhead – what on earth has happened?

You know that sad house on your road or a road near you where the garden has overgrown and it looks basically uncared for?

Well that is now how Maidenhead seems to me.

Let’s start with the centre of town–- I understand this past 18 months has been a terrible time for retail, but is it really OK to have a pile of rubble as the main feature of the town right now in addition to all the shops that have closed?

M&S and H&M seem to be among very few bright spots for the town centre at the moment.

When discussing with friends they talk to all the broken promises and muse on what Maidenhead town could be.

And outside of the town, have the gardeners gone on strike?

What the hell with the grass verges?

Get the lawn mowers out can’t you?

Take some pride and stop being that uncared for disheveled house.

Speaking to Maidenhead residents the common narrative is that there are financial issues explaining the above.

And financial gain does seem to be the justification for the plans for Maidenhead Golf Club.

Even for non-golfers, this great course provides a sense of pride for the town.

For golfers and members, the potential closure is heartbreaking.

On the council’s own website it describes Maidenhead Golf Club as ‘Established in 1896 Maidenhead Golf Club is a mature course set in lovely rolling parkland where you can glimpse deer in the early morning and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a round of golf in this picturesque part of Berkshire’.

I appreciate that it’s easier to knock down a house than to build one – and that managing the town's finances would be complex – but surely there are other potential solutions to your financial woes than closing the course.

Open up some greenbelt to developers, access some revenue that way, use the funds to regenerate the town centre, save the peace and tranquility – and the 125 year history of the Golf Club – oh and get those grass verges mown while you are at it. And let's regain pride in our town with such promise.

WENDY GOWER

Sydney

Australia


Buyer, or rather leaser, you’d better beware

We are told we need more housing, and it seems in Maidenhead that equates to multiple blocks of flats growing ever taller and more compact.

These are the properties our young people and our elders (purpose built for over 55s) aspire to.

May I offer a note of caution... buyers will rarely understand the concept of leasehold until it is too late!

It reflects the feudal practises of landlord and serf dating back centuries, and England and Wales are the only countries in the world that still ‘tenant’ homes in this manner, and I do mean ‘tenant’.

As a leaseholder you can never be the home owner.

The freeholder owns the property (read the small print).

A lease will be granted with a ground rent which may increase exponentially as years progress.

Unexpected service charges can add to the annual bill (some freeholders are renowned for their creativity when it comes to making profits!)

Default on payment and your home is forfeit.

It is not just the mortgage you need to budget for, but the demands of the freeholder who at present is unregulated in law.

Before purchasing a leasehold flat (house or park home) do your own due diligence, read and understand the lease before you sign it.

This is a legally binding contract that estate agents are not obliged to discuss with you and solicitors sometimes fail to fully explain.

Homes are emotional purchases and it is easy to neglect the potential for future issues and unforeseen expenses, but there is a will for social change based on the sheer numbers of people who regret being caught in the leasehold ‘trap’ nationally.

The National Leasehold Campaign (NLC) and The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership (LKP) are two organisations which can provide information on these issues.

They are working towards a system called ‘commonhold’ which will prevent landlords from continuing to exploit leaseholders.

Commonhold is the method of flat ownership favoured in Australia since the sixties, and forms the basis of the ‘condominiums’ of American origin.

Meanwhile every one of the hundreds of flats built in Maidenhead produces a significant increase in council tax for the RBWM, hence the demise of homes with gardens in the borough plans?

JENNY COTTLE

St Lukes Road

Maidenhead


Seeking connections to the Olympic Games

Maidenhead Heritage Centre is planning an exhibition about Maidenhead’s contributions to the Olympics and Paralympic Games and is asking Advertiser readers for their help in locating memorabilia of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In particular we hope to be able to display an Olympic torch that was carried through the streets of Maidenhead in the build up to the London Games.

The exhibition will open just before the Tokyo Olympics start.

It will not only highlight local Olympian and Paralympians but also the many local people who helped behind the scenes or as volunteers, starting with Lord Desborough who organised the 1908 London games almost single handed and in two years flat. Any reader who can help is asked to contact us as soon as possible on 01628 780555.

RICHARD POAD

Maidenhead Heritage Centre


Needing answers over summer concert plan

People of Maidenhead, you may have seen me walking two or three French bulldogs around Ockwells Park, North Town Moor, Cannot Court, Brick Kiln, or along the river from Cookham to the Bounty in Bourne End.

I may have stopped to have a chat, like I do, and asked what your thoughts were about having a summer night concert in the park – Ockwells – if not there, somewhere else.

Well to my surprise 99 per cent answered ‘what a wonderful idea’, also saying, after all we have been through, it’s just what’s needed, and wished me good luck and fingers crossed.

I also mentioned it might be a good idea to donate some of the money made at the concert, to the air ambulance.

That really went down well, with people saying it would be a wonderful thing to do.

Now, let’s go forward in time.

I asked if you would sign a petition for the concert, which you’ve done in your hundreds.

I also asked if you would put down your opinion about the concert, and again you’ve done me proud, signing in your hundreds.

Well, I never promised it would happen.

On June 7, I phoned the council and asked to speak to the person in charge of events.

So they put my through to a person – mentioning no names.

An appointment was made for June 9, 9.30am.

Well, at 8.30am on Wednesday, June 9 the phone rang but I was not at home, so my wife answered.

Guess what?

It was cancelled with a promise she would ring back to make another appointment the next day.

You’ve guessed it never happened, so I rang them three times, first to be told this person was not available.

So I rang her mobile, but this person didn’t answer, so I left a message.

Please call me back with a yes or no.

But nothing.

So here we are again, no correspondence.

You know, I despair at the way the authorities act.

Just one phone call to say yay or nay.

I really, really had some good ideas.

Who knows, if it was successful maybe it could happen again and again in the following years?

I’m sorry to those of you who signed the petition.

I feel I have let you all down.

By the way, I have been in touch with the air ambulance.

A very nice young lady named Nicola was very interested in taking part.

As promised I will phone her to let her know what’s happening.

Unlike a certain person down at the council, manners cost nothing.

Forgive me, but I thought that members of the council were there to help.

Maybe not.

Quite a few people I’ve spoken to said you’ll get nowhere, but we wish you good luck.

Let’s hope the council see sense and let it go ahead.

We will see, time is ticking.

RICHARD PICKERING

Brownfield Gardens

Maidenhead


Hypocrisy, journalism and democracy

I spotted the following Tweet this week from Boris Johnson: “Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job. The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour – they are the life blood of our democracy.”

I take it from this, that Julian Assange won’t be going to America any time soon.

Or will it be a case of democracy for those whose face fits and more hypocrisy from this government?

The Bias Broadcasting Corporation director general Tim Davie chimed in with: “The safety of journalist is fundamental to any democracy – they must be able to report unhindered free from abuse. There is absolutely no justification for any journalist to be treated in this way.”

It’s a pity the BBC hasn’t supported Julian Assange as much.

They have barely covered what has happened to him compared to other news channels.

I suspect if one of their own was in the same position they would be screaming from the roof of Broadcasting House.

KEITH CHAPMAN

Cornwall Close

Maidenhead


What went through the mind of Boris Johnson?

Five years since we voted to leave the EU, and the process is still not complete.

Not so much because for now we have retained most of the laws imposed by the EU – that will be sorted out over time – but because it has been agreed that part of our country, Northern Ireland, will remain subject to swathes of EU laws forever.

And apparently those staunch Brexiteers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit minister Lord Frost, believe they have some kind of ‘duty’ to accede to that constitutional outrage, with the latter telling MPs on the Northern Ireland committee: “We accepted... the duty to control movements of some goods within the country to help protect the Single Market.”

Surely their ‘duty’ to protect the integrity of our country should come a very long way before any ‘duty’ to protect the integrity of the EU Single Market, and in any case where do they suppose any such competing ‘duty’ has originated?

We heard this before, only in terms of ‘responsibility’ rather than ‘duty’, and to repeat a sentence from a letter published three years ago: “There is nothing in the treaties to say that a withdrawing member state is responsible for sorting out problems caused for other states, but our Prime Minister gratuitously accepted responsibility.”

(Viewpoint July 26, 2018 ‘Alternative solution to single market ideology’)

I do not know what was going through Boris Johnson’s mind when he agreed to this, probably at his Thornton Manor ‘private meeting’ with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in October 2019, but I do not see how it can be allowed to stand.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


Inspired by and helping wonderful young people

Can you imagine yourself having conversations about human rights, mental health, cryptocurrency, coding, gaming, and medical drama series all in one day?

And, what if I were to add that all those topics were discussed with 16 to 17-year-old future pilots, doctors, lawyers, human rights activists, dentists, accountants, scientists, family support workers and entrepreneurs?

This was what happened when, as a volunteer Enterprise Adviser, I supported Slough and Eton Church of England Business and Enterprise College with mock job interviews teenagers.

I think I took more from this day than the young people themselves!

All of them had incredible personal stories, and I was amazed by how much they had accomplished being so young.

One boy learned English in three months when he moved to this country.

Two had black belts in martial arts, another girl wrote poetry about human rights and supported younger students by mentoring them.

The main thing I learned from them was the importance of being passionate about something and acting towards it.

They were the ideal candidates we all wish to see in business.

Each knew a lot, could do a lot, but they just needed more practice and experience.

So here are three things we all can do as parents, employers, or volunteers to support the next generation:

1- Ask them questions about their interests and why they chose this path. What is their real passion and what

makes them happy? Asking open questions helps them to speak more and provoke thinking.

2 - Introduce role models; suggest books for them to read, watch Ted Talks or share your personal experiences. Not only of your success but also your failures, explaining that it is ok if we make mistakes sometimes, as long as we learn from them.

3 - Encourage them to think that it’s not just about grades, but also about building confidence and self-belief. We are moving to the world of multiple careers and there are so many options that we can try.

If you are looking for a purpose and feel stuck, just try this; become a volunteer Berkshire Enterprise Adviser and you will be inspired by these wonderful young people and their stories.

Or find a local organisation in your country supporting children, and who knows? Your story may inspire future scientists, doctors, or teachers.

Visit thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk/enterprise-adviser-network for more information.

EKATERINA KIM

Volunteer Enterprise Adviser

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