Viewpoint: Maidenhead Golf Club members hit back at criticism

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Maidenhead Advertiser, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL61HX


We golf club members wanted to stay

Following Gavin Ames’ comments (Opinion, September 16), I am responding on behalf of Maidenhead Golf Club.

In 2014 at the first formal meeting between RBWM and MGC, help was promised in finding appropriate land for relocating MGC.

This was subsequently withdrawn.

Further meetings indicated that RBWM planned to take the land back and build houses.

In 2016 MGC concluded a surrender agreement.

It was made clear by RBWM that we had no future at our current site.

The surrender date would be May 31, 2023.

We now had seven years to identify a new home for MGC.

The agreement depended on the Borough Local Plan (BLP) being approved which has still not happened so we have been unable to progress our search for a new home.

RBWM eventually tabled the revised offer in August 2021 to push back the surrender date to December 31, 2025.

Many members were in favour of rescinding the original agreement and continuing for the duration of our lease to 2039.

RBWM left us in no doubt that if this occurred, they would immediately obtain a Compulsory Purchase Order to eject MGC as soon as possible.

Legal advice was that the outcome would be uncertain and expensive.

At the general meeting, members voted for the new offer.

We want to stay as long as possible in the current location but have been pushed all the way by RBWM.

We have been forced into our current position with the council intent on a process that can be very vindictive.

There is only one party that wants to build on the greenbelt and it is not us.

There is money at the heart of this but it’s RBWM who are desperate for a payout.

We are not an elitist club made up of rich people.

I suggest you do some forensic research around the mess that Maidenhead is in before your next piece on this subject.

PAUL LOUDEN

Chairman

Maidenhead Golf Club

Click here to read the Royal Borough's response to Paul's comments.


Forced to relinquish our town centre jewel

Regarding the opinion piece of September 16, the point you are missing is that the lease from the council expires in 2039, and it has declared that it will not renew.

If we do not accept this offer, the council will go for Compulsory Purchase much earlier. See previous editions of The Advertiser, and minutes of council meetings, stating this.

Every member to whom I have spoken would forgo the money to remain where we are.

Even though many of us will be past our better golfing days, the course remains a town centre jewel, crossed by public footpaths, with ancient woodlands, and is a wonderful home to wildlife.

I believe this should be retained.

We are a social centre for members, and raise thousands of pounds annually for charity.

We are celebrating 125 years of becoming a golf club now.

The council is vandalising this history, but is also turning Maidenhead into an increasingly unattractive place to live.

JENNIFER LOCKE

The Avenue

Maidenhead


Avoiding CPO could be a stay of execution

Dear Mr Ames,

You request a response to your article in the Advertiser this week as to why most Maidenhead Golf Club (MGC) members voted to accept the council offer to build houses on a superb piece of greenbelt which is effectively supplying the ‘lung’ of Maidenhead.

Clearly you are not aware of all the relevant facts, or you ignored them so you could purposely express depressing views, indeed as many journalists do, just to sell newspapers and ignore facts.

The vast majority of Maidenhead golfers wish to stay at this location permanently. However, the land is owned by the council and the council have been trying to remove us from this wonderful piece of land for nearly 10 years.

The options on the membership at the EGM last week dictated by the council were a) reject the latest council offer but with the warning the council will proceed to a Compulsory Purchase Order which could remove us from the land in perhaps two to three years or b) we accept the council offer and continue to use the golf course for a minimum of four years.

Some of the reasons for Maidenhead Golf Club being considered for conversion to housing, is the proximity to the railway station and town centre; and the council overspending these last few years, so they are now very short of money.

Building on MGC boosts the council’s revenue considerably at the same time ignoring the environmental impact and health of the overall community.

In addition, we are all conscious that working conditions, following this pandemic, have changed business and individual working practices considerably.

So, plans to build housing, set perhaps two to three years ago, will need to be re-evaluated once future working practices have been studied thoroughly.

Perhaps the amount of train passengers to/from London will reduce.

Perhaps the extensive building of flats in the town centre will become unnecessary. Therefore, part of the reason for the choice taken by the membership was a hope that circumstances will change in the years ahead when the council will realise its errors and we can extend our stay beyond four years or substantially longer.

Therefore, option a) with the threat of a Compulsory Purchase, meaning the closing of the golf club at the earliest opportunity was not an acceptable or sensible option, not only for the membership but the town of Maidenhead as well.

Accepting option b) holds the potential of changes in the years ahead and the monies offered enables us to look elsewhere, purchasing or cooperating with another venue, maintaining the legacy of Maidenhead GC which Lord Desborough initiated 125 years ago.

PETER O’HARA

Sheephouse Road

Maidenhead

Editor’s note: Just to clarify, the regular Opinion columns on the Viewpoint pages are written by volunteers from the community rather than staff members at the Advertiser.

The columns allow residents from across our towns and villages to focus on topics of their choosing on a regular basis and we are always looking for talented writers to join our rota. Email jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk if you are interested.


Disappointment at unfair criticism

I was both surprised and disappointed to read the article by Gavin Ames in this week’s Advertiser relating to Maidenhead Golf Club in which he criticises the members of the club for voting to accept the offer by the Council to purchase the remaining years of the club’s Leasehold interest in the land.

It reveals either a complete lack of knowledge on his part of the facts or a lack of any business acumen.

The fact is that the freehold owner of the golf course is the borough council, which purchased the land in 1952.

At that time the golf club had the opportunity to buy it but unfortunately did not do so. The members at that time obviously relied on the borough council to buy it on the assumption taken (perhaps not unreasonably at that time) that the club would remain as tenants so long as the club remained in existence.

Thus a lease was granted by the council to the club for a period of 50 years commencing from September 29, 1989.

This lease will come to an end in 18 years time and as the land is such a valuable asset to the borough as a whole it is clear the council will not wish to renew the lease at that time.

They naturally wish it be utilised in a manner for the benefit of the whole of the borough rather than for the main benefit of the members of one sports club.

Consequently it is obvious that the golf club have no option but to agree to sell their short term interest to the council by surrendering their lease now as it is the only way to enable the club to obtain the funds to acquire an alternative site.

In these circumstances, unless Mr Ames is able to suggest to the members of the golf club in what other way they can secure their long term future, I suggest that he issues an apology to the members of the Golf Club in your next edition.

CLIFF HILLMAN

Maidenhead Golf Club


Dinosaur-like focus on profit and business

Will our council listen this time?

Consultation on our borough Corporate Plan closed on Sunday, September 12.

Many people have been appalled by its lack of urgency and focus around the issue of environment and climate change.

The environment is barely mentioned, except to ‘promote awareness’.

If we are to have any chance of a sustainable future, our council must ensure every decision they make improves the quality of the environment we live in.

Simply focusing in business, development and profit is for the dinosaurs.

DEBBIE LUDFORD

Maidenhead


Feeling barred at the paths by Bray Lake

Today (Thursday, September 16) I attempted to cycle along the permissive path across the land at Bray Lake.

This is the first time I have attempted it on my own since the restricted gateways have been introduced.

On one other occasion, several months ago, I rode there with my five-year-old son and some friends and we’d really struggled with the bikes and children at the gateways but, because there were several healthy adults, we were just about able to lift the bikes over the gates.

It was decidedly dangerous negotiating this with small children next to the A308 and, as a result, we have avoided the route since.

Today, however, I was on my own so I thought I’d try it again – I mean, how hard can it be to get a bike through a hole allegedly designed for bikes?

Turns out that it’s nigh-on impossible if you’re not riding a standard 19'' men’s mountain bike!

After much, much struggling, ages trying and nearly having to phone for help, I’ve come away fuming, humiliated, frustrated, close to tears and with a damaged bike!

How anyone smaller, less strong, less able or with any kind of modification to their bike would get through, I have no idea!

Certainly the route is now completely impassable for anyone with a child seat on the back or trailer or mobility modifications.

My one saving grace today was that the main gates to the lake were open, so I only had to negotiate two out of the three bike gateways.

That said, I was stuck for some time between the other two as I really struggled to get through the middle gate (and ended up scraping my bike badly) and felt extremely vulnerable during this time.

Whilst I appreciate that the route is a permissible path – granted at the discretion of the land owner, who has expressed concerns about alleged misuse during lockdown – absolutely no consideration has been made to allow equal access to the path.

In my opinion it would be preferable to close the path to cyclists completely rather than the current sexist, ableist situation which is incredibly discriminatory and only allows access to those with a particular style and size of bike (ie, fit, able men) and/ or the size, strength and physical ability to either manoeuvre a bike through the gap or lift it over (i.e., fit, able men).

Certainly, I now know that the route is inaccessible to me which is incredibly unfair when others (i.e., fit, able men) can access it.

Why should they be allowed to cycle there and not me?

DEMELZA SAMPSON

Holyport


No bin still but what a series of traffic lights

On a recent return trip from Windsor I encountered four-way traffic lights at the junction of Dedworth Road and Oakley Green Road.

Three roads, four way lights why?

These works were not shown on one network nor the RBWM's own website.

Then along Windsor Road there were traffic lights near the petrol station.

The roadworks on Bad Godesberg Way were still in existence and so were the roadworks on Castle Hill.

Four sets of traffic lights on a short journey – truly amazing!

Now the works on Castle Hill have finished, there are traffic lights on Marlow Road near the Castle Hill roundabout causing tailbacks around the roundabout at peak times.

Not content with that, the council have now erected traffic lights on the Cookham Road near the Cordwallis Road junction.

And this from a council that believes they can regenerate the centre of the town by building The Landing.

If the example of the golf club acquisition is anything to go by they have no chance. Maidenhead Golf Club had to agree to the new deal as they were negotiating under duress – RBWM threatened to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on the site if they did not agree. A great way to negotiate?

On April 23 I sent a picture of an area at the bottom of High Town Road where a rubbish bin had been removed.

Strangely enough, or perhaps not so strange, the council could not locate the area but they said the bin would be replaced – five months later is there a new bin?

My father had an expression for this incompetence – without being rude it was something to do with organising a party in a brewery!

MERVYN BUSTON

East Road

Maidenhead


Will this help with climate objectives?

When I presented a petition to RBWM objecting to the removal of weekly black bin collections not one councillor (from any party) voiced support for it.

Not one amendment, not one point of order, not one councillor signature on the petition.

One cabinet member said of me ‘he should get off his soapbox’ and another chose to attack me for arranging a petition on this matter.

Notwithstanding the politics and scorn directed at me personally, I do hope that the new arrangements work.

RBWM and its contractor do not have a great track record in implementing change but let’s hope that they get it right this time.

I suspect that the council manager who said that this change will generate ‘three months of turbulence’ may turn out to be right.

Residents in some streets will have a mix of weekly and fortnightly collections while some will continue with weekly collections.

Many will see the day of their bin collection changed.

What could possibly go wrong?

Time will tell whether this change helps RBWM with its climate change objectives and saves them some money or whether it turns into an administrative nightmare.

We will also see if it generates the right outcomes for residents who should have been properly consulted on such an important change but were never asked for their views.

RBWM councillors (from all parties) should understand that many of your readers will be on their ‘soapbox’ if this change fails to deliver a service that works for all residents.

ED WILSON

Bryer Place

Windsor


Missing information in airport expansion

In response to the article on Heathrow expansion (September 9), one major piece of information is missing, quietly dismissed and buried by Heathrow itself.

Over 10 years ago the government removed the ‘Cranford agreement’, which denied aircraft departing on the northern runway.

Heathrow then submitted a planning application, refused by Hillingdon, but allowed by the Planning Inspector, for taxiway changes.

I gave evidence at the appeal on behalf of RBWM.

If implemented it would allow aircraft landing in an easterly direction over Windsor at 1,500 feet, to be switched to the southern runway as occurs whilst landing over London.

However, Heathrow decided not to undertake the work in favour of incorporating with the build of R3 to reduce costs.

As in the past few weeks, residents will have noticed that aircraft land from 4.30am through to midnight continuously with no respite.

No other runway has 18hrs+ of continuous landings and 30 per cent of landings annually take place over Windsor and its environs.

On occasions they have used both runways when it is convenient for their operations (to the freight terminal).

With R3 seeming delayed without a start date, there will be no noise respite for Windsor residents, a matter Heathrow fails to comment on.

Cllr JOHN BOWDEN

Conservative, Eton and Castle


Approval on 5G mast happened by default

A town council for Windsor was rejected by Conservative councillors in July on the basis that RBWM was more than capable of handling Windsor’s affairs.

Of particular note is the Maidenhead-based council’s retention of control of the over 60 small plots of green space scattered across Windsor.

This week there was a default approval of a 5G mast on one of these areas of green space in Ruddlesway, Windsor.

Shamefully, RBWM failed to fulfil its duty to determine a response to this application within the designated time period.

In consequence, the application has received approval without being properly considered by planning officers or by the planning panel.

This is not an argument for or against 5G masts, but one about due process and the ability for RBWM to fulfil all its statutory requirements.

There are many key questions to be answered:-

1. Why did the council fail to determine the application in due time?

2. Was negligence or lack of diligence involved?

3. Was improper influence or intervention involved?

4. Why was a panel hearing not set up immediately, given the 56 day time limit and the high level of public interest?

5. Were local councillors advised immediately when it became clear that the council had failed to determine the application in time? If not, why not and what does this say for the Council’s view of the role of local councillors?

6. Why does the report set aside concerns in relation to the Windsor Neighbourhood Plan?

It begs the question how many other planning decisions have been passed through incompetence rather than scrutiny?

We urge MD Duncan Sharkey and lead for planning Cllr Coppinger to lead an immediate investigation into this and to report their findings directly to the concerned residents.

In the mean-time Windsor residents continue to urge RBWM to create a Windsor Town Council to close this democratic deficit. It is the residents of Windsor who should decide what is built on our green spaces, ensuring that our voice is listened to in the face of continued crippling financial pressures and apparent lack of capacity.

RICHARD ENDACOTT

Kingsfield

Windsor


M25 disrupters cause indiscriminate harm

May I suggest to anyone who was badly affected and missed their flights at LHR due to the sit-in on the M25 around Heathrow by the Cloud Cuckoo Land warriors, that they submit a reimbursement claim to the organisers for the cost of the lost flights, thereby hitting their funds that finance their mindless actions?

Needless to say, the TV news channels relished in giving airtime to one of the activist jobsworths making veiled threats of much more disruption to come…

Why are we so subservient in this country to these selfish idiots who can disrupt people’s lives so easily?

They were such a danger to all motorway motorists and yet again wasting police time that could be better deployed elsewhere.

My sympathies go to the M25 driver who got out of his car, told them what he thought of them and in desperation tried to drag them out the way himself.

In France they have no hesitation in using water cannons to disperse such demonstrations, but here in the UK our esteemed leaders banned and subsequently sold the Boris water cannons for a pittance, no doubt to appease the human rights brigade should the demonstrators get wet….

PAMELA SMITH

Shifford Crescent

Maidenhead

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Editor's Picks

Most read

Top Articles