Viewpoint: Strong views ahead of Borough Local Plan meeting

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX.


I almost killed four people on ‘smart’ M4

On January 26,I was going to collect my daughter from her school in Reading.

I entered the M4 motorway at junction 8-9 going west and was driving on the inside lane.

The time being 18.20ish meant the motorway was in total darkness I drove for what seemed to be a mile or two and came across a broken down car being pushed by up to four people also on the inside lane.

Due to the fact that by pushing from behind the previous occupants completely hid any trace of rear lights and only when they came into view as people in the road pushing a car.

I braked hard and narrowly missed stopping in time to avoid a collision with them and the vehicle they were pushing.

I stayed behind the vehicle for a while with my hazard lights on.

I was now visibly shaking as I had been so close to killing the people in the road.

I waited until it was clear then changed lanes into the next lane adjacent to the vehicle being pushed all the time expecting people behind me to run into the broken down vehicle.

I needed to find a help phone a little way along so went back into the inside lane looking.

Maybe a half a mile or so the sign lit up designated lane closure and I saw a traffic officer walking back towards the car being pushed and a blue van also broken down in front.

I could now see the lane closure sign was illuminated but very dim.

I went to change lanes to second from left but a lot of traffic behind me meant that I had to wait until it was clear and safe to change lanes.

It would appear that the newly altered previously designated hard shoulder with all other lanes was now in full operation on a section of the motorway that was in total darkness.

Without carriageway lights working the new lane should not be open yet as it is too dangerous to have people out of broken down vehicles.

I came close to killing four or five people and the look of fear on the faces of the people pushing the car will be with me for a long time.

If this newly opened section of the motorway is as we are led to believe classed as a ‘smart motorway’ then maybe we need to rewrite the definition of ‘smart’ because these motorways are deadly and should have the hard shoulder reintroduced until commonsense prevails and motorways are made safe to use again.

DEREK SHARP

Maidenhead


Essential to support arts centre team

Norden Farm had serious difficulties a few years ago when the Arts Council withdrew its grant.

With the help of RBWM the programme focus was changed to attract a wider audience.

This has been so successful that the current events are wonderfully varied.

As there seems to be no longer any plans for a cultural centre in the middle of Maidenhead it is essential that we support the wonderful staff and army of volunteers who have achieved this success.

This means enthusiastic attendance at events as well as financial support from RBWM (which is still under review).

RICHARD KELLAWAY

Startins Lane

Cookham Dean


Arts funding vital for our sense of place

The proposal by RBWM to remove all funding support for arts, culture and heritage from the 2022/3 budget was discussed at the recent AGM of Maidenhead Arts Council (MAC).

The following submission was made to the council on behalf of all MAC’s member groups, which include orchestras, choirs, drama groups, folk music, music appreciation, U3A, astronomy, photography, civic society, heritage centre, archaeology, madrigals, Morris dancing, Cookham Festival, Maidenhead Drama Festival and Norden Farm.

All members agreed that as part of the ongoing regeneration of Maidenhead, it will be vital to ensure that our neighbourhoods retain a proper ‘Sense of Place’, which is what gives different areas their own identity, enabling residents and visitors to feel engaged with their surroundings.

Without a ‘Sense of Place’, it is likely that an area becomes unwelcoming and less attractive either to live in or to visit

A ‘Sense of Place’ is created by the people who are there, their history, their lifestyle and their individual stories.

The importance of art, history and culture in an area can therefore easily be seen, as it is through these channels that today’s residents can feel the sense of previous generations and understand their influences.

All members of MAC strongly believe that it is important to ensure that activities relating to arts, culture and heritage are encouraged and supported, to ensure that Maidenhead does not risk losing its personality. The outcome of arts and culture activities is not just in the mind but can often contribute meaningfully to the local economy.

Norden Farm has hitherto received support from RBWM as well as generating its own sources of income.

Removal of all support from RBWM could become a serious problem if this leaves them unable to properly continue to provide the facilities and programmes that they have been doing.

It is also short sighted, as Norden Farm not only serves the communities that comprise Maidenhead, but also attracts people from far outside our town, thus bringing additional income into the borough.

Also, the performances, exhibitions and activities provided at Norden Farm contribute to the mental wellbeing of the residents who attend them.

But MAC also currently supports 33 other local groups that offer education, enlightenment, companionship and sheer fun to their members!

These are not professional groups but are important to the social life of our local community, and many of them have from time to time availed themselves of the facilities of the Desborough Suite to stage performances and hold meetings, bringing their efforts into the centre of our town.

The amount of financial support that has previously been offered to them (some – maybe not all) is relatively small in the overall scheme of the RBWM budget, but helping these groups to stay afloat and thrive will be a major contribution to the well-being of many local people, as well as allowing Maidenhead to continue to rightly claim that we have a more vibrant arts and culture community than many other boroughs across the UK – something of which we should be very proud!

MAC therefore fervently urges our councillors of RBWM to reconsider the suggestion to remove all arts funding in the coming year, and agree to continue to support our efforts to keep our community a special one.

ALAN MELLINS

Chair – Maidenhead Arts Council (on behalf of our 34 member organisations)


Holes in the council’s golf course project

In last week’s edition there was an article headed the ‘Push to protect ‘our green lung’’.

Whilst not wishing any disrespect to Cllr David Coppinger, cabinet member for planning, I feel compelled to respond to some of the misleading statements he has made.

Firstly, 2,000 homes are not ‘desperately needed’ to be built on Maidenhead Golf Course (MGC) at all.

Nor will it ‘open up significant parts of green space for public access’. There will be very little green space left if this development is allowed to go ahead.

The Borough Local Plan (BLP) was recently returned to the council from the Planning Inspectorate, for councillors to vote on its approval and implementation.

The BLP in its present form is seriously flawed by the fact that it is based on out of date statistics regarding the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN).

The OAHN figures published in 2012 by the government’s office of national statistics, was for 12,691 new homes to be built within the lifetime of the BLP, i.e. up to 2033.

However, in the OAHN figures published in 2018, this number was reduced dramatically to 6,382 new homes, due to factors such as a reduction in population, and the fact that Crossrail no longer terminates in Maidenhead.

RBWM council have stubbornly refused to accept the 2018 figures, claiming they are unreliable ,and have based the plan on the outdated 2012 numbers. Not only that, they have also included almost 2,000 new homes to meet Slough’s unmet need.

As far as I am aware, the provision in the BLP is for some 16,435 new homes, over 2.5 times the requirement assessed by the government.

Of the 6,382 assessed in 2018, approximately 6,000 have already been built, or have been granted planning permission.

This leaves only 382 new homes to be built by 2033, which can easily be accommodated on existing brownfield sites already identified in Maidenhead.

There is no need to build any houses at all on the golf course.

Why then, is our council so desperate to build 2,000 new homes on the publicly-owned owned golf course? The answer is simply one of finances.

Due to financial incompetence and mismanagement over many years, RBWM are massively in debt, which is expected to reach £250million by the end of the year.

The sale of MGC to their development partner CALA Homes, will result in payments to the council of some £225million, effectively clearing their debt.

This cannot possibly be seen as justification for the destruction of this beautiful greenspace, the ‘Hyde Park’ of Maidenhead.

This would be a short term solution to the council’s self-inflicted financial problems, but it would be the loss of an extremely valuable natural asset for the health and well-being of the current, and future generations of Maidonians.

Finally, it may be asked how this proposed development can possibly be reconciled with RBWM's own Environment & Climate Strategy which states:

“The role of the natural environment in creating great places is critical to the success of the borough economy and to our resident's health and wellbeing, therefore it is important we take steps to protect it.”

Clearly, the council do not consider this policy applies to MGC.

JOHN HUDSON

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


Breaking commitment of the 1953 authority

Readers of the Advertiser will by now be aware of the forthcoming council meeting on February 8, when the future of Maidenhead Golf Course will be decided.

What they may not know is that Maidenhead Golf Course was sold at auction in 1953 and was purchased by the then Mayor of Maidenhead (Councillor T A Stutchberry) together with two associates for £12,100.

He stated that they did this to prevent the land falling into the hands of those less concerned about its future than local people.

He then offered it to the council for the purchase price of £12,100.

The council unanimously agreed to buy the golf course stating that this land was scheduled as an open space in the development plan and that public ownership was the best way of ensuring that it remained that way.

So why is the current council planning to break the commitment to its residents that the council made in 1953 to keep the golf course an open space?

The council argues that they need to develop the golf course in order to meet their Objectively Assessed Housing Needs (OAHN).

This is not true for the following two reasons:

1.If the latest Household Projection figures issued by the government in 2018 are taken into account then the number of new homes required in the Royal Borough would be significantly less.

2.Councils who have large areas of greenbelt, as does RBWM, do not have to meet their full Objectively Assessed Housing Needs.

The reason for the planned sale of the golf course to developers is purely financial, with no thought as to the environmental damage this will cause.

This is the main reason why the council wants to build 2,000 homes on this site.

If this goes ahead the impact on Maidenhead will be devastating and irreversible.

I do not think that the Maidenhead Councillors of 1953 would approve the planned actions of the 2022 RBWM Council.

I am sure that they would strongly condemn the plan to develop the golf course.

I believe that they would say: “Despite our best efforts Maidenhead Golf Course has fallen into the hands of those less concerned about its future than local people.”

If you care about the future of Maidenhead then please sign the online petition asking councillors to preserve the golf course site.

GEORGE MIDGLEY

Walker Road

Maidenhead


This sell-off is a bad deal for Maidenhead

Maidenhead Golf Club has been in existence for 125 years, having been founded by Lord Desborough.

It is an excellent golf course, with well maintained fairways and greens, in a woodland setting.

The golf club has served as custodians of the parkland and provided an income to the council.

There is scope for planting more trees, improved woodland management, rewilding areas of the course and for more community involvement.

Sadly our council has decided that the golf course land, purchased in 1953 to protect it from development, should now be released from our greenbelt and concreted over with 2,000 flats and houses.

This was despite also promising before the last local elections to ‘resist greenbelt release‘, and recognising that we are in a climate emergency.

Threatened with a compulsory purchase order, Maidenhead Golf Club has been forced to give up their lease, and if the Borough Local Plan is adopted at next week's council meeting, the golf club will be given almost £16million of public money to find a new home.

This is a bad deal for the people of Maidenhead whichever way you look at it.

We will lose our green lung, as well as a place to take steps to help our community mitigate against climate change, including planting trees, water storage, biodiversity and amenity.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever, but as long as it stays a golf course, our community will have options for how best to use this space in the future.

I, along with many other people in this town, urge our council to reject the Borough Local Plan and come up with a plan that is sustainable and protects the local environment.

MARK LOADER

Ludlow Road

Maidenhead


Look at the figures and save the greenbelt

Last week I attended a RBWM Peer Review Session.

The idea is that a panel of councillors and officers from other local authorities are invited to conduct an audit of RBWM and rate their performance.

This particular session was open to parish council chairs and clerks, so the 14 parishes in RBWM received an invitation to give their opinions.

A few days before the meeting RBWM circulated attendees with a document entitled ‘Corporate Peer Challenge Position Statement’ explaining the process and giving information on progress so far.

Appendix 2 of the document was entitled ‘Key facts about the borough’ and under the heading of ‘Our population’ gave the following figures:

“In 2020 an estimated 151,273 people live in the borough (ONS MYE 2020).

“By 2043 this is estimated to be 155,348 (ONS projections 2018 based edition).”

This means that the increase in population over the period from 2020 to 2043 is projected to be 4,075 people or less than 180 residents per year.

Hardly a reason for the building program detailed in the RBWM Borough Local Plan (BLP)

Time to rethink the BLP figures and save our greenbelt.

KEN ELVIN

Chairman, Bray Parish Council


Heritage of historic wall could be lost

An open letter to RBWM councillors:

At your council meeting on Tuesday, February 8, please vote to save part of our heritage which could be lost as a result of the Borough Local Plan (BLP).

The Willows, on the edge of Windsor, is one of the oldest complete estates in Windsor dating back to the 1800s and the Duke of Sutherland.

Its distinctive buttressed walls with rounded coping stones enclose the whole of the Willows Estate, extending between Windsor Marina to the west, and Sutherland Grange to the east.

Part of it borders our precious greenbelt which is soon to be lost to the development of 450 houses – AL21 in the BLP.

Some of its (heritage) boundary walls are planned to be swallowed up in the development – used as party walls to new build and inevitably destroyed/modified/
rebuilt, because the walls are only 1.2 metres high, so completely unsuitable for the purpose planned, as they stand in their original state.

It is within the Borough’s power to protect these walls.

The whole of The Willows Estate is a Non-designated Heritage Asset (NDHA), and as such is legally entitled to some protection from developers.

In addition, the borough has a number of policies in place (including Historic Environment HE1) which purport to protect such assets.

An easy solution to the problem – there are orchards and allotments planned as part of the AL21 development, and some of these could easily be located alongside the heritage walls.

The land next to the walls is good quality agricultural land (Grade 3a) so suitable for this purpose, and the walls would consequently be left undisturbed with their heritage value remaining visible for all to see.

Please help us if you can.

Register your concerns at the council meeting so that they can be taken into account when the planning applications for AL21 start arriving in the very near future.

Thank you.

On behalf of:

A TAYLOR, L JENNINGS, L GILLES – Willows residents

R ENDACOTT, chairman of West Windsor Residents Association


Wildlife is enjoyed – and also necessary

Bob Dulson of the Maidenhead Civic Society is right to call for ‘a root and branch rationalisation’ of the council’s community engagement strategy (Viewpoint, January 27).

Wild Maidenhead is a resident-led group group to protect and increase biodiversity, with sister organisations across the whole RBWM area.

We have enjoyed productive engagement with individual RBWM councillors and officers, but are frustrated by the lack of processes and systems at the council to enable it to take account of and respond to residents’ concerns about wildlife.

The wildlife of the borough is enjoyed and needed by people from all walks of life.

Our volunteers have been working hard to survey wildlife, implement conservation projects, and support delivery of a borough-wide biodiversity action plan.

We could achieve even more with constructive engagement from the borough council.

I hope community engagement at the council is reformed to allow all the borough’s hard-working community groups to have a fair hearing at the council, and allow us all to work together to address the substantial challenges our area faces across many issues.

FIONA HEWER

Chair of Wild Maidenhead


Green fields growing a crop of new housing

Recently in Viewpoint, Mr Copas of Cookham presented arguments regarding greenbelt agricultural land use for food crop growing using fertilisers and the like (Viewpoint, January 20).

In my opinion, he appropriately argued that presenting single issues such as those on biodiversity should be considered alongside the need to feed ourselves.

Balanced open and cultivated use is what greenbelt is for.

However, it is ironic that Copas Farms will, should the Local Plan be adopted next week, release over 22 acres of greenbelt in Cookham to enable that modern Japanese knotweed of a crop with the Latin name of ‘CC Domos’ to be sown.

The English translation for the crop is ‘200 homes’.

This once and forever solves the argument of greenbelt use, by reclassifying and building on it.

This crop of homes and other greenbelt releases such as 350 homes on Spencers Farm and indeed the 2,600 in the Maidenhead Golf course area is entirely dependent on the Local Plan adoption.

Now is the time for the RBWM citizens to become vocal ahead of and during planning applications.

Whatever is felt about such as unsustainable development causing road gridlock without guarantees of additional services and a removal of our greenbelt, it needs voicing, for or against.

It’s now for real.

The adoption vote will be whipped to approval.

Or will it? Perhaps there are last-minute surprises in the pipe.

I recommend attendance via Zoom or in person at the Holiday Inn next Tuesday evening at the full council adoption meeting to witness any drama.

CC Domos may just have to wait.

PAUL STRZELECKI

Berries Road

Cookham


Save this wonderful area from destruction

During lockdown I was delighted to be able to walk over Maidenhead Golf Course.

I was impressed just how large the area is, but it was not just a golf course, it also had large wooded areas home to thousands of plants and animals.

I was told it was not unusual to see deer roaming the area whilst playing golf.

I estimated that the wooded area covered 28 per cent of the area of the golf course, yet these plants and animals have no say in the decision as to what happens to their habitat.

They are the building blocks of nature, for us to survive these plants and animals need to survive.

They do not understand the finances of the RBWM, and how they wish to build on the land to make ends meet, they care about themselves, but without them we would not exist.

The RBWM must appreciate that they cannot vote and therefore rides roughshod over them.

It is time for the borough to rethink its strategy, and save the wonderful area from destruction, I am reasonably certain that David Attenborough would endorse my views, and David is highlighting similar problems to the whole world. We should listen to him.

BRUCE ADAMS

Cox Green Lane

Maidenhead


These deals are all motivated by money

The publication of the much-delayed and flawed Borough Local Plan reflects badly on a planning system which allows housing targets which are 10 years out of date to be used for land allocation and building on the greenbelt.

Shareholders in a commercial business which published a plan based on decade-old figures would be up in arms, so our Conservative council must be thanking their lucky stars that there are no local elections this year.

Money is clearly the main motive for the housing plans, which will not only bring the council a huge capital sum but also an ongoing income from all that extra council tax.

Money was the same motive for the deal with Countryside in the York Road and Magnet areas.

Indeed the planning officer of the day told a consultation meeting that a proposal for a 12 or 18-storey block of flats in St Ives
Road was ‘because the council needs the money’.

No wonder voters don't trust politicans!

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED


Non-compostable bags seem to be a nonsense

Jennifer Attwood (Viewpoint, January 27) might be surprised to learn like me that the green bags supplied by the council for our small black food waste caddies are not suitable for the purpose.

I also went to the library for a fresh supply and was horrified to be told that they were not biodegradable or compostable and, as they were not currently available, to use any plastic bag from a supermarket.

These may be recyclable, but they are also not biodegradable and therefore are completely unsuitable too.

Does this mean that sorting our food waste is a complete waste of our time too?

Can the council please clarify what happens to the contents of all our small black bins, which we were given to understand would be composted.

For this purpose we need biodegradable or compostable bags, NOT recyclable.

Come on RBWM, help us to help the environment.

CATHIE LODGE

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


Looks like we’re on a road to nowhere

I wonder how many road users have been confused by the sign on Shoppenhangers Rd Cox Green directing them to the
A423M?

As a road designation the A423M ceased to exist some 30 years ago and was replaced by the A404M and A404.

For five years or more the signs on this roundabout have been swathed in yellow tape worded ‘Caution Electric Cable Below’ which is RBWM speak for “we’ve found and isolated some sort of electrical fault but can’t be bothered to fix it’.

This tape is more commonly found on lamp posts that have been chopped off one metre from the ground.

This sums up the ineffective RBWM Highways Deparment and their expensive consultants ‘The Project Centre’.

All the money in the world to dream up bizarre schemes like the proposed 2021 Shoppenhangers Bus Gate or help struggling town centre retailers by removing free one hour on street parking spaces.

Never mind the shabby roundabouts.

We’re on a road to nowhere

Come on inside

Takin’ that ride to nowhere

We’ll take that ride

Lyrics courtesy Talking Heads 1985

JOHN WALSBY

Parish councillor

Kelsey Close

Cox Green


Seeking memories of the floods of 1947

Our Heritage Centre researchers would love to hear from any Advertiser readers who have family memories or photos of the 1947 floods to add to our new exhibition to mark the 75th anniversary of the ‘greatest disaster in the history of Maidenhead’.

We appreciate that they would have been children at the time, but riding on a Sherman tank is the kind of things that sticks in the mind!

Visitors to the exhibition who moved to this area more recently will appreciate the magnitude of the disaster which the Jubilee River was designed to protect against.

RICHARD POAD

Maidenhead Heritage Centre


Feeling that democracy is being undermined

Democracy is ‘the government of the people, for the people, by the people’.

The exercise of democracy relies on its success for unimpeachable morality and ethics in its delivery by the operatives of the government for the ‘good of the people’ without fear or favour.

What we have witnessed over the past twenty years or more, I believe, is the stealthy creep from democracy to autocracy.

The only recourse left to the people is the power of the ballot box.

Many believe they have no power.

The ballot box is the ultimate sanction for any democratic government.

DIANE HAYES

Hearne Drive

Holyport


Importance of peace and co-operation

It is in the very nature of human endeavour that destruction is easier than creation.

Be it buildings, the environment, respect for other people or trust, what can take years, decades or centuries to build or establish can be torn down in far less time.

The predecessor organisations which led to the EU were established to stop the wars between European nations, and now to increase the quality of life and amity of citizens, in which it has been wholly successful.

The UK is now witness to the outcome of tearing up decades of cooperation with, as D R Cooper never fails to point out, different criteria applying to the transport of goods to and from Northern Ireland than Britain.

It’s important to recognise that these rules were negotiated by the UK, and those who negotiated them knew full well the consequences, but simply did not care.

The Irish government and the EU are innocent bystanders in this case.

Should D R Cooper believe that establishing a border on the island of Ireland is acceptable, a recommendation is to view the film ‘Belfast’, a very mild representation of ‘The Troubles’, and then remember that the far right extremist protestants are still there.

Any action which jeopardises Irish peace has to be avoided at all costs.

JAMES AIDAN

Sutton Road

Cookham

Editor's Picks

Most read

Top Articles