06:33PM, Thursday 10 February 2022
Email Viewpoint letters to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Viewpoint, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL61HX.
Quality of life and environment crucial
As a climate conscious resident and campaigner, I have been working with other members of the RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition to respond to the council’s consultation on the 22/23 revenue budget.
I recognise that there is only so much money available and many worthy campaigns have been attempting to influence the budget, but unless things change, we are stuck with little money to go round, so what can we do?
It is clear that the solution won’t be found through council tax (having the lowest council tax outside London in one of the most affluent areas in the country is not something to be proud of) as a referendum is needed if the council wishes to raise council tax beyond the percentage limit.
So the council needs to be thinking out of the box instead of cutting non-statutory services across the board.
For example, it could enable residents to invest in green projects that benefit the local community, like the Islington Greener Futures 2027 project, or it could accept voluntary council tax contributions like in Wandsworth, building a ‘local fund’ for non-statutory services.
More money, locally raised and allocated, would enable the council to prioritise the public good, hopefully in a way that minimises our impact on the planet.
This locally generated fund would enable us all to thrive no matter what happens to the wider economy.
But would local people invest in local resources?
Leaving aside the question of whether people would trust the council to spend their additional contributions wisely, it has been shown that money in your pocket doesn’t make you happy above a certain threshold.
Wealth often results in high-consumer lifestyles, spending disposable income on things we don’t need and that end up in landfill.
This impacts on all of us because typically the more money you have the larger your carbon footprint.
So if those who can afford it make an additional contribution, what could local money fund? We know that arts and culture are vital for a more inclusive and more confident society.
They have the power to delight, educate, stimulate and inspire.
And importantly, they needn’t cost the earth; just as on a beach we should leave nothing but footprints, in a theatre we take nothing but memories.
The services that Norden Farm and Old Court provide are just one vital element of our society but what a difference they make.
So what if instead of ‘build, build, build’ and ‘shop ‘til you drop’, the council works with the community to raise local funds, helping us all to prioritise happiness over growth, and become local stakeholders in what truly makes us happy and fulfilled.
The earth cannot sustain the impossible dream of private luxury for all, but it can provide us, as George Monbiot says, with ‘private sufficiency and public luxury’ in the forms of wild spaces, parks and playgrounds, leisure centres and swimming pools, allotments, cycle paths, community centres, improved public transport and, yes, a local arts centre.
This is a future that I for one would be happy to invest in.
RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition
Short on everything bar councillors and flats
The Advertiser of January 20 was, in fact, a mine of important information.
Firstly an apparently mundane article entitled ‘Water shortage plan published’.
But I decided to wade through it and it was about future water shortage in Maidenhead and surrounding areas. Also, in this same Viewpoint section was a piece by Gavin Ames, predicting a 40 per cent rise in Maidenhead’s population in the next 10 years. 40 per cent!
But of course the article about water shortage wasn’t really about water shortage was it?
It was about too much demand for water.
Too much demand is being caused by this hopeless bunch of councillors that unfortunately are in charge of RBWM and who keep pressing ahead with yet more and more development.
Their short-sighted view is that because the council is short of money that loads more houses will mean loads more lovely council tax.
Almost everywhere you look in Maiden-head now, there is new development.
Building sites surrounded by shuttering, adorned with photos of lovely young professionals laughing, eating and working out, with signs like ‘95 new apartments coming soon!’
These flats have alluring names like ‘The Belmont’, ‘The Sapphire’ or perhaps ‘The Gorgeous’ and of course they all have very sexy kitchens and bathrooms.
The developers must love this council for obvious reasons.
However, this manic development and its attendant 40 per cent population rise will of course not only lead to water shortages, it’ll also lead to GP shortages (remember them?), school shortages, dentist shortages, optician shortages, hospital shortages and so on and on.
And of course massive traffic congestion and lack of parking.
Although we never seem to be suffering from councillor shortage, do we?
However, what prompted me to write this letter was catching sight of two absolutely disgusting looking blocks of flats that have suddenly arisen next to the Town Hall, on what used to be a very useful car park!
They look more like prisons or ‘correctional facilities’, as the Americans say, than places to live.
What IS the point of planning officers if they permit such ugliness?
And where will all the hapless inmates and their visitors park?
In conclusion though, while people continue to behave like sheep on valium in local elections and just vote Conservative for the simple reason they’ll say when asked, ‘We’ve always voted Conservative, so we’ll be voting Conservative again’ nothing will improve.
MALCOLM JAMES STRETTEN
Losing faith in all kinds of government
Well, what a plethora of letters to Viewpoint last week.
There was one from Derek Sharp who had a terrifying experience on the M4, one which I can sympathise with because I have had a similar experience on the same stretch.
There were 10 letters from people pointing out the council’s short-sighted view on the golf course, the BLP and arts funding.
There was also a letter from Diane Hayes who was concerned about the demise of democracy.
All these letters illustrate one thing – the total and utter contempt that the government and the council have for the people they represent.
Everything from smart motorways and the goings on at Number 10 to the arrogance of our local council and their stupid and short sighted planning prove that.
Diane Hayes was right when she said democracy is government of the people, for the people, by the people.
Unfortunately the government and our council think that democracy is government of the people. Period.
Of course the ultimate sanction is the ballot box, but just who is out there that is worth electing?
As far as I can see they are all equally worthless and not one of them deserve my vote.
Left in the dark over car park extension
I was disappointed but not surprised by the article in the Advertiser of February 3 reporting that the car park extension at Boulters Lock was ‘paused’.
In October 2021 amid rumours that funding was to be cut I wrote to Cllr Clark, lead member on the RBWM council for parking, to discover what was happening.
I also wrote to our ward councillors Targowski and Jones.
I never received a reply from any of them.
Prior to October 2021 Cllr Clark had already passed the project to the RBWM Property Development Company under Tamsin Trail, a move residents of Riverside never understood.
When we tried to contact Ms Trail we found her email address was offline and no one in the council could provide contacts.
Our concerns that RBWM was looking to ‘bury’ this project now seems to be confirmed.
Perhaps the most disturbing issue here us that despite wading through council minutes of meetings we cannot find who, exactly, decided to pause this project.
We cannot find when the decision was taken and we cannot find in what committee, if any, this matter was debated, proposed and approved.
I can safely say Riverside residents were never consulted.
Our conclusion is that, yet again, we have a council that acts with a complete lack of transparent governance and chooses to ignore its electorate.
The site for the planned extension has been a thorn in the side of residents ever since 2016.
For more than two years we fought off two planning applications and took the lead in defeating an appeal on the second planning application to build a totally inappropriate temple on the site.
This effort cost hundreds of man hours and thousands of pounds.
Once RBWM decided to agree with residents that more Riverside parking was needed we cooperated fully with council planning officers to develop their own planning application for the car park extension and deliver the project.
Obviously this counts for nothing.
Demand for leisure and recreational activity in Riverside has never been higher.
Demand for parking has never been higher for families, dog walkers, kayakers and paddle boarders to name a few. Riverside needs this car park extension.
By pausing it and displaying a callous lack of interest our councillors also demonstrate in spades that we need a new council that does what residents want.
M G (MICK) JARVIS
We’ve lost clubs, pubs and so much history
With reference to the history of Maidenhead, I have in my possession a 12-part, largely pictorial series published by the Advertiser and entitled Those Were The Days concerning the town in 1970.
Whilst large parts were old, what was depicted appeared to be a characterful, individual and charming little town; a time traveller from that year would think they’d been transported to another world by comparison now!
The town centre has been changed beyond all recognition, the remit seems to be build flats, flats and more flats, move long-standing establishments, such as the bowls club and leisure centre out of the town centre, build in spaces that barely exist, close and knock down the pubs in order for more of the same and, last but certainly not least, build or attempt to build on greenbelt land.
Anything residential or social near waterways is vastly overpriced – last year a friend and I were charged an eye watering £17.50 for two pints of Italian lager which should be roughly half that price for example.
Sadly it appears the town is gearing up for high income commuters and not the lifelong residents anymore.
Anti-vax sticker stuck over life-saving device
I am saddened by the activities of certain COVID anti-vax individuals who have created self-adhesive stickers to trumpet their vehement anti-vaccination views around the town.
A particularly disturbing activity has been to attach their stickers to the face of outdoor located emergency defibrillators.
The stickers are difficult to remove especially where they have been deliberately stuck over vital parts of the defibrillator, obliterating operating instructions and vital procedural advice
I am reluctant to identify the actual location of a defaced defibrillator in print as it may encourage perpetrators to return and repeat their mindless mischief.
I hope other public space located defibrillators have not suffered from similar senseless self-adhesive menace.
Targeting equipment that might save a life is unforgivable regardless of one’s views.
Community Land Trust may help with housing
So, the long-awaited Borough Local Plan has been approved by RBWM, and many sites included around the borough will be developed whether we like it or not.
Lots of local residents have told us that they wouldn’t mind some development if it produced homes that are truly affordable to local people.
We can all see that people are struggling to get somewhere they can afford to live even on decent average incomes.
It can’t be healthy for society when doctors, teachers, and other professionals (not to mention those on below average incomes) are struggling to live in the borough and homelessness is an ever-present threat to more people.
Community Land Trusts are taking up the challenge to help communities help themselves, creating a solution which is proving to be successful elsewhere in the country and that we can adopt here and now in RBWM.
At Windsor Ascot and Maidenhead Community Land Trust (WAMCLT) we believe every suitable local development site and town and village should have some community led, permanently and truly affordable, environmentally sustainable homes, available to local people.
See our website for just a few of the many inspiring examples of successful community land trust projects around the country which show how it can be done.
We are working towards our first project, which will be a sustainable community in terms of the people and the planet.
We envisage a self build/finish scheme suitable for those on below average incomes who could not otherwise afford a home of their own.
If you support responsible growth in a sustainable way for our local area, where local people can get an affordable decent home in a cared for neighbourhood – please support us.
Help us to make this a reality by becoming part of this successful growing movement.
We would like as many people to join us as possible.
Join via our website or sign up to our newsletter – www.wamclt.org.
Whether you think you need a home from us in the future or not.
Your involvement will help to make this vision possible. We also welcome developers and other organisations to support us as partners.
We would love you join us!
CLAIRE MILNE, RAJIV CHELANI, LIZZIE JONES, ALASDAIR DONALDSON, HEIDI BERRY, DOMINIC MURPHY, SANDRA ORLANDO PAYNE
Windsor Ascot & Maidenhead Community Land Trust
Top Trumps in being a discredit to public life
Monday’s hounding of Sir Keir Starmer and David Lammy is a direct consequence of the Prime Minister’s false claim that Sir Keir failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile while he led the CPS and the PM’s subsequent failure to withdraw this discredited accusation.
He should be upholding standards in public life but throughout his career as a journalist and then a politician he has continued to erode them.
With the example he sets it is no wonder that the UK looks more and more like Trump’s America.
He needs to retract the comments he made in the House of Commons without delay.
Review recommends localism strategy
I note with interest that one of the key recommendations from the Local Government Association peer review document is for RBWM to ‘Develop a localism strategy with town and parish councils and community groups which promotes greater subsidiarity of decision making enabling RBWM to be more strategic’.
on behalf of the Windsor Town Council Steering Group
Addressing concerns about food waste
In last week’s paper there was a letter raising concerns about what happens to food waste and the bin liners that are used by many residents.
Let me explain what the process is and how it is essential as we move forward on climate change that households continue to recycle food waste.
I was privileged some years ago to be at the formal opening of the plant so have seen the process in action.
Food waste is anaerobically digested in very large batches (the size of a small field).
There are two end products.
The first is methane which is burnt to generate electricity which feeds into the grid and the remaining material makes an excellent fertiliser which is sold to local farmers.
The nature of the anaerobic digestion process means that bags whether recyclable, compostable or plastic must be removed at the very first stage.
Checks are also made to ensure it is only food waste that has been put in the bin.
All bags are then burnt in an energy from waste plant which again produces electricity.
Hope that this reassures all residents and that they will continue to use their food waste bins.
Cllr DAVID COPPINGER
Cabinet member for planning, environmental services and Maidenhead
Land border has been in place for a century
At the end of his most recent letter James Aidan wonders whether I would think it acceptable to establish a border on the island of Ireland.
I have news for him – there already is a border on the island of Ireland, the same international land border that has existed for a century.
Not only is it the border which is still used for tax and excise purposes, it is the border which Irish customs use when measuring the trade flows between the two jurisdictions, the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, now revealing how trade has been distorted by the Irish protocol.
Where Mr Aidan has gone wrong is in believing the myth propagated by the Irish government that there is no border, and moreover none must be allowed to ‘re-emerge’; a myth which both Theresa May and Boris Johnson have failed to challenge, for their own differing reasons.
There is no telling how this is going to end, now that unionists in Northern Ireland are coming to realise that the current so-called ‘Conservative and Unionist’ in Downing Street cares little about them, or the Belfast Agreement and peace in their province, or the wider union.
Dr D R COOPER
Belmont Park Avenue
The powers that be – without understanding
I write regarding a parking fine I received in West Street, Maidenhead on December 8.
I put a one hour ticket on my car and walk slowly with a stick following a fractured pelvis.
I am trying to recover and work as a hairdresser in town.
I was 15 minutes late to the car as the town was very busy at Christmas.
I got a £75 fine or, if I paid now, £25.
Again, on lunch on January 19, a warden came up behind me and stopped in front of me, talking to me like a child, about the cigarette I put down the drain.
But there were no bins.
He was not interested and still talked to me like a child.
I was fined £100, or £75 if I paid that week.
My clients are also fed up with fines as they try to recover from living with COVID.
A lot of money is being made for the Royal Borough.
Paramedics were called to the scene of a medical emergency in Maidenhead on Monday morning (June 27).
A teenager who died after getting into difficulty in the Jubilee River has been described as a ‘gentle giant’ in a tribute from his school.