Viewpoint: Debate on UK's response to Ukraine war

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


Party pamphlet is a feat of imagination

On receiving the Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative Party leaflet through the door this week, I thought I must have got my dates mixed up and it was April Fool’s day!

Whoever wrote this load of unadulterated rubbish deserves to win the Booker prize for fiction!

I returned mine with a few amendments, and hopefully others have followed suit.

Item no 1 on their Key Benefits list said 'Defending our precious green belt'. What an insult to our intelligence! The Borough Local Plan is doing the complete opposite.

Item no.2 – Focusing house building in existing urban areas! In other words concreting over the remaining green spaces around Maidenhead and Cookham and creating an even bigger urban sprawl with the inevitable consequence of gridlocked traffic and air pollution.

Item no. 3 – Delivering major infrastructure upgrades. How are these going to be achieved? They never answer this question! With thousands more cars on an already overstretched road network, how is it possible to increase capacity? And what about doctors, dentists and hospitals? They are oversubscribed now!

I despair with this current administration!

CHRIS LOFTY

Walker Road

Maidenhead


Still waiting for grass cutting at cemeteries

Bray Parish Cemetery was looking neat and tidy on March 2nd with the grass recently cut.

When can we expect Tivoli to start cutting Braywick and Windsor cemeteries?

Oh, I forgot Tivoli said at overview and scrutiny panel in November 2021 that they are only contracted to cut grass between April and September each year!

Well, that is duff information as the contract requires Tivoli to maintain the grass between 10mm & 25mm and requires around 44 cuts per year.

Yes, weekly cutting!

So December and January are the only two months Tivoli are not required to cut the grass! So they are contracted to cut from February to November each year.

RBWM clearly not being transparent.

So when will RBWM Officers enforce the contract and ensure Tivoli deliver what we are paying for?

Nothing had been cut when I visited on March 2nd and 6th so I expect same old excuses to be spouted by a ‘council officer’ (what's happened to transparency? Used to name the officer) and Tivoli of ‘too wet, storms delayed us, machinery issues, etc’. However, that hasn't stopped others cutting theirs!

Looks like we will suffer the same failures to cut and maintain as we had last year as the cemeteries still lacking some TLC!

STEVE ANDERSON

Larchfield Road

Maidenhead


Flooding, traffic and major impediments

Thank you for highlighting the proposal for 25 new houses to be built next to Strande Park, Cookham, as it is a very dangerous one on several counts and the council should be held accountable if it allows the proposal to go ahead for the following reasons:

1.There is only one entrance to Lightlands Lane, Bass Mead, Strande Park and Strande Lane from the Maidenhead Road.

If flooding occurs, or a tree falls, residents will be trapped and no emergency vehicles will have access to people or property. The location of the railway line makes a second escape route impossible.

2.Heavy farm vehicles need access to the gate shown in last week’s photo of the corner of Lightlands Lane and Strande Lane and often park blocking the road for several minute while the security gates are unlocked.

This has not been mentioned in any correspondence as far as I know.

3.The junction of Lightlands Lane, Strande Lane, Bass Mead and the Greenway / farm track / Cycle Route 50 is a spot waiting for an accident to happen. It is a confluence of many routes yet Shanly claim that ‘vehicle movement from the development would have insignificant impact on the existing highway’. How can that be claimed? Who has done a survey to prove it?

4.Cyclists use the gate on route 50, including young children with their parents. They have to enter the road immediately form the gate as there is no path on that side of the road.

Walking groups and professional dog walkers use the gate to access the fields and park for free in Strande Lane/ Bass Mead which will now become congested with resident parking.

Last week’s photo in the Advertiser is an unusual one as the right hand side of the road is usually fully occupied with visiting parked cars. On a daily basis, refuse lorries and other large vehicles already struggle to scrape by!

5. It is always easy to say site parking complies with regulations, but these are often well below the actual amount needed.

A lot of existing parking on Strande park will be replaced with housing (conveniently coloured green or hidden by trees in the photograph on the front of the community newsletter recently sent out by Shanly).

6. The said photo is at least five years out of date and does not show the latest house which is opposite the new entrance. It also cleverly shows the site itself and omits any impact on the roads, paths or any inconvenience to anything immediately outside the site.

7. How high are the buildings to be built? Will they fit in with the local development of mainly single storey homes?

8.The most important issue is flooding. In 2014 Lightlands Lane was subject to a near disaster with fire engines coming as far away as Manchester to help!

Building in this area can only speed up run off from the land which is currently bunded to slow run off.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED


Take a balanced view of cyclists’ actions

I write in response to J Gilhooly’s letter (Viewpoint, March 4) expressing concerns about whether other cyclists know the rules.

As a cyclist, J Gilhooly will doubtless have noticed other instances of road users not knowing, or not abiding by, the rules.

As an example, Government statistics confirm that in a 30mph speed limit with free flowing traffic, the majority of drivers will be breaking the speed limit.

These are residential or town/village centre streets where there will be high numbers of children, parents, residents etc walking and cycling around.

This rule breaking is less visible than, say, a person riding a bike on a footpath, but has potentially far more significant consequences.

As speed increases, there is a significant impact on the likelihood of a pedestrian surviving being hit with a car.

At 30mph, a pedestrian has a 20 per cent chance of being killed; this increases to 33 per cent if the car is travelling just 5mph faster (at 35mph).

Yet the majority of drivers exceed the 30mph limit, given the chance.

From my own personal experience, from my daily walk to primary school with my son, I routinely see drivers using their mobile phones on the approach to the zebra crossing which we use on our route.

Drivers routinely, illegally, park their vehicles on the white zigzag markings at the same crossing obstructing visibility and making my son’s walk to school more dangerous.

As a cyclist, I have experienced dangerous close passes and verbal abuse from drivers (including whilst cycling with my son).

Giving publicity to anecdotes and generalisations about rule breaking cyclists serves only to generate more ill feeling, and potentially aggression, towards people riding bikes, compromising their safety.

Those people are mums and dads; grandparents; brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

It may also discourage them from cycling, and push them into yet another car to clog up our limited road space.

It also deflects attention from the real danger to vulnerable road users.

That danger is real, catastrophic and (sadly) accepted as a feature of modern life.

Data shows that, in the UK, five people die each day on our roads, and that these are overwhelmingly as a result of collisions with cars i.e. being hit with a car.

It is this danger, and the rule breaking behind it, which must be called out and should not be tolerated.

I don't defend any road user who breaks the rules, but if the sign said ‘no cycling’ it makes me wonder why that person chose to cycle there and whether a safe, alternative route has been provided by the council.

Perhaps J Gilhooly could reflect on all their experiences as a vulnerable road user (both their walking and cycling experiences) and consider which behaviours they've seen have posed a real risk to their life and which has been a minor annoyance.

M RICHARDSON

Ascot


Crown land is separate from general greenbelt

In view of the recent misleading statements from our council leaders, it is time to put things in perspective.

Our esteemed leaders have been extolling the debatable virtues of their recently approved Borough Local Plan (BLP).

It may interest your readers to learn of the statistics regarding the greenbelt of Maidenhead.

In all of the recent publications from our council, they focus repeatably on the statement that the BLP will only result in a loss of 1 per cent of greenbelt from 83 per cent to 82 per cent, through development across the whole borough.

This is a totally misleading statistic, since a vast proportion of greenbelt in the borough is Crown Estate property, for example Windsor Great Park.

This land will never become available for development, since it is the property of our Royal Family, and therefore it should not be included in the assessment of greenbelt in our borough.

I have done an assessment of the greenbelt of Maidenhead, and have compared this with the proposed council development of Maidenhead Golf Course (MGC).

Yes, the proposed development across the whole borough may result in a 1 per cent reduction in our green belt, but the figures regarding Maidenhead, conveniently not published by our council, are quite staggering.

The proposed development of the golf course alone would result in a loss of approximately 48 per cent of the greenbelt of Maidenhead, a statistic that our council leaders would appear to be very keen not to publicise.

Then we return to the question of finances.

As has been reported many times, our council are massively in debt, to the tune of £250million by the end of this year, due to financial incompetence and mismanagement over many years, a legacy of the previous leader Simon Dudley.

As has also been stated many times, the sole reason for the council’s desperation to develop MGC with 2,000 unneeded new homes, two schools and a medical centre is due to the self-inflicted financial mess they are in.

Their partnership with Cala Homes will result in payments to the council of approx. £225million, very conveniently clearing their debts.

The development of MGC, the ‘green lungs of Maidenhead’, also known as ‘Maidenhead’s Hyde Park’ would be environmental vandalism on an epic scale, and this must not be allowed to happen.

To my knowledge, these facts have never received a response from our council.

Why, readers would that be?

Perhaps because it is all true?

I therefore defy any councillor of RBWM to respond to the above clear statement of facts.

JOHN HUDSON

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


Kind donations on the way to help Ukrainians

I would like to thank all my friends and neighbours for their very kind donations, all done in just three days.

We exceeded my expectations with medical supplies, food, toiletries, sleeping bags and much more.

They were put straight onto a lorry and hopefully are already in Poland, or even hopefully the Ukraine where there is such a desperate need.

A special thanks to Key Circle Pharmacy for the medical supplies and to Gordon Road Stores for their wonderful food donations. Every single item will make a difference to someone’s life.

SHAEL THOMSON

All Saints Avenue

Maidenhead


People are moved, but not this Government

By now over two million Ukrainian people have fled their country and ultimately the total may be much higher.

On Monday Boris Johnson promised ‘the UK will be as generous as we possibly can’ in its plan for refugees from Ukraine, which is a grand but pretty vague promise.

The British Government's response has been described as shameful, with daily examples of bureaucracy and chaos where humanity and efficiency are what is needed. Thank goodness the British public is more compassionate in its response to this human disaster than its government.

RICHARD POAD

Cookham


Mogg and the minnow that is isolated Britain

I wholeheartedly agree with James Aidan in last week’s Advertiser.

Putin knows that Europe has been weakened by our departure from the EU.

Which is why he wanted us to leave.

In the European Parliament last week President Zelensky made a speech and received applause and a standing ovation.

What a pity the UK wasn’t represented in that chamber to give our applause.

We are now a minnow on the world stage.

So much for taking back control.

We now have Jacob Rees Mogg as the Minister for Brexit opportunities – an Orwellian phrase if ever there was one.

I ask all of us pro-Europeans to write to Mogg.

There are so many questions to ask him.

Here’s just a few.

Why are prices increasing?

Why are there queues of lorries at the ports?

Raw Sewage is now being discharged into our rivers because we can no longer get the chemical treatment from the EU?

Where are the fruit pickers?

Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement?

Also, when we all pay higher NI contributions next month perhaps we need to ask where is the £3.5million pounds per week that was promised for the NHS after Brexit? Why did people believe Johnson?

Was there ever such a liar?

CLIVE BLAKESLEY

Beverley Gardens

Maidenhead


Brexit posturing is now costing us all dear

What a great letter from James Aidan in last week’s Advertiser about the folly of Brexit and its connection with the aggression of Vlad The Vile.

Regarding the main architects of Brexit, the shameful Nigel Farage used to appear regularly on Russia Today (RT) and often praised Vlad The Vile for his ‘strong leadership’.

Cummings himself spent many years in Russia.

And the ridiculous Boris Johnson mainly supported Brexit to get back at his old Eton rival, Cameron.

Now that’s what I call an Eton Mess.

Yes, the EU is inefficient but so are all massive institutions.

We could have remained in and like the French, just said ‘NON’ to stuff we really did not agree with.

During the Brexit campaign we heard loads of nonsense about ‘wanting our country back’, ‘taking back control’ and ‘our enemies in the EU’.

These people did not see where our REAL enemies lay.

And of course the main problem is actually the vile creature who is running Russia.

He was helped by Brexit, which was why Russia actively supported it.

He is also empowered by money-laundering in London and pathetic leadership in the USA.

But Britain does not have a monopoly when it comes to stupidity and short-sightedness.

The foolish Angela Merkel, despite repeated warnings for the past 15 years, insisted on continuing to obtain around 50 per cent of Germany’s gas supplies from Russia!

This is the main reason Germany has not been able to fully support banking sanctions against Putin over Ukraine.

Other European countries, including The Netherlands I believe, have also stupidly relied on Russia for vital energy supplies.

The green movement and their opposition to fracking and nuclear power is also inadvertently to blame for Europe’s vulnerability, but that’s too complex to go into here.

The continued enrichment of Russia and indeed China has been a huge mistake. Sadly, the lesson of history is that it seems the only time Russia is not a threat is when it’s not rich.

And finally, in our search for stupidity, we also have to look to the USA.

A country of over 300million people and all they could come up with at the last election was a choice between Dumb and Dumber.

I’m not sure whether Dumb or Dumber won, but Biden’s disgraceful handling of the American forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan was being closely watched by the Ugly Sisters, Russia and China.

Ugly they may be, but stupid they are not.

MALCOLM JAMES STRETTEN

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


Repeat of scenes I witnessed as a child

James Aidan wrote passionately about the folly of the Leave vote in 2016, particularly those he suggested were still fighting a war that ended in 1945.

I can’t speak for others, but as I pointed out in a recent letter, I spent many years in West Germany during the 1960s, practising with other soldiers and airmen trying to deter those who posed a threat to us from the east.

When western European leaders ignored the pleas of successive US Presidents, beginning with Obama, to spend on defence what they had committed to under NATO agreements as the USA was pivoting to the Asia Pacific, only the UK complied.

He goes on to assert, and he is surely right, that acting together in the face of aggression is better than acting alone, hence NATO.

This policy was successful for 70 years but when the only nation powerful enough to deter Russia is the only one paying the defence bill and decided that Europe should pay its fair share for its own defence, Europe closed its eyes. (Unless the EU was the chosen vehicle to deter violent aggressors!)

I can do no better than copy a letter I wrote last week, to the children of my 84-year-old sister. No, I have no wish to still be fighting the last war.

“Watching live scenes from Ukraine yesterday, particularly one showing a quiet suburban street scene, when an explosion a few doors along from the camera destroyed a house.

“This is what happened in August 1944 to a suburban street in Mitcham, when a V1 rocket ran out of fuel over our house before gliding a few more yards destroying a house at the end of our road.

“I was two and your mum was seven, so our poor mum bundled us up, popped me in a pram and we were evacuated, eventually to Liverpool, for the rest of the war. In one way it must have been a minor blessing as we had a great big brick shelter in the road outside our house in which we had sheltered for many hours during earlier bombing raids.

“I thought I would never witness these scenes so close to home again in my lifetime. It appears that we rarely learn anything from history.

“Love to you all, Charles.”

CHARLES HOLLINGSWORTH

Alwyn Road

Maidenhead


Little more UK could have done in the EU

With due respect, I found it hard to make any sense of the latest letter from James Aidan (Viewpoint, March 3).

The UK government has acted against Russia in defence of Ukraine; there is little or nothing more than it could or would have done if we were still in the EU; and arguably it was able to act more speedily because we are not in the EU.

Of course Russia's invasion of Ukraine must be condemned as unjustified, but taking a longer view it cannot be considered entirely unprovoked.

Because it was always a foolish and dangerous idea that Russia under a leader like Putin would stand idly by and not react in any way when the NATO-backed EU was openly setting out plans for a southern encirclement, not just around the Black Sea but around the Caspian Sea and as far as the Urals.

I mentioned this in a letter published before the referendum, asking local supporters of the EU to explain how they saw it developing (Viewpoint, January 28 2016, “What about the risks of staying in the EU?”).

“Do they expect it to stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals, as David Cameron told an audience in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, he wanted to happen?

“Do they assume our politicians will achieve their ambition of getting Turkey in the EU, along with Albania and the rest of the Balkans, and Ukraine, and other countries over to the Caucasus and perhaps beyond the Caspian Sea?”

And let nobody think that if we were still in the EU our government would stop its reckless eastwards expansion, because only last week the supposedly ‘eurosceptic’ Boris Johnson said that it would be ‘entirely reasonable’ for Ukraine to join the EU.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead

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