Viewpoint: GP appointments, architecture and the heatwave

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


Patients and staff in an awkward position

I was sorry to read that Twyford Surgery has had to issue two requests to callers for kindness to their reception staff (Advertiser, July 7).

But I am left wondering whether the mismatch between what GP surgeries offer and what people expect from them may be a cause of recent frustrations.

I am lucky to have been relatively out of touch with GPs in recent years, but with a mother in her mid-90s, I occasionally have to intervene on her behalf.

She is mildly deaf and computer-illiterate, and quite incapable of waiting on the phone for 45 minutes while 32 previous callers are responded to.

I doubt she will ever be in a position to comply with current requirements to secure a GP consultation: she is beyond going to the surgery in person and cannot cope with Zoom or GP call-backs by phone.

The real blockage for this age group seems to be for referrals: after minor injuries at home, my mother’s local district nurses confirmed they would happily come out and see her, but needed a GP referral first.

Her surgery, however, seems to be set up almost entirely for appointments, with receptionists unable to transfer you to any of the services proposed by the recorded messages that play as you wait. Having failed to get my request heard, I had much more success with NHS 111.

They responded straight away and arranged for a paramedic to attend to my mother the same day.

I understand how soulless it must be for GP receptionists to keep repeating the mantra that there are no more appointments that day, the only hope of succeeding being to call again from 7.30am the next day.

But it is equally distressing for patients and relatives to hang on the line for ages, only to be blanked and told to start again when they get through.

Perhaps a more light-touch approach to routine referrals is needed; it was a qualified GP who called me back via NHS 111, and phoned again to check that the paramedic had arrived.

If he hadn't deemed immediate attention necessary, I would readily have accepted a district nurse referral for my mother from him, and by-passed her GP surgery altogether.

Perhaps that’s also how it now works, and I am only just finding out.

CLAIRE SPENCER (Dr)

Harcourt Road

Dorney Reach


Rodders, I’m really on the verge now

Hello Rodney

Hello Charles, what’s to do?

Well Rodders, the blasted council still haven’t done anything about cutting the verges, old boy.

Really?

Yep, situation normal, zero movement at inertia control.

Now we are in a heatwave it’s only a matter of time before the damned lot goes whoof……

Well Charles, at least it will decimate the ragwort which the townies don’t realise is poisonous!

Ah well Rodders, your round.

Plenty of ice please, before the water gets cut off…

RALPH JONES

Beenhams Heath


Appealing Waterside, appalling Watermark

Last week’s Advertiser had two articles relating to what at first sounds like a perfect oxymoron, ‘Maidenhead Architecture’.

However, one showed a photo of the beautiful Waterside Quarter, which is indeed actually attractive architecture and has definitely improved and enhanced that part of town.

But the other article, on page 21, showed something called The Watermark, or is it The Stain?

This development, believe it or not, has been ‘shortlisted for an award’.

Who shortlisted it? Who are the guilty people? Should they be arrested?

Although, thinking about it, actually ‘Watermark’ is quite an apt name.

Isn’t a watermark one of those nasty stains left on your best table after an ill-mannered relative or someone just thoughtlessly plonks their coffee mug down on it?

However, on second reading I see that it’s ‘up for the mixed-use development of the British Home Awards 2022’.

I can see now that it is indeed a worthy entrant when it comes to ‘mixed use’.

Not only can it be used to house people unfortunate enough to be unable to live elsewhere, it has the added advantage of being able to be used as a prison, or as our American friends call it, a ‘correctional facility’.

In fact those guilty people who nominated it could be securely detained there until they learn the difference between ugliness and beauty.

MALCOLM STRETTEN

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


Heatwave shows the importance of trees

Your article last week ‘School site closures announced in Maidenhead due to extreme heat warning’ illustrates the kind of disruption to normal life that climate change is already bringing to our community.

We must take the vital steps needed to mitigate the effect of climate change now.

This includes protecting and making the most of the woodlands and greenspace in and around our town.

Communities with lots of trees are less likely to experience the heat dome effect which further intensifies the temperature and high pollution events we are increasingly experiencing.

Trees provide shade and they also transpire, giving off water vapour which acts like a natural air conditioner.

The temperature difference between neighbourhoods with a heavy tree canopy and those with no trees can be as much as four to five degrees Celsius.

Thousands of mature trees are set to be cut down to make way for flats and houses on Maidenhead Golf Course.

These are publicly owned woodlands and greenspace occupying 132 acres on the edge of our town centre.

If this land were to stay in public ownership, we could use it for water storage, biodiversity and shading, as well as a place for physical and mental health and wellbeing.

If the golf course development goes ahead, not only will we lose the opportunity to better protect people and wildlife in our town, we will also lose the last of Maidenhead’s woodlands which have been quietly helping reduce pollution, temperatures and the depletion of biodiversity in our town for decades.

DEBBIE LUDFORD

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


Trying to figure out this numbers disparity

I read some interesting statistics last week about the population of Maidenhead, which in the last 10 years has increased by some 10 per cent.

The housing need in the Borough Local Plan (BLP) is based on a predicted 40 per cent increase in population.

At the current rate of population growth, that will not be reached for another 40 years.

However, the houses needed to accommodate this huge increase in population are planned to be built by the end of the BLP in 2033.

This means one of two things, either a huge number of new homes will remain empty for years, or there is going to be a huge influx of new residents coming to live in Maidenhead in the near future.

Could Cllrs Johnson and Haseler please explain where all these people are going to come from?

Is Maidenhead destined to become a London overspill town?

The housing need numbers are grossly inflated and are highly inaccurate, for the following reasons:

W Crossrail is now terminating in Reading, instead of Maidenhead

W Government housing need numbers halved between 2012 and 2018

W Change in work patterns due to COVID – many people are still working from home

The housing need numbers in the BLP should have been revised, to take into account the above factors, but our council chose not to do so, for their own spurious reasons.

Then there are the prison blocks in York Road, which have apparently been entered for the ‘Prison Block Design Awards’ scheme.

If these buildings are so wonderful, why are the flats and apartments not selling?

The worry is that more of these are likely to be built on the old Magnet Leisure Centre site.

There was an excellent letter in the Advertiser last month, saying that the design of these blocks should be reviewed to ensure that they were pleasing to look at, rather than being an eyesore.

On our council’s past performance I would doubt whether this has been done.

Finally, there is the proposed development of the golf course.

As has been clearly demonstrated at three very well attended protest meetings and two protest walks, these plans are deeply unpopular with the vast majority of Maidenhead’s residents.

Cllrs Johnson and Haseler, just to be completely clear:

  • Maidonians do not want this development to go ahead
  • Maidonians do not want this beautiful green space to be destroyed, with its abundant wildlife and numerous rare species, especially in a time of climate and environmental emergency.

Should this development be allowed to go ahead, it will be solely as a short term solution to the council’s huge self-inflicted debt problem, a result of many years of financial incompetence and mismanagement, but it will be the permanent loss of the ‘green lungs’ and ‘Maidenhead’s Hyde Park’, to the current and all future generations.

Maidonians, should the current legal challenge to the BLP be unsuccessful, you will be able to achieve your wishes by voting in the May 2023 local elections for your Lib Dem or independent candidates.

JOHN HUDSON

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


Badger, Mole, Ratty vs the profits of a few

Follow the River Thames as it meanders out of Marlow and you will find yourself in a magic space.

This is the site of the Wild Woods.

Sitting under the dramatic heights of Winter Hill and Quarry Wood, this is the place where the author Kenneth Grahame located the adventures of Mole, Ratty and Badger, the animal friends whose adventures illuminate The Wind in the Willows, published in 1908 and still one of the great story books of English literature.

Some while ago the planning authority decided that part of this area between Westhorpe and Coldmoorholme Lane should be a country park and designated as greenbelt.

It was to provide a peaceful, green separation between Bourne End and Marlow and to protect this outstanding landscape from becoming a long and intrusive urban development.

Pause and drink it in.

For the Bucks Council is now being asked to lift this protection.

The request comes from a trio of wealthy landowners so they can enjoy a multi-million-pound bonus.

The planning application submitted by Dido Property Ltd, Guernsey (sic) calls for a change in the status of the parcels of land they have stealthily accumulated over recent years.

They are asking that it should be changed from protected greenbelt to an area available for commercial development, specifically the construction of a huge film studio.

My plea is for all concerned residents to rally behind the standard of Mole and Ratty and Badger to champion the fight against this disastrous proposal.

For if it is approved, the land of the Wild Woods will be terminally degraded and the damage will never be reversed.

We invite you to join the fight to keep our precious landscape for the benefit of all of us, for our children and for future generations.

PAUL BURDEN

Oxford Road

Marlow


Let us cherish Belmont and St Mark’s Hospital

Having grown up as a resident of Belmont for the majority of my life, I have a deep love of this beautiful area of our wonderful borough.

I want it to be invested in and for it to prosper.

I have witnessed over the last year the deteriorating state of highways in Belmont and have taken it upon myself to step forward to raise and report damage to such things as infrastructure and street furniture.

I have had a great response from the council highways team when I have reported deterioration of roads and street furniture so far and have more to bring to their attention.

I plan to carry out short community litter picks with anyone who has the same concern for our environment.

I have followed up my recent public question relating to St Mark’s Hospital at full council in May with discussions with Cllr Stuart Carroll, the cabinet member for adult social care, children’s services and health, who informed me of the commitment to provide at St Mark’s the important and valued services that local people need and the ongoing representations and discussions being had with the NHS.

This is very positive and reassuring.

I am grateful for the constructive approach being taken rather than the political and erroneous approach of the Liberal Democrats, which is particularly unpleasant given the NHS has been working through and continues to work through, an unprecedented pandemic of crippling proportions.

Bombarding healthcare professionals with such grim party political misinformation is appalling.

I have grown up with St Mark’s being an iconic service in my history and would seek to defend its place in providing vital services for the community.

As a resident of Belmont, I will continue to campaign for its infrastructure and in particular retaining St Mark’s for the excellent facilities it provides.

I shall do so responsibly and with the NHS values in mind.

That means working as a team with residents and stakeholders who have common goals that are not based on political gain, but what is best for the local community.

MOHAMMED ILYAS

Australia Avenue

Maidenhead


No real representation with party politics

Viewpoint over the past weeks has seen correspondence first from Cllr Baldwin, on behalf of the Lib Dems, criticising how the Conservative councillors are ‘whipped’ into voting, followed by a counter accusation by Cllr Bhangra (Conservative) that the Lib Dems do the same.

The reality here is that they are both correct and as such damn our politics and democracy at a local level.

If the Labour party ever had a local presence they too would follow this pattern.

National political parties cannot let local representatives represent their local electorate as the national prize of power is just too tempting.

If the Conservatives want one thing the Lib Dems automatically oppose with very rare examples of councillors voting in the way their electorate wish.

Can you imagine any local RBWM Conservative councillor voting against the golf course development? Paradoxically, if they did, the Lib Dems would in all likelihood argue the development had to go ahead to solve the RBWM financial problems all caused by the Conservatives!

The only solution is for the local electorate to see and understand that how they vote in national elections is fundamentally different to how they should vote in local elections.

I stood as an independent candidate in 2019 for Riverside ward mainly because I could no longer tolerate the behaviour of our local councillors.

I lost to Simon Dudley (Conservative, resigned) and Cllr Targowski (Conservative, notable for his lack of activity since election and now not seeking re-election).

I could not convince the electorate that not voting Conservative was a good idea and those who did decide not to vote Conservative voted Lib Dem in large numbers for an unknown non resident candidate in a move that split the vote.

I still support fiscal responsibility, environmental sensitivity and sustainability, oppose the way the BLP was forced upon us as residents and think developing the town centre as planned is a waste of an incredible opportunity – but who cares?

An old friend and long-term resident of Maidenhead has it right I fear – if you put a sheep up for election in Maidenhead and painted it blue it would get elected.

Another truism is that if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.

I can only hope 2023 local elections bring more independent councillors into our democracy who do what we want – not what their central office commands.

MICK JARVIS

Riverside


Take Millennium Walk all the way in summer

Maidenhead Civic Society and East Berks Ramblers had organised a circular walk for their members to visit Battlemead Common to see the former ‘missing link’ in the Millennium Walk (from Hurley to Maidenhead Riverside) on Sunday July 17.

This unfortunately had to be postponed because of the hot weather.

However, I attended the starting point at Boulters Lock car park in case anyone had not got the message.

Not surprisingly the car park was very busy so, quite possibly, our members would have had difficulty finding a space.

This underlines what has been said in previous letters to the Advertiser about the inadequacies of this car park.

I understand the Royal Borough is investigating low cost ways to improve capacity.

Access to Battlemead Common is also being made more difficult, especially for the disabled, as the car park there is still not open to the public because of concerns about safety.

The result is that drivers leave their cars at the entrance causing even more safety issues.

We have suggested several ways to make it safer for drivers to enter and leave the car park and hope that eventually it will be open for public use.

In case your readers are interested in attempting the circular walk (when it’s cooler!), these are the details:

1. Walk from Boulters Lock north along the Thames Path until you reach the southern entrance to Battlemead Common where there are two attractive information boards and ‘Boundary Walk’ markers on the entrance gate posts (the Millennium Walk follows the Boundary Walk from Pinkneys Green).

2. Enter the common and walk west onto the causeway path. This usually has wetland on either side but at present the northern wetland is bone dry. After crossing the bridge over the White Brook turn to the north and follow the path round to the entrance to the northern perimeter path.

3. Follow the northern perimeter path round to the Thames Path and then back along the river to Boulters Lock.

Things to look out for: Boundary Stone (BS) no 27 on the Thames Path. BS 25 near to the entrance to the northern perimeter path and on the Thames Path, with a great view up the river, the bench given by the Civic Society to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The circular walk is only available until the Boundary Walk on October 2, after which the causeway path closes to protect over-wintering wildfowl.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Millennium Walk project can pick up the new updated leaflet from the community noticeboard in Nicholsons Walk or download one from the Maidenhead Civic Society website (under projects and amenity and environment).

Leaflets will also be available from the Civic Society stall at the Maidenhead Festival in Kidwells Park this weekend (July 23 and 24).

ANN DARRACOTT

Projects

Maidenhead Civic Society


Climate change and social care ignored

What an uninspiring and unedifying spectacle the Tory leadership election has been.

At least until Tuesday it was a beauty contest ruined by smears and insults and lacking any serious policy ideas, let alone any fresh vision for our divided country.

Appealing to a tiny electorate of MPs and 150,000 members of the Conservative parties, the candidates promised tax cuts, supported sending refugees to Rwanda and ignored the hardest questions faced by the UK.

These include climate change and fixing the social care system to eliminate the bed blocking which is causing so many of the problems of the NHS.

Only a few Advertiser readers will have a say in who becomes our next Prime Minister.

I wonder how many Advertiser readers feel reassured over the future of our country.

RICHARD POAD

Cookham


Tory candidates hedge their bets like wildfire

Following the debate on TV for choosing a successor to Boris Johnston I was very concerned about their commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Every candidate backed the commitment – but everyone added a caveat

Mr Sunak said ‘we need to bring people with us and if we go too hard and too fast then we will lose people’.

Ms Truss said she ‘wanted to deliver net zero in a way that doesn’t harm people and businesses’.

Ms Badenoch suggested net zero could ‘bankrupt this country and has to be done in a way which is sustainable’.

Ms Mordaunt said the target ‘mustn’t clobber people and must support the levelling up and investment strategy and energy resilience’.

Mr Tugendhat is more concerned with delivery of the nuclear reactors and carbon capture along with wind farms.

We see this Monday the high temperatures in the UK, the loss of crops to the heat, travel chaos with many trains cancelled, pubs and restaurants closed because kitchens are too hot to work in, and the NHS is again being stretched by lack of staff and shortage of beds.

Throughout the world wildfires are destroying thousands of homes and we have record rainfall in Sydney, Australia.

The priority must be to show a road map as to how we are going to achieve zero emissions – otherwise our children will not have a place to live on this planet.

BRUCE ADAMS

Cox Green Lane

Maidenhead

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