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Viewpoint: Parking, COVID-19 and missed bin collections

Featuring more missed bin collections, parking woes and a complaint about bad behaviour outside a school. Scroll down for all of this week's letters.

Of course towers will change our town

I have watched with interest the first week of the second stage of hearings regarding the 2019 Borough Local Plan.

A major question put to the council by Louise Phillips, the inspector conducting the hearings, was: “Has Maidenhead’s capacity to accommodate the scale of growth, now proposed, been robustly tested in respect of its potential effects on issues including traffic/congestion; pressure on infrastructure; air quality; loss of green space; and the implications of high rise/high density development upon the character of the housing mix?”

The proposed plan is to build on allocated sites, 6,144 dwellings in Maidenhead out of a total of 8,296 for the whole borough, ie Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot. This is a massive 74 per cent of the planned new dwellings.

However, more alarmingly for Maidenhead is that the planned number of dwellings in the town centre is now 2,760, an increase of 1,300 dwellings from the 2018 Borough Local Plan.

To accommodate this huge increase the council is proposing a high rise/high density development in the town centre by building tower blocks up to 25 storeys.

The council states that they have elected high rise/high density to protect the greenbelt.

This is clearly not the case since they are proposing to build 2,600 dwellings on Maidenhead Golf Course (greenbelt) and on nearby land which is located on the edge of the town centre.

The council said they were confident that the proposed increase in density will not have a detrimental effect on the character of the town.

This is an unbelievable statement.

Maidenhead is a market town and you do not have to be a planning expert to see that this will change completely the character of the town. The town centre is the heart of Maidenhead and the golf course is its green lung.

In summarising the discussion on development in Maidenhead, the Inspector asked: “What would be the alternative to putting everything into the town centre? The alternative we’ve heard is greenbelt.”

I would like to suggest that possible alternatives include:

1.Build a satellite village on the outskirts of the town.

2.The latest projection of household growth for RBWM determined by the government in 2018 is noticeably less than the 2012 projections used by the council. Therefore, should the council consider building a smaller number of new homes, especially taking into account the devastating effect that high rise/high density dwellings would have on the town centre?

GEORGE MIDGLEY

Walker Road

Maidenhead


No apology, no change and a lot of rubbish

I write this looking out of my North Town Moor window at the rubbish bins standing there – overflowing with rubbish that has not been collected for two weeks.

It has been reported to the town hall, but not for the first time we have been ignored, actually more like the fifth.

Seemingly nobody cares: certainly not the people in charge.

Now I read that our council is telling us that their shambolic mismanagement of our finances will result in reduced services and a massive increase in council tax!

No apology.

Well, thank you.

Perhaps we would do better talking to Theresa May?

However, the time for talking is surely over, (Bosses quizzed on bin problems, Oct 8).

It really is time to give up on Serco, and go back, cap in hand, to Veolia.

When I was younger there was a saying that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

When is the next local election?

Thank you for your efforts for honest journalism during this difficult time.

WILLIAM ALEXANDER

North Town Moor

Maidenhead


Why are we paying for a failed service?

This morning at 8am, one day behind collection day, the SERCO bin lorry visited our small group of flats.

The driver got out, looked round, got back in without going in the bin store, hIs mate spat in the road and they drove off.

A failed service and unacceptable personal behaviour during COVID!

What the heck are we and RBWM paying for?

MALCOLM STURGES

Sandpipers Place

Cookham Rise


Disgraceful situation demands a tax refund

I live in Littlewick Green on a small road with five standalone properties and we are now into our fourth week without our general rubbish bins being emptied, which is quite extraordinary as the recycling bins are being collected as normal.

The situation is now becoming quite dire and certainly talking for myself (and not the other four properties on the road) I will have to start dumping black bin bags on the street this week as there is no longer any space in the bin!

This is not the first time this has happened having occurred when the council waste management supplier was changed a few months ago and I raised a complaint then after having no collection for two weeks.

This is the second time experiencing this disgraceful service and I have submitted the missed bin collection details on the council website as they advise.

So far I have received no correspondence from them even after emailing two to three times already for an update.

The council website states that they have a problem with the waste management supplier, however that excuse has long since past its sell-by date and this is about the poor management of the supplier by the council now rather than trying to blame an already incompetent supplier.

They should certainly be taking ownership of this situation rather than hiding behind a banner message on the website complaining about the supplier and doing nothing to rectify the situation or to communicate effectively.

We are paying our taxes for these services which we are not receiving and therefore, firstly we should be receiving those services because money is being taken for them and secondly like any other organisation that receives money for a service a refund/reduction should be issued for the services ‘not delivered’.

This is a terrible service from the council and disservice to the residents who pay their taxes.

Even with the national lockdown earlier in the year and the restricted bin collections was put in place they were collected as per the revised schedule, so I have no idea what they are doing now!

MICHAEL HODGES

Greenways

Littlewick Green


Minority of pupils are causing misery

Since the return to school, local residents living in close proximity to Cox Green Secondary School are experiencing an upsurge of serious problems from a minority of pupils.

Most of the youngsters at the school are well-behaved young people, however, there is a small hard-core element, seemingly determined to create mayhem and misery at every opportunity.

Their behaviour unfairly tarnishes the good reputation of the school.

Encroaching onto private property, missiles thrown, verbal abuse, are all now commonplace.

An elderly lady, who lives alone, informs me that because of her past experience of serious problems she is now too afraid to go into her front garden during certain times of the day.

The nub of the problem is the very early arrival of pupils on school coaches. Having been dropped-off on school premises, they are not being contained there.

In the current crisis, across the country, there are college students being kept in their halls of residence while at the same time we have Cox Green pupils let loose onto the streets for up to an hour with no adherence to any sort of ‘social distancing’.

The good work of the staff in preparing a COVID-free, safe environment within the school is immediately destroyed by the behaviour of pupils outside the school.

When coaches deliver pupils onto school property then there is surely a duty of care placed on the school to contain them there - especially during these times.

Until this can be legally clarified, at the very least, two or three key look-out places in the immediate area need to be staffed in order to monitor movement between the school and the Wessex Way shops.

This needs to be done from the arrival of the first coach until they are all safely inside the school to start their day.

We are perilously close to a major incident in this small corner of Maidenhead unless something along these lines is immediately implemented.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED


Bank’s treatment led me to branch out

Along with Paul Sheriff, I was disappointed, distressed and displeased to receive a letter from Gary Mathews, the regional director for Nationwide, advising the closure of two of their local branches, and responded with my reaction.

I drive to Cookham to carry out any transactions with Nationwide, rather than use the branch in Maidenhead, as their service has been the subject of my only complaint to Nationwide since I have had an account.

One Saturday morning a few years ago, I went into town to deposit a cheque using the automated system at the ATM.

At 8.10am it was out of action and inside the branch I could see the door open presumedly waiting for restocking.

I returned some 10 minutes later and it was still open, and again at 8.30am.

At 8.40am the door was still open and the member of staff who had seen me previously was now drinking a cup of tea or coffee and watching me from the back of the branch.

He made no attempt to indicate if and when the machine would be available.

I was not able to make the deposit until 8.53am and consequently was late taking my car for service.

The cheque was not processed until Monday.

The following Saturday I drove to Cookham and deposited a cheque at 8.15am and it was credited to my account that day.

I have continued to use the Cookham branch for my transactions and will be deeply sorry when it closes as I have always enjoyed impeccable courtesy and service from the staff.

I will not set foot inside the Maidenhead branch.

According to Nationwide’s website Maidenhead is closed for ‘improvement’ but this will only be in regard to the physical structure and not in the service and courtesy of the staff.

Perhaps, Nationwide, you would be better leaving it closed.

MERVYN BUSTON

East Road

Maidenhead


Enforcers keen to keep town centre clean

I had a chat with two enforcement officers in the town centre last week.

It was only their second day on the job but they appear keen and determined to issue many fixed penalties to litterers, dog poo foulers, fly tippers and other grubs.

Well done RBWM, this is the sort of outsourcing of neglected services that I’m pleased to see.

JOHN WALSBY

Kelsey Close

Cox Green


Popping into town proved to be a problem

Why would anyone want to drive and park in order to shop in Maidenhead?

Let me give you my experience.

I only wanted a couple of items, and planned to use the on-street free parking.

I entered via the one-way system and Queen Street.

Here a large proportion of on-street spaces have been removed, there are big red and white barriers beside the pavement, narrowing the street.

There are images of bicycles in the middle of the road, not sure why, doesn’t this designate a cycle lane?

On to the High Street, all the on-street bays have been removed, and more images of bicycles.

Round past the library, and no spaces available, this used to be a lovely open spacious road.

Now, more on-street spaces have been removed, the road narrowed and dominated by two towering buildings.

Giving up, I decide to park by Sainsburys

What do I find? No Advantage card discount, minimum charge over £1, oh, I can use Ringo if I don’t have cash, no extra charge – except for a 20p ‘Convenience Fee', isn’t that an extra charge?

At this point, I gave up and went home.

The next day, I parked on Marlow High Street for free and did my shopping.

One more loss for Maidenhead.

Do the council not realise that if they make it difficult for people to park, people won’t bother?

You may ask why I didn’t use public transport – for me that is a 30 minute walk to Cookham Station and a train, or a bus that goes to Maidenhead once a week on a Thursday.

HEATHER BUGGINS

Winter Hill

Cookham


Unresponsive council and unfair charges

I recently changed my motor car so living in a permit area ie. Blackamoor Lane, applied online with the RBWM website for a permit with my new registration number.

My permit was valid until March 2021.

I was emailed a temporary permit for two weeks from RBWM parking.

One month later no new permit was received.

On contacting parking again I was told I had to apply for a brand new permit even though my original permit was valid until March 2021 at a cost of £50.

On researching other local council charges for a change of vehicle I discovered the following:

Oxford – Zero

Slough – Zero

Bracknell – A small charge

Watford – £7

I consider the sum of £50 charged by RBWM to be extortionate.

Is this another council rip-off to pay for their excessive spending?

How do I complain?

PAUL DE LUCA

Blackamoor Lane

Maidenhead


Airport jobs depend on swift, accurate tests

The thousands of Royal Borough residents whose jobs depend on Heathrow Airport will be only slightly relieved to learn that the UK and the USA are discussing opening an ‘air corridor’ between London and New York.

The success of any such arrangement depends on an accurate testing regime that requires minimal quarantining after a flight.

Yet the UK Government has still not made any announcement regarding polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for passengers before they board their flights.

PCR tests are already in use by Italy, Cyprus, Madeira and the Azores, many Caribbean islands and even Jersey.

Passengers need to get a negative PCR test (at their own expense) during a defined period prior to departure, usually 48 or 72 hours. Follow this with another test on or shortly after arrival, and the quarantine period can be reduced to a minimum.

The introduction of PCR tests for UK-bound passengers is long overdue, and the airline business will not even start to recover until it is introduced.

Thousands of local jobs depend on it.

RICHARD POAD

Cookham


Unite – it’s the way to deal with coronavirus

How do politicians expect the public to be united in dealing with COVID when Parliament clearly isn’t?

If lockdowns don’t work then how come the R rate goes down when lockdowns are implemented?

MPs criticising the magnificent work of people like Boris Johnson and Matthew Hancock seem to have all the answers yet are also silent when it comes to sharing them.

What about praising the health and scientific advisors?

What about praising those on the frontline like our precious NHS staff, delivery workers, supermarket staff, and all those behind the scenes?

There should be a totally united front in fighting this pandemic rather than dissent in the Conservatives or criticism and point scoring from Labour.

In the words of my old chum David Cameron ‘We must all be in it together!’

GEOFFREY BROOKING

Bridge Avenue

Maidenhead


Time for a more secular viewpoint

Helen MacDonald challenges readers to pitch in with a comment on her column (Viewpoint, Oct 8).

I rate her stuff convincing and entertaining - worth the price of the paper on its own.

My editorial moan is this: we are weekly bombarded with a Holy praise column from vicar x or reverend y banging on about the beneficial attributes of religious belief.

My own attempts to counter this constant message have ended up in the Advertiser's delete box.

I call for a bit of balance and relief from regular and repeat propaganda.

MALCOLM GEARY

Forlease Drive

Maidenhead

Editor’s note: I closely read every letter that goes on to these pages, taking space, taste, clarity and the law in to consideration. It is very rare that I reject a letter in its entirety, but it is always after careful consideration of these factors. I never take the decision lightly but as the person who is ultimately responsible for what is published in this newspaper, I will continue to use my discretion where required.


We need law to protect staff from abuse

In September, we joined 22 of the UK’s major retailers and associations in publishing an open letter in The Sunday Times to the Prime Minister calling for more effective legal protection for our colleagues from an ever-rising tide of abuse, threats and violence.

We now need your readers’ direct support to keep this momentum going.

Our store colleagues have been working tirelessly to protect customers during the pandemic.

Despite their hard work, violence and threats have become part of the job – they do not deserve this.

As a regional, independent co-operative, we’ve been tackling crime from every angle – causes, prevention, reporting and justice.

Although there have been some positive steps forward, more needs to be done.

Please consider writing to your MP, signing the national petition or viewing the film we put together of our colleagues’ experiences. This is a hard-hitting video we felt was essential to highlight the severity of the issue. Information on all of these actions can be found here: https://coop.ly/2GmP0MB.

If we all play our part and we all work together then we can stop this wave of violence which has been getting progressively worse over the last few years.

We need politicians, police and the rest of society to remember these crimes are not victimless.

They affect real people.

MARK SMITH

Chief Executive

Southern Co-op


Letting down farmers – and food standards

On Monday, MPs voted by 332 votes to 279 to strike out a Lords amendment to the Agricultural Bill which would have required both agricultural and food imports to meet the UK’s standards after Brexit.

Why?

So now they can negotiate for chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef to come in from USA and other countries.

The Government is really letting down our farmers, but states that they are not going to compromise our high environmental protection, animal welfare or food standards.

But by voting down this amendment – it is exactly what they have done.

BRUCE ADAMS

Cox Green Lane

Maidenhead


My solution is a bigger codeword

I greatly enjoy your puzzle page weekly but find the codeword too small to see easily.

I believe it would be better if it was the size of the crossword across the page.

Does any other reader have the same problem?

Dr BRIAN SMITH

River Road

Taplow

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