Viewpoint: Climate change and highway repairs

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


Climate action needed, not dates and tokenism

You know that somebody is in trouble when they choose the bottom end of the range as their benchmark rather than the top (Authority ‘is ahead’ of many councils, March 24, 2022).

Last week temperatures near the North Pole were 30C above normal. In Antarctica they were 40C above normal and an ice shelf the size of Rome collapsed into the sea.

Meanwhile the cabinet member for climate action and sustainability chose the date of adoption of the borough’s Environment and Climate Strategy as her measure of success, rather than progress made in implementing it since.

If things are going as well as the cabinet member was no doubt trying to suggest, why has there been no governance of the strategy since July 2021, why is the sustainability team avoiding a date with the communities overview and scrutiny panel, and why, at the time of writing, has the first annual monitoring report not been published?

PAUL HINTON

Plastic Free Windsor


Urgent repairs are being left unattended

I thought that questions or topics for overview and scrutiny panels were encouraged and submitted the following question for the Infrastructure panel.

The clerk said it couldn’t go forward as there wasn’t an agenda item but suggested I wrote to all the members of the panel instead.

The following question was based on my experiences of how my highway reports were not dealt with in any sort of acceptable timescale.

The reports I made were not flippant and, in some cases required urgent action based on significant experience of highways as a chartered civil engineer.

These are only some examples:

“In view of my examples below is the panel satisfied with the response time for highway repairs?

  • A pedestrian refuge at a busy crossing place near shops in Dedworth Road was severely damaged and left in a dangerous, unusable, unlit and badly signed condition for at least two months and it was only because of the intervention of the acting chief highway engineer that it was repaired.
  • I reported a recurring problem of a badly overgrown footway in Dedworth Road in January 2021 and despite regular chase ups this still hasn’t been dealt with. Another one I reported took five months before the officer issued the notice to the owner of the property.
  • My report about recurring damage to a footway in Greenacre caused by a petrol tanker delivery has taken from July 2019 to only recently being acknowledged despite regular chase-ups. Still awaiting repairs.
  • A report in July 2021 asking for a barrier erected in the wrong place, and blocking the footway, to be moved was not even acknowledged.
  • A badly damaged concrete channel in the carriageway in Greenacre has been left in a dangerous condition for months despite several urgent chase-ups.”

RBWM share Volker services with Wokingham District Council and, from memory, our contract is about a third of the value of Wokingham’s.

It is not difficult to see how our work may not be prioritised in the way it should be.

Based on my experience some repairs that are urgent and should be done in 24 hours result in the reply that they will be dealt with in 30 days or longer.

I anticipate that RBWM will answer that I should have used the ‘Report It’ system, that I have tried to use in the past.

Items like the damaged pedestrian refuge are not listed as a choice so I had to deal with it as a bollard being damaged and I suspect it went to the wrong person.

I shouldn’t have had to report it anyway as the workmen had made a poor attempt at making it safe and this should have flagged up an urgent repair.

Similarly, the dangerously loose channel in Greenacre didn’t have a suitable description on the system to report it either.

Even when I had a report number a nasty area of footway with dangerous-looking trees and overgrown vegetation has not been dealt with in well over a year despite chase-ups.

This situation requires serious scrutiny of what has been going on, particularly as I cannot be the only one to experience these problems to the council’s largest asset.

BARRY GIGGINS

Greenacre

Windsor


Sunak has not helped those on low incomes

Inflation is currently set for 6.2 per cent and due to increased to 8 per cent.

Energy bills are expected to increase by 50 per cent.

Universal credit and state pensions due to increase by 3.1 per cent.

The £20 a month increase in universal credit given during the COVID crisis now permanently removed.

National Insurance increasing by 1.25 per cent – though the base rate is increasing from £9k to £12k.

Fuel tax reduced by 5p a litre which is far less than the 50p increase in fuel that we have seen over the last year.

Everyone on low incomes will be hit by this latest spring statement and the Chancellor Mr Sunak has done nothing to help them.

We are the only major economy to put taxes up during a cost of living crisis.

So we have been witness to one of the worse budgets ever to be promoted by a Chancellor – and I cannot understand why people of low incomes have been so badly treated.

BRUCE ADAMS

Cox Green Lane

Maidenhead


Caveats, trade treaties and a big shambles

In February 2020 two of your correspondents told me that the time had come for me to give over writing letters about the EU.

(Viewpoint, February 6 2020, Gavin Ames, ‘Brexit is done – time for a new discussion’; February 13 2020, Hugh Lansley, ‘Time to put debate over Brexit to bed’)

In my response I pointed out that while the UK had indeed left the EU we still remained subject to swathes of EU laws thanks to an oxymoronic ‘status quo’ transition period during which nothing would change, and it was unclear when, or even if, that period would end (Viewpoint, February 13 2020, ‘Don't keep UK in transition legal limbo’)

However I did not imagine that more than two years later I would see the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his feet in the House of Commons announcing a beneficial tax change, but with the caveat that thanks to the Irish protocol it would not apply in Northern Ireland.

While behind him sat the Prime Minister who had negotiated that damaging protocol to his near worthless EU trade treaty, who must now plead with the EU to allow an exception to their VAT rules – unlikely to happen – trying to pretend that somehow it was not his fault.

Why did he get us into this fix?

Because he was desperate to get his deal, however little it was worth, and he was prepared to sell out Northern Ireland to get it; and equally he will not want to lose it now by invoking Article 16 of the protocol to suspend its operation.

As for the true economic value of his trade deal to the UK, I have now asked five government departments and I still await a substantive answer; so it may be sensible to accept the EU Commission’s plausible estimate that it is worth a paltry 0.75 percent of UK GDP.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


Get involved and get talking about autism

We want as many of your readers, local schools and businesses to get involved in World Autism Acceptance Week (28 March - 3 April).

There’s been a huge increase in awareness of autism over the past 20 years. But not enough people understand the different perspectives, passions and skills autistic people can have and also what it’s like to be autistic.

This is why World Autism Acceptance Week is so important. It’s a chance to get society talking about autism.

Anyone can get involved by visiting autism.org.uk/waaw where we’ve got information and free resources like assembly plans for schools, quizzes and posters for the workplace. Better understanding of autism across society and appropriate Government funding for support and services would transform hundreds of thousands of lives.

AMANDA MAKOKA

Principal of the National Autistic Society Academies Trust's Thames Valley School

Tilehurst, Reading

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