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Viewpoint letters (April 11, 2019)

Featuring debate on infrastructure, road safety, the Borough Local Plan and public questions at council meetings. Scroll down for all of this week's letters.

Staff reporter

Staff reporter

Viewpoint letters (April 11, 2019)

How are roads going to cope with development?

I have a frightening image of the borough, in particular, Maidenhead.

Housing is being developed at a pace; offices and places of work are being knocked down and making way for more residential development.

Where is the balance of work and workers?

Each new home will attract, say, two  workers but where will they work?

The trains will provide a small additional access but nothing enough to take the huge increase in residents.

This would suggest that they will travel by car, but already the roads in and out of Maidenhead are swamped.

The Oldfield Road (extension of the Stafferton link road) is at a standstill around the rush hour. 

Where is there any increased capacity on the roads? Where are the pollution reduction plans to stop the packed existing roads from killing us?

PAUL MESSING

Oldfield Road

Maidenhead


Strong evidence for museum and gallery

Maidenhead Civic Society gives its full support to the ambitions of the Heritage Centre trustees for a Maidenhead museum and art gallery, as outlined in the Advertiser last week.

The emerging new-look Maidenhead deserves and needs improved cultural facilities.

And the proposals for an impressive modern facility at the heart of the community, alongside the town hall and the library, would be a major asset.    

The Town Centre Area Action Plan (2011) aimed to revive Maidenhead’s reputation as a destination and it envisaged the York Road area as the civic and cultural quarter.

The museum  and art gallery plan accords with those aspirations; and the success of the Heritage Centre over its first 26 years is convincing evidence that it would work. 

BOB DULSON

Chairman

Maidenhead Civic Society


Hedgerow should be removed to save lives

I’m a cyclist in his 70s who frequently used the Lower Cookham Road, enjoying the scenic Widbrook Common as I pedalled joyfully to and from work.

However I always experienced trepidation as I approached the corner on the Cookham side of the Common for, although clearly signed no overtaking, impatient drivers – no doubt in a hurry to get to work – would actually overtake approaching the bend even though they are unable to see what’s coming towards them from around that bend. Truly frightening.

After being forced off the road a couple of times along the narrow stretch of the Sutton Road where that nasty wall exists – the one with the jagged broken glass embedded in cement on the top of the wall  –  I wisely opted for an alternative route, the tow path which comes out opposite School Lane in Cookham, but in doing so respecting the right of way of pedestrians along the way.

Over the years I’ve seen crashed carson the Widbrook corner by the bungalow, some head on.

Also flattened wire fencing where vehicles had veered off into the fieldwhere cattle are kept. Sadly,badgers and foxes are often killed on that stretch of road.

Having cycled that route hundreds of times, it always seemed obvious to me that the problem was caused by the hedgerow which runs from the stream to the first cottage on the right, just around the corner on the way to Cookham.

If this hedgerow was removed, the ground levelled, an effective wire fencing put in its place, there would be clear vision for all users along that stretch of road and that includes walkers who must be experiencing real fear as they go that way.

I hate seeing hedgerows disappear, although I often wonder why they are so close to the road thus causing carnage to wildlife, but I firmly believe for safety’s sake this one hedgerow should be removed before lives are lost.

PAUL WESTMACOTT

Harcourt Road

Dorney Reach


No parking – no people – no shops

The Borough Local Plan (BLP) is certainly flawed with regards to coherent strategy.

I looked at the development ofSaint-Cloud Way – probably better knownas the Magnet Centre. They wish to build 640 residential units on the site. Excluded from the redevelopment are two large doctors’ surgeries.

The patients use the car parking facilities of the Magnet Centre – but there is no requirement, it appears, for any parking for them in the redevelopment. In fact parking is not even mentioned as a key consideration.

It appears that the BLP promotes sustainable transport and alternatives to the use of private vehicles.

The BLP wishes to locate development to minimise the need to travel.

So no longer are we encouraged tovisit friends, go ten-pin bowling (because that is no longer possible in Maidenhead), or eat out at the lovely restaurants we have in the local countryside.

True, the Royal Borough is making itvery difficult to park a car in the BLP.And as for using the new ticket machines – nearly impossible.

If we are to develop a vibrant town centre, easy parking must be a priority.

No parking – no people – no shops.

We need a new vision for our town centre.  Not 17-storey flats .

BRUCE ADAMS

Cox Green candidate for Liberal Democrats


Regeneration must involve public input

We have something of an opportunity at present in Maidenhead.

Under new ownership, the Nicholsons Shopping Centre recently held initial consultations with various stakeholders and members of the public to gather ideas as to how the shopping centre and surrounding area could be redeveloped.

This is a positive first step.

The regeneration of an area must be done in consultation with the people who both live there and use its facilities.

So, it is only right that residents be involved in this process. However, we need to make sure that ALL residents feel they have the opportunity to express their opinions and have their voices heard. 

Upon hearing the word regeneration, many residents may feel they will be priced out of an area they have lived in for much of their lives, with little hope of their children able to afford to live here in the future.

Gentrification is the negative by-product when areas are improved more with investment and profit in mind than the people who already live there. Much of the development going on in and around the Royal Borough is happening to cater for the influx of people who are being priced out of London, creating a kind of second-hand gentrification.

With the amount of residential development, particularly high-rise residential development, both in progress and being planned, we must avoid Maidenhead becoming a dormitory settlement and instead encourage the sort of sympathetic development that not only encourages newcomers but is also for the benefit of existing residents. 

We are, therefore, at a crossroads.

Positive first steps have been made with regard to the redevelopment of Nicholsons and the surrounding area and, indeed, many interesting ideas have arisen as a result.

However, it is vital to ensure that any ideas and proposals are inclusive and available to all with there being, for example, appropriate levels of affordable and social housing that are thoughtfully integrated into redevelopment plans.

In addition, involving young people and older residents will ensure that they are adequately catered for in terms of facilities and services that may be provided. Only then will we have a truly people-friendly town with the arts, theatre, technology and shopping, with associated services and infrastructure, that can engage residents and attract visitors. 

Many residents in and around the Royal Borough feel that they aren't listened to by the current administration and that is certainly a situation that the candidates with The Borough First are seeking to overturn.

We really do want our residents to not only participate in the plans to regenerate our town centre but also to engage with us on other issues affecting their daily lives.

That is why the upcoming local election on May 2 is so important. It is time to vote for The Borough First so that we can have a council that works for everyone.  

DEREK PHILIP-XU

St Mary’s ward candidate for The Borough First


Horrified at ban on public questions

On the doorsteps I am finding that everyone is horrified when they learn that, from May, the council has banned ‘supplementary’ public questions at council meetings.

This was literally the ONLY opportunity that residents had to ask spontaneous questions in public meetings, and get unscripted answers from their elected representatives.

The Borough First’s councillors obviously tried to prevent this but, with a virtual monopoly on power, 27 Conservative councillors backed the ban. They argued that it was in the public interest to end this ancient right to hold them to account.  

Independent councillor Hari Sharma (Furze Platt) warned the council that this was an attack on our collective right to free expression.

His wise words were sadly ignored, despite such rights usually being protected by councils under section 6 (and article 10) of the Human Rights Act. Article 10 guarantees the right ‘... to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority’.

Cllr Edward Wilson argued that the residents of Dedworth would not be too interested in the ‘plumbing’ of the RBWM constitution. The minutes record his astonishing statement that ‘the constitution only hampered professional politicians’.

He concluded by saying that ‘the constitution served the members of council; the members did not serve the constitution.’ 

I encourage Cllr Wilson, or any of the other 27 ‘professional politicians’ to write to the Advertiser and explain why they wanted this ban on being openly questioned.  

So there you have it. The stakes on May 2 in the local elections could not be higher.

If you believe that banning public questioning to aid ‘professional politicians’ in their unchecked quest to do whatever they like, then you should condone this ban by voting Conservative.

If, however, you believe that this is probably the most systematic and profound attack on free expression in our local democratic history, then you shouldsupport your fellow residents standing with The Borough First (TBF).

For those who are worried by this ban, and feel it is alien to your own hard-won values, then I hope you will talk to your friends, families and neighbours about it urgently. Word of mouth is the one form of free speech that they cannot yet ban.

ANDREW HILL

Boyn Hill candidate for The Borough First


Why won’t candidates reveal where they live?

I was shocked by something when I looked at the recent statement of persons nominated on the RBWM website.

I looked at the 19 candidates for the Borough first and then their values.

On their website it states ‘we are committed to complete, honest and transparent communication in ever respect’.

Then I looked at almost every candidate (there are 149) standing across the borough. In almost every case they disclosed where they live.

Yes, in a world where people in politics are threatened, etc almost every other candidate disclosed where they live.

But ominously, in the case of The Borough First, there is a very different approach.

Of their 19 candidates, 12 deliberately withheld their address.

Who are they? Where do they live? What are they hiding?

If you won’t even tell residents where you live, what hope for transparency if elected? 

LARS SWANN

Kentons Lane

Dedworth


What will councillors do to support countryside?

With the 2019 elections fast approaching, now is the time to ask those who aspire to be our councillors and mayors what they will do to support and promote a beautiful and thriving countryside, accessible for everyone to value and enjoy.

The beauty of Berkshire’s countryside is a local treasure and a shared resource for all, irrespective of ownership, ability or background.

The countryside has also repeatedly been shown to provide a wide range of social, environmental and health benefits.

The Berkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England – CPRE (Berkshire) – wants to see a beautiful countryside that is accessible to all, where the voices of residents are heard in local decision-making, and the needs of communities are met.

For this reason, I am supporting the manifesto produced by CPRE (Berkshire) and I will be writing to successful candidates calling on them to do the same.

The manifesto calls on all parties to develop policies so we can build the affordable homes local people need, improve access to the countryside for those least able to get there, clean up the countryside through introducing a deposit return system, and engage local people in decision-making on issues such as development on green belt land.

All candidates and members of the public are urged to support CPRE (Berkshire)’s manifesto.

JOHN HUDSON

Chairman

CPRE Berkshire Branch 


Millennium Walk is still a work in progress

As reported in the Advertiser the Royal Borough’s purchase of 110 acres of White Place Farm as new public open space, to be called Battlemead Common, has created the opportunity to fill in one of the missing links in the Millennium Walk.

The Walk is a joint project of Maidenhead Civic Society and East Berks Ramblers and consists of a 12.5km (under eight miles) route from Hurley across to Maidenhead Riverside that connects at each end with the Thames Path.

Leaflets about the Millennium Walk are being supplied to Maidenhead Library free of charge by both organisations.

Once the new link is in place the leaflet will be updated.

The Friends of Battlemead Common is to be set up in July to make decisions about how to manage the new common and will include a range of organisations with an interest in what the common can provide.

We would like your readers to be aware that, unfortunately, some decisions have already been taken.

Presumably to avoid any future litigation, the Royal Borough has erected fences to keep walkers away from the risk of falling trees. The higher the tree the further way from the boundary is the fence.

Even a small culvert bridge crossing the White Brook is about to be fenced.

I understand the route into the common from the Widbrook will be via an avenue of fences as there are some tall trees at that corner.

In addition, unlike Marsh Meadow, once the old White Place Farm fence alongside the Thames Path was removed,a hedge was planted five metres away to restrict access to the common until designated paths can be mown to control movement of walkers.  

The reasons for these decisions are partly to prevent the council being sued, and partly to limit access to wetland areas for nature conservation purposes.

There are various problems that will need to be tackled, ranging from controlling the Azolla outbreak in the pond on Battlemead Common to controlling the behaviour of dogs. With regard to the latter, the Society will be bringing to the attention of the Friends group, advice from Steve Jenkinson, consultant to the Kennel Club, on managing dogs in public open space.

The aim of the Civic Society will be to ensure that as much public access is possible  to the spectacular views and landscape of this beautiful new common .

ANN DARRACOTT

Projects coordinator, representative of Maidenhead Civic Society on the Friends of Battlemead Common


Walk to school to limit climate change impact

I was amused by the climate emergency protest outside the town hall. Children were involved along with mums and dads.

Now, wait a minute, what about people who insist their children are taken by car to within about two metres of school gate?

How much fuel is consumed on what is known as the school run?

I suggest these people examine their lifestyles, including do we really need that large, gas-guzzling 4x4 on the school run?

When I was a child, every child walked to school summer and winter. Maybe these children can walk to school to save the planet?

The same applies to these large children protests in London. They lack credibility because the next day they will be taken to school in a car adding to climate change.

One notices when the schools are on holiday a lot of traffic jams disappear.

E SHEPHERD

Longmead

Windsor


Call for courtesy from rush-hour motorists

Am I the only one who’s frustrated with the traffic on Ray Mill Road West?

Every day, the road gets gridlocked with vehicles that appear to be detouring from Lower Cookham Road, cutting through to Cookham Road and then travelling down to the Kidwells roundabout. They end up queuing at the mini-roundabout at the Cookham Road junction.

The drivers aren’t doing anything wrong going this way, and I don’t have a problem with that. But the ones that have really got my goat are the folks who refuse to allow us drivers who live on the roads that branch off Ray Mill Road West into the road during morning rush hour.

A good deal of the time, I’m let in by helpful drivers who usually recognise that because the queuing traffic is going nowhere, letting one car into Ray Mill Road West isn’t going to cost them or the people behind them much time.

But you often get cars blocking in the residents as if it’ll delay them by a whole morning.

The other day, one driver in the traffic jam was so keen to stop me from pulling out that she essentially drove bumper to bumper with the car in front of her, and I could swear she was looking at me as she did that.

That’s not been an isolated occurrence. Can the minority of drivers choosing to cut through Ray Mill Road West that refuse to show a bit of courtesy to the drivers living on its offshoot streets, who have no choice but to use it, have a rethink?

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED


Deal or No-Deal referendum needed

Although the Brexit Referendum was consultative (as were the 1997 devolution referendums conducted in Scotland and Wales), the leaflet circulated by the Government to all households said ‘This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide’.

Parliament and the Government have failed to accomplish this. The attitude of the establishment and remainers has been that those who voted leave were either misled by slogans on buses or too stupid to know what they were voting for.

I  certainly knew what I was voting for and wrote to your paper at the time concerning some of the issues (June 16, 2016).

I believe that the only fair way of proceeding now is to have a second referendum in which the people are asked to vote either for or against a ‘no-deal Brexit’ i.e.. leaving the EU unilaterally under WTO terms – Yes or No.

In my opinion, practically every leave voter assumed that this was what would be implemented in the event of no agreement on trading terms being reached during the two years allocated in Article 50 for this purpose.

The very idea of a withdrawal agreement that was separate from agreeing trading terms was not an issue in 2016 and was an imposition by the EU after Parliament invoked Article 50 in 2017.

It was this unilateral action by the EU that created the distinction between leaving with or without a deal.

The second Referendum should not be advisory but should pass into law without further legislation within a period defined by the legislation.

It would be of the same type as the 2011 Referendum concerning Proportional Representation.

No one can argue that, after three years of discussion, the people do not know enough about Brexit to be entrusted with such a decision.

If yes obtains a majority, the 2016 Referendum would finally have been honoured.

If no obtains a majority, Parliament can continue looking for a ‘deal’ until it either gets bored with the matter, or finally reveals its true colours and cancels Brexit altogether.

Dr CJW GUTCH

Burchetts Green


MPs not working in interests of the country

It is quite clear that Labour is only interested in having a Labour government in power under Corbyn than working to find a solution to Brexit. Certain MPs are jumping on the bandwagon to promote themselves rather than the interest of the country.

GILLIAN GOLDINGHAM

Shoppenhangers Road

Maidenhead


No one called for a second vote in 1975...

Reading Bruce Adam’s comment’s ‘Foreign influence and voter manipulation’ (Viewpoint, April 4), I wonder what he made of the 1975 referendum?

By that I am referring to the strangely worded ballot papers written in such a way to cause confusion and hesitation at the polling station.

Many people saying the following day that they weren’t sure which way they voted.

I don’t remember anyone calling for another vote. Leavers just accepted it.

PA COVENTRY

Wessex Way

Cox Green

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