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Viewpoint letters: Battlemead and St Mark's parking

Featuring debate on protecting wildlife at Battlemead Common and the ongoing row over changes to parking in St Mark's Road. Scroll down for all of this week's letters.

Staff reporter

Staff reporter

Viewpoint letters: Battlemead and St Mark's parking

Battlemead is a haven for birds and wildlife

People are strange creatures.Tell folk not to touch something hot, they will still get burned. Tell folk to avoid danger, they will still rush in.

So when we are told that parts of a newly acquired piece of land has real ecological potential and should be left undisturbed, I suppose it is not surprising some folk still want to roam all over it at the risk of depleting its wildlife interest, as in last week’s letter ‘Discover more about Battlemead Common’.

So why is there constant clamouring from some quarters to access those parts of Battlemead that have been declared of natural history importance by experienced locals and paid-for professionals?

Do they believe that those who have monitored the area for years are exaggerating, or even lying?

Were the family parties of autumn lapwings fictional?

Were the annual teal, on their way to breed and stopping over to rest a few weeks on seasonal wetlands, with similar numbers of wandering wigeon, a figment of somebody’s imagination?

Were the mating oystercatchers in early spring for the last three years merely a dream?

Was the global-travelling wood sandpiper, seeking a valuable muddy resting place, perhaps just a brown blackbird causing confusion?

This same letter states that all the birds are now absent? How can that be known? No access has been permitted for months and in any case surrounding vegetation hides most of the natural features in question.

Whatever their origin, these seasonal flash-waters are of tremendous importance to truly wild birds at particular times of the year. These are not semi-tame Canada geese coming towards us for food!  And whilst perhaps a relatively recent occurrence, these features have appeared at Battlemead just as large numbers of other such sites are disappearing through development and climate change.

Maybe 80 years ago this was not so and a walk across that field would cause no harm to wildlife. Things are now different.

It is totally incompatible with modern knowledge of the collapse of all manner of creation’s populations to start tramping over such a small area just because someone used to do the same in a previous century.

The same letter is misleading also in comparing the site with national nature reserves. These are vast areas, typically of many thousands of acres.

One can manage access on this scale to avoid the most sensitive areas.

East Battlemead is one small field! It just happens to have a habitat unlike any elsewhere nearby.

It will continue to attract the scarcer birds and other wildlife and should be something the Royal Borough, and we as a community, can be proud of.

But allowing walkers, cyclists and free-ranging dogs constantly wandering a few feet from the water’s edge every day is obviously going to have only one result.  

Perhaps that is what some folk want; that nature is an inconvenience when it gets that specialised (or rare due to our previous escapades in England’s once green and pleasant land). I do hope not.

There are already 55 miles of footpaths around the Cookhams and north Maidenhead. Is this 1km crossing such an inflammatory topic if it becomes recognised as the last place in the area actually set aside for sensitive wildlife?

I do hope reason prevails.




Facing a simple choice over future of common

The debate about the future of Battlemead is perhaps one of the most important local issues at present.

The letter from the Civic Society and the East Berks Ramblers in last week's Advertiser presents a very well-argued point of view for wide-ranging public access and, in days gone by, most of us would probably have said it seems totally reasonable.

But those days have gone by and that's the point.

Battlemead is now something of a test case to determine how seriously we take the challenges of wildlife decline and climate change that now face us all - humans and other animals alike.

Two months ago our council, on our behalf, declared an environment and climate emergency, reflecting the reality of these challenges.

The evidence is clear: carbon dioxide and other emissions and changing land use threaten the existence of life on the planet.

This is not the view of a few extremists but now received wisdom.

The question is how far we are prepared to rethink the way we run our lives and whether we continue to put human society's needs at the top of the priority list, whatever the long-term outcomes.

This is where Battlemead fits in.

It is an area which has had minimal human access for decades. 

It may already be the most biodiverse site controlled by the borough - otter, other mammals, wild flowers along old hedgerow lines, overwintering water birds, kingfishers, barn owls - and it has the potential, with due care and management, to contribute significantly to our local biodiversity and to tackling one of the most worrying environmental challenges (farmland birds down by around 60 per cent, butterflies and other insects reduced by up to 75 per cent, wetland areas fast disappearing from our landscape - all in the last few decades).

Those of us with a vision for Battlemead as a wildlife haven can see the enormous benefit for local people, having such a place on our doorstep.

Those in favour of general public access will say that due attention will be paid to the interests of wildlife.

But if human interests are put first then we all know that wildlife will come a very poor second.  Moreover, in the short term there should be no debate.

The council's own guidelines stress that there must be a net biodiversity gain shown for any development so it is essential that the necessary studies are undertaken first with minimum human and canine interference. Nobody should argue with that.

So we face a simple choice: accept that Battlemead is a public park and that the public amenity trumps taking a small but significant step to restoring the balance of our natural habitats.

Or have the vision to realise that we can do both what the environment and climate emergency tells us to do, and create a wonderful natural resource on our doorstep available for the enjoyment of our local population for years to come.


Chair of WildCookham


Chair of Wild Maidenhead

Recycling site closure would see more traffic

Those of us that use the A308 to travel between Windsor and Maidenhead know how busy this road can be, and it’s getting busier as developments are introduced along its length, with more planning applications rumoured or in the pipeline .

It’s just not that we see more traffic that we know it’s busy it also has above national guidelines for air pollution.

We read ‘good news‘ stories from the Royal Borough that they are planting trees and will be exploring biodiversity in our road verges.

Then along comes a ‘bad news‘ story from Royal Borough.

Regular users of the A308 will also be aware of the Sutherland Grange recycling site and the often appalling abuse from some people who use it as a dump for all sorts of rubbish.

The Royal Borough response to this previously was that cameras would be installed and those that abuse the recycling area would be prosecuted.

It hasn’t worked and the political football of Sutherland Grange site between ex councillors and current councilors has seen a proposal to close the site altogether in some bizarre experiment. Use your blue bin or take your recycling and rubbish to the recycling site in Vicus Way, Maidenhead.

You’ve already guessed where this is heading.

Yes, even more journeys along the A308 as Windsor residents recycle their rubbish in Maidenhead .

If the Royal Borough is serious about recycling, biodiversity and climate change they need to ensure that residents in Windsor have access to recycling points that decrease the length of car journeys NOT increase .

Come on Royal Borough, past and current councilors.Stop the political football match and find a solution to the recycling needs of Windsor residents.


Priors Way


Surely parking changes are an improvement

I am sorry that Mrs Ann Burdett found my letter ‘harsh’ (Viewpoint, August 22) but I feel that there has been some misconception regarding the new parking regulations in the area of the Pincushion, and I hope not too many people with disabilities were offended by my letter.

The signage below, as I understand it (and somebody will surely correct me if I am wrong) allows parking by residents and business permit holders with permits STM at any time, and the rest of of us mere mortals for two hours.

This has effectively released the parking bays to casual parking and removed all day parking which took place in the area of the St Marks Hospital.

This, as I see it, must be good news for the local businesses as on my last visit there were lots of available places.

Whilst there are some things that you can blame the council at the Royal Borough for I think this re-designation of these parking areas is not one of them.

I think the continuing roadworks and traffic lights has had a more detrimental effect on business in this area, especially as their are now TWO set of traffic lights along St Marks Crescent and although this was my route to work, I now avoid the area like the plague.


East Road


Could the council offer a lost property service?

Last week I lost my Volvo ignition key somewhere in Maidenhead.

Being of a certain age I tried in vain to find a local number for the police station but without success.

I then tried to Google ‘report lost item to Maidenhead police'. It looked more promising, but soon discovered that our local police no longer offer a lost property service for items under £500.

As I had already contacted the stores, banks and cafes that I had visited (and still no trail of the lost key) I contacted the town hall and a very pleasant gentleman revealed that the local police had informed them of their revised policy regarding the reporting of items valued at under £500 i.e. there is no service available.

I wonder if our local authority might restore some community spirit and offer a lost property service at the town hall?

I know that there might be a storage problem, but this could be solved by a ‘three month clause’ after which the unclaimed item is dumped, auctioned or donated to charity.

Meanwhile I am offering a £100 reward or donation to charity if you find my Volvo key.

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