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Viewpoint: By-election thanks, regeneration and the general election

Featuring letters from candidates who contested the recent Riverside by-election and concerns about the BLP from a former councillor. Scroll down to read all of this week's Viewpoint letters.

Staff reporter

Staff reporter

Riverside by-election: Meet the Candidates

Delighted to have won Riverside by-election

I am delighted to have won the recent Riverside by-election for the Conservative Party. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that voted for me and the team of volunteers who helped get our message across.

Over a period of five weeks I spoke to hundreds of Riverside residents and called on thousands of doors, the main purpose being to fully understand what we are doing right as a council and where we can improve.

There was a great deal of satisfaction reported with residents generally happy with the council performance but more work needed to reduce speeding and anti-social parking in the Riverside area.

I shall be working hard over the coming years to preserve and enhance this very beautiful part of Maidenhead and to repay the faith shown in me by the residents.

Thank you.

Cllr GREG JONES

Conservative councillor for Riverside


Party machines in full swing ahead of vote

I would like to sincerely thank the 428 residents who put their trust in me and voted for The Borough First (TBF) in last week’s by-election in Riverside.

When you stand as an Independent, it is humbling to receive so many personal votes, rather than a largely impersonal 'party’ endorsement when you represent a national party, I have of course done both.

I listened to the second Advertiser discussion (podcast), which included the by-election, and largely agreed with the conclusions that Will Taylor, George Roberts and Kieran Bell came to.

This was namely that with the ongoing Brexit shambles in Parliament, and the calling of a snap general election next month, many voters were perhaps understandably swayed by national political matters.  

TBF was formed to promote collaboration, respect and integrity in local government along with keeping national party politics out of our local council.

The national party machines were in full swing in this by-election and also gearing up into general election mode, the Lib Dems saying on polling day that they had ‘so many volunteers, including some from High Wycombe, they did not know what do with them’.

However, when you consider that TBF only launched in September 2018, just 14 months ago, versus the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who have over 200 years between them to build their party machines, for us to retain 22 per cent of the vote in this climate cannot be considered to be shabby.

If you share our vision and want to help turn that vision into reality, please visit www.theboroughfirst.org and get involved.

CLAIRE STRETTON

Leader, The Borough First


BLP will turn town in to a concrete jungle

It is very difficult for me to write as i have been a Conservative supporter for 50+ years and a Royal Borough councillor for eight of those years.

During my years as a councillor I think we as a council produced some amazing results for our residents.

However, I cannot sit idly by and watch my town reduced to a high-rise soulless, hideous place.

As a councillor I voiced my opinion on many occasions that to proceed with developments, as proposed in the Borough Local Plan, would not be in the best interest of residents.

To build hundreds of flats/apartments on the basis that the residents would not need parking for cars is both a ludicrous and potentially dangerous assumption.

As an active member of the development control panel, I often disagreed with the head of planning [Jenifer Jackson].

But on the issue of building these high-rise blocks her opinion was that we possibly were ‘building the slums of the future’ – a statement that  I wholeheartedly agree with.

To build on the various greenbelt sites, as proposed in both the BLP and the regeneration of Maidenhead, is to destroy the character of this town.

This is a town and not a city.

The  new version of the BLP is now reportedly proposing up to 26-storey buildings, which would mean most houses would be overlooked and the skyline would be reminiscent of a concrete city/jungle.

I doubt if I am alone in the want to protect my town from all this development and I think it is time for this council to revisit the proposals before it’s too late.

Yes, our town needed a makeover, but one that complements the character of a great place to live.

We were once known as the jewel of the Thames, but this proposed plan removes forever the chance of getting back to that position.

We are in danger of becoming solely a dormitory town for central London.

The adage that is put forward that if we do not submit a feasible BLP then central government would roll roughshod over objections, while indeed possible, does not mean that it is a certainty.

I would state that I do not consider this BLP as presented a sensible or feasible proposition. We have a borough here that is mostly greenbelt or Crown land and as such certain credence could be given to a reduced number of proposed dwellings.

I do not think any Government would want to commit political suicide by going against the wishes of the population of Maidenhead once their case has been made.

I submit that the BLP as presented is not in the best interests of the residents of Maidenhead however it does appear to be in the best interests of developers.

I had hoped that with a reduction of councillors and a sensible amount of opposition that common sense would prevail.

The inclusion of Spencer's Farm in the  BLP – a development that I fought against – along with other greenbelt sites highlights the fact that the present council is possibly no better than the previous one in putting financial gain before residents’ wishes.

DEREK SHARP

Councillor for Furze Platt

May 2011- May 2019


No coherence to plans for regeneration

The appearance side-by-side of two major yet disparate articles on Maidenhead’s town centre regeneration (Advertiser, November 7) confirmed my belief that there is no coherence to the plan – in fact there is no plan.

While JPT Architects are reported on page 6 to be masterminding walkabouts to achieve a ‘place-making Vision and Charter’ with community buy-in, piecemeal projects that should have been its realisation are already under way.

And alongside on page 7 is the report on Areli Real Estate ‘restoring the town’s glory’ with a conceptual and physical transformation of Nicholsons Centre from a ‘shopping centre’ to a ‘town centre’.

Other examples and evidence of the mess (from parking to visual effect) that we are heading towards, both en-route to the changes and once – if ever – it is all completed, are too numerous to mention; but the bottom line is that what was once supposed to be a coherent regeneration plan is falling apart around our ears, with no visible top-down management.

KEITH ROBINSON

Littlewick Green


Sinking feeling from Waterways chairman

When I read another viewpoint by Richard Davenport, chairman of Maidenhead Waterways, my heart sinks because he never accepts the damage he proposes (Viewpoint, November 7).

We have recently had changes in the council, and the changes have included their policy on the environment so it is important to continue to refute his comments.

Two of his comments need review:

  •  “Stable water levels throughout the town centre will provide aquatic connectivity between Bray Cut in the south and Summerleaze lakes to the north.”

Mr Davenport, in this letter, refers to ‘alternatively flooding and then drying out’. He is well aware that there are no stable water levels, as his team try to negotiate more water for The Ring.

It seems inconceivable that Maidenhead Waterways did not take into account the lack of water available from upstream in the dry years.

Local history is full of floods and drought in Maidenhead.

  •  “Once the fallen trees have been cleared Bray Cut surely has ample space for recreational canoes and wildlife to co-exist, as they do on the main river.”

Two matters were covered in my letter to the Advertiser in November 2018, regarding the inappropriate use of The Cut at Bray for canoeing and fallen trees:

Recreational canoes:

“….it will not have escaped anyone’s notice that within a few hundred metres of the water is Braywick Sewage Works. What may not be so obvious to the casual observer is that the sewage works discharges straight into the river at the north end, and almost all of the water flow of the Bray Cut comes from the sewage works.

“The sewage effluent is treated and judged to ensure it doesn’t impact the ecological quality of the river. However, effluent is not treated to remove bacteria. A retired local GP was consulted about whether there was concern for health in local waters. When in practice, she referred such cases to the hospital bacteriologist and was advised to be concerned about Weil’s disease and Campylobactor.

“Weil’s disease is known to cause kidney and liver failure and death after a mild viral infect as a first stage, but extremely serious if untreated. The other infection will simply cause sickness and diarrhoea, but can also impact on miscarriage. The GP went on to say that she would certainly not have recommended canoeing or small boating on The Bray Cut.”

Fallen trees:

“Confirmation has been received that Maidenhead Waterways will no longer cut back the protective trees in the Bray Cut waterway, planned for December this year (2018), in line with trees removed by volunteers in February. The council has listened to ecological reports, that to do so will have detrimental effects on fish that are reliant on the tree protection. It also saves the vernal water-starwort, an important food source for birds and fish. This waterway hosts rarer duck in winter. In summer, many birds nest along the riverbanks.

“Along the Bray Cut, the six species of bat identified in May, including the soprano pipistrelle, noctule and brown long eared are all protected. In truth, we cannot list the protected species, because ecological surveys have not been done.”

I can only finish with a quote attributed to Mr Davenport in this paper in 2018: “No other part of the route (other than The Ring) has planning consent, is funded or is likely to proceed in the foreseeable future.” Let us all hope that in at least that, he is right.

MARK HEMMINGS

Braywick Road

Maidenhead


Police commissioners have plenty to focus on

I refer to the letter reported by you (‘Help to die law is not working’, October 31) from sundry police and crime commissioners (PCCs), including Mr Stansfeld of Thames Valley Police and Mr Hogg of Durham Constabulary. 

The PCC for Thames Valley was paid (including expenses, benefits in kind and pension contributions) £99,026 for 2018-19, according to his office’s website.

When you and I pay our council tax each month, we contribute to the funding of the police and crime commissioner’s office. 

Her Majesty’s Stationery Office has published explanatory notes (ISBN 978-0-10-560027-5) relating to the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which received Royal Assent on January 31, 2017. 

These notes state:

“59 On March 12 2015, the Home Secretary announced a range of reforms (House of Commons, Official Report, columns 36WS-38WS) as set out in the Government’s response to the consultation.

“60 Changes to the police disciplinary system include: ………….

  • •Ensuring that the IPCC investigate all cases involving chief officers;
  • Allowing the IPCC to present its own cases to disciplinary hearing panels.

“61 Changes to the police complaints system include: …….

  • •A stronger role for PCCs; …….
  • Ending the practice of non-recording complaints; ……..
  • Changes to the powers of the IPCC; and
  • Introducing a system of super-complaints.

“62 Chapters 1 to 4 of Part 2 of the Act give effect to those reforms announced in March 2015 requiring primary legislation.”

The Home Secretary referred to above was our Maidenhead MP, Theresa May.

I have repeatedly been told, in the two-and-three-quarter years since the 2017 Act received the Royal Assent, that its provisions have yet to be fully implemented. 

Despite a raft of ‘commencement regulations’, I believe that the provisions of sections 17 and 18, allowing the IPCC (now trading under the name Independent Office for Police Conduct) to initiate investigations themselves, and to require investigations to be re-opened, are among the provisions which currently represent a colossal waste of Parliamentary time, and tax-payer money.

Forgive me, but I should prefer police and crime commissioners, so handsomely paid out of my pocket and yours, to make fuss over powers which have been enacted but not implemented, rather than seeking to whip up their own hobby-horses. 

JAY FLYNN

Moneyrow Green

Holyport


Well done for town’s Remembrance Sunday

I see that Theresa May, candidate for Maidenhead, and no longer Prime Minister, chose to go to the cenotaph in London for Remembrance Sunday.

Surely she should have been at the town hall here in Maidenhead.

She obviously feels that her re-election here in Maidenhead is a forgone conclusion.

It probably is, but I just wanted to make a point to the residents of Maidenhead.

Well done to all those who attended, and there were many there!

It was great to hear a lot of people singing our national anthem passionately too, and lots joining in with the hymns!

I want to give a special mention to Daniel Hume, who I got to know briefly before he was tragically killed in Afghanistan.

We will remember you and everyone else who fought for our country and are sadly not with us! Well done to the Reverend Will Stileman who conducted a great service.

MICHAEL COLLINS

Marlborough Road

Maidenhead


Consistent message from the Lib Dems

Following on from Michael Collins letter of last week promoting the Brexit candidate, our local MP, Theresa May, gave her wholehearted support to the Remain campaign and 54 per cent of Maidenhead residents agreed with her.

But as Prime Minister she changed her mind, tried and failed to deliver Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, is a lifelong Euro-sceptic who is trying, and failing, to give a voice to Remainers.

The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, wrote two newspaper columns ahead of the EU referendum — one in favour of leaving and the other in favour of staying.

The deal which Boris Johnson made with the EU, which was worse than the deal Theresa May made, will sell the UK economy down the river, with no economic common sense, giving up tariff free trade to the EU for what?

At the end of 2020, Boris Johnson has negotiated a deal to come out of the EU and then hopes to be able to have a new trade deal in place with the EU, the terms of which have not been agreed but are to be negotiated!

Thank goodness for the Lib Dems and their consistently pro-Remain message.

The Lib Dems and their candidate Joshua Reynolds wants to keep us in the European Union, safeguard our NHS from privatisation and work to give our education system the funding it needs and build a fairer economy and also importantly tackle the climate emergency.

Liberal Democrats support that we remain in the EU with ALL the benefits it gives us.

Please do not throw these benefits away.

BRUCE ADAMS

Liberal Democrats

Cox Green Lane

Maidenhead


Value co-operation between nations

Before the referendum on EU three years ago there were six public meetings in Maidenhead.

I attended them all, with my wife, a former mayor who sadly is no longer with us.

She always stressed the established co-operation between nations, the friendship between peoples that had been established and above all the eradication of strife and wars that had blighted Europe for centuries.

I always warned that leaving EU might bring about the end of our United Kingdom with Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland wanting to remain in EU and becoming independent.

After three years that situation has not changed.

Brexiteers prefer to ignore these aspects.

Maidonians had a majority of ‘remain’ voters.

RUDI SHELDON

Grosvenor Drive

Maidenhead


Boris is just kicking the ball down the field

The 1975 referendum was about continued membership of the Common Market trading block and because the consensus of the UK electorate was against political union with Europe, we were promised that any future steps towards political integration would be subject to further referenda. 

These promises were then trashed by John Major signing the Maastricht Treaty and Tony Blair signing the Lisbon Treaty without consultation with the electorate.

In the 2016 referendum the UK electorate reiterated their consistently held conviction that UK sovereignty is not to be given away.

We now have a general election that attempts to realign the views of Parliament with the views of the electorate in order to unlock the Brexit impasse, with much being made that the electorate did not know what they were voting for in the 2016 referendum.

Yet the Cameron government spent millions on leafleting every household that a vote for Brexit was a vote to leave the EU Single Market and to leave the EU Customs Union. 

This was the definition of Brexit by the government that was then put forward on the referendum ballot paper.

Had we then had a conviction prime minister that enacted the electorate’s wishes, momentum would have achieved these goals faster via a WTO [World Trade Organisation] clean break and she would not have got embroiled in an Entrapment Agreement cynically called the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The Boris Johnson Withdrawal Agreement retains 95 per cent of the Theresa May WA with only two article changes relating to the Irish Protocol and free movement of people.

Just as Ted Heath sold out our fisheries industry in 1973, so Theresa May has sold out our armed forces in the security article of the WA. 

The UK armed forces become a subordinate part of the proposed EU Defence Force in the WA in which NATO is seen as a competitor by the EU. 

Putin cannot believe his luck.

The security article has been adopted unchanged in the Boris Johnson WA and becomes legally enforceable if the WA is signed off by parliament.

The second article of concern inherited from the Theresa May WA is that the European Court of Justice becomes the permanent arbiter in legal matters, even when the UK has left the EU. 

With EU tentacles penetrating laws, it is not unimaginable that future divergences from EU laws end up being resolved by judges in the ECJ picked by the EU. 

Switzerland is similarly experiencing that the EU tentacles reach further than anticipated in their European Economic Area single market agreement.

The apparent achievement of Boris Johnson in deleting the level playing field restrictions regarding tax, environment, labour, state aid and competition from the WA is not the victory it seems. 

It only kicks the level playing field can down the road into the political declaration where the EU will require these tentacles to be reattached.

These are serious implications affecting future UK generations if we vote for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, they overshadow temporary economic considerations, and will only be resolved by the choice of the UK electorate for a clean break Brexit.  

KEITH HALL

Highfield Lane

Maidenhead


Irish border differs from Schengen Area

Dr Cooper wrote about the border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland: “The solution I have proposed... is already being used to keep the border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland open” (Viewpoint, October 31).

Does he know that Liechtenstein and Switzerland are both in the Schengen Agreement, the passport-free travel zone?

Neither the United Kingdom, nor the Republic of Ireland, are in Schengen.

Liechtenstein and Switzerland have been in a customs union with each other since 1923.

Both are non-EU countries. Liechtenstein is in the European Economic Area while Switzerland is not.

There are mobile customs controls between them.

Dr Cooper does not seem to have explained how mobile controls could be avoided.

Please see: ‘No more controls on Swiss-Liechtenstein border’ on swissinfo.ch dated December 19, 2011.

PHIL JONES

Member, European Movement UK


Where is Maidenhead’s own caped crusader?

Lord Buckethead, where are you?

In contrast to the current crop we need your sound and rational policies.

Robin Williams

Chiltern Road

Bray


Spread light for vulnerable children

Last year, thousands of people came together to attend 265 local Christingle services across the Diocese of Oxford.

These special events raise money for The Children’s Society to help vulnerable children and young people.

They enable us to provide direct support to those who may be experiencing abuse, neglect or mental health issues, children who may be living in poverty, as refugees, or missing from home or care.

Their Christmas may be broken, but together we can help these young people. 

That is why I am encouraging people from the local area to attend a service and donate to The Children’s Society – please join us and share the light of Christingle.  

MARK RUSSELL

CEO, The Children’s Society

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