05:45PM, Tuesday 20 November 2018
It isn’t fair to compare Maidenhead to Totnes
In his opinion column last week (Viewpoint, November 8), Gavin Ames observed that Maidenhead town centre is being stifled by a lack of innovation.
Apparently we shoppers want to be dazed and wowed by businesses selling exotic goods whilst our senses are titillated by the mouth-watering aromas of cooking from around the world.
Mr Ames blamed the demise of the Maidenhead Shopping Experience on high business rates and a lack of loyalty incentives.
But the best bit came when he went on to compare Maidenhead with Totnes to prove his points. Let’s take that thought and expand:
Totnes is a tourist destination in Devon. Maidenhead is neither.
Totnes has a picturesque high street made famous by generations of film and TV programme makers. Maidenhead is quite near to where horror movies were once filmed.
Totnes is full of shops with bum-clenchingly twee names where you can buy shoes made from seaweed, coffee tables crafted from shipwrecks and clothes created specifically for their designer’s friends.
Maidenhead has an endless choice of outlets where you can buy spectacles and mobile phones before enjoying a coffee whilst Googling the quickest way out of the place.
It’s interesting to note that quite a lot of the business premises on Totnes high street are up for sale, so one could be forgiven for assuming that business isn’t quite as good as we’re led to believe.
And, by the way, Mr Ames, Maidenhead does have a sports shop – quite a famous one, actually.
What Maidenhead lacks is vision; it simply doesn’t know what it wants to be despite the destructive meddling of successive councils.
Will Crossrail turn it into a litter-strewn dormitory town where people only come out at night?
Will it transform itself into a Thames-side destination of choice, encouraging rich Americans to sail across the Atlantic to its sumptuous marinas for a coffee?
Will it become a town of expensive flats filled with council management looking down on their subjects blundering sadly past empty shops and Big Issue vendors?
Until Maidenhead has worked out what it wants to be, it’s pointless putting any effort into attracting people to live and shop here.
One thing’s for sure though, as long as this borough continues to be run by greedy, self-serving councils, it will always be one of those places destined to have the phrase ‘when I moved here in the Eighties it was lovely’ inscribed on its tombstone.
Individual shops are the only way forward
Maidenhead will only look ridiculous if it tries to ape its bigger cousins London and Reading.
The wiser of the two, Reading, will soon inform it that its shopping centre is clear of tall buildings; that it has sensibly retained some sense of scale, and that it exists for its people, not for its constructions; above all, that sun and sky matter.
What would revitalise the town, give it a special and unique flavour, attract people from neighbouring towns?
In his article, Gavin Ames has made the excellent case for artisan outlets, and individual shops which could be encouraged with subsidised rents.
This seems to me the only way forward. Or, alternatively, what’s not to like?
In the section about the town centre in the Borough Local Plan, I suggested attracting and encouraging independent cafes and boutiques.
A while ago, the lovely French patisserie was driven away, as were other independent cafes, whether by market forces or other reasons, I don’t know.
What I do know is that, given some incentive and support, they would have survived the competition from the giants which have a hold on every town and city.
Why not give it a go, planners? You might enjoy sitting in friendly premises, savouring a croissant freshly baked that morning at 6am by the owner, and you might get used to drinking excellent coffee. That is worth a thousand indifferent lattes.
You might appreciate shopping in different outlets to suit your tastes, and to buy something special.
Let the people of Maidenhead enjoy a gentle and unique experience – open skies, friendly individual shops and cafes.
Can you think of one good reason against such a prospect?
Let’s get high street specialists to lead
I am writing in response to articles which appeared in both last week’s ’Tiser and its sister paper, the Express, concerning Windsor shops.
Gavin Ames’ ‘Lack of innovation is killing town’ was thought-provoking and right on-the-button. In it he made reference to Windsor ‘doing quite nicely’. Well, it’s not.
Paul Roach, town manager is quoted in the Express: “Windsor, like everybody, is facing challenges on the high street …”
Social media posts from local shopkeepers bemoan the lack of footfall and this is reflected in lower car park revenue.
Well-known chains such as Next and Bobbi Brown are departing, as are many others, including the much-loved independents.
The former Fenwick store and the My Local still remain empty.
So, what’s to be done?
Why not hold a charrette, bringing together residents, local businesses and the council to find a solution?
Let’s get in planners with a proven track-record in place-making in high streets to lead the process.
Let’s learn from other high streets which have succeeded in turning the tide, such as Barnes and Doncaster?
Last week PwC published research on high street retailing and said ‘The British High Street is in need of new ways of thinking and new forms of retail. Encouraging this should be a priority …’.
Just sitting back and wringing hands won’t deliver.
It’s time for a new approach.
Holyport statistics do not represent Bray
In last week’s Advertiser (Viewpoint, November 8), Andrew Cormie provides convincing data, but it only represents Holyport which is a small part of Bray parish.
To claim stats for Holyport represent Bray parish is erroneous.
The question remains – where is your evidence Mr Elvin?
In fact Mr Cormie chose to ignore the real point of my letter, that Bray is 97.4 per cent greenbelt and this inhibits the availability of land for proper homes for local families– homes comprising house and gardens, not stifling apartments.
So I suggest to Mr Cormie that, rather than focusing on stats in support of Mr Elvin, he pushes the BPC to better support local families.
Moving polling station is not quality service
In last week’s Viewpoint page, Cllr Gilmore has declared that all front-line Adult Social Care services in the Royal Borough will be funded and that the adult services precept will be used to do this.
I should hope so – that’s what it’s there for!
However, one of the front-line services the council runs is electoral services.
Cllr Gilmore is in charge of the panel that has decided to move a Pinkneys Green polling station from a built-up area to a location which will be inaccessible to vulnerable adults.
Perhaps whilst patting himself on the back about funding, Cllr Gilmore should consider what he really means by ‘best quality service’.
Surely the right to vote is fundamental to our democracy?
The proposed new location discriminates against groups of residents and especially those who are most vulnerable.
Is this the best the council can offer?
‘Tanks’ make car park spaces seem narrower
How I agree with Bruce Adams (Viewpoint, November 8) on the subject of narrow parking spaces.
I’m fed up with having to squeeze in and out of my car in public car parks, and I’m no giant!
The other day at a local supermarket, I waited in trepidation as a couple in a huge Land Rover Discovery Sport drove forward into the space next to me, had to back in and out numerous times, in order to get the car even semi-straight.
It ended up with the husband unable to get out on his side so his wife had to struggle out of the narrow gap next to the passenger seat and was thus obliged to do the shopping on her own.
This vehicle is apparently so wide that there is only six inches of space either side in a standard-sized bay. However, it’s merely one of many offenders.
Cars have certainly become wider but is it really necessary for people to buy vehicles the size of Panzer tanks or dumper trucks just do the twice-weekly shop or leave them at the station all day?
But, of course, if car parks were to be created with wider bays, that would mean fewer spaces. So we’d no doubt end up with my other bête noir. This is the driver who spots someone with a full trolley heading for their car and who then hovers whilst they unload numerous bags of shopping, return the trolley, saunter back, get in slowly, fasten the seat belt, switch on the radio and eventually back out.
Meanwhile, a queue of frustrated motorists has built up behind the waiting driver who has selfishly clogged up an entire supermarket instead of moving on to find an empty space.
Maybe the answer is to create a section of extra-wide spaces for those with super-sized vehicles, preferably somewhere in the dark and distant regions of car parks.
Or, better still, how about adjusting motor vehicle tax according to the width and length of your car?
Don’t bang on – keep fireworks for the 5th
The day might come when, once again, Guy Fawkes Night will be celebrated by everyone who wants to celebrate it, in unison with everyone else on the fifth of November in a proper, enjoyable and spectacular way.
But until then it seems we are doomed to long, drawn-out salvos of rockets, bangers and other outrageously noisy fireworks disturbing and frightening neighbours and residents throughout the nights, whether we are very young, very old, feline, canine or other line.
Just like nearly everything else ‘people’ do these days, no one gives a damn and those who don’t know where or when to draw the line carry on with their antisocial behaviour.
If people can’t realise that, then over-the-counter fireworks should be totally banned.
NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED
Keep the pyrotechnics to official displays
Not to be a killjoy but it really is about time the sale of fireworks are banned to the general public and restricted only to organised displays!
On Friday, November 2 one of my neighbours had a display of these loud and frightening fireworks.
My cat, who normally isn’t too bothered, was beside herself, frightened and very scared.
The follow morning our garden and driveway were littered with lots of plastic shards (pictured below), some very large and others small enough to hurt and injure animals’ feet.
I dread to think what could have happened if anyone had walked past at the time when these sharp pieces were coming down!
Please, please stop the sale now and let’s all be safe.
NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED
Meet the architect of beautiful new bridge
Have you had chance yet to try out the wonderful new footbridge at Boulters?
Designed by Taplow resident, architect Martin Knight, the elegant, slender 35-metre arch provides an extension to the Thames Path with stunning new views of the Thames and Jubilee rivers.
A welcome link between two communities, it’s already proving very popular for creating an attractive mile-and-a-quarter circular walk between Maidenhead Bridge and Boulters Lock.
Maidenhead Civic Society, along with colleagues in the Hitcham and Taplow Society, has long been an advocate of a new crossing here. So we’re delighted that its designer, who has award-winning bridges to his name around the world, will be the guest speaker at our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, November 21.
We’re meeting in the Bromley Room at High Street Methodist Church at 8pm.
It’s open to non-members and admission is free.
Maidenhead Civic Society
Find MPs who achieve rather than just study
When many MPs have degrees and recent PMs have had Oxford degrees in geography, PPE and law, why were Brexit problems not foreseen?
Academic qualifications are a fine first step but it is experience, questioning minds and the ability to foresee potential problems that are needed for complex problems.
In commerce and industry, lawyers and other management professionals negotiating complex agreements establish red lines (sacred cows) not to be crossed and they do ‘due diligence’ to check for potential problems before they conclude agreements.
This is far removed from the position taken by several leading remain politicians who have law degrees but failed to foresee the risk of the problems now becoming apparent.
One issue which should have been obvious to all, particularly as the UK always resisted becoming part of a United States of Europe EU, is why did we ever accept ‘free movement of people’? This is now a question in several other EU countries.
But Brexit is not the only problem result-ing from ill considered policies; what of housing, the NHS, pensions, policing, law and order, education, buildings, etc?
Our prudence in former times limited mortgages to three times salary, university education to those with good exam results and we enforced building regulations, environmental laws and police enforced law and order.
Costs were cut on such essentials but new industries were created, e.g. the compensation and human rights industries which make lawyers very rich with the public picking up the bills.
It is time for a major rethink on democracy and perhaps whether we now need politi-cians who have been achievers in industry, agriculture, engineering and science rather than academic achievement in geography, PPE and law.
Call for PM to reject ‘unplayable hand’
An open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May: My message to you is composed out of a sensation of hopelessness and desperation.
Every day brings me new amazement at the utter incompetents you have surrounded yourself with. I just need to mention Johnson, Davis, Fox, Gove, Grayling, Raab…
Your predecessor left you an unplayable hand, it is true.
But to parrot ‘2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in British history’ is unwarranted and frankly, a lie.
The referendum was won on a basis of lies, only the most extreme of which was the infamous £350 million weekly to the NHS.
More fundamental is the demonising of the incubus in Brussels as faceless, unelected bureaucrats. Those faceless ones are appointed by elected politicians.
As I ask acquaintances, ‘do you know your MEPs?’ If you don’t, you’re not qualified to comment on Brussels and the various courts.
The future problems of the economy, manufacturing, pharma and food movements, driving licences, insurances, have not been addressed, and yet they will affect millions of people.
I hope, by the way, that your insulin supplies are secured.
A hopeless plea: just for once, think of the country and not your pathetic little party, and scrap this suicidal plan.
Competing interests as deal is brokered
Years ago there was a story that, in the opening session of the EU Parliament, members had been told that their task was to represent the EU to their constituents, not the other way round as some may have thought.
I recall that now because it is becoming increasingly clear that our Prime Minister Theresa May does not see her role in the Brexit negotiations as being on our side working for our national interests, but more to act as a kind of intermediary to strike compromises between the interests of the UK and those of the EU.
And especially the national interests of the Irish Republic, which stands to lose a greater fraction of its GDP from a badly managed Brexit than any other country, including the UK, but which by its obduracy over the border with Northern Ireland may well foolishly bring that fate down upon its own head.
For sure we would have to be stupid to think that the Irish government would ever willingly allow us to free ourselves from the rules of the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market once we had agreed to remain bound by them on a “temporary” basis, as Theresa May now wants us to do.
DR D R COOPER
Belmont Park Avenue
The evasions of self interest over invasion
Your correspondent, Mark Palmer (Viewpoint, November 1) need not worry.
Gibraltar and the Falklands are quite safe.
While Spain’s agricultural industry in Almeria, supplying cheap salad vegetables to the EU, adopts slave labour conditions for its African immigrant workforce and allows thousands of tonnes of greenhouse plastic to wash into the Mediterranean destroying marine life, employs poor Moroccan women as mules carrying heavy loads across the border of their outpost of Ceuta, there will be no wholesale attack on British territory.
Any difficulties which arise from our leaving the ‘club’ will, in time, be sorted – to everyone’s self interest and satisfaction.
Roll on Brexit.
Mrs KL HOLLIDAY
No Deal is the best way to leave the EU
It was made clear in the Conservative Party’s 2017 General Election Manifesto and the PM’s Lancaster House speech that we would quit the Customs Union, the Single Market and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
This is what the people voted for in the referendum 2016.
As much as I admire our PM and her enormous efforts, she was handed a more or less impossible task.
This is simply because the EU don’t want to do a deal; they just don’t want us to leave.
As the second or third largest net contributor to the EU budget, they want our money and are also fearful of the reper-cussions on the other member nations who may well be contemplating getting out.
In these circumstances, so starkly revealed over the last two painful years of negotiations, the only solution is NO DEAL. This in fact is the BEST DEAL!
For with no deal we can then as an independent nation under World Trade Organisation rules, have full access to the Single Market, there will be no transition period, we would exit two years earlier, have the enormous opportunities of trading freely with the rest of the world, not have to pay £39 billion of taxpayers money to Brussels which the House of Lords advise there is no legal obligation, and also regain control over fishing rights around these islands and so on.
All of this could, if we wanted, lead in the future to a Canada plus agreement to make in part the whole thing more palatable to our European friends and neighbours.
Cllr LEO WALTERS
Conservative councillor for Bray
Muslim community’s poppy appeal effort
Over the past few weeks, members from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Slough & South Bucks have been out raising funds for the annual Poppy Appeal.
His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Caliph and Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, says in relation to the Poppy Appeal: “Muslims are obliged to be loyal to the country in which they live.
“Honouring those who fought to defend and safeguard one’s country is an important principle of Islam and in fact an important principle of peace – especially when it is carried out with a sincere heart and for the sake of winning God’s pleasure.”
It is with this most pristine, eloquent and inspirational guidance that Ahmadi Muslims from across the UK come out in their thousands at this time of year, every year, to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the annual Poppy Appeal.
This year for example, the members of the community have raised approximately £500,000 for this most worthy of causes.
The Poppy Appeal provides the members of the community the opportunity to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, as well as the opportunity to serve humanity and to give back to the country in the best possible way, by sacrificing time and personal comfort, selling poppies door to door, at football stadiums, train stations, supermarkets and in local town centres.
The poppy is itself becoming a symbol of unity, helping to break down barriers and in turn establish respect, tolerance and harmony between faiths.
Uniting, with sincere hearts, for the common good is one of the best ways of creating interfaith harmony and establish-ing community cohesion, and at the same time, dispelling misconceptions based on ignorance, rendering the actions of those that wish to see division and strife helpless.
ATIQ AHMAD BHATTI
President,Ahmadiyya Muslim CommunitySlough & South Bucks
Top Ten Articles
All lines are currently blocked between London Paddington and Reading after a person was hit by a train between Maidenhead and Slough.