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Viewpoint: Row over council parking paper continues

Featuring discussion on paying respects on Armistice Day, the ongoing row between councillors over a parking paper and questions over unconscious bias training.

No one downed tools to mark eleventh hour

I joined a couple of dozen others – veterans, town hall staff etc – gathered near the memorial to pay our individual respects on Wednesday, November 11.

The Union Flag was lowered and raised to signal the start and end of the two minutes silence.

This was disgracefully ignored by the construction sites adjacent to the Town Hall on both sides of St Ives Road.

Crash, bang – the business of employing the rest of the world building overpriced apartments must continue unabated.

Lest we forget!

JOHN WALSBY

Kelsey Close

Cox Green


Parking, driving and the quality of our air

Following Councillor David Cannon’s letter in last week’s Advertiser (Viewpoint, November 12) on the new parking strategy, we have three positive suggestions.

There were two distinct parts to the paper that was brought to the council, to consider the new parking strategy and to launch a trial of a free (time limited) parking scheme in some of our car parks.

Parking is an important topic which should receive adequate scrutiny to get things right at outset rather than twisting and turning afterwards.

The obvious solution was to unlink the two elements and prepare to launch the free parking trial in November, in time for town centre businesses’ crucial pre-Christmas shopping period, which this year will be compressed by the current lockdown.

Publishing a significant 174-page strategy two days before it is to be discussed and then postponing the item at the meeting is not an ideal way to conduct important business.

Unless this decision was made impetuously on the spur of the moment, it would have benefited councillors of all parties to have been told they did not have just two days to finish reading the document and preparing to give a considered response (as we have done together with our Lib Dem colleagues from across the Borough).

Lastly but probably most importantly, the document mentions alternatives to private car use such as cycling, walking, public transport (when things are more normal), car share, etc.

These need following through on. We all know about climate change and reducing emissions, and there is also the issue of poor air quality in some of our more built up areas.

Cllr JOHN BALDWIN and Cllr SIMON BOND

Lib Dem councillors for Belmont ward


Once upon a time of constructive ideas

‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’ goes the saying.

And Cllr Cannon certainly knows how to spin a good yarn as he keeps pushing the myth that opposition councillors are playing party politics rather than making constructive contributions on parking.

Perhaps Cllr Cannon has been too busy reading fairytales to notice the various emails I have sent him with suggestions for improving parking and the parking strategy since he announced the review earlier this year:

9.11 – Passed on extensive comments from residents with suggestions and concerns, eg that a discount app is discriminatory

29.10 (day after cabinet meeting) – Raised concerns over rushed nature of report and pointed out typos

16.08 – Shared suggestion for a carnet/voucher scheme with Parking Principal

19.08 – Suggested a full review of parking including resident schemes and town centre parking. Suggested linking policy to climate strategy; using offices for weekend and evening parking and raised Park & Ride as an option to revisit

20.05 – Sought clarification for residents on permit schemes

27.02 – Welcomed the review and clarified removal of Advantage card discounts for a resident

Happily, it seems as though some of my suggestions have been taken on board.

I noticed they made it into the very rough draft document that was presented to cabinet last month

So come on Cllr Cannon, don’t rewrite the narrative and waste time criticising the Lib Dems – get on with what the residents really want and sort out the flawed parking strategy.

Then we can all live happily ever after.

Cllr AMY TISI

Lib Dem councillor for Clewer East


We have other parks but no golf nearby

I note that there is a movement to have the Maidenhead Golf Course designated as a town centre park, rather than the re-zoning and housing development that the council seems determined to pursue.

I should like to point out that there are several parks and open spaces close to the town centre.

There are still parts of Braywick apart from the sports ground, there is the Town Moor, there is Kidwells Park, Grenfell Park, Ockwells Park, Oaken Grove.

Rushington Copse adjoins the golf course, which is crossed by footpaths, where the public has right of way.

Further afield there is Pinkney’s Green, The Thicket, and the Thames Towpath.

Always good for walking, and no problem with crowding.

These places certainly look lovely, and enhance our town, but they are very underused.

The golf course entertains(?) hundreds of people every week.

It is a social centre, for its members and families, and the membership raises thousands of pounds each year for various local charities.

It has been a feature of the town for almost 125 years, and I feel that it ought to remain so.

JENNIFER LOCKE

The Avenue

Maidenhead


Unconscious of the limits of bias training

So the Lib Dems and Charlotte Spear (Viewpoint, November 5) have got all steamed up about a few comments from other councillors regarding unconscious bias training, but they were jumping for joy when the motion for subjecting council employees to unconscious bias training was passed – a subject that quite obviously the council know nothing about.

Cllr Hunt was right when she questioned the effectiveness of unconscious bias training.

The fact is it doesn’t work and never has.

Unconscious bias has been studied for over a hundred years, long before it had anything to do with ‘diversity’.

I studied it 40 years ago in regard to business activities and memory.

Anything that is ‘learned’ or ‘discovered’ in the training is forgotten within two weeks, and in a great many cases the bias is reinforced.

In recent years a plethora of enterprises have appeared offering unconscious bias and diversity training.

In the US they find a ready customer base who are willing to spend tens of billions of dollars just to tick the box that says we’re diverse and not racist.

Employers know it doesn’t work but that is of little concern to them because it solves the image problem.

We should be very concerned about a corporate culture which encourages employers to tinker with their employees’ psyches in whatever manner they see fit, especially when driven by pseudoscience they barely understand.

No doubt our council will dive in headlong, spending money they don’t have for something they don’t need.

Personally I am getting tired of people knocking the country I was born in and love dearly by pushing some agenda just to make themselves look more worthy.

If we are so racist why do people from many countries risk their life trying to come here? When they arrive do we turn them away? No.

We rescue them if necessary, feed them, and house them.

What terrible people we are.

KEITH CHAPMAN

Cornwall Close

Maidenhead


Logical approach to vaccine distribution

Sound ethical principles and a sense of compassion determine our humanity.

Would it therefore not make sense to allocate any future vaccine against COVID-19 firstly to all those who are currently classed as ‘key workers’, followed by those who, by the nature of their work, field of study, or training, are most likely to help solve the economic and social issues in this country which have been caused by this pandemic?

It will most likely be those countries around the world that recover the quickest, that organise the distribution of the vaccine amongst their populations in the most logical and well-considered fashion.

A MERTON

Cock Marsh

Bourne End


Bin (collections) ain’t what they used to be

I was interested to read Mr Chapman's letter (Viewpoint, November 12); the lack of financial scrutiny to government contracts was mainly due to the ‘presidential’ period at No 10, plus a certain amount of panic over the COVID pandemic.

Now the puppet masters have left No 10, we should see a change back to ‘proper’ scrutinised government – we’ll see.

And we will probably still be waiting for our bins to be emptied – yes, Serco again failed to empty the rubbish bins this week!

Unfortunately, weak central government can lead to poor local government, lack of scrutiny, and bad decisions.

Like leaving Veolia for a cheaper service from Serco; much like leaving the EU and demanding the same ‘perks’ of membership.

Is it credible that big government needs someone to sort the Trade treaty with the EU before the end of this year?

Apparently Brexiteers believe there is no need for food, medicines, and work for a large proportion of the population (how many of you work for a wholly British owned company?).

Why are the government still spending millions advertising ‘plan for change’ when even they don’t know what’s happening (should you be planning a European holiday next year, you’ll need a passport to get into Kent and the queue of lorries).

Back to the bins.

Do any of our illustrious council members really live in the area?

Then, if the council are so happy with Serco service, perhaps they should put it to a vote.

Don’t wait for a couple of years...

WILLIAM ALEXANDER

North Town Moor

Maidenhead


Time for Boris Johnson to take a deep breath

For more than two years Boris Johnson has been saying that he favours a ‘Canada style’ free trade deal between the UK and the EU, but without ever offering any numerical estimate of the economic benefits such a deal would secure for the UK.

Nor as far as I know has any part of government ever published official projections of the potential benefits, similar to those for a free trade deal with the US, which report can easily be found by putting ‘UK-US Free Trade Agreement’ into Google.

(According to which official projections the long term benefit would in fact be trivial, a off-one gain between 0.02 percent and 0.36 percent of GDP.)

That is why I recently resorted to a Freedom of Information Request in an attempt to get this vital information into the public domain before our MPs find that they are presented with a fait accompli, a trick repeatedly employed over EU treaties.

Meanwhile, a new report entitled ‘The economic impact of no-deal: a more balanced assessment’ suggests that the costs of Brexit have been greatly exaggerated, and ‘the difference between an FTA-based Brexit or no-deal is relatively small’.

Moreover it should be understood that a free trade deal would not eliminate friction as goods crossed the borders; the removal of routine border controls within the EU only came with the Single Market, not with the original Customs Union.

So there is little point in continuing with these apparently never-ending trade negotiations with the EU, with one ‘deadline’ after another being missed;

Boris Johnson needs to screw up his courage, call a halt and take us out on WTO terms.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead

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