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Viewpoint: Residents hit out at Shoppenhangers bus gate proposal

In a bumper edition of Viewpoint, residents have written in to air their views on the Shoppenhangers Road bus gate proposal and Royal Borough parking proposals. Email letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk

Noise and pollution concerns ring hollow

Whose crazy idea was it to close off one of the main arterial roads into Maidenhead town centre?

RBWM is suggesting Shoppenhangers Road is a ‘rat run ‘ which is absolutely not true.

It’s a major road comparable in size to that of the A308 from Braywick to Windsor.

Closing Shoppenhangers Road off to motorists, other than buses and emergency vehicles, will serve only to create TWO other ‘rat runs’ on inferior roads.

One being Harvest Hill Road which is a narrow road with bends and dips already well used and currently carrying a lot of traffic.

Harvest Hill Road is an alternative road many drivers would use to join the A308 into Maidenhead which the council says is ‘heavily trafficked ‘.

The second, Walker Road is a quiet residential road of family houses not suited to heavy, often speeding traffic as was experienced last year during the repair of the sinkhole in Shoppenhangers Road.

Whoever thought up this idea cannot understand the current traffic flow in this area.

To say it is in the interest of ‘social distancing’, noise and pollution?

There are wide pavements on both sides of Shoppenhangers Road and hopefully the need for ‘social distancing’ will be short lived.

Is RBWM genuinely concerned about ‘noise and pollution’ considering their active plans to build 2,000 houses on the adjacent green belt land on Maidenhead Golf Course?

What is this bus gate really all about I wonder?

Visit https://consultprojectcentre.co.uk/rbwmbusgate to view the consultation.

SUE REYNOLDS

Walker Road

Maidenhead


Shoppenhangers Road is a key connection

Your front page (January 21) amazes me: don't the council realise that Shoppenhangers Road is one of the main connections between the M4 and M40 to Maidenhead?

Harvest Hill is totally unsuitable to carry what would be the normal traffic between Maidenhead, Cox Green and the motorways.

The council is currently threatening to cut services, put up the local taxes and generally make all our lives miserable as their spending has got out of control.

The evidence of money being splashed around town with other ridiculous roadworks is obvious, from the newly built kerbs jutting out into traffic lanes to the ‘chicane’ on Courthouse Road.

Might I suggest that if the council have all this money to ‘spend’, they use some of it to fill all the potholes on the main traffic routes through town?

Most of us probably dislike taking the car into town, however, I had to go the Desborough Suite a couple of weeks back to have my age-related COVID-19 vaccination.

Luckily, I had the good fortune to be taken into town by my daughter (and our superb NHS made it all painless) so I saw very little of the devastation in Maidenhead town centre.

And, then, a few days ago, I had a phone message from the library; a book I had reserved (from back in time when items were taken to Shifford by trailer) was now available from the library opposite the Town Hall by ‘self service’: all very easy to use, the charming lady told me, and possibly even parking could be found.

Lucky me! A space in Queen Street to park, off to the library by the back of the Town Hall, find my book (and work out how to use the expensive-looking, clever people-less machines) with time to spare. Time to see the ‘rebirth’ of Maidenhead – so I looked at the new flats alongside the Town Hall, and was – well, shocked would be an understatement!

An ugly block of brutal concrete: reminding me of the 1950s ‘Soviet’ style flats that I saw in Warsaw some years back. Progress?

The road works seemingly are principally designed to stop traffic moving, but are clearly cleverly aimed at keeping shoppers (if driving) out of Maidenhead town centre.

WILLIAM ALEXANDER

North Town Moor

Maidenhead


Why not try making life easier, not harder?

I write reference your front page last week.

For residents to the west of Maidenhead Shoppenhagers Road is NOT a rat run, but our main access road into Maidenhead town centre.

I’m sure with retailing in Maidenhead in such a difficult state those running businesses will be less than impressed with this attempt to make access to the town more of a challenge.

Do those behind this idea really want us to shop elsewhere?

At a time when we have a national crisis surely officers’/councillors’ time would be better spent trying to make life easier for residents, not more difficult.

Perhaps the councillor for Bisham and Cookham could spend his time on schemes to close roads between his area and Maidenhead to motorists.

PAT McDONALD

Woodlands Park


A road network that aggravates congestion

So the council want to close Shoppenhangers Road and use it as a bus gate.

The aim being to stop people using it as a rat run to avoid main road congestion.

According to the Royal Borough this will reduce traffic to provide safer spaces for cycling and walking while maintaining social distancing.

Perhaps if our main roads were designed to ease congestion rather than aggravate it people wouldn’t feel the need to use back streets, which after all are public roads which everyone has the right to use.

Why is the council hell-bent on getting everyone in the borough on a bicycle?

Do they actually believe that people are going to get on their bike when it’s pouring down with rain or it’s freezing cold, or wait for a bus that may or may not arrive?

How many councillors do we see cycling to work?

No doubt they all have a good excuse for not getting on their bikes.

Or is it a case of ‘Do as we say not as we do’.

I seem to remember when the town hall car park was closed the councillors were whining about having to walk a few extra yards to the Nicholsons car park.

As for Councillor Gerry Clark’s comment ‘It’s unacceptable that we’re being criticised for trying to improve travel and amenity – we should be supported’ – when you come up with something sensible you’ll be supported.

He also described the concern over fines as a ‘scurrilous rumour’.

“It’s absolute rubbish – a complete fabrication designed to put fear into residents’ hearts.”

I remember being told that parking permits were going to be free forever.

Sorry Councillor Clark no one believes it.

This is the latest idiotic idea to come from the council to add to their other rubbish road planning disasters.

In one year we have seen the introduction of a cycling scheme that few cyclists use, ghastly plastic barriers littered over the town supposedly to aid social distancing, yellow lines outside Exlers Garage which were put down without any consultation and which apparently will now have to be removed.

More of our money wasted.

The ‘essential roadworks’ on the Cookham Road which weren’t essential.

Now when you exit the Sainbury’s roundabout on to the Cookham Road you are confronted by over a metre of kerb sticking out into the road without any warning .

Six million pounds being spent on improving roundabouts that don't need improving.

I would be surprised if our road planners could plan a route out their own back yard.

If ever we needed evidence that our council and our road planners are not fit for purpose Maidenhead road network is it.

KEITH CHAPMAN

Cornwall Close

Maidenhead


Let us see the traffic flow analysis

Well, of all the hairbrained schemes cooked up recently, this one takes the biscuit.

I refer, of course, to the suggestion that a section of Shoppenhangers Road, over 1/3 mile long, be closed to through traffic.

Who are the ‘rats’ using this run?

Presumably we residents in the Larchfield, Ockwells and Lambourne areas and Cox Green village for whom Shoppenhangers Road is our direct route to town.

We’re not avoiding main roads – this is our main road.

The alternative of Harvest Hill (residential at the top and the bottom) would add over a mile to journeys.

Another, slightly shorter, possibility would be through residential streets narrower than Shoppenhangers Road: Norden Road and Boyne Hill.

The statement from the council suggests there will be short term disruption; I wonder how the inconvenience of longer journey times will magically disappear.

The article seems to attribute to Cllr Clark the comment that while drivers can take alternative routes, it is more difficult for cyclists.

In fact, Cycle Route 4 leads to the town centre from Cox Green and beyond via the motorway subway and The Gullet into Ludlow Road, a shared route I sometimes use when walking to or from town from my home adjoining Shoppenhangers Road.

Pedestrians and cyclists using Shoppenhangers Road do so from choice.

When my son attended Desborough School, cyclists to school were told to use this route and use the school entrance on Ludlow Road.

Is the traffic flow analysis available to members of the public?

If so, I would love to see it.

I believe the main traffic problem on Shoppenhangers Road occurs late afternoon when parents park on the pavement and yellow line while they wait to pick up children from school, and to a lesser extent in the morning when they drop them off.

While Cllr Clark says the government grant (our money) will be used for the consultation, it would be council money (more of our money) which would be used to implement the scheme and monitor it – and our money paying for the extra mileage and additional pollution.

ANTHONY NICHOLLS

Laxton Green

Maidenhead


‘Enhancing’ roads but not our arts centre

Your front-page article in last week’s paper reporting on the travel plans in Maidenhead was staggering.

I am amazed that the council is considering some projects which seem absurd especially in relation to Shoppenhangers Road.

Several thoughts spring to mind.

1. You cannot regard a major thoroughfare as a rat run. The housing along the road has increased at least fivefold so it is not surprising that at peak periods there is a significant amount of traffic.

2. Looking at the other roads in the town I would consider Shoppenhangers to be in a league of its own – relatively wide and ample pavements each side.

3. I would suggest that the majority of additional users are those who need to go to and from Cox Green, Woodlands Park and beyond.

4.For the first two areas the alternative route would be via roads which have significantly younger children going to school along much less serviced roads.

5.Shoppenhangers has Desborough but you would think at this stage of the pupils' lives they would able to safely walk because of its pedestrian facilities. Something that is lacking around other areas of the town.

6. I was under the impression that the shortest route is the most environmentally friendly option. The other major route into Maidenhead is the A4 which at peak times, in normal circumstances, is at a standstill.

7.You do not see many cyclists on Shoppenhangers Road. They seem to prefer the A308 and the A330. Roads which present a much greater problem to motorists and cyclists alike.

8.If you have £335,000 to spend on roads within the borough, I would have thought a good proportion of it could be spent bringing them to an acceptable standard.

The council are quick to say that they are trying to enhance the town but to the majority of people who have lived in and around it, they have continually failed.

I read on the letters page that they are to cut the funding to Norden Farm.

This is the only arts centre in Maidenhead where people can enjoy a wide variety entertainment and activities. There is normally something on offer to suit everyone.

What would the town be like if there were no such facilities available?

The town has little else to offer for entertainment.

JILL FOULDS

Hearne Drive

Holyport


Back to sustainability drawing board

I have just been looking at the Borough’s Low Traffic Neighbourhood Consultation.

In my opinion, they have missed the point completely.

When will they learn that you will not stop people using their cars just by making it more difficult?

By forcing more cars onto fewer roads it can only cause more congestion, more frustration and more pollution for the poor souls who live and work on the ‘favoured’ routes.

If you really want to reduce car journeys you need to offer a sensible and attractive alternative so why not invest in public transport instead?

More buses (preferably electric) with sensible timetables and affordable fares would also benefit those who are too young or too old to drive and are currently stranded.

Investing in more cycle routes is very commendable but it is not a solution. You cannot balance a week’s shopping on the handlebars and no one is going to go out in the evening in their finery and then tuck their skirts in their knickers to cycle home!

If you want to encourage people to walk, look at the more rural areas of the Borough and not the places that have pavements already.

During the recent lockdowns more people than ever have taken to walking and we are lucky enough to have a network of lovely footpaths, however, many of them have to be accessed via increasingly busy roads and in many places we have narrow or no footways making it very dangerous to use these routes.

We have, for years, been asking RBWM to improve safety for walkers in our area only to be told that there is no money in the budget.

Maybe this is the time to find some money?

In my view this whole sorry scheme should be abandoned and returned to the drawing board. We all need our cars so let’s look at a more sensible and sustainable plan that can persuade us to use our cars less and encourage us to look for attractive and healthy alternatives.

BARBARA FRAME

Oakley Green Road

Oakley Green


Call to reconsider cuts to Norden Farm

The Borough needs to reconsider its planned cuts to Norden Farm.

I was very much involved in helping to get the Centre of the Arts established and at the time appreciated the moral and financial support of the council and its principal officers.

Norden Farm has provided a tremendous service to Maidenhead's community.

Throughout the week it has become a hive of activity for all age groups.

There are as many residents engaged in a great variety of arts oriented activities as there are in sports.

Personally, and as a former borough councillor, I have always supported both. and will continue to do this.

Considering the expert professionals involved and the range of facilities available, the borough has nothing remotely similar to offer.

Having in past years mismanaged its finances why should the council now make the arts suffer?

Some of their current planned projects are likely to benefit a much smaller group of the population than Norden Farm.

RUDI SHELDON

Grosvenor Drive

Maidenhead


Parking charges plan at Oaken Grove

Following on from your recent article about the council planning to introduce parking charges at a number of recreation parks across the borough, I just wanted to highlight the effect this will have on Oaken Grove Park in Maidenhead.

The recreation park is very popular with local residents for its children’s playground, the tennis courts, the Nicholas Winton garden and the café.

Football teams and exercise classes also use the park.

The car park is used by parents collecting their children from the local junior and infant school.

Many of these people will try to avoid using the car park and park in the entrance way or on local roads.

The end of school time is already a huge problem and these proposals will only exacerbate an already chaotic situation.

The newly refurbished café in the park will suffer, so will Maidenhead Town Bowls Club whose home is in the park.

I am a member of that club and to be honest we are deeply concerned that this proposal could drastically affect us.

The bowls club provides a superb environment for members to meet and socialise.

Bowls, to our members, is not only about playing a sport, the social side is very important as well.

A fair number of our members are of pensionable age, some have sadly lost their partners and the bowls club is a really brilliant, cost effective, lifeline.

Many come to the club on a daily basis, some just to socialise, most will be there 4-5 times per week.

Our concerns include:

  • The method of collection via a mobile app, not all of our members own a smartphone.
  • The additional hassle in trying to access the car park due to traffic and parking outside it.
  • The worry of exceeding the slot that you have paid for.
  • The additional cost, as we stay at the club for 5-6 hours at a time.
  • The increased danger to children, pedestrians and drivers due to the chaos likely to ensue at peak times.

As a club we have tried very hard to increase our membership.

Each year we recruit to replace any members that we have lost and to grow to our optimum level.

Clearly, cost and convenience are key issues in the decision to join a bowls club and so this proposal will just make an already difficult task even harder, which means that the members that we do have get less enjoyment from their hobby and have to bear more of the overall cost individually. I very much hope that with the weight of support from the online petition that the council will reconsider.

TIM EALES

Maidenhead Town Bowls Club member


Please consider car park charge effects

I have read in the local media of council plans to introduce parking charges in the car park near the church in Hurley.

I am very concerned that a knock-on effect of this will be for all the visitors to firstly choose to use the High Street parking (which will still be free) which at times will result in access problems for both my agricultural vehicles and vehicles visiting the farm for collections and deliveries and in addition cause potential damage issues when we move livestock on foot from field to field around the village, sometimes these groups can be as large as 70 cattle. Last summer created many problems for us during the daytime when as I’m sure you are aware many extra visitors came to the village, overflowing the car park and parking up both sides of the High Street.

I believe the proposal to introduce car park charges will exacerbate this problem with people choosing the ‘free’ High Street in preference to the carpark where they would have to pay. I therefore ask that you please reconsider introducing charges.

MALCOLM BURFITT

Hurleyford Farm

Hurley


The only strong signal is Hurley’s concern

I am writing on behalf of the Hurley Village Association about the prosed charges for rural car parks in the Borough.

I am fully aware that any charge introduction for a currently free facility, will be unwelcome.

However in the case of Hurley Village there will be major unexpected consequences which result.

At present the well-known parking problem in the High Street, is largely restricted to sunny summer weekends, obviously made much worse during the current pandemic.

If charges are brought in, the first action for most car owners will be to seek a free space as near as possible, in the, at present unrestricted High Street.

This at a stroke will cause a year-round problem of congestion and potential obstruction for emergency vehicles to the river, and all properties at that end of the village.

The further issues, which have been well aired, relate to daily resident users, coming to walk by the river from Honey Lane and the top end of the village, and regular church attendees, who also come from surrounding parishes.

The use of mobile technology to implement the charges may well be a step too far for some of the more elderly , but this assumes that they can get a signal – a problem which is commonplace in Hurley.

I trust the council will take the strength of feeling into account when they make their budget deliberations at the end of the month.

STUART CRIPPS

Chair, Hurley Village Association


Scruffy appearance on the approach to town

While taking my daily exercise I often walk down the Bray Road and up Hibbert Road to get supplies from the garage on Braywick Road and I have been horrified to see the amount of litter tossed into the ditch there.

Beer cans, fizzy drinks bottles, fast food wrappings – it’s all there.

Would it not be a good idea, in these unusual times, for RBWM to offer students or the recently unemployed a small amount to do some litter picking?

There are no bins in the area and relying on volunteers simply doesn’t seem to work.

The scruffy appearance of many such roads in Maidenhead does not reflect well on us or our town.

JACKIE DE BROMHEAD

Glebe Road

Maidenhead


Thank you ’Tiser for public notices portal

I’d like to welcome the Advertiser’s decision (announced last week) to launch an online portal for public notices and to start a regular feature online and in print that will highlight significant planning issues.

Maidenhead Civic Society, which has been providing a community voice on planning and environmental issues since 1960, is a strong advocate of public engagement.

And in an area where ill-informed speculation too often passes as fact, the Advertiser’s plans, as part of a nationwide project by local news publishers, to provide a reliable, searchable source will be a great asset and a positive step towards a better public understanding.

BOB DULSON

Maidenhead Civic Society


Little Grey Rabbit pops up from the past

What a happy reminder from childhood in Remember When in 1981 (January 7).

In the 1940s I loved the Little Grey Rabbit books and was the proud owner of each one of the series – except for the play ‘Little Grey Rabbit to the Rescue’ which we could not obtain.

I never imagined it would still be available 40 years later!

I wish I had lived in Maidenhead then and could have gone to see the production.

ELIZABETH LEVINGS

Stratford Drive

Wooburn Green


Great progress on plastic pollution

December was a fantastic month for the Borough’s plastic pollution campaigners.

In addition to endorsement of our proposed borough-wide single use plastic (SUP) strategy by the council earlier in the month, on December 21 Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) confirmed that they had awarded Windsor Plastic Free Community status, as a result of the work of the Plastic Free Windsor campaign.

The award is partly in recognition of a strong campaign that can now operate independently of the charity.

SAS will continue to provide support, but in future our objectives will be agreed locally by our own steering committee.

It is also in recognition of a genuine community campaign.

Over the last two-and-a-half years we’ve obtained strong support from the council, set up our steering community including three councillors, recruited 12 Windsor businesses who have each removed three or more items of SUP from their products or operations, worked with 15 of Windsor and Eton’s schools (two of whom have achieved a Plastic Free School award), obtained the support of 12 of the town’s community groups, events and public venues, organised 12 events of our own, and used eight different channels to communicate with the borough’s residents.

I’d therefore like to thank all of the councillors, officers, business owners, school staff, parents and pupils, community groups and venues, local media, our steering committee, and our followers for their help and support. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Most of all I’d like to thank our small but dedicated team of volunteers, who have been punching above their weight for well over two years now.

I couldn’t be more grateful for their hard work.

Two-and-a-half years ago I didn’t know any of them, now I proudly call them my friends.

Everybody who has contributed to the campaign has done so by making their lives harder.

It would have been easier to do nothing, but they chose to give their time and effort, and made their lives more difficult as a result. The award is in recognition of that – thank you all.

PAUL HINTON

Plastic Free Windsor


Remind councillors of their pledges to us

One of the things that puts people off local politics is when councillors promise to do one thing to get elected then do something else once they are in the Town Hall.

Before, during and after the last council elections councillors across the political spectrum promised residents that they would keep weekly bin collections.

Less than two years into their term of office they now want to renege on that promise and scrap our weekly black bin collections.

Not only are they doing this without any proper consultation with residents they are doing it after promising to return to weekly collections post COVID-19.

In the space of six months our councillors have promised a return to weekly collections, messed up the return to weekly collections and then changed their policy on weekly collections.

Nearly 3,000 residents have now signed my petition to hold councillors to account on their promise to keep weekly bin collections.

They will not be taken for granted by their councillors, after all a promise is a promise!

By signing my petition on the RBWM website your readers will be holding our councillors to account and reminding them that they have no mandate to change this important service.

ED WILSON

Bryer Place

Windsor


Short high bouncers are just not cricket

When I was taught and played cricket as a young man, the bowler bowled the ball to outwit the batsman with spinners, yorkers etc to hit the wicket and knock the bails off or lbw the batsman or have the batsman caught.

Now, we have short, high bouncers bowled to either intimidate the batsman into making a mistake and be stumped out or hit the batsman in the upper body, including the neck and face.

No way do these high bouncers hit the wicket. Hence batsmen now wear face guards. That’s not cricket – it’s cheating sending high bouncers.

So a clear white line, say 4ft-5ft in front of the crease, should be made, in which area the bowler should aim to bowl the ball.

Anything bowled short of the white line – two points awarded to the batsman’s side by the umpire.

Let’s clean up this crooked cheats’ game once and for all and wake up the cricket board of control.

TD SMITH

Village Road

Dorney

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