Viewpoint: Reaction to Maidenhead golf course protest

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Maidenhead Advertiser, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX.


Build on brownfield, not on ‘green lungs’

I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms about the proposed development of 2,000 new homes on Maidenhead Golf Course.

The vast majority of Maidenhead residents are strongly opposed to these plans, yet in spite of this, the council appear to be adamant that this development will go ahead. The depth of feeling among residents was clearly evident at the protest outside the Town Hall last week, and it was estimated that between 300-400 people attended.

Should this very unpopular proposed development go ahead, this would be a direct contradiction of the council’s own environmental policy which states: “The role of the natural environment in creating great places is critical to the success of the borough economy and to our residents’ health and wellbeing, and therefore it is important we take steps to protect it .”

In view of this statement I remain at a total loss to understand how the council can possibly justify this proposed development going ahead.

The former lead member for planning, Derek Wilson, came up with the description of MGC as ‘the green lungs of Maidenhead’.

With the large number of new homes planned for the centre of Maidenhead, the preservation of ‘the green lungs of Maidenhead’ becomes even more important.

It would appear that due to the woeful state of the borough’s finances, which are understood to be approaching a quarter of a billion pounds in debt by the end of the year, the main reason driving this development is the huge profits that the council stands to gain from it.

This cannot possibly be used as justification for the proposed development to go ahead.

A new development of 2,000 homes would be the equivalent of a small town, or large village.

The current infrastructure of the town, particularly in terms of the existing road network, is simply incapable of sustaining the additional volume of traffic that would result.

The deleterious effect that this will have on air quality does not even bear thinking about.

Why has the council not even explored Derek Wilson’s proposal that a satellite village could be built outside the town?

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently stated that ‘beautiful’ homes should in future only be built ‘on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense’.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has indicated recently that he is preparing to review controversial housing targets that have triggered a backlash from Tory backbench MPs and grassroots supporters.

He said that he is looking at how ‘housing need’ is calculated, amid concerns that it is based on out-of-date assumptions.

Once the review on how housing need is calculated is completed, it is anticipated that the number of new homes required to be built in Maidenhead will be significantly reduced.

Mr Gove added that communities should be able to push back against large scale housing targets near to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and greenbelt land.

This is precisely what the residents of Maidenhead are trying to do.

JOHN HUDSON

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


So massive estate will open up green space?

Why are so many people, including a local GP, getting so worked up about the climatic, social and environmental impact of building 2,000 houses on Maidenhead Golf Club?

Surely our caring council have already dealt with any local climatic impact of building 2,000 more houses by making black waste bin collections fortnightly, instead of weekly.

What more do these people want?

Yes, I guess 2,000 extra houses would mean to up to 9,000 more people and at least 4,000 more cars, even more pressure on GP services and even more traffic congestion, but you can’t have everything, can you?

What’s more, the council have declared one of those fashionable ’Climate Emergencies’ or ‘Climate Crises’ – which are very cool these days.

But I have to say that I would suggest Maidenhead council follow Greta Thunberg’s beautifully sung advice when it comes to what they should do with their climate crisis, because that’s a place where the sun never shines.

To add insult to injury, I read that a mysterious and anonymous council ’spokesperson’ has now reassured us all that building 2,000 houses on a golf course – that’s building 2,000 houses on a huge area of open green land - will ‘open up significant parts of green space for public access…’

To be fair, if I’d said something as idiotic and meaningless as that I would want to remain anonymous – wouldn’t you?

It’s a little like removing the hard shoulder on a motorway, sticking up a few cameras and claiming it will make the road safer for drivers using the road…

And what does ‘a crucial part of Maidenhead’s regeneration’ mean anyway?

Answers on a recycled postcard to The Advertiser please.

And in conclusion, if you’re a councillor who wants to sound all caring and concerned rather than short-sighted and self-interested, then just make sure you describe houses as ‘homes’, or better still, ‘affordable homes for local people’.

Lovely!

MALCOLM JAMES STRETTEN

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


Building outside town is less sustainable

Last week at council there were many people concerned about the golf club as you reported.

Can I try to put things into perspective?

Firstly, the golf course has been part of the Borough Local plan since the very beginning, and it is only relatively recently that concerns have been raised.

Every authority is required by law to have a current plan which shows how they will meet the needs of the growing population in terms of housing and all the associated services.

Our current plan is out of date and has little value.

Housing numbers are set by using a government formula.

This formula does change from time to time.

We must allow for additional housing because sites such as Bray Film Studios do not proceed with their approved housing.

We need more housing, especially family homes and critically affordable properties. Eighty-five per cent of the borough is greenbelt so whatever we do we have to use some of it for housing.

We can’t keep building high rise in town centres especially as the high costs mean no houses and very few affordable properties.

We also need to always consider climate change and our commitment to become carbon neutral.

Building 4,000 houses in the middle of the greenbelt would make it impossible to become carbon neutral – 4,000 +car trips every day, new roads, miles of new piping to connect to existing services.

We thought long and hard about the golf course.

It is situated close to the railway station and close to the town centre, so it is the most sustainable greenbelt in the whole borough.

Except for a single footpath it is not available to the public.

It will be developed to provide the essential affordable housing and a new school.

It will have a green and blue infrastructure created so that everyone can take full advantage of it.

We are not alone in this.

Our adjoining boroughs have the same demands and are having to make the same hard decisions.

We are now in the very final stages of adopting the plan.

The Inspector has listened carefully to the views of residents and groups about numbers and sites, and she has decided that the plan is sound.

Were we to decide not to adopt the plan one of two things will happen.

The most likely is that the plan would be adopted on our behalf by the Inspectorate, and we would have no say in it.

If that did not happen then it would be a free for all and our greenbelt would be decimated with developments in all the wrong places.

Cllr DAVID COPPINGER

Cabinet member for planning, environmental services and Maidenhead


Footing the bill for abuses of authority

Do our councillors and MPs live in another dimension?

After some of the comments they have come out with and the decisions they have made you have to wonder.

Let’s start with the Tiser’s front-page headline on November 18, ‘Adoption legal battle cost taxpayers £439K’.

The council pushed a case they knew from day one they would not win.

The arrogance of these people is unbelievable, now we have to foot the bill.

In the same edition Councillor Coppinger was having a Boris moment.

According to Councillor Coppinger: “This year we have had totally different seasons, I’ve never seen anything like it – nothing has happened when it should. We have had half of the year with nothing for Tivoli to do, then twice as much to do for the other half.”

Councillor Coppinger, for your information, every year at the end of March spring begins and buds appear and the grass starts to grow.

At the end of October the leaves start to fall off the trees.

It happens every year and has done so for time immemorial.

The fact that Tivoli can’t handle the job is not the fault of the seasons.

According to Tivoli they have worked for the borough for two decades, but that’s not really true is it?

Until 2018 Tivoli did not exist. Before that ISS landscaping used to work for the borough until they were bought out.

If you check on Tivoli’s website everything in our borough is rosy.

Seems to me that Tivoli are just the horticultural version of Serco.

In last week’s edition we discover that the Conservatives want to change the council constitution just so they can avoid the embarrassing situation they found themselves in a few weeks earlier when they were caught out substituting councillors, and we are supposed to vote for these people.

In central government it’s no better.

One scandal after another.

Boris seems to have lost the plot.

Priti Patel talks a lot but that’s all she does.

This pattern is repeating the world over and people are starting to push back against it.

We are all fed up with cronyism, corruption and total incompetence.

KEITH CHAPMAN

Cornwall Close

Maidenhead


Getting the measure of council climate action

I read Adrian Williams’ enlightening article (‘Climate fears as plan is approved’, November 25) following the full council vote on particulates measurement, with interest and incredulity in equal measure.

Why would RBWM vote to NOT measure PM2.5 particulates and to NOT increase measurements of PM10 particulates despite recent advice from the WHO and guidance issued to Directors of Public Health?

I believe that RBWM does not take air pollution at all seriously and cannot understand why it does so little to improve air quality for the people it serves; actually measuring particulate levels properly would be a good start. ‘No Idling’ signs near schools would be good too.

The council’s leader, Andrew Johnson, is reported to have said ‘new guidelines on particulate matter look close to impossible to deliver’.

This is an astonishing response!

Is this justification for not taking action?

In case readers missed it, the target achievement date for PM10 particulates as defined in the National Air Quality Objectives was 17 years ago!

The target for PM2.5 particulates is a 15 per cent reduction to be achieved between 2010 and 2020.

RBWM declared its first Air Quality Management Area in 2004.

Well, I think that the council’s time’s up!

For the record, RBWM measures PM10 particulates at one, single site and does not measure PM2.5 particulates at all.

Word is that RBWM cannot afford to do it.

Our air quality may actually be far worse than we know because RBWM is not measuring levels of the things which are known to cause us great harm.

Perhaps someone from RBWM could respond and enlighten residents of the Royal Borough?

Air pollution affects us all.

I will be following this issue closely and will vote accordingly at the next local elections!

THOMAS WIGLEY

Windsor


Saddened to hear of neglected cemeteries

It was sad to read the recent reports of certain neglected cemetery grounds in the local area.

I found the explanations put forward by the companies concerned somewhat puzzling; they cited global warming as a culprit to grass now requiring cutting beyond the months of April through to September for example.

I have been in the gardening business since 1990, and this particular task runs from early March through to late October with very few exceptions, moreover mid to late autumn is taken up with mass leaf clearance, pruning down various shrubs for winter and so forth.

Some of my customers have sufficient work to employ me all year thankfully in addition.

Therefore returning to the cemetery contracts subject, surely an April to September contract is woefully inadequate?

It must be at least nine months to one year in order to maintain these places of rest to the required standard.

Regarding the alleged disrespect shown to visitors to the cemeteries involved by staff members from these firm, I have little information, but I always shut down all machines and stand head bowed when a funeral processions passes me by in my day to day work.

TONY BECK

Brownfield Gardens

Maidenhead


Taking greater care of Windsor green spaces

I would like to take the opportunity to fully endorse the views of Mr Wilson in last week’s Viewpoint.

He is right – the Conservative-led primary council have completely dropped the ball regarding the appalling state of our cemeteries.

He must therefore be equally as appalled that his colleagues in the Conservative Party voted en masse against the creation of a Windsor Town Council, a body which would have brought responsibility for the upkeep of grounds, parks and cemeteries directly into the hands of Windsor residents.

It is not too late.

RICHARD ENDACOTT

Kingsfield

Windsor


Huge implications of Tories’ NHS proposals

The Health and Social Care Bill recently voted on in the Commons is not what it appears to be.

It is, in fact, a disaster for our NHS.

It is the most pernicious bill against the NHS since its inception.

The NHS would be broken up into 42 ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICSs) each with a separate budget and the power to decide which services to provide.

This would mark the end of a National Health Service, sets up a postcode lottery for care, and will lead to growing health inequalities.

If approved The Health and Social Care Bill will allow ICSs to include private companies on their boards, where they will make decisions about which services to provide, who provides them and where.

Around 200 firms, including dozens of US health insurance companies and their suppliers, are already on approved lists, ready to help develop and run services for ICSs and there are no limitations to the amount of private company people who can be on each ICS board so effectively private companies could take over the ICSs boards to steer healthcare in the direction that is beneficial to them.

There are a number of reasons why these plans are very bad news for our NHS:

  • More opportunities for firms to take profits from the NHS, leaving less money for patient services
  • More companies given access to confidential patient information, with no clear protection for patient privacy
  • More digital services, creating a two-tier health service, depending on whether you have or lack access to computers or a smart phone
  • Fewer face to face appointments with GPs, and less chance of seeing the same health worker
  • More patient care given by less qualified (cheaper) staff, directed by computers and manuals
  • Growing expectation that patients will ‘self care’, using phone apps or websites for advice or information
  • More risk that services will be cut or rationed, and non-urgent referrals to hospital delayed or refused because of pressure on ICSs to make savings
  • Faster discharge from hospital, with family carers expected to take on more unpaid care due to lack of community services

It is interesting to note that both Theresa May and Adam Afriyie voted in approval for the bill on Monday, November 22.

The bill is now in the House of Lords and is scheduled for debate on Tuesday, December 7.

If you wish to sign a petition to the House of Lords to ask them to protect our NHS you can sign on the following website https://bit.ly/Lords-protect-our-NHS

The other website for information is www.keepournhspublic.com

Our NHS needs us to fight for it to remain a comprehensive health service that is available to all, publicly funded, publicly accountable, and free at the point of use - with clinicians able to focus on the patient, their condition and the best available treatment.

It's up to us to make a stand for our NHS.

I hope you will meet the challenge, if we lose our NHS we will all be in very serious trouble.

ALISON HERSEY

Milton Close

Horton


Still hoisting their same old placard

I can assure Phil Jones that I did notice recent protests on the Irish land border (Viewpoint, November 25).

In fact I have noticed protests by the same anti-Brexit group for over five years.

What I have never noticed is any public condemnation of their ridiculous antics by the UK government, but then that is just par for the course.

As I wrote two years ago: “Mr Jones may recall spoof images of British customs officers stopping traffic at the border which were produced by a campaign group and given wide circulation in the media, especially in outlets opposed to Brexit, when the UK government had no intention of setting up any border posts and doing so would now be unlawful under Section 10 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.”

(Viewpoint, October 31 2019, “Simple solution to the Irish border ‘problem’”)

But that group are still at it now, still with the same ‘British Customs’ placard.

And the Irish government is also still at it, four years after the Irish politician Phil Hogan, then an EU Commissioner, publicly threatened that Ireland would ‘continue to play tough to the end’ over its threat to veto trade talks, building an insurmountable mountain from a molehill on the border.

If Mr Jones puts ‘Irish warn Theresa May: change course or risk Brexit chaos’ into Google he can see his famous campaigners in action.

At that point by far the best course for Theresa May would have been to announce that the UK no longer sought any special trade treaty with the EU but intended to default to the existing WTO treaties; instead she reduced the UK to a supplicant by continuing to beg for a ‘deep and special relationship’.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


Warm thanks to our donors and members

A big thank you to all those generous people in this area who have so kindly donated to our Winter Warmth Project.

Maidenhead Lions Club launched this new scheme in conjunction with Citizens Advice to help local people who are suffering from shortage of money to pay their fuel bills.

We are asking residents for donations, and so far the response has been a very heart warming excess of £2,500.

Many donations also benefit from 25 per cent gift aid uplift from the Charities Commission.

My thanks also to our members, who are cheerfully delivering our Winter Warmth leaflets in this chilly winter weather.

Donations can easily be paid directly to this scheme using https://tinyurl.com/Lionsfuel or contact Lions on www.maidenheadlions.org.uk

JOHN SLATER

Project organiser

Lions Club of Maidenhead

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