Councillor accused of 'never listening to anybody' in fiery exchange

Kieran Bell

A Conservative councillor accused his party colleague of ‘never listening to anybody else apart from himself’ as the pair clashed over the building of Thames Hospice in Bray.

In a surprising exchange at Tuesday’s full council meeting, Cllr Leo Walters and Cllr David Coppinger – who both represent the village – locked horns as a recommendation to create one single planning panel was debated at Maidenhead Town Hall.

Plans to build Thames Hospice next to Bray Lake were approved at a borough-wide planning panel back in July 2017 despite mixed reactions from the public.

Those against the plans at the time had concerns about the scale of the building and its impact on nearby roads, but the application passed comprehensively by 11 votes to two.

At this week’s meeting, Cllr Walters said: “First of all, from all the knowledge I have from the past 50 years, we’ve always had two panels – one in Maidenhead, and one in Windsor – and it worked perfectly alright.

“We did introduce, under the last administration, another panel similar to the one [proposed] now.

“It hardly ever met, and on the one occasion it did meet, it made an enormous mistake concerning Bray – I was in hospital at the time.

“It was a massive development in Bray, which I’m not going to mention, but it was promoted and voted through by that particular panel.”

Later in the meeting, Cllr Coppinger announced that he would be supporting the plans for one panel, but directed his next remark to his party and ward colleague.

He said: “I will add, just for clarity’s sake, that what was said as a bad decision by Cllr Walters earlier, was the creation of the new headquarters for Thames Hospice, which is valued by every single person in this borough. So sometimes, decisions can be good.”

In response, Cllr Walters called this ‘nasty’, adding: “There’s nothing wrong with the hospice, the thing that was wrong was building a headquarters with 200 car parking spaces on to a road that was already very congested – that was the bit that was wrong, not the hospice.

“The headquarter building could quite have easily gone to Heatherwood Hospital.

“But Cllr Coppinger never listens to anybody else apart from himself.”

The war of words was met with smiles and murmurs from the opposition as Conservative members sat motionless.

Councillors eventually decided to retain two separate committees for the borough at this week’s meeting.

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