Viewpoint: Smart motorways, e-scooters and fireworks

Email Viewpoint letters to or write to Viewpoint, Maidenhead Advertiser, Newspaper House, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX.

Not a smart move for money – or safety

In last week’s Advertiser the DfT states that ‘reinstating the hard shoulder on all all-lane running motorways could put more drivers and passengers at risk of death and serious injury’.

In 2017 there were five deaths on smart motorways, in 2018 the number had increased to 11.

An inquest into the death of two men on 2019 concluded that the lack of a hard shoulder contributed to the deaths of two men.

No figures yet given for 2020.

On one section of the M25, the number of near misses had risen 20-fold since the hard shoulder was removed in April 2014.

In the five years before the road was converted into a smart motorway there were just 72 near misses.

In the five years after, there were 1,485.

A ‘near miss’ is counted every time there is an incident with ‘the potential to cause injury or ill health’.

The Transport Committee suggests that emergency refuge areas should be available every .75 miles with a maximum distance being 1 mile apart.

The original pilot scheme on the M42 had emergency refuge areas every 0.5 miles.

Currently on the M4 between junctions 8/9 to 12 the emergency refuge areas are 1.5 miles apart.

They are also very small.

According to the Highway Code a vehicle should join a motorway at the speed of the traffic in the inside lane and there is no way any vehicle could leave the emergency refuge and join the inside lane at that speed.

They could from the hard shoulder.

And what is an emergency corridor manoeuvre? Now that used to be the hard shoulder.

The cost of the M4 smart motorway upgrade was budgeted at £862.4m.

Was this really a smart way of using the money?


Cox Green Lane


Authority not getting it about tree destruction

I read with interest the article in the Maidenhead Advertiser of October 28 ‘Great Park campaigners planning Town Hall demonstration’.

For a number of years I have been concerned about the proposed development by the BLP of the 2,000 dwellings to be erected on the golf course.

I wrote to our then Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019 pointing out to her that if the destruction of this ancient woodland were to take place, it would take away the lungs of Maidenhead, and condemn the next generations of young people and children to ill health and worse.

Her response was that she would forward the letter to RBWM and I should contact the local planning department.

The spokesperson from RBWM says ‘the redevelopment of Maidenhead Golf Course is a crucial part of the next phase of Maidenhead’s regeneration’!

But what he or she should be saying is ‘protecting the greenspace of the golf course as it is vital for the future wellbeing of our community’.

The building of the dwellings on this land would have the same impact in this area as the destruction of the Amazonian and other global rainforests.

I am sure that if Sir Nicholas Winton, the wonderful person who rescued hundreds of refugee children, were here today, he would be the voice that would be heard in preventing this proposed pollution of our lovely town of Maidenhead and protecting the future of innocent children from unnecessary suffering.

It’s vital that we protect our remaining greenspaces for the benefit of future generations and, with the publicly owned greenspace of the golf course, we have wonderful opportunity to protect biodiversity, trees and public amenity all in one go.

I would like to add that I have never played golf, so there is no interest on my part in this destructive plan other than to give the future generations a green space in the town they live, without breathing in polluted air that is already overwhelming, caused by the amount of traffic using the roads, particularly the A308 coming in from Windsor and the M4 motorway, as well as Shoppenhangers Road carrying the traffic from the M4 as well as the M404 to and from the centre of Maidenhead.

I am also convinced that the plan to build the homes on the golf course has not researched the infrastructure required to carry the services such as water-sewage and of course roads to provide adequate facilities for more than 6-8,000 people.


Foxglove Drive


No one is stopping illegal electric scooters

About one month ago I was walking near the Sainsburys supermarket in Maidenhead and was confronted by a woman riding an electric scooter on the pavement at considerable speed.

I signalled to her to stop, and she did so, looking puzzled.

I told her that it was illegal to ride an electric scooter on public pavements and roads, but she was unconvinced.

I repeated the legal situation that there were currently limited trials of rental scooters in areas of cities such as London, but otherwise the use of scooters was restricted to private property.

In the end I thought that I had got my message across.

But lo and behold, as I walked down Market Street this week, the very same woman came at me on the pavement on the same electric scooter.

I saw her coming and we narrowly avoided a collision but, if she had approached me from behind, I would not have seen or heard her coming and there could have been a nasty accident.

She clearly has not accepted that what she is doing is illegal and I suspect that she is riding on the Maidenhead pavements on a daily basis.

About 10 minutes later I had to avoid another woman on an electric scooter on the pavement at the bottom of the High Street.

I looked around for any form of law enforcement officers or wardens but, as usual, there were none to be seen.

It seems that these women were either unaware of the law or brazenly breaking it – but it seems that there is no education or enforcement.

I am convinced that it is just a short matter of time before there is an accident resulting in injury.

Who will be responsible – the council or the police?

I suspect that they will blame each other but that will be of little consolation to the person who has been killed or injured.


The Pagoda


Deaf to increasing distress of fireworks

So, predictably another fireworks season comes around.

And we all have to put up with everyone letting off high explosive bombs in their back gardens whenever the fancy takes them.

Last night (Friday) I heard some cretins actually letting off fireworks at 4.30am!

Of course now we have both Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali combined to give double the misery.

I heard on the news that this year, a mob in Trafalgar Square used fireworks as weapons and a number of coppers were injured.

Also it was reported that a firework was thrown onto a football pitch and hit one of the players.

They said he wasn’t injured, despite rolling around on the ground in pain.

Apparently a zebra in a zoo had to be put down after it bolted.

Every year horses, dogs and other pets are scared out of their wits and some have to be put down as a consequence.

I used to live in central London and on a nearby council estate kids used to let off air bombs that exploded right outside people’s windows in the upper floors of the blocks.

Well, that’s alright then, isn’t it?

Because it’s TRADITION, so it must be okay.

It’s always been the same, hasn’t it?

No, it hasn’t!

In the past fireworks were far quieter than they are now.

These days they sound like bombs going off – sometimes it sounds like The Battle of the Somme.

Years ago I went to see my then MP, Dominic Grieve, asking that the Government ban the sale of fireworks to the general public.

But he refused, citing, you’ve guessed it – tradition.

Ludicrously he also claimed that people would ‘get them on the black market’.

I pointed out to him that fireworks are not like heroin or cocaine and even if a tiny number of firework addicts did manage to get their fix, it would be a vanishingly small number of cases.

Public organised displays are fine and give people a lot of fun.

But the sale of fireworks to the general public should be banned once and for all.

I have copied this letter to my local MP for Maidenhead.


Boulters Lane


No real point in bin collection complaints

Why should I not be surprised that Councillor Coppinger has extolled the virtues of the new reduced bin collection service by SERCO and that he has not received a single email of complaint.

Could it be that the emails to customer service are not passed on to his email account and that complaints are answered thus:-

Dear Ralph Jones,

Thank you for your email, I do apologise
this has happened, if you could please call 01628 683800 and select option 1 and then option 1 again they will be happy to report this as a missed collection for you.


Library and Resident Services

So, customer service can’t pick up the internal phone to Cllr Coppinger and sort it out.

What’s the point in contacting the council?

There was a no show on October 20 – day one of the new improved collection schedule and no grey bin collection on November 3 so it will be five weeks to the first grey bin collection. If they can be bothered to turn up.

Oh, don’t get me started on bins being emptied and then left right in the middle of a driveway on purpose…


Beenhams Heath

Cheats want to mark their own homework

Last week’s botched vote by the Government to change to rules to get Owen Paterson off a hook of his own making has pushed its vision of a Global Britain as a force for good in the world even further out of sight.

Congratulations to the MPs who voted against their own Government last week or absented themselves from the vote, and who expressed their views so strongly in Monday’s emergency debate.

But nothing the Prime Minister will say on the matter, and no successes he may have achieved at COP26, will persuade nations across the world that the UK is still a bastion of democracy.

The list of scandals under Johnson's leadership includes the illegal prorogation of parliament, breaking the Northern Irish Protocol, dishing out PPE contracts under a VIP route for friends of ministers and the source of funds to refurbish his Downing Street flat.

Corruption has become endemic, the rules ignored (Priti Patel, Dominic Cummings) or changed.

I am sad to ask, but who would really want to emulate democracy as practised in Britain?


Cookham Dean

Prayer for the powers that agreed tall towers

God bless COP26, and all power to them

But leave in bliss the RBWM

Some may think we are raving

And are obsessed with paving

They don’t know what to make of it

We’ll repave just for the sake of it

So they think we are demented

We’ll be happy when the town’s all cemented

Tower blocks will rise up high

Until we’ve blocked out the sky

Along York Stream we’ll strim

To keep it neat and trim

No bird can make a nest

We think it’s for the best

We’ll noisily leaf blow

Burn petrol, let it go

We have to keep it clear

Before the leaves disappear

We won’t allow trees to grow

But move some, just for show

The town hall lights can burn all night

Isn’t it such a pretty sight!?

Now let’s build on the golf links

Who cares what anyone thinks?

Is it written that Lord Desborough

Gave all that land to this borough

To use for recreation

And outdoor relaxation?

Hard luck, we’ve lost such papers

Is our answer to the naysayers

So let us do our worst, and then

God help the RBWM


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