11:20AM, Wednesday 06 January 2021
Concerns have been raised by residents after they were ‘stopped and challenged’ by police when driving yesterday (Tuesday) for shopping and exercising.
Motorists crossing the border between Berkshire and Buckinghamshire as they drove across Maidenhead Bridge in the morning were given leaflets by police officers which said ‘WHY ARE YOU HERE TODAY?’.
The leaflet said: “You should exercise no more than once daily. This should be by walking, running or cycling etc from your home address. You should not be driving to a location away from your home to carry this out.”
Government guidance issued following the lockdown announcement on Monday says: “If you need to travel you should stay local, meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live.”
It adds outdoor exercise should be’ done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary’, while shopping for goods and services ‘should be within your local area wherever possible’.
But the notice, which was then shared to hundreds on social media groups, led to confusion and anger as people debated whether they could drive five miles to shop at Tesco in Taplow or to a place to exercise.
A Maidenhead resident, who did not wish to be named, said his elderly father was left ‘shaken up’ by the incident.
He said: “My father is 71, a retired bin man and was driving to a public space to walk privately for his physical and mental health as he lives in a flat and was left shaken up.”
Personal trainer Amardeep Sanjav from Taplow said he lost £150 in revenue after three of his Maidenhead clients were stopped and turned away.
Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) said he raised the issue with police following concerns on social media.
Cllr Cannon received a statement from Inspector Tracey Croucher, who said it was an ‘individual officer who was just a bit keen’ and this would not happen again.
The statement said: “We are aware of leaflets handed out and that drivers have been stopped and challenged. This was not Windsor and Maidenhead officers but TVP officers and therefore TVP apologise for any upset caused.
“This was an individual officer who was just a bit keen, this has been addressed and should not happen again. However if it does please let TVP know as soon as possible.
“TVP will continue with our consistent approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and will enforce where there is a blatant breach of legislation.
“We recognise the importance of working with our communities in all areas of policing and we particularly value your continued support during this latest (and hopefully final) lockdown.”
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police, said: “With cases of coronavirus rapidly rising across the country and in the Thames Valley our officers and staff are looking to engage and encourage people to reduce the spread by following the new government legislation and guidance around staying at home.
“In this case officers carried out a patrol in good faith in order to help stop the Coronavirus and engage with the public.
“We are providing guidance to all of our officers and staff on the legislation, and advice has been given to the officers in this case to not use this poster in future, as well as further guidance around our approach in helping to protect our communities. We apologise for this misunderstanding and any distress caused.”
“We would like to thank all of our communities for their continued support in following the restrictions to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, protecting the NHS and saving lives.”
The race to get as many people vaccinated against coronavirus has ramped up in the Royal Borough and Slough amidst an ongoing rise in cases across the country.
A total of 69 per cent of complaints made to the Windsor and Maidenhead council were upheld by a local authority watchdog, figures have revealed.