Viewpoint letters: The climate emergency, Brexit and 'Dimbys'

Featuring discussion on David Attenborough's Extinction: The Facts, parking permits and the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. Scroll down for all of this week's letters.

Mismanagement of parking information

I share the frustration of your correspondents from Woodcote and Lock Avenue (Viewpoint, September 10) at RBWM’s proposal to discontinue all self-administered resident parking schemes.

From our discussions with other scheme administrators it seems that all of them were working well. If it ain’t broke...

Despite studying the infrastructure overview and scrutiny panel minutes of February 3 and cabinet minutes of February 6 we were unable to find any reference to resident-managed parking.

Cllr David Cannon, lead member for parking, has already acknowledged that the announced date for increases in permit charges was mismanaged.

We suspect that the 30 resident schemes were considered only as an afterthought.

In Chauntry Road we were notified of the February decision on August 14, and residents in some other streets tell us they have not yet been informed of these proposed changes.

Our emails to Cllr Cannon, and to the Leader Cllr Andrew Johnson, for clarification, have not been replied to.

We shall continue to press RBWM to review this questionable announcement. Meanwhile we invite any neighbourhood parking schemes we’ve not yet contacted to add their support by emailing chauntry.parking@outlook.com

DAVID SNELGAR

Chauntry Road

Maidenhead


What happens next is up to every one of us

On the ‘escalator to extinction’.

The wanton destruction of rainforests and rape of the seas has increased species decline by 100-fold, the authority of Attenborough declared in Sunday night’s Extinction: The Facts.

It is stupid enough that we’ve also interfered with the wildlife, aiding human virus transmission such as COVID.

Not satisfied, we now spearhead the incline with climate change, our carbon emissions.

In May, I explained that the RBWM Climate Change policy (now renamed) should be rejected by cabinet as it was devoid, and knowingly, of a scientific emissions reduction base and put us on the collision course for two degrees global warming.

It was, unsurprisingly, unanimously approved, as it was by full council, because it is undemanding.

The policy is now out for public consultation.

What a disgrace.

It now has pretty colours added to woo you that all is happy clappy with the climate issue at RBWM.

The policy spin remains insulting to all residents when free government scientific evidence and tools are available, but ignored, reference removed from early drafts, shows twice the allowed emissions and is rated as ‘least ambitious’ on the formal tool.

The RBWM resident who forced the council to declare an emergency dramatically resigned from the coalition she created due to RBWM’s approach.

Happy with three times the insect reduction (no flies on my windscreen), 170 per cent increase in flood risk and 30 per cent of the world to suffer extreme heatwaves (facts from the RBWM policy) or indeed embracing COVID-20?

Then sit back, it’s on its way, your policy supports this.

Uncomfortable?

Then respond to the consultation before September 29 and lobby your councillor demanding that the emissions trajectory is in line with the Paris Agreement and the actions costed for our review.

Let’s get off the escalator.

“What happens next is up to every one of us.” – Attenborough’s final words.

PAUL STRZELECKI

Berries Road

Cookham


Push the council to act on climate change

I’m sure, like me, many readers watched David Attenborough’s documentary Extinction: The Facts on BBC1 last Sunday evening, with a growing feeling of horror.

Pangolins, the worlds most trafficked species, contained in net bags ready to be boiled alive so that their scales, no different in chemical structure to our fingernails, can be harvested as ineffective medical remedies.

Monkeys jumping into a river in a desperate attempt to escape an advancing forest fire. A killer whale corpse tangled in a fishing net. The examples of the way that humans are impacting the world’s biodiversity just went on and on.

Blue Planet II did much to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, and prompted many people to change their attitude and habits towards the consumption of single use plastic.

However, Blue Planet II was nowhere near as hard hitting as this.

The problem is large and complex, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it, but the way to begin overcoming this feeling is simply to start working on the solution – to do something.

In this respect Attenborough’s timing is perfect for the residents of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

The Council’s Environment and Climate Change Strategy is currently the subject of a public consultation, which closes on September 29, so those who haven’t responded yet still have over a week to do so.

The different environmental groups in the Borough have come together to produce a document that will help residents to respond to the consultation.

If you are part of a local environmental group they will be able to provide you with a copy. If you’re not, please email us at plasticfreewindsor@gmail.com and we will be delighted to send it to you.

At the end of the documentary David Attenborough describes this as a ‘critical moment’.

It’s time to stop feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to start.

PAUL HINTON

Plastic Free Windsor


Praise for Baylis Trust and hospice’s work

How heartwarming to hear of the £25,000 donation by the Louis Baylis Trust for life improving equipment for patients at the new Thames Hospice.

As well as helping the terminally ill, this superb new hospice will benefit those who require help with mobility and enhance their long term quality of life.

My own mobility was greatly enhanced by the excellent physiotherapy treatment I had at St Marks Hospital.

I am sure this new hospice will provide a beacon of hope to future patients whose lives will be greatly enhanced with the new state of the art facilities it will provide.

A huge asset to the whole community.

PAMELA GILBERT

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


Pavement and cycle path needed in road

Cyclists and pedestrians take their lives into their hands using Harvest Hill Road in Maidenhead – there is no footpath along most of length and over the years there have been injuries with sadly a fatality in 2018.

This length of road was particularly heavily used by speeding vehicles during the recent closure, for months, of Shoppenhangers Road.

Through this letter I ask Cllr Gerry Clark to allocate some of his highways budget to protect the public by installing a cycle way/pavement rather than the hare-brained rainbow painted pedestrian crossing scheme he and Cllr Josh Reynolds favour squandering funds on.

JOHN WALSBY

Kelsey Close

Cox Green


What has happened to our ‘best kept’ village?

Old postcards show Cookham Moor as an area of grazed grass, two ponds which a stream flowed through, all of which local residents benefited from.

10 years ago Cookham was a regular winner of the best kept village, today the state of Cookham Village Green (Cookham Moor) is a disgrace – over-grown, weed ridden tall grass except for a small area of mown grass outside The Crown pub.

On two areas, poplar tree roots are now sprouting and if not controlled will grow into trees and reduce the area of public open space.

A pay and display car park adjoins a village pond that is so overgrown there is no open water where the swans have nested and the famous ‘Ratty’, of local resident Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, used to live – a stream feeding in and out of the pond, invisible due to lack of maintenance.

There is an elegant causeway bridge over the central pond which the stream flows in and out of, the view of which will continue to disappear if natural vegetation is not controlled.

Fortunately my family made available free of charge, Marsh Meadow, a 45-acre grass meadow, managed through the Marsh Meadow Management Committee of Local Residents, set up by my family.

It is mown so that children can play, dogs can be exercised, picnics can be taken, horses can ride, water features and the tow-path bridge are visible thanks to those who supported my family proposal to create a source of water flow taken from the River Thames, to flow down two sides of Marsh Meadow to guarantee a constant flow of water across Cookham Moor and on to the York Stream in Maidenhead.

All this attracts the visitors that have to pay to park their cars to the National Trust as the owners of Cookham Moor.

I suggest a visit to Holyport village green will show what an alternative approach could produce.

I only hope that local organisations in Cookham will take up the challenge to make Cookham Moor something the village can be proud of, as a local family farmer we will be happy to assist.

G COPAS

Copas Farms

Heathfield Road

Taplow


Sandbags ready for the flood in my backyard

We probably all know what ‘Nimby’ means.

For those who have not come across the term – ‘not in my backyard’ is used as an acronym in relation to controversial planning and development matters.

The contrasting ‘Yimby’ (yes in my backyard) goes some distance to supporting a proposal but in my opinion ‘Dimby’ (definitely in my back yard’) goes the whole way in terms of total commitment and support for a project.

I notice that the Maidenhead Braywick Leisure Centre is opening at a cost in excess of £30m.

I would be very interested to know how many people from my ward (Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) will be utilising this conspicuous new facility.

The timing is unfortunate, bearing in mind the recommendations of the CIPFA report on RBWM financial governance.

Furthermore there was a recent announcement that downstream flood defence proposals for thousands of households in my ward will not happen due to lack of funding.

Maidenhead has had the benefit of a fully funded flood alleviation scheme for nearly twenty years.

Since 2002, and at the press of a button, approaching flood water has been diverted around Maidenhead – firstly into Buckinghamshire before being quickly dumped on Old Windsor, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury.

Now, as the water rises, all we get is the opportunity to argue over who gets the sandbags kindly provided by RBWM while our neighbours upstream enjoy the facilities and comforts of a nice new leisure centre.

So where is the money to extend existing flood protection to cover the remote (actually forgotten, undefended and abandoned) communities downstream?

To be honest I don’t expect a straight answer from a council that cannot even empty the bins properly.

Cllr EWAN LARCOMBE

National Flood Prevention Party, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury


Anniversary walk to include Battlemead

On Sunday, September 20 members of the Maidenhead Civic Society and East Berks Ramblers will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the inaugural walk of the Millennium Walk, a route across country from Hurley to Maidenhead Riverside, that connects at each end with the Thames Path National Trail; a joint project.

We will be walking about half of the route and our walk will include crossing the East Field on the Royal Borough’s Battlemead Common using the causeway path.

This path is presently not accessible to the public but we have been given special permission by the Royal Borough to use it on this occasion.

The path, part of a missing link in the Millennium Walk, has only been open once so far, for the 2019 Boundary Walk: both walks follow the same route from the Boundary Oak in Pinkneys Green to the Thames Path.

The most recent Ecological Management plan for Battlemead Common recommends the causeway path be open from March to October but closed over the winter months so that overwintering wildfowl are not disturbed.

This plan will be discussed at a meeting of the Friends of Battlemead Common on September 16.

We hope the path will be open from March to October, as providing a missing link in the Millennium Walk was one of the reasons given for the acquisition of the former White Place farmland by the Royal Borough in 2018.

Achieving the link, even if only for half of the year, would also help us in 2020 celebrate the founding of our respective societies, that is the 60th Anniversary of Maidenhead Civic Society and the 50th Anniversary of East Berks Ramblers.

ANN DARRACOTT

Maidenhead Civic Society

STEVE GILLIONS

East Berks Ramblers


Perfidious Albion and getting a reputation

We are used to our politicians, national and local, making promises and then going back on their word.

But to renege on an international treaty agreed less than a year ago will have serious consequences for ‘global Britain’.

If the government unilaterally amends the Withdrawal Agreement Treaty, why should any of the international partners which our 'proud independent nation' wants and needs be willing to trust the UK?

There might never be free trade deals in Australia, Canada, the USA or any other country.

Our relationship with international security partners and NATO will be seriously compromised and Brexit itself could become a sort of cold war with the EU.

As Napoleon is supposed to have said (in French): ‘England. Ah! perfidious England’.

RICHARD POAD

Cookham


Broken promises will hit hard-won peace

I am deeply concerned by the Government’s plan to break promises made in the Withdrawal Agreement; an international treaty signed less than a year ago.

The Northern Ireland Secretary admitted this would break international law.

The Internal Markets Bill would renege on commitments to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and would set negotiations with Europe back to square one.

The Conservatives pride themselves on being the party of law and order, of economic stability and of the Union.

Now the government is openly breaking international law and paving the way to a no-deal economic disaster.

How can the Conservative and Unionist party jeopardise the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister is not acting in accordance with the values of ordinary Conservatives.

He was elected to deliver a comprehensive, ‘oven-ready’ deal with Europe, which would help communities and businesses.

Yet his actions threaten not only the reputation of the Conservative Party, but the global reputation of the UK as a trustworthy nation.

I saw this recent report by Best for Britain (/www.bestforbritain.org/tradereport) which details the current situation in UK-EU negotiations and I thought it might interest you and others in the local Conservative Party.

I am sure Best for Britain would be happy to give you more information if you contact them.

I urge you to put pressure on your MP to resist this corruption of the Conservative Party’s ethos.

The Conservatives must deliver the deal promised to the British people, uphold Britain’s international standing, and protect the integrity of the Union at all costs.

Dr JOSEF KONRAD

Powney Road

Maidenhead


Trading deals and being messed about

The good news is that the Government has agreed an excellent trade deal with Japan.

But the bad news is that we do not sell much to Japan, only 0.7 per cent of our GDP, and consequently it is projected that over the long term this special trade deal may enhance GDP by a negligible 0.07 percent.

This should prompt questions about the kind of gain we might expect from a similar special trade deal with the EU.

For a rough estimate we could simply multiply the 0.07 percent gain from the Japan deal by twenty, reflecting the greater volume of our exports to the EU (£300 billion in 2019) compared to Japan (£15 billion).

On which basis we would gain 1.4 percent of GDP, equal to natural economic growth over just seven average months at the post-war trend growth rate, and not enough to justify making any concessions to the EU.

If only this information had been available when the Irish government cleverly invented an apparently insoluble riddle over the land border!

Armed with that crucial insight Theresa May might have sorted it all out in very short order with words such as: “We will not be messed about; rather than get entangled in trying to negotiate a special trade deal with an obstructive EU we will just default to basic WTO terms, and take any minor economic hit that may entail.”

Oh, but of course this information was available to her, insofar as a Treasury projection in April 2016 had already given a valuation of a mere 1.3 per cent of GDP for a free trade deal with the EU; yet Mrs May nonetheless chose to cave in to the unreasonable demands of the Irish government.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


No deal damage bigger than Boris’s falsehoods

Our prime minister was once employed as a journalist who made stories up if he couldn’t sell the reality.

It’s an easier alternative to making a plan with integrity and commitment to avoid the massive damage to our economy that an effortless No Deal will bring.

MARK HUDSON

Oldacres

Maidenhead


Please raise a mug to help Macmillan

I am writing to ask your readers to raise a mug for Macmillan Cancer Support’s 30th annual Coffee Morning so we can provide vital support to people with cancer, who need it now more than ever.

This year’s Macmillan Coffee Morning will be on Friday, September 25, but we are encouraging people to get involved whenever and wherever they can by hosting a virtual or socially distanced event.

Nothing stops a Macmillan Coffee Morning!

Before COVID-19, many patients told Macmillan being diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment was the scariest thing that they could imagine.

These anxieties and concerns have not gone away during the pandemic – they’ve been made worse, meaning Macmillan needs support from people in Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead more than ever to provide the vital support people living with cancer rely on.

Every penny raised by Coffee Morning helps Macmillan to provide this support, and last year, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead alone raised £109,000 in Coffee Mornings but as it stands, registrations are down 68 per cent.

So I want to assure readers that they can still sign up now by visiting macmillan.org.uk/coffee or by searching for Macmillan Coffee Morning.

TOBY FIELDER

Head of fundraising

Macmillan Cancer Support

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