02:00PM, Friday 07 January 2022
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Developer connection was kept very quiet
Kieran Bell’s article ‘Conservative councillor responds to backlash over private employment’ (November 25), reported on the fact that Councillor Ross McWilliams did not declare his employment connection to CALA Homes prior to sitting on the planning committee for 80 new homes on the land south of Ray Mill Road East.
The application was made by CALA Homes and Cllr McWilliams works for planning consultancy BECG, which has CALA Homes as a client.
Should Cllr McWilliams be allowed to vote on whether to adopt the Borough Local Plan (BLP) when it comes to full council?
CALA Homes is RBWM’s development partner for the green belt land of the golf course.
If the BLP is adopted, permission will be granted for 2,000 new flats and houses, obliterating publicly owned greenspace and wildlife habitats, and making massive profits for CALA Homes.
Surely this is a conflict of interest?
Thanks to volunteers – and for kind donations
The results of our local Poppy Appeal are now to hand and I am delighted to report that, owing to the generosity of the people of Maidenhead and Cookham, we have collected in excess of £43,000.00.
This has been deposited in the National Poppy Appeal Fund and will be used to assist the men and women of our armed forces, ex-service personnel and their dependents.
We, in the Maidenhead branch of the Royal British Legion would like to pay tribute to the volunteers who gave up their time to collect at Marks and Spencer and Waitrose, distribute and collect Poppy trays around the Maidenhead and Cookham areas and assist in our counting.
Without their help we would have been unable to collect such a handsome sum.
These kind people are not legion members but volunteer to help every year.
Having said that, the Maidenhead branch is once again in dire need of new RBL members, and we must reiterate that membership of the armed forces either past or present is not a requirement to become a Legion member.
What is required is a desire to assist those who have served or currently serve our country in any way we can.
We should not forget that serving armed forces members are currently at the forefront of the fight to combat COVID-19!
If you are interested in joining our team, I can be contacted on 07747 341171.
Council could limit building on greenbelt
The two recent demonstrations attended by a large number of residents including young families outside Maidenhead Town Hall show the concern at the planned proposal by the council to build 2,000 homes on Maidenhead Golf Course.
This wonderful green space makes a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of all residents in Maidenhead.
If it is developed it will have the opposite effect.
Researching my files I came across a very relevant article which appeared in The Times as far back as 2017.
The article was written by Ben Webster, environment editor and I am quoting from relevant sections from the article he wrote under the heading ‘Councils ignore powers to limit housebuilding on the green belt’:
“Some local authorities choose to protect their greenbelts but others accept much higher housing targets and allow developers to build on environmentally valuable land.
“The different approaches mean some areas are being earmarked to have thousands more homes than necessary, according to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
“The National Planning Policy Framework NPPF), introduced in 2012, requires all councils to determine their ‘objectively assessed need’ (OAN) for housing, which is the number of new homes required to meet both market demand and social need.
“Councils do not have to accept the targets produced by the assessment if they have large amounts of greenbelt or other protected land.
“Brighton and Hove Council has set a target of 13,200 homes by 2030, less than half the 30,120 determined by its OAN.
“Watford, Hastings and Crawley have also set targets of only half their assessed need.
“By contrast, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is planning to meet its full OAN of 14,200 homes by 2033 despite 83 per cent of the borough being greenbelt.”
Together with others, I attended several meetings with (former council leader) Simon Dudley, other councillors and twice with Theresa May in an effort to persuade the council to preserve the golf course (Councillor Coppinger please note).
We even asked the council if they would consider a partial development and leave a large section of the course as parkland or a nine hole golf course for the public to enjoy.
We were met with an emphatic ‘no’ to these suggestions.
The current council leader appears to think the same.
It is my view that the council deliberately wants to build the maximum number of new homes as specified in the OAN in an attempt to justify building on Maidenhead Golf Course in particular.
It is all about money, very large sums of money that the council would receive by selling the golf course to developers, thereby giving no thought whatsoever to the environmental damage such a development would cause.
The only way to prevent this from happening is to make the council aware that public opinion throughout the town is against the unnecessary decimation of the green belt, especially the golf course.
Please make your views known by contacting your local councillor.
Not an amusing ending - nor a happy one
I was disappointed when I reached the end of an otherwise amusing letter from Robin Williams (Viewpoint, December 30).
How often does it need to be said that the problem of the Irish land border cannot be solved by the UK joining in a customs union with the EU?
Because that happened in 1973 when we joined the EEC or Common Marker, but it was only with the advent of the EU Single Market in 1993 that routine checks and controls on goods moving across the borders between member states could be – indeed had to be – eliminated across the EU.
However, to be fair to Mr Williams, clearly Boris Johnson held a similar misconception when he pushed for a ‘Canada style’ free trade deal with the EU as a solution.
We now have that trade deal with the EU, but we also have a new customs border in the Irish Sea, and the infrastructure of a hard border on the coast of Northern Ireland facing Great Britain, plus we have left the province behind under swathes of EU Single Market laws.
Mr Williams wonders whether I could prepare a simply phrased statement of my proposition to resolve the current difficulties, a statement which could possibly be comprehensible to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who is now in charge of our negotiations with the EU.
Well, as it happens, I have already sent a letter to draw her attention to the suggestion I first made in February 2018, and repeatedly offered to Theresa May (Viewpoint February 22 2018, “Easy solution to EU border conundrum”)
But as she is not my constituency MP I cannot say whether she will even see that letter, let alone consider the clear unilateral stepwise plan that I laid out.
Dr D R COOPER
Belmont Park Avenue
Collection dates list would be helpful
Is it possible for you to liaise with the Royal Borough to publish a list of bin collection dates over Christmas and New Year indicating which bins will be collected and from which areas?
As you have probably noticed, there are bins put outside everywhere at the moment.
Editor’s note: Good point. I’ve made a note and will see if we can do this for our editions ahead of Christmas 2022.
A cross-party coalition of 28 councillors from three different factions has been formed at Wokingham Borough Council.