Viewpoint: Criticism of film studio project

Email Viewpoint letters to or write to Viewpoint, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX.

Spending worthwhile on Boulters Car Park

There was an interesting juxtaposition of stories in The Advertiser (February 3) concerning our lovely council.

Although RBWM were DEFINITELY going to extend the Boulters Lock Car Park a couple of years ago, story one, on page seven says how they STILL can’t afford to extend it.

Story two on page 10 tells us that the council stands to net around £10million in car parking charges in 2022/23 and how drivers are ‘being braced’ for a 4.8 per cent average increase in charges.

My understanding is that the Boulters Lock Car Park extension will cost no more than £250,000 and that’s with some nice landscaping, lighting and VAT etc.

That’s about the price of one budget two-bed flat in Maidenhead.

Following a suggestion of mine a couple of years ago they very sensibly increased the price of parking in Boulters Lock Car Park and yet it’s still full to bursting on sunny days.

So, it seems this cash-strapped council can’t afford to extend the crowded Boulters Lock Car Park that is already incredibly busy and thus making life difficult for visitors and residents alike, whilst at the same time they expect to make a huge £10million from borough-wide car parking.

Can anyone spot the irony here?

If you can, then no doubt you’re probably not an RBWM councillor.


Boulters Lane


Dudley caused havoc – and some déjà vu

Did anyone notice what happened (meteorologically) in RBWM last week?

Dudley came in, huffing and puffing, causing wreckage all over the place, showing little compassion or remorse.

Then Dudley, unpopular with most locals, abruptly departed under heavy cloud.

Ring any bells?


Barn Drive

Cox Green

Very little stardust and fewer benefits

A new film studio for Marlow sounds glamorous and exciting.

Perhaps we’ll bump into Brad Pitt having a swift half in The Marlow Donkey or see Scarlett Johansson queuing for cod and chips in The Penguin Bar.

Unfortunately, that’s about as likely as James Bond asking for his Martini to be stirred, not shaken.

Film studios are self-sufficient places where the stars and production staff are locked away busily making movies.

They’re just like any large industrial facility where workers arrive in the morning and leave in the evening with little time to make use of local shops, pubs and businesses.

And they look like industrial facilities too.

Huge sound stages resembling distribution warehouses loom over sprawling workshops surrounded by cranes and scaffolding to create the impression of a perpetual building site.

Marlow Film Studio will dominate the landscape for miles around and ruin the views from Winter Hill, Bloom Wood and the Chilterns.

The local countryside will be permanently disfigured.

It’s also a nationally important area for rare migratory birds and a place where deer roam, owls nest and wild orchids grow.

Acres of this valuable land will be covered in concrete, destroying everything that lives there.

The developers claim they will increase biodiversity by 20 per cent but it’s likely they’ll achieve this by investing elsewhere in the county, leaving this area as a natural wasteland.

So why build a studio here?

It’s cheap land and an easy drive from London where most film production staff live. But that drive won’t be easy anymore.

Over 2,000 of them will arrive and leave each day, jamming the A404 between High Wycombe and Maidenhead and causing queues that stretch from Bourne End to Marlow.

Local commutes and school-runs will become a nightmare.

Dido Property Ltd (Guernsey) say they want the staff to use shuttle buses but that sounds like a fantasy movie.

It’s hard to imagine busy professionals queuing for a bus at Handy Cross every morning when they could simply dump their cars in nearby residential roads and walk to the studio. That’s what happens at Pinewood Studios.

And is another film studio actually needed?

Plenty are being built including a huge one just up the road in Reading.

Industry professionals believe that there is a sufficient pipeline to meet demand for the next 15 years.

But that’s not deterring property developers who are buying up land to sell on as soon as they obtain planning permission.

But the developers assure us that the vision is to run the studio even though they have no previous experience.

They talk about apprenticeships for local kids but since they will be renting out studio space, not producing films, it’s hard to see how they will provide them.

And local jobs?

The film industry is a very tight-knit community of experienced freelancers.

Unless you’re already in the movie business, the only openings will be for a few admin and maintenance jobs.

And there’s no shortage of them in the area already.

This whole project sounds like a disaster movie for the community and the environment.


Save Marlow’s Greenbelt

Theresa May ignored EU border suggestion

Allegedly back in 2019 Theresa May accused the Democratic Unionist Party of a ‘lack of strategic thinking’, but it is not clear to me whether or not she suffered from the same problem herself.

It is true that she chose to simply ignore a sensible suggestion offered in a letter printed here four years ago on February 22 2018, headed ‘Easy solution to EU border conundrum’, which is still available on the Advertiser website, and in a subsequent succession of letters copied directly to her, and it is true that we are still living with the increasingly dangerous consequences of that decision.

However if her strategic plan was to use the hugely exaggerated difficulties of the Irish land border as a pretext to give big business as much as possible of what they were demanding, short of staying in the EU, then she succeeded in that plan until it was rejected by MPs.

Since then similar proposals have come from other sources, including a former Director-General at the EU Commission and two professors of European law, and most recently the Tory peer Lord Lilley has taken it up, arguing that passing a UK law to protect the EU Single Market would limit the excuses for disproportionate retaliation in the event that the UK invoked Article 16 of the Irish protocol.

However I think we saw last November that Boris Johnson is unlikely to do anything that might put at risk his precious ‘Canada style’ free trade deal with the EU, worth all of 0.75 percent to the UK economy according to the EU Commission.


Belmont Park Avenue


Finding integrity in independent politics

I had always been a loyal Conservative voter I found myself feeling that I could not give away my vote to a political party any longer.

Party politics was just not working for me.

During late 2018, I reflected on who I would vote for at the next local elections.

I wanted to have some control of how my vote was used and have a representative who would watch my back.

I had lost trust and wanted to feel connected to my representative and trust them to put myself, my family, and neighbours first.

I could see that the party political culture, if not affecting me then, would affect me negatively one day.

I looked around to see who or what the alternatives were.

There were the usual party options but they all offered much of the same.

I could see that each candidate had already compromised themselves by giving in to party lines.

The limited options meant giving away my vote to a representative, where their own politics would dilute my voice and potentially increase my anxiety and the feeling of being undervalued.

I had always voted and felt obliged to not waste my vote as so many people before me had given up so much to give me a voice.

I found that many people felt like me for different reasons.

One day a friend said: “David, have you heard of this new group of local councillors, ex-political party councillors and local residents who had started to get together to change the way local politics works? It is called ‘the Borough first’.

I looked at the now rebranded ‘the Borough first Independents’ and found their values were like my own, simple and straightforward. Integrity, collaboration and respect.

I met with the team and instantly realised I had at last found a new home for my vote. Why? Because they were all independents.

Independents who believed the only true way to represent residents is by living in the local community, listening and getting involved.

Taking these issues into the council for debate, not suppressing the voices of local people.

This group of people could not be compromised by party politics and would always put their community and my needs first.

I realised that I did not need to give away my vote to a political party any longer.

I decided to stand in the local elections in 2019 as ‘the Borough first’ candidate for Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury.

As party politics is still broken and still no longer represents me, I will stand again in 2023 to give residents a candidate who not only cares but who they can trust to put them first.

I hope that like me you get a chance to get your voice back, take back control and use your vote to make a change in the leadership.

This small change of voting for a real independent will give you undiluted representation, take away your anxiety and rebuild trust again in our local authority.


Leader the Borough first Independents

Volunteer, make friends and have fun

Scouts are at the heart of the community here in Maidenhead, helping young people step up and gain skills for life.

But this is only possible when we have enough volunteers to support them.

Now, what I’ve found is that volunteering is good for you.

It’s good for your skills and CV, your wellbeing and your local community too.

The research backs this up.

Over three quarters of volunteers (77 per cent) tell us they found volunteering improved their mental health and wellbeing, while two thirds say it makes them feel less isolated.

And we all need that in these dark winter months.

Starting on Tuesday (February 22) we started a new campaign in Maidenhead called #GoodForTwo.

This is all about sharing the fun and friendship of scouts with a friend.

Volunteers and young people in scouts right across Maidenhead will be asking a mate to come along and try it for themselves.

So if someone asks you to come along – don’t be shy.

It’s a chance to make new friends, learn new skills and most importantly, have some fun. And that’s a promise.


Paralympic champion and scout ambassador

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