Viewpoint: Borough must do more to support active travel

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX


Missed funding and flippant attitudes

It was recently confirmed that the borough received no funding as part of the Capability Fund from central Government.

This comes following earlier assurances from the lead member for transport, Councillor Gerry Clark, that it was only a matter of minor clarification, rather than substance, the Government wanted assurance of.

These flippant words, dismissively thrown around last year, sting all the more today, given the current position we’re in in RBWM as the only authority out of nearly 80 up and down the country to receive zero funding.

Cllr Clark stated the council assured the DfT that the funding would be used to develop a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), which it would appear was not a reassurance enough for DfT that the borough is committed to delivering any active travel schemes.

Rightly so.

LCWIPs have been in existence and developed by authorities since 2017.

The fact that as of 2022 RBWM still hasn’t written one and only relatively recently adopted the Cycling Action Plan, tells you a lot about the state of cycling and walking provision in the borough.

In contrast, last year works began on a £6m scheme to increase motor traffic capacity on the roads of Maidenhead - some 17 times the potential total amount of active travel funding *not* received in RBWM.

This failure to secure vital funding only stands to push RBWM further back into the dark ages of transport policy. Unless of course, Cllr Clark can provide assurances that the shortfall in funding will be met by the council?

There has been a strong uptake in cycling and walking during the pandemic in the borough, evidenced by the increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians visible, as well as the near full cycle parking.

This is in spite of the lack of provision for these user groups.

Small changes were made in Maidenhead town centre which, whilst welcome, were under threat of being ripped out before Christmas.

Fortunately they have stayed for now, however they receive little to no maintenance and the barriers are regularly pushed out of the way for illegitimate and dangerous parking.

These basic measures were funded under the initial round of active travel funding from central Government early in the pandemic. Funding that is now not an option for further schemes, for now.

RBWM is known to be in a poor financial state, therefore free money should be a no-brainer. Yet still, be that at the behest of the administration hell-bent on resisting cycling and wlaking, or as a result of overstretched officers, even free money couldn’t be secured.

The parking manager declared at a recent Maidenhead Town Forum that ‘the car is king’ in RBWM. It certainly feels that way under the current administration.

One would hope Cllr Clark would take heed of the actions from DfT and consider a change of focus from motor traffic to active travel, but based on past experiences of this administration, it seems unlikely.

All we seem to get is words, not action when it comes to meaningful, positive change. What climate emergency?

JOHN ADAMSON

Cox Green


What’s going up and lots coming down

After a recent visit to Maidenhead we were left wondering what the town centre planners are thinking of.

We were dismayed to see how many buildings have already been knocked down and new high rise blocks have been built in their place.

What is even more worrying is that further sites are earmarked for demolition.

What has happened to Maidenhead town centre?

Even the Magnet Leisure Centre is boarded up.

The centre of attraction... it won't be anymore.

When this is replaced by even more high rise buildings will they be as unattractive as the ones by Sainsbury’s?

The new leisure centre on the edge of the town is hardly accessible to all.

Workers in the town centre used to go before work, at lunchtime and after work.

Parents used to take their children to activities and then pop into town.

Not anymore, especially as so many shops have closed.

As former residents of Maidenhead (for 40 years) we feel Maidenhead is losing its identity.

Who will want to live in these high rise blocks?

Where are the new schools, doctors’ surgeries and other facilities for all these families?

Why is the council spoiling its town centre?

Do they not care about the residents?

JANET AND BARRY ADKINS

Kent


Concern other cyclists don’t know the rules

Do rules apply to cyclists?

As a cyclist I am concerned by how many of my fellow riders ignore the rules.

Observing the antics of these riders, be it weaving through pedestrians on footpaths or jumping red lights, I can understand why the cycling community gets such a bad press.

This week I was walking to Maidenhead railway station along the footpath that connects Grenfell Road with the station.

This path displays no cycling signs.

A fellow commuter riding his foldaway bicycle came up behind me and attempted to pass.

Turning to him I pointed out the no cycling sign.

He wrongly informed me that the sign indicated that cycling was allowed and continued riding towards the station zigzagging around pedestrians.

This was one of the politest encounters I have had with cyclists over several years on this stretch of footpath. Generally, I am greeted with a tirade of abuse.

It leads me to wonder if these cyclists do not understand the rules or believe they are exempt.

J GILHOOLY

Maidenhead


No pride or platform for Maidenhead events

On visiting the library last Thursday afternoon I asked if a poster for a local concert could be displayed on a notice board in the library.

It would appear that they no longer offer this service.

If one wishes to advertise any concerts or activities within the library the flyer would be placed in a book on the first floor of the library for people to see if they so desire.

I suggested that the notice board located by the entrance could be used and I was informed that this is to promote the library.

Surely the library should be promoting the community!

On entering the library there was a table promoting Pride Month which, obviously, I have no objection to but it would appear that local activities are now disregarded and considered of no importance to either our library or the Royal Borough.

I had a conversation with a gentleman in the library who informed me that the local authority was concerned about the use of paper.

What is a library if not full of paper?

Have the wokes taken over?

NADINE WILKINSON

Blackamoor Lane

Maidenhead


We need green, not ever-increasing grey

More evidence to say that climate change is advancing more quickly.

My friend is in the Arctic Circle and says there is only six years of ice left.

Once this happens we are likely to experience weather patterns more like Canada.

I do hope this is first and foremost in the minds and plans of the council as the BLP has been set for the next 10 years.

Can RBWM honestly put their hands on their hearts and say they are ready for this massive change to how we will live?

Residents in the new 25-storey buildings and all the other flats will be seeking solace under the biggest trees and everywhere will need mature trees to cool down the air, make oxygen and absorb water.

Brussels knew this hundreds of years ago when they designed the city with middle and outer rings of woods to keep the temperatures down.

Our little pocket parks with trees round the edges won’t be enough to hide away nor drink up all the rain water.

The ten thousand saplings that are being planted won't be helpful for at least another 50 years.

Spending money now on planting mature trees would be an investment but short of this just leave the green spaces alone!

If in 10 years we seriously need more space to mitigate climate change we could redevelop the golf course into a great park or reforest any rural land we have left but if the council persists on developing all our green spaces rather than use brownfield sites, we will drown, we will suffocate, we will choke with the fumes of cars.

The pavements are not even wide enough right now for walking let alone cycling – think of all our pinch points at Bray, Cookham and our bridges.

How do they think increasing our township by 40 per cent will help our country?

We need green not grey to survive.

Join us to protect the green spaces against from overdevelopment.

It is not too late, we can work together – our town is a national disgrace when it comes to preparing for climate change – we are in fact speeding it up and making our town more vulnerable.

Email maidenheadgreatpark@gmail.com to be kept in the loop.

TARA CRIST

Maidenhead Riverside


An overflow car park area exists already

As the closed-off area of the Boulters car park was used as an overflow car park around 30 to 35 years ago why does it need around £250k to re-open it?

All it needs is a good clearance of the overgrown vegetation/trees and probably some minor works to the gravel surface.

Yes it won't have lighting etc but would be useable during the daylight hours, similar to the current overflow which is locked at 6pm or 8pm each night.

So for around no more than a few thousand pounds, the extension could be easily be re-opened with the costs more likely be recovered in first year of use from fees charged.

Plus it would prevent annoyance and nuisance to local residents from the on-street parking issues. Or do RBWM have development ideas for this site?

STEVE ANDERSON

Maidenhead


Wonderful hospice helped us so much

Having recently lost my wife I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful staff at Thames Hospice, which has been done before in your pages.

Nothing was too much trouble.

They were able to get quick prescriptions through the doctor’s surgery, sent out staff to assess her needs and along with the lovely carers from Bespoke Care and some dedicated district nurses, who made her palliative care so much easier and her last days much more comfortable, and NRS for delivering equipment.

I cannot thank you all enough.

MERVYN BUSTON

East Road

Maidenhead


Appeal for talking newspaper volunteers

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that, until the late summer of 2020, Maidenhead and District Talking Newspaper Association, that records the Maidenhead Advertiser for the visually impaired, had been unable to comply with restrictions imposed and no recordings were possible.

Since that time revised restrictions have enabled us to produce a monthly round-up of news from the Advertiser.

Now that the mandatory restrictions have been lifted we are hoping to return to more frequent recordings.

However, our volunteer numbers have reduced significantly during the past two years for a variety of reasons, restricting our ability to produce recordings more regularly than once a month.

The Association would be pleased to hear from people interested in knowing more about the production of recordings with a view to volunteering.

Our particular need at present is for sound recordists for whom appropriate training is given and equipment provided.

Familiarity with computer technology is a prerequisite. To contact the association please telephone 01628 631259.

DIANE HAYES

Chairman, Maidenhead and District Talking Newspaper Association


Fortnightly collections have boosted recycling

I regret that although I explained quite clearly at the budget council meeting why we had invested in our recycling and waste operation neither yourselves nor the opposition have explained it so let me clarify.

By changing to fortnightly waste collections, we are encouraging residents to recycle and are following many councils across the country.

Some, like Bracknell, have gone further and moved to three weekly collections.

So why does it cost more?

We designed our vehicles according to the best practice at the time which was to have split bodies to minimise the number of vehicles.

During the day the lorries have to return to depot a number of times to offload which costs both money and increases the amount of pollutants in the air.

The necessary change to increase recycling meant that the vehicles would significantly increase their mileage and hence pollutants.

We assessed the best way to reduce that effect and found that purchasing a limited number of additional vehicles was the right thing to do.

We all know that achieving carbon neutrality comes at a price and this is an example.

So, what has been the effect of changing to fortnightly black bin collections?

Over the period of October to January black bin waste decreased by 21.49 per cent and food waste increased by 30.59 per cent compared with the same period last year.

If we also look at the total percentage of recycled material; in the first nine months of our year, we achieved 50.84 per cent whilst the last quarter of the year instead of declining as normal it rose to 54.12 per cent.

Carbon neutrality comes at a price, and it is one we are prepared to pay,

Cllr DAVID COPPINGER

Cabinet member for planning, environmental services and Maidenhead


Investing in council services for the future

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting the current Conservative administration’s third budget.

Despite continuing pressure from COVID, next year, new investment will be £2.2million more than savings and we will invest more in important council services.

We are proud of the support our top performing adult and children’s social care teams provide to our most vulnerable residents.

Working with our health partners including GPs, our excellent adult social care team is creating a seamless service between health and social care.

To maintain support for young people, the children’s services budget is increased by £3million, rising to £27million with another £8million of investment committed over the following four years.

With our joint venture partners, we are creating a ladder of housing opportunity.

The first phase of the development will deliver 668 new homes.

We have a focus on affordable housing and in the past year 57 homes were completed and planning was approved for a further 193 affordable homes.

I thank all who responded to the budget consultation. We agree with those who told us arts are important and, guided by a consultant’s report on Norden Farm, added £140k to the budget to support Norden Farm and The Old Court.

In summary, in the past three years we have taken the difficult decisions, consistently delivered underspends on the revenue budget and put the council’s finances on a more sustainable footing.

What’s more, in delivering the new corporate plan, if we choose, by 2035 we could be debt free.

For next year, we are proposing a lower than inflation increase in council tax of 3 per cent which will be between £280 and £500 less than neighbouring councils and demonstrates we are on the side of residents in these challenging times.

Cllr DAVID HILTON

Cabinet member for finance and Ascot


Worry over Nationality and Borders Bill

Today I was proud to see in print the names of over 1,000 signatories of a letter organised by the Joint Public Issues Team of Churches Working for Peace & Justice, warning all MPs of the dangers inherent in the Nationality and Borders Bill, which, as amended by the House of Lords, is due to be debated in the House of Commons today (Monday).

By the time you read this letter, the bill’s outcome should be known.

The debate is particularly topical in view of the expected increase in the number of refugees expected from Ukraine, whose fate has aroused such support from the UK.

See info@jointpublicissues-news.org.uk

ALASDAIR DONALDSON

Clerk, Maidenhead Quakers


United is how we should be standing

As tanks roll across the border between Russia and Ukraine, yet another example emerges of the folly of the Leave vote in 2016.

Already the UK economy has suffered to the tune of trillions of pounds with poverty and foodbanks a part of life for an increasing number of people. As Brexit Boris furnishes his elitist friends with million pound payouts for dodgy or non-existent Covid PPE, the reason Vladimir Putin was such a supporter of Brexit can be seen.

This aggressive de facto dictator wants the downfall of democracy and is pursuing a war unthinkable to many since the EU brought peace to most of Europe.

Brexit has diminished the EU a little and harmed the UK a lot.

It has demonstrated the danger of division in the face of aggressor states, for the countries of the EU are so much more powerful in a bloc which can challenge the fascistic endeavours of the likes of Putin.

Too many of the older Leave voters were busy fighting a war which ended in 1945 rather than facing the challenge of maintaining freedom and liberalism in the face of opposition from the likes of Putin, Xi, Modi, Orbán and Trump, where power has corrupted completely.

Brexit was the biggest and most dangerous mistake the UK has made in centuries.

JAMES AIDAN

Sutton Road

Cookham

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