Viewpoint: St Mark's Hospital, verges and Ukraine

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


Re-open St Mark’s urgent care centre

Following the NHS text messages some of us received this weekend about the overstretched services at Wexham Park and Frimley hospitals, warning people not to go unless their condition was extremely serious, isn’t it about time the reopening of St Marks urgent care centre was considered as a matter of urgency?

People who have injuries, which may be considered minor but nevertheless need some attention and expertise, have nowhere to go, especially at a weekend when GPs are shut.

These services need expanding, not closing, if the pressures on A&E departments are ever to eased.

With COVID cases on the rise, although seemingly being kept remarkably quiet, people are being left with very little support.

Not to mentioned the six million plus people still awaiting diagnosis and treatment for all manner of illnesses and conditions.

There is no sign that the promises to bring down waiting lists are having any effect. Sadly, people are being left to suffer in silence.

Perhaps our MP might like to give us her views on the current situation and what her Government intends to do to improve it.

NIGEL SMITH

Australia Avenue

Maidenhead


Small green spaces are still important

We are very concerned at the current trend for the speculative sale of plots of green public areas.

On March 9 a section of the grass verge on Shoppenhangers Road was sold at auction for £5,000.

Whilst it is hard to envisage this land being used for residential development, it raises questions about who is selling the land, who is the purchaser and who has responsibility for ongoing grass cutting, maintenance and public liability insurance.

When Ribstone Road in Cox Green was created as a residential development some 50 years ago, it was built on previously covenanted land which limited the total number of dwellings to be put on the site.

This facilitated the creation of a green, wooded open space for the enjoyment of local residents.

This area of land has been acquired at auction and is now the subject of a speculative planning application to construct a terrace of three town houses.

The sale also included the public footpath which provides access to four existing adjacent properties.

Across the Borough there are scores of small open spaces like this that enhance the setting of surrounding houses and the character of the neighbourhood.

These should be protected for the enjoyment of future generations.

They should not be sold off cheaply without planning permission in the hope that it may be granted in the future.

It is unlikely that permission would be granted but nearby residents face months of worry, stress and frustration over the possibility that the character of their neighbourhood is at risk.

Our planners should identify and protect such spaces, and send a clear message that they will not be granted permission for residential development. In the first instance the application to develop the open space at Ribstone Road should be robustly refused.

Who could possibly be selling off our grass verges?

MARTIN MCNAMEE

Chair Planning Group – Maidenhead Civic Society


Golf club contributes in all kinds of ways

Regarding the Great Park Idea, which is being proposed as an alternative to development of Maidenhead Golf Club for housing:

I have not seen any figures from this movement demonstrating the finances of maintenance, ie how much it will cost, and who is to pay, and how.

It seems to be an important point, when there are already parks near the town centre, which, although most attractive, do seem to be under-used.

They are no doubt maintained by the council, at a cost to the ratepayers.

The golf club, through its subscriptions, maintains the course.

There are public footpaths, via which walkers and cyclists can get into town.

Preserving the course would also protect wildlife and ancient tree lines, which would undoubtedly be adversely effected by development.

Furthermore, the golf club raises much charitable funding – this year alone over £30,000 for Alzheimer's and Dementia Support.

Can the Great Park movement, the developers, or the council guarantee to be equally benevolent?

I suspect that the council in its drive for housing, which really means Income, is stuffing a hole in a coffer left by previous fiscal ineptitude, and that the Great Park idea is motivated as much by a reluctance to have a housing development on their green back doors as by any community spirit.

JENNIFER LOCKE

The Avenue

Maidenhead


Empty flats could be house Ukrainians

It was inspiring to read the plan reported in the Maidenhead Advertiser (March 10, 2022) that Rabbi Jonathan Romain wants to put in place in order to help people fleeing Ukraine.

Already many people in Maidenhead have responded by offering to take Ukrainian people into their homes.

It is obvious when seeing the daily devastation of cities, towns and villages in the Ukraine, that it will take years before many refugees will be able to return to their homeland.

Therefore, I wonder if it is possible to provide further help.

For several years there have been reports of hundreds of empty flats in the Royal Borough and particularly in Maidenhead.

It would be wonderful if some of these unused flats could be made available to Ukrainian refugee families.

If this could be arranged, it would be essential that these families are provided with help and advice to set up a home and to become integrated.

I believe that there are many people in Maidenhead who would be very willing to undertake the role of adviser and friend to these families.

It would be helpful if the council and the owners of empty properties were to advise if they are willing to make them available.

GEORGE MIDGLEY

Walker Road

Maidenhead


Forget Brexit and look at the bigger picture

Last week’s Advertiser (March 10) carried several letters which were in turn prompted by a letter from James Aidan printed the week previously.

I have to say that much of the opinions expressed were no more than the lingering emotional – even hysterical – hangover from the vote to leave the EU.

There will be no going back in the foreseeable future, so it’s up to everyone to make it work.

And before anyone attempts to link me with Mogg, Farage, and Johnson: no, I did NOT vote to leave.

Put in basic terms, the EU grew out of the European Coal and Steel Community (1951) and then its successor the European Economic Community (1957).

Recognising coal and steel were vital ingredients for any military power, the initial driver was to preclude any future war amongst the European nations by tying their interests in these industries together.

It was then a small step to enlarge this economic entanglement to reduce even further the opportunities and need for belligerent competition.

Hence the EEC.

And finally, the almost logical conclusion of this was full political integration.

That proved to be a step too far for some.

By this time the point of the EU was no longer the preservation of internal peace but the development of economic strength.

But the EU was never a military bloc.

Defence of the Union was entrusted to NATO.

For too long many EU members have been happy to leave the main burden of funding NATO to the US, the UK and a few others.

NATO is set up as a defensive bloc: an attack on one is an attack on all.

There is nothing in NATO that can make it a belligerent; it is ONLY a defensive force. Putin knows that.

Dr Cooper then posits that Russia’s current actions ‘cannot be considered entirely unprovoked’.

At the risk of seeming a little offensive, this is like saying the women walking out alone at night have in some way provoked their attacker.

If any club – in this case the EU – is perceived as attractive, then it is entirely up to any nation in Europe to seek admission.

By the same token it is open to any club to ‘advertise’ and offer membership to any other potential member.

Russia has no right whatsoever to object to this.

So to invoke Brexit as an opportunity for Putin to invade Ukraine is nonsense.

To say that Putin felt threatened is nonsense.

To say that he started to see his own territorial ambitions fading is more like the truth.

There is now no doubt that Putin is a psychopath.

And there cannot be any doubt that the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane in July 2014 following closely after the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was with Putin’s full connivance – a trial run, even.

He was testing the waters to see how NATO would react. It couldn’t.

Putin has long held a twisted view of world history that drives him to want to re-create the Russian empire (not the Soviet Union, note).

The EU was never an obstacle. NATO still could be.

So let’s leave Brexit out of this and look at the bigger picture.

Dr B W DARRACOTT

Maidenhead


Be consistent – and don’t pour out vitriol

I seem to recall that we had a vote about AV or ‘first past the post’ and AV was rejected with a 68 per cent majority.

Therefore the electorate made a clear decision about its voting preferences.

I cannot understand the attitude of anti Brexit voters who have still not accepted that the electorate made a decision to leave which we should abide by.

The result was pretty close but MPs who have a seat with a small majority are entitled to sit in the House under the same rules.

The sheer vitriol poured over the majority of Brexit voters is therefore pointless.

Last week Malcolm Stretton wrote a letter in which he described Farage as shameful, Johnson as ridiculous, Merkel as foolish, the Netherlands as stupid, Greens inadvertently responsible for Europe’s vulnerability, and the USA stupid and their presidents dumb.

It is a relief to know that he doesn’t think China or Russia stupid but only ugly.

His extraordinary statement that ‘The EU is inefficient but so are all massive institutions’ says it all.

At least if a British Government squanders millions we have the power to get rid of them, whereas the EU never balanced its books despite our bleatings from the sidelines.

I personally resent the attitude of anti Brexiteers who say we are anti European.

I have lived abroad in several countries, and was married to a European and resent being regarded as a ‘little Englander’ which seems to be the attitude of Brexit deniers.

I am most certainly pro European but not the European Union which was supposed to be a Common Market when first voted for.

No one ever asked the population their opinion as it transformed into a Federal Political state.

I never thought for one minute we could rely on the EU to protect us, but regard NATO as our main defence, and unfortunately a lot of EU countries do not pay their dues.

Pity the US is vilified when they shoulder a huge burden in NATO.

Finally, I have quite a few friends of differing opinions on this, but not one of the Brexit voters I know makes negative remarks to a Remainer about their decision.

EVELYN M ZIVKOVIC

Badminton Road

Maidenhead


Of course Putin wanted Britain to leave the EU

Whilst D R Cooper's prescient fears for conflict between the free nations (Orbán's Hungary excepted) of the EU and the authoritarian, murderous regime of Putin have been realised, what is clear is that there’s a huge difference between a peaceful expansion of the EU, which would in any case have taken decades and an invasion to establish regime change in a democratic country.

Ukraine has a genuine aspiration to join the EU which is of course understandable; the benefits for members are numerous.

What Putin fears is that his repressive governance will be rejected by all around him and eventually by his own population.

To use the Brexit lie and imply that Turkey was about to jo in the EU is underhand; the EU has standards with which any joining nation has to comply, and it would take Turkey decades to achieve those standards, and the same is true of many aspirants.

It’s clear that the EU with Britain was a more powerful force representing a population exceeding half a billion people.

The EU, diminished somewhat, still is a force of 447,000,000.

The UK, with a Prime Minister uniquely unfit for serious office, is sadly now peripheral, an afterthought in global terms.

Both Malcolm Stretton and Clive Blakesley make excellent points about the enablement of Putin, a blind eye being turned whilst his regime increased both its evil actions and its economic strength.

It’s important now to recognise past errors in dealing with this monster and, crucially, to accept that Putin wanted Brexit for its division.

Sitting on D R Cooper’s fence is no longer an option.

JAMES AIDAN

Sutton Road

Maidenhead


Giving a bear some serious provocation

It is a shame that some EU supporters are now trying to blame Brexit for the tragedy in Ukraine.

Perhaps they could develop a new theory of time, to explain how Brexit in 2020 also triggered Putin's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and his annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Or they could explore a simpler explanation, starting with Putin's speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy in February 2007.

Putin protested against the expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders, contrary to assurances given in 1990, as he claimed, a development which he termed a ‘serious provocation’.

Nevertheless, despite Putin’s strong opposition, the following April at their Bucharest summit NATO leaders just went ahead and invited Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance.

Within days, Russia had publicly declared that it would do everything it could to prevent that ever happening, taking military and other steps.

One can poke a bear, and when it reacts violently one can blame the bear; but might it not be wiser to recognise the nature of the beast and refrain from unnecessary provocation?

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


MPs get a pay rise – and of course expenses

So it was announced recently the good news for our 650 Members of Parliament who are to receive a 2.7 per cent increase in their pay.

The award by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is justified as recognition for all their hard work over the last two years when no increases were made.

The actual figures are £81,932 to £84,144 plus expenses.

Many people will say immediately: “What about the hard work of all the UK population of having to live with all the COVID restrictions, vaccinations and the many changes to working patterns and employment in general?”

Instead, people have been ‘rewarded’ by further assaults on their living standards including the fundamental changes to the state pensions Triple Lock, the permanent cut in the Universal Credit uplift and a rise of 1.25 percentage points in National Insurance payments for those working in April 2022.

And all this coupled with rising inflation as shown by increasing food prices, soaring energy bills and a resulting hike in rent bills for all those who already find affordable housing impossible to access.

For the many, the future is bleak and begs the question that although MPs are of all descriptions, is the Westminster Bubble really in touch?

STEVE TAYLOR

Chair, Slough & District Trades Union Council


Be clear on motorbike and moped riders

In the ‘Motoring’ feature of the March 10 issue, GEM Motoring Assist commendably urged drivers to look out for bikers as the spring weather improves and more of us take to the roads to enjoy our pastime.

However, their spokesperson’s quoted statistics of six riders killed and 115 seriously injured ‘every day in collisions every week’ is wildly inaccurate.

According to data on Gov.uk ‘Reported road casualties in GB, motorcycle factsheet’ published on November 25, 2021, the correct figures for the whole of 2020 are 285 killed and 4,429 seriously injured or less than one fatality per day and 12 serious injuries.

Whilst any fatal road accidents and serious injuries are to be deplored, the actual numbers are a lot less than the GEM quoted figures which, if extrapolated, would lead to 2,190 fatalities and 41,975 serious injuries.

I wholeheartedly applaud the sentiment of the article but let’s make sure the facts are correct.

Motorcycles and scooters ridden responsibly, offer cost effective commuter transport, taking up far less road space, as well as escapism from an increasingly harsh world.

GEOFF SELVIDGE

Wavell Road

Maidenhead

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