Viewpoint: Fuel prices, architecture and overgrown verges

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL61HX.


There’s still time for an uplifting design

I agree 100 per cent with the comments of Mr Burgess (‘Sleepwalking’ into blandness?, June 20).

Surely we can do better than something which has the drab appearance and oppressive atmosphere reminiscent of the old London City dock warehouses before they were developed.

There is a once-in-a-multi-generational opportunity to create something that we and future generations can enjoy and be proud of.

Sites of this size and location are rare and can take 20 years or more to assemble. They should be treated as a precious things.

Unlike the terrible developments of the 60s, we have the appropriate architectural talent, modern materials and building techniques with which to create an amazing, attractive and uplifting town centre, sensitive to the environment and times in which we live.

It seems that the current scheme is a dark, heavy, monochrome jumble of unattractively proportioned boxes that look as if they were designed by an accountant.

This scheme may make the fastest buck for everyone today, but any experienced and wise investor or developer with longer horizons will know that the value of buildings of good quality construction and an attractive environment will trump short term gains, even over a relatively short time and especially in a recession.

They command a premium in value and still attract buyers when times are bad and sales are scarce, which actually reduces the development risk.

The difficulty is that in our democratic planning system, building design is controlled by planners, who are important but not artists or designers, and who can be overridden by a lay committee who also are unlikely to possess these skills.

The developers may initially try to produce the most attractive scheme but in the end are usually constrained by financial considerations and time, and so end up by submitting, and the planners accepting, a compromise, resulting in the proverbial committee-designed horse.

Having said all this, it is still not too late to think again.

The development will be here long after the current players have left the scene.

The developers may squeal but in practice may not be that eager to start development, bearing in mind these uncertain times.

ROBERT MANDEVILLE

Cookham Dean


Astonishing fuel prices require action

With E5 petrol now retailing at an astonishing £9.30 per gallon in some places (4.54 litres to a gallon) it wouldn’t totally surprise me to see scenarios similar to those in Mad Max 2: Road Warrior; a real life Lord Humungus and his gang attacking petrol refineries, plus anything else which may contain fuel on a daily basis.

After all, these current prices are enough to unhinge us all!

Obviously these costs are one of the main things causing spiralling inflation and something must be done urgently to rectify this.

There are petitions afoot for the government to remove or drastically reduce the 58p tax on every litre of fuel sold , but so far no action has been taken.

Best do so before the Marauders ride into town!

TONY BECK

Frogmill Spinney

Hurley



On the verge of getting on my wick

Hello Rodney,

Hello Charles. How goes it? Sit down and have a snifter.

I really need one Rodders. Just got back from the body shop

What for Charles, new hip or something?

Unfortunately not, could have had that done on the jolly old NHS.

No, this was the motor old boy.

Took her in for paintwork correction and a week later, and a grand lighter on the hip, she looks like new.

Here, get this down you. So why the thunderous face?

Well, the specialist said that the paintwork looked like it had been through car washes for years.

But, Charles, it’s a soft top.

Exactly Rodders, and we had a conflab and it seems brushing through the overgrown verges around the Walthams is the culprit.

So I am paying the price for the council’s cost savings!

But they claim its re-wilding, Charles, for the environment.

Come on, Rodders, just over the verges are hundreds of acres of fields, not to mention the same hedgerow as on the roadside.

It’s a load of baloney.

Cow parsley, brambles, dock, and dead branches just makes the lanes more dangerous.

Walkers can’t get out of the way of cyclists …!

To rub salt in the wound I had to have the alloys refurbished as well, so now a couple of lanes are no-go because of the state of the roads.

Calm down Charles. Have another large G&T.

You could buy one of these illegal electric scooters, it seems they are all the rage now…

RALPH JONES

Beenhams Heath


Slow to move in game of musical chairs

The newly minted RBWM Place Overview and Scrutiny panel met for the first time on the evening of June 21.

It was billed as a bright new dawn, a shining example of a transformed council and as the vanguard of the Monitoring Officer’s New Model Army.

Trouble is the troop remains unchanged!

Thanks to a late arrival, Cllr Julian Sharpe (Con, Ascot & Sunninghill), whose horse lost a shoe, the meeting began with only 10 members in attendance.

Five administration Conservatives and five from the Opposition.

The first order of business? Elect a Chair for the municipal year!

By now, I’m sure your readers are way ahead of me, but I’ll soldier on.

Cllr Jon Davey (Ind, Clewer and Dedworth West) was proposed. Five for, five against.

Cllr John Bowden (Con, Eton & Castle) was proposed. Five for, five against.

So, they then tried to elect a chair for one evening only. Guess what?

Jon Davey was proposed again. Five for, five against.

John Bowden was proposed again. Five for, five against.

To try and break the log jam, it was suggested Cllr Sayanora Luxton (Con, Sunningdale & Cheapside and an experienced O&S chair) do the honours.

This was not permissible, as she is already the chair of another panel.

At this point the meeting was in danger of being cancelled, so Jon, very graciously conceded that Cllr Bowden should chair for the evening.

All clear then? Get on with discussing the not unimportant matter of water quality in the River Thames?

Err, this is the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, so of course not.

Turns out that, even though it’s for only one night we must have a Vice Chair too.

Given his earlier magnanimity, one might have thought that Jon would receive the unanimous vote afforded to the Conservative Chair.

Not in Tory town! They opposed him. Guess the score. Yep! Five for, five against.

At this point the meeting was close to collapse and the Roundheads and Cavaliers were getting all ‘Edgehill’. Fortunately, Cllr Luxton abandoned obduracy and after a brief chat with the looming ever-presence that is Tory Chief Whip, Cllr Gurpreet Bhangra (Con, Boyn Hill) it was begrudgingly accepted that a non-Conservative could have a role.

What the Monitoring Officer appears to have forgotten is that the New Model Army triumphed because it was genuinely New.

Roll on May 2023!

Your faithful servant (until I surrender Bristol!)

Prince Rupert of the Rhine

AKA Cllr JOHN BALDWIN

Lib Dem, Belmont


Vote to unblock our residential pavements

In his letter last week, Sal Pinto raised a really important issue of cars blocking pavements (Viewpoint, June 20)

As I said to him a little while ago, when we ran the council, the community wardens carried out campaigns to discourage drivers from blocking pavements where there was a particular problems.

With the reduction of community wardens by the Conservatives and the moving of their focus away from areas like Pinkneys Green, I have been told that they no longer carry out this work.

I also pointed out to Sal the fantastic campaign being run by Guide Dogs for the Blind, that I have been involved in on pavement parking called ‘Streets Ahead’ – a great campaign and well worth supporting.

With elections next year, the best advice I can give to residents who are concerned about this issue is to work hard to make sure we have a Lib Dem council and then I will make sure the community wardens swing into action to deal with the scourge.

Cllr SIMON WERNER

Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green


Unfit leadership and constructive attitudes

Is Maidenhead an example of how democracy is failing in the UK, Europe and globally?

We elect MPs for Westminster and they appoint a Prime Minister.

At times we got it right, e.g. during World War Two, Churchill was the right man for the job.

Recently PMs with Oxbridge degrees in geography, PPE (politics, philosophy and economics) and the classics have failed to impress.

You have to pass exams to get to Oxford and Cambridge but most exams only require you to recall what you were taught.

Management requires other qualities – foresight, a questioning mind and a ‘what happens if?’ attitude. Unfortunately recent PMs have got it wrong, eg reliance on imported (Russian) oil and gas when the UK still has North Sea gas and also a fracking capacity.

We do need to prepare for oil, gas and coal running out and prepare for a major reliance on the sun, wind, tide and what we can grow.

Sustainability might well require reductions in the global population and that of our small island.

Both have vastly expanded during my lifetime.

In the 1940s and 50s our farmers relied largely on animal waste for fertiliser and horse drawn ploughs were still being used – nature provided.

In the early 1970s as a young engineer I worked in Bombay on design and construction of a petrochemical plant to manufacture urea, a nitrogen fertiliser considered essential to feeding a rising Indian population.

Five decades on and with a vastly increased global population we now put millions of tons of urea a year on the earth’s soil.

It pollutes waterways and oceans and it contributes to a belatedly recognised problem – climate change!

UK politicians claim to have policies on climate change, e.g. importing wood chips from Canada for a UK power station.

My view is there can be no solution to climate change which does not include cutting the population of the planet and that of the UK.

We are respected enough to take a lead.

We could start by allowing Maidenhead voters to decide via referenda on all further local housing developments, e.g. the Swiss system where voters can challenge political decisions in local, canton and national referendums – true democracy.

Every brick, every ton of steel and concrete every piece of equipment and gallon of fuel used in construction has a carbon footprint and so does every consumer.

JOHN ALLISON

Clarefield Drive

Maidenhead


Boris bodgers really can’t keep their word

It is precisely because ‘EU sympathisers’ have a great loyalty to the UK that they may attempt to obstruct the passage of any bill to prevent the current UK government reneging on its negotiated settlement with Brussels.

What standing does a country have if, within a couple of years of reaching an agreement, it decides to reject unilaterally the terms of that contract?

As the UK economy sinks slowly down to the level of sanction-hit Russia the threat that the EU could justifiably hit back with a trade war should focus efforts to seek a viable solution, although a solution is unlikely whilst this ragged group of talentless oddballs forms the cabinet.

Sufficient electors are now demonstrating clearly that in the flawed democracy which our first-past-the-post voting system represents, the only way to get rid of Boris’ bunch of bodgers is to vote for the political party most likely to dislodge the Conservatives.

With reports of the NHS crumbling before our eyes, a summer of discontent and strikes ahead, levels of inflation not seen for decades and labour shortages in almost all sectors, it’s high time to get an adult government back and put this group of infantile idiots out to pasture to reminisce about their role in ruining the UK economy and the lives of its citizens just to get their Brexit baloney over the line.

JAMES AIDAN

Sutton Road

Cookham


Worker registration and migration checks

Free movement of workers in the European Union was limited at first for eight of the 10 new countries that joined in 2004.

In addition to the three-month rule and the habitual residence test, EU law did not demand ‘uncontrolled’ movement according to Dr Cooper on May 26.

The 15 existing EU countries agreed that access to jobs for workers from eight of the new countries would be brought in over up to seven years to prevent ‘serious economic disturbances or threat thereof.’

But under Tony Blair, the UK decided not to use all of the conditions that were available.

The UK did have a worker registration scheme for workers from Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.

They had to apply for a registration certificate within one month of starting work in the UK.

Workers from Malta and Cyprus were exempt.

On top of this, the deal made by all 28 EU leaders before the referendum said that the UK had ‘not made full use of the transitional periods on free movement of workers which were provided for.’

So it was agreed that the UK would have a ‘safeguard mechanism’ because of ‘the United Kingdom’s concerns about the exceptional inflow of workers from elsewhere in the European Union that it has seen over the last years’ – as long as the referendum result was to stay in.

Dr Cooper seems to be unaware of the Act of Accession 2003 OJ L236/33, article 24, and The Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration) Regulations 2004 and the European Council conclusions, 18-19 February 2016.

PHIL JONES

Member, European Movement UK


Input on Putin and upsetting Macron

Mark Palmer (Viewpoint, June 20) asks what Brexit benefits have we enjoyed (seven questions at least).

He ignores the one priceless benefit – it upsets the French.

We have avoided the continental system rooted in The Code Napoleon where people can do what the administration permits.

Here we can do anything so long as the law by judge, precedent and statute hasn't prohibited it.

Macron instructs us to avoid humiliating Putin. Surrender to the enemy, as in 1940, achieves this.

MDG

Forlease Drive

Maidenhead


Mrs May was at fault for nominal Brexit

I was deeply unimpressed to see our MP, Theresa May, pontificating during the Second Reading debate on the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

She seems to lack sufficient self-awareness to realise that it was above all her fault that the Great Charlatan Boris Johnson was installed in No 10 Downing Street, and that consequently ministers are now scrambling around to find excuses for neutralising elements of the potentially disastrous protocol that he negotiated.

After David Cameron ratted on his promise to see us out of the EU, if that was the way we voted in the referendum, Theresa May very willingly took on the job of getting us out, and if she had stuck with her original mantra ‘Brexit means Brexit’ then history could have viewed her with a favourable eye.

Instead she allowed herself to be deflected by the malign influence of business pressure groups such as the Confederation of British Industry, and for the sake of their narrow sectional interests – and perhaps Tory party funds – she tried to fob us off with a counterfeit ‘Brexit means Brexit in Name Only’.

To be honest I think the best thing she can do now is to keep quiet, and allow others to sully themselves trying to sort out the totally unnecessary post-Brexit political and legal mess to which she herself contributed so much.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


More training needed in coeliac disease

With great sadness and frustration, I read recently about an inquest into the death of an 80-year-old with coeliac disease who was fed cereal containing gluten in hospital.

The patient fell ill within hours and started to vomit.

She died four days later from aspiration pneumonia.

As someone with coeliac disease myself, it is upsetting to realise that even among medical professionals there is such a lack of understanding of this serious autoimmune disease.

One in 100 people have coeliac disease, and there is no cure.

The only treatment is a strict gluten free diet. Even a crumb of gluten can cause a severe reaction.

My own mother, who is 86, has had difficult experiences in hospital.

She was offered toast containing gluten, which would have made her very unwell.

Another time she was told she was ‘too late’ at 4pm for gluten free food.

The hospital clearly regarded a gluten free diet as a specialist request, rather than a medical necessity that should be offered as part of standard care provisions.

At Coeliac UK, we are calling on all hospitals to urgently review their guidelines and protocols.

We’re asking the NHS to update the information about coeliac disease on their website as the current list of symptoms is misleading.

And we want to see better training for healthcare professionals to improve their understanding of coeliac disease, and their management of patients who have the condition.

No one with coeliac disease should have to worry about being glutened in hospital.

MAUREEN BURNSIDE

Chair, Coeliac UK

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