Viewpoint: Planning reforms and cinema payment concerns

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

Local democracy must not be eroded

We were pleased to see Theresa May echoing our concerns about the forthcoming Planning Bill in the debate on the Queens Speech in the Commons last week.

Maidenhead Civic Society was founded in 1960 to give the community a voice on planning matters.

As an independent voluntary organisation that remains our primary purpose today.

However, as they stand, the Government’s proposals for streamlining the planning system to boost housing delivery would give automatic approval to qualifying applications and remove the public’s right to comment on specific developments.

This is a threat to local democracy and must be opposed.

BOB DULSON

Maidenhead Civic Society


The curious case of disappearing spaces

I totally agree with both Malcolm James Stretton and John Walsby (Viewpoint, May 13) With regard to the Mysterious Officers.

It’s a bit like the old TV series ‘The Prisoner’ – you never get to find out who is Number One.

As for the loss of free parking, not only have they cordoned off a lot of spaces, we have also lost four free spaces to disabled parking.

Just how many disabled people are there in Maidenhead?

To my reckoning depending on the size of car there are approximately 36 disabled spaces in the town centre, and why are they in the most awkward places for disabled people?

Do people that have to use a walker or a wheelchair really need to struggle from the back of the shops in West Street to the High Street?

Then there are the eight spaces in Park Street which are some distance from the centre.

Surely having more disabled spaces in Queen Street would be more useful.

Also, blue badge holders are allowed to park sensibly on double yellow lines for up to three hours anyway, so why the need for so many spaces?

But the council don’t really care about disabled people do they, that’s not the plan.

They want us all to be forced in to their overpriced car parks.

I expect they are still trying to make up the lost revenue from the Nicholsons car park fiasco.

What was it, over a hundred thousand pounds lost because of their incompetence with some dodgy IT? You couldn’t make it up.

What with the many current traffic problems they have caused and the total mess they have made of our free on-street parking I really don’t believe our traffic managers and road planners are fit for purpose.

KEITH CHAPMAN

Cornwall Close

Maidenhead


Cinema is refusing to accept our legal tender

I read in the Advertiser (May 6) that the Odeon’s new ‘safety measures’ include:

  •  “Offering pre-packaged food and drink with contactless payments”
  •  “No longer accepting cash”
  •  “People will be asked to wear a face covering in line with Government guidelines. This can be removed when eating and drinking.”

I would be fascinated to see the risk analysis on which these alleged ‘safety measures’ were based.

Would it not be a better ‘safety measure’ for Odeon not to allow people to eat or drink in their screenings?

Save for the rare medical event, such as avoiding a diabetic coma, there is no need for people to eat or drink while they watch a film at the cinema.

Dare I suggest that the proposed refusal to accept cash may be less to do with ‘safety measures’ than with administrative convenience?

Should their ‘contactless’ payment devices suddenly fail, or indeed be hacked and held to ransom by thieves anywhere in the world, I suspect that Odeon would suddenly find that they can, after all, remember how to accept cash.

Throughout the pandemic, the various supermarkets where I have done my shopping have accepted my cash, and yet both they and I seem to have survived.

Indeed, I understand that many supermarket chains have had bumper sales figures and even returned to the Government large sums of money which they had gained under schemes intended to support businesses hard-hit by the pandemic.

The supermarkets have provided hand-sanitising stations, their staff and customers have worn face-coverings and customers have had social distancing.

These shops have had staff doing extra cleaning of baskets and trolleys, but cash – which IS still legal tender, by the way– has been accepted.

Now, we are supposed to swallow from Odeon, we MUST NOT use cash.

It is amazing that–- after all the hand-wringing which has gone on over the last 14 months concerning the plight of entertainment businesses –- when they at last get the chance to welcome customers back, this one is arrogant enough to say, ‘Come back to us if you like, but only if you are willing to be dictated to by us as to how you pay’.

Privacy is a thing of the past, it seems the likes of Odeon would have us believe.

Now, instead of a transaction between them and me, the sale of a ticket for a certain film, at a certain place, on a date and at a time recorded to the thousandth of a second, has – whether I like it or not – to become the business of how many other people: credit-card companies; my bank; the tech-wizards behind the Odeon app?

Some of us may prefer to continue to use cash, but to give it to less dictatorial suppliers.

JAY FLYNN

Moneyrow Green

Holyport


Plant a tree to honour Platinum Jubilee

People across the UK are being urged to plant trees to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative will make three million free saplings available for schools and community groups to plant, to help combat climate change.

The campaign also calls for the protection of existing woodlands and forests.

Describing it as a ‘statement of hope and faith in the future’, Prince Charles said planting trees and hedgerows and protecting existing woodlands and forests were simple, cost-effective ways to protect the planet.

Supporting the campaign, Boris Johnson said: “Our trees stand at the frontline of our fight against climate change and by sustaining our beautiful countryside for generations to come”.

Our own council, the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead recognises the importance of nature in its environment and climate strategy.

Under Theme 3m ‘Natural Capital’, the strategy states we must ‘Improve the natural environment and establish the principle of net gain’.

It says the objectives are to ‘protect and enhance our natural environment’, ‘green our towns and urban areas’ and ‘increase awareness of biodiversity’.

Surely plans to build 2,000 homes on Maidenhead Golf Course, concreting over the majority of this green space, is taking us in the wrong direction?

As well as providing vital wildlife habitats and locking up carbon dioxide, the many mature trees and hedges soak up excess water, helping prevent flooding.

Our council should protect this precious green space and build on brownfield instead.

TERESA BURTON

Maidenhead


Citizens of Northern Ireland are in limbo

Last week in his response to the Queen's Speech Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Everything we do will be done as one United Kingdom, combining the genius of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – joined together by blood and family tradition and history in the most successful political, economic and social union the world has ever known.”

And he uttered many other warm words about that union.

Three days later it emerged that thanks to his crazy and dangerous deal with the EU our fellow UK citizens in Northern Ireland will have to wait until the EU’s regulator has approved a new anti-cancer drug which is now available to patients in Great Britain.

The same day saw the opening of the judicial review of the revised Irish protocol, with counsel for the plaintiffs offering the High Court judge in Belfast a vivid historical comparison with the position of the Vichy government in Nazi-occupied France.

It really is time for so-called ‘Conservative and Unionist’ MPs to decide whether or not they want the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to continue to exist.

If so, they should press for a Bill authorising and instructing the government to abrogate the Irish protocol.

If not, they should press for a bill to clarify the constitutional position of Northern Ireland as what is known in international law as a ‘condominium’, no longer part of the United Kingdom, and with Her Majesty sharing sovereignty with the European Union.

That is what the Spanish government has long been angling for with Gibraltar, against the wishes of the population, and it is shameful that Tory MPs agreed to Boris Johnson effectively imposing that kind of arrangement on people in Northern Ireland.

Dr D R Cooper

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


Lidl milk comes with EC food code

Some time ago, Dr Cooper asked, why should there be any border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland ‘when there is not one now?’

If the UK were staying in the EU’s customs union and single market, there would be an open border in both directions: from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK, and to the Republic of Ireland.

It was PM Johnson who chose to remove England, Scotland and Wales from the EU’s customs union and single market, and place a border in the Irish Sea.

For example, look at Dairy Manor long-life milk in Lidl. It comes from Northern Ireland. It still has its European Community food code.

That means it’s automatically legal in the Republic of Ireland and in the rest of the European Union.

But the milk is illegal in England, Scotland and Wales without costly checks that are not yet fully in force.

PHIL JONES

Member, European Movement UK


Time to put a proper pause on night flights

The night flight ban should increase to eight hours.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is conducting a second night-flights survey, closing on September 3, and this is important for residents of Windsor, Datchet, Old Windsor and the surrounding areas.

As reported in the press, having enjoyed relative quiet during the pandemic, local residents are in trepidation about overflying returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The World Health Organisation strongly recommend that all adults have eight hours sleep a night, school-age children nine to 11 hours and infants 12 to 15 hours sleep a night.

They say that lack of sleep ill-effects include stress, hypertension or high blood pressure, dementia, and premature death, and lead to slower learning in children, obesity, calcification of arteries and a reduction in our bodies’ production of cancer-fighting cells!

Heathrow’s existing night time curfew is from 11.30pm to 6am.

But this is ‘from the stand or gate’ and ‘to the stand or gate’.

So an aircraft leaving the gate at 11.30pm takes around 15 minutes to taxi to the runway and a further 15 minutes to take off and be over local residents of Windsor and surrounding areas at midnight.

But early morning arrivals are allowed from 4.30am; so over Windsor at 4am to arrive at the gate at 4.30am.

What the DfT say is six and half hours respite is in reality only four hours for people trying to sleep soundly in Windsor and surrounding areas.

But that’s not all.

Heathrow is allowed up to 16 ‘unscheduled’ flights per night, ie departing late or arriving early.

These can and do occur at any time and include the regular early morning arrivals at 4.30am.

One can’t imagine passengers waiting around at the airport, or Heathrow support staff being available for flights at midnight, 1am or 2am, so one has to question whether these are cargo flights?

The DfT says ‘there is growing evidence that exposure to high levels of aircraft noise can adversely affect people’s health’, but now they are proposing to extend it for a further two years before reviewing from 2024 onwards.

Rather than continuing the existing Heathrow night-flight curfew, it should be increased to an eight hour ban every night from 23.00 to 7.00, and starting from 2022 and not from 2024.

Also in terms of any dispensation, Heathrow is both judge and jury, such that unscheduled flights are the norm including starting at 4.30am.

Unscheduled flights should not be allowed, and any dispensation should only be the decision of the Minister for Transport, guided by the Minister of Health.

Noise differences between aircraft types are hardly perceptible.

As the nighttime regime is so adverse to the health and well-being of local residents, any future improvements in technology should be to the benefit of local communities, and not for Heathrow to increase night-time activity.

COVID has prompted a reassessment of priorities not to live by past standards.

Let's use this opportunity to create a new normal, grow back better and protect the health of our children, our families and ourselves.

Please see response guidance on the SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) website, and send your objections, experiences and adverse effects of night-time aircraft noise to the consultation at night.flights@dft.gov.uk by September 3.

Please also copy your response to info@stopheathrowexpansion.co.uk

PAUL GROVES

Tithe Barn Drive

Between Windsor and Maidenhead


Time to say yes to better representation

The final stage of the consultation for setting up a Windsor Town Council closes on June 2 and we urge residents, community groups and business owners to add to the existing 2,000+ signatures to the original petition, the overwhelmingly positive response to the first stage of the consultation and the emphatic support for the Windsor Neighbourhood Plan, by submitting a simple response: Yes! Yes! Yes!

Yes! Existing arrangements do not have capacity for specific targeted issues, for example supporting the reintroduction of the planters, or the revitalising of parks and open spaces. This proposal is about reinvigorating community groups and providing a voice for Windsor.

Yes! Local Windsor town councillors are better able to represent and serve Windsor residents, supporting the Royal Borough in its activities. For example, the redevelopment plans at Sawyers Close and the coach park would be much more successfully supported through local representation and involvement from the outset by those who understand their local community.

Yes! The creation of a Windsor Town Council brings Windsor in line with other parishes in RBWM, giving greater support for local services, such as our libraries, allotments and parks, working with RBWM in delivering its services to areas where it will have the greatest impact.

Please respond by one of the following methods:

1.Visit windsortowncouncil.uk/rbwm2/

2.Email electoral.registration@rbwm.gov.uk

3.Write to Electoral Services, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, Town Hall, St Ives Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1RF

RICHARD ENDACOTT

Windsor Town Council Steering Group


Stay cool and watch your Italian phrases

Please can you point out to your journalist, Kieran Bell, (Advertiser, May 13) and any sub editors that if you write ‘al fresco’ you don’t need to say ‘outdoor’ as well.

They are the same thing.

Contrary to usual English understanding, ‘al fresco’ isn’t the current Italian for outside dining.

They use ‘fuori’ or all’aperto.

LYNN PENFOLD

Littlewick Green


Titanic was only registered in Liverpool

A recent letter from Cllr Da Costa (Viewpoint, May 13) stated that Titanic was quite a sight to behold as it sailed out of Liverpool.

No doubt she looked magnificent as she embarked on her maiden and only voyage but Titanic did not sail out of Liverpool because she never went there.

The ship left Belfast, where she was built, sailing to Southampton on April 2, 1912.

Eight days later, she sailed across the English Channel to Cherbourg and then called at Queenstown in Ireland [now Cobh ] before sailing for New York.

She sank in the early hours of April 15.

Titanic was registered in Liverpool as she was owned by the White Star line which was based in that city.

HOWARD HAUGHTON

High Wycombe

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