10:20AM, Thursday 03 June 2021
Works ‘on schedule’ with in-built delays?
Cllr Gerry Clark’s apology in last week’s Maidenhead Advertiser simply confirmed what any driver in Maidenhead is already acutely conscious of - specifically that he doesn’t actually know what he is talking about.
He claims that the old junction had no safe pedestrian and cycle crossing, whereas actually it had a fully functioning one in front of the shopping parade in Bridge Road.
The fact that Cllr Clark did not know this maybe goes some way to explaining why he has no comprehension of how ridiculous the RBWM change to the Oldfield junction is.
He should also be aware that the shop owners in Bridge Road were furious when the RBWM dug up the pedestrian crossing, leaving them, their clients and all the locals with no means of crossing the road while everyone was subjected to serious noise pollution from the unnecessary excavation.
Maybe Cllr Clark is just confused because he has only visited the site after the RBWM had removed all evidence of the original crossing?
Something has to explain his ignorance.
When the Royal Borough first presented its plans for the redevelopment of Maidenhead I took the trouble to attend, and I made the obvious criticism that the plans included no provision for traffic in and out of the increasingly congested centre, to which I received the reply from the RBWM representative that this was because the Borough wished to discourage car usage and further, that they were limiting parking availability to new residents of the town to ensure this.
I had a letter published in the Advertiser at the time, explaining why I considered this dumb.
However, I will admit that I did not realise then the full extent to which the borough would go to prevent access to, and egress from, the town centre.
Cllr Clark also tries to explain why the works on the junction are taking so long, but says they are ‘on schedule’. This means the RBWM predicated their plans on having nobody working on the flawed scheme for most of the time – I wonder why?
Misery of endless queues will be in vain
After reading last week’s item about the Oldfield Road works, I see that the bloke in the frame for this act of criminal stupidity has come forward and admitted ‘It was me wot done it, Guv – you got me bang to rights’.
But what about his accomplices, The Mysterious Officers, who I suspect are pulling the strings.
However, Cllr Clark's apology is actually for the ludicrous length of time it’s taking to complete the works.
He advises that these extreme delays are merely temporary.
But to what end? Instead of the efficient mini roundabout they removed, there will eventually be a set of stupid inefficient traffic lights.
And traffic lights ALWAYS hold everybody up!
So we’ll have gone through all this misery just for things to end up worse than they were before this unnecessary make-work programme began.
But the Mystery of The Oldfield Works was revealed. Cllr Clark talked of ‘future-proofing’.
A very sexy term, but what he actually means is ‘for far too long the council has been allowing too much new home building in Maidenhead’.
You turn around and before you can say ‘Michael Shanly’ there it is – yet another new sparkling residential development springing up.
As I said in an earlier email to Cllr Clark, just look at Marlow.
A beautiful town, not ruined by bad planning like Maidenhead.
It is incredibly busy with masses of traffic… and yet no traffic lights. NO traffic lights!
He talks about making cyclists and pedestrians feel safe.
Well, I am both a regular cyclist and motorist and I never had any problem with the previous mini roundabout.
Of course you do need adequate pedestrian lights, but that’s all.
And finally, when the hell are the interminable roadworks outside Maidenhead Station going to be completed - will it be this century?
Added to this, we have the nonsense going on at the Castle Hill roundabout - what ARE they doing there!?
And of course, with impeccable timing, these works are being carried out at exactly the same time another bunch of idiots are closing the M4 most weekends.
End of rant.
MALCOLM JAMES STRETTEN
Seeming interest in all these traffic lights
Several of your correspondents in Viewpoint over the last two weeks have expressed concerns over traffic, parking and ‘mysterious officers’ at RBWM and the council seem to have a pecuniary interest in traffic lights.
The footpath along Cookham Road in the vicinity of Emilia Close was partially obstructed by spoil from a service provider and instead of placing a barrier in the road to allow pedestrians to pass safely the council installed traffic lights.
As this is very close to the roundabout with Clivemont Road and the entrance to Riverside School, which is very busy with cars and NOT pedestrians at school times the traffic lights were erected from Emilia Close to the other side of the roundabout covering about 80 metres for a partial obstruction on the pavement!
A metre-wide trench was dug across part of Altwood Road near Turpins Green, well away from the schools, during the last lockdown.
Traffic was light, almost non-existent, but RBWM erected traffic lights over a 10-metre area when motorists could easily have operated an ‘alternate flow’ system
At the time of a recent closure of the M4 between junctions 8/9 and 10 traffic lights were installed on the Bath Road near the roundabout with Westacott Way.
These were ‘three way’ lights as they affected Burchetts Green Lane, which probably sees one car every Shrove Tuesday.
The time delay was 3 minutes 23 seconds which was inconvenient when I had to respond to an alarm call at a school in Wokingham.
But during the whole period the lights were installed no roadworks took place at all! What a complete waste of fuel, time and money.
Gradually, parking spaces of all types in the town centre are being removed, as Keith Chapman correctly points out (Viewpoint, May 20), those at the far end of the High Street have been replaced with a cycle way, and I have yet to see a cycle pass along here.
A sign which has been at the corner of East Road and High Town Road for over a month since the works were completed, and which customer services were advised of a week ago, has just been returned to the Highways Depot in Stafferton Way, along with a ‘Frascati Way’ sign, which was removed from the railings around the Castle Hill roundabout when they were replaced and which should have been removed by the contractors.
This was deposited at the rear entrance of my location on Friday, May 21 at night by revellers.
I wonder if there are in fact ‘mysterious officers’ lurking in the bowels of the Town Hall in St Ives Road?
Perhaps they are not ‘out to lunch’ as previously suggested but AWOL!
Planning problems under MP’s nose
Maidenhead MP Theresa May fears a major shake-up of the Government’s planning system will stop residents being able to have their say on housing developments, reported on the front page of the Advertiser, May 20.
Mrs May stated: “I think an awful lot of people do get involved in the process and it is important that people still have the opportunity. This is an issue that does generate a lot of comments from people locally.”
Mrs May should examine what has happened in her own Maidenhead constituency under the existing planning system.
Initially the council tried to severely restrict the comments residents were allowed to make on the Borough Local Plan (BLP).
The position taken by the council was found to be unlawful and they had to back down. This resulted in a large number of residents submitting their objections to certain aspects of the BLP.
However, it was to no avail and the council largely ignored comments and concerns raised by residents.
As a result, a massive high rise/high density development is planned for Maidenhead town centre and 2,000 homes are planned for Maidenhead Golf Course.
In total, of the new homes planned on allocated sites across the whole of the Royal Borough, 74 per cent are to be built in Maidenhead.
The golf course has been, for the last 125 years, a wonderful green space, gifted by Lord Desborough in the form of a long term lease. It is full of irreplaceable wildlife and vegetation.
I would ask the council to please leave it for the residents and future generations to enjoy and reap the many benefits it provides.
Such entertainment from the Magpies
I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to say a big thank you to Maidenhead United Football Club for all of their sterling efforts this season. To finish 13th in the table was a superb effort given all of the upheaval that transpired.
It was fantastic to be allowed to see them ‘in the flesh’ for the final home game against Halifax.
To enjoy a home crowd cheering them on was what the players deserved and, also, what the fans deserved too even if it was just the once.
It was also great to be provided with a live stream for all home games, which helped to alleviate some of the frustration !
Saturday’s final match resulted in a 4-1 win at Boreham Wood.
An entirely fitting and crazy finish to a crazy season !
Huge thanks to the players, officials, back room staff and everyone else who contributed to keeping the show going and helping to deliver a very entertaining season.
It was quite a squad Dev and his team put together and given a ‘normal’ season, I’m sure we would have been challenging the play off positions even more closely.
Let’s hope we can hang on to most, if not all, of them and give it a real go in 21/22!
A big thank you to vaccine volunteers
We would like to thank all the lovely volunteers at the Marlow COVID Cetre in Marlow who showed such understanding, patience and care with our most reluctant 40-year-old daughter with learning difficulties to have her second vaccine.
Unfortunately her home was unable to persuade her. They tried everything to persuade her but after half an hour they suggested another person who was a lovely nurse and straight away they got it.
Our daughter wanted to do it herself but the nurse had done it before she got her fingers on the syringe so in the end it was all over with no fuss.
A fantastic result all round. She is so proud that she tells everyone she meets.
JANET & STEVE JEFFERY
Scrutiny should mean more questions asked
Last month the Advertiser reported on a dispute at the Maidenhead Town Forum about the Council’s environmental crime contractor, when the officer said this should be dealt with by a scrutiny panel.
But is there really proper scrutiny at RBWM, as there should be with a cabinet system in place?
The Local Government Association’s workbook for councillors on scrutiny states that the principal power is to influence the policies and decisions made by the council, yet, if you listen to any of the meetings this doesn’t happen.
If there was proper scrutiny then many more questions would be asked by the panel.
The workbook also covers the responsibility of councillors to seek the views of the public on issues affecting them but how often do we get this opportunity where they actually ask us?
I know of only one councillor who does this, but it is still up to us to respond.
While we have this awful cabinet system where the ruling party acts as a dictator a strong scrutiny is imperative.
Morally, it is hard to understand how a party with only 37.6 per cent of the vote can act so dictatorially.
I had first hand experience of a scrutiny panel recently when I put a question regarding the extension of the Volker Highways contract.
This contract maintains our highways, including inspections and works, on a lump sum basis.
This is subject to simple key performance indicators that the contractor appears to monitor himself, like quality management (100 per cent where there was no non-compliance recorded by the contractor).
The panel was asked to note the report but, in a clever move the chair made a recommendation to cabinet to extend the contract by two years as a closing comment.
Incidentally, the report used the argument of slightly improved road conditions on A, B & C class roads, while totally ignoring unclassified road that make up 61 per cent of our network. The council have deliberately underfunded unclassified roads for more than a decade and no doubt this information was withheld for a reason.
Foreign aid would be the better flagship
News of a £200m ‘national flagship’ is a convenient distraction from worries about the progress of the pandemic.
The concept itself seems a wasteful vanity project based on imperial nostalgia and nationalistic flag-waving.
Since it is reported that The Queen has vetoed it being named after the late Prince Philip, perhaps an alternative could be HMS Rex Mundi (World King) in tribute to our Prime Minister’s youthful ambitions.
If the government really wants to project Britain as a force for good and has £200m to spare, it should reverse its foreign aid cuts or support the BBC World Service which is the most respected news organisation in the world.
This would not be the protocol for Dorset
Recently the Commons committee on Northern Ireland held a session to address this rather strange question:
‘Why do some Unionists oppose the Northern Ireland Protocol?’
I say that it was a strange question because if the chairman had simply asked himself how his own constituents might have reacted to similar arrangements then he could have come up with much of the answer without the need for witnesses to provide evidence.
The MP in question is Mr Simon Hoare, who represents the North Dorset constituency, and so as a thought experiment let us imagine that the English county of Dorset had been left behind subject to swathes of EU laws when the rest of the UK had escaped their orbit.
Now no goods may cross into Dorset from neighbouring counties without whatever border checks and controls the EU may dictate, and the EU can also prohibit the export of Dorset products across those borders at its discretion.
And while Dorset inhabitants are notionally still UK citizens their access to new medical treatments will be decided by the EU regulator, not by the UK regulator.
Moreover supermarkets like Tesco might decide that it would be easier to supply their branches in Dorset from France, there being no checks and controls on goods passing between those two parts of the EU Single Market.
I wonder if at any time the so-called ‘Conservative and Unionist’ MPs will tell the Prime Minister that what would be intolerable for a county in England is also completely unacceptable for Northern Ireland?
Or do they just not care, as the Tory party has no seats, and indeed precious few votes, to lose in Northern Ireland?
Dr D R COOPER
Belmont Park Avenue
Collaboration is vital in medicine supply
The European Union is an overwhelmingly good thing that does a good job on medicines.
Medicines are a cross-border issue because most medicines are imported.
Licensing medicines once at the European level reduces bureaucracy and improves standards.
The aim is to make sure that Europeans can be confident in the medicines they are taking.
The best research projects are often collaborations between institutions in different countries.
Long before the European Medicines Agency was set up in 1995, the thalidomide disaster of the 1950s and early 1960s resulted in severe birth defects in thousands of children.
Thalidomide, given to pregnant women for morning sickness, was licensed by the UK government in 1958. Today, the opioid crisis in the USA shows what can happen when the licensing of drugs goes wrong.
Dr Cooper was wrong on May 20.
The drug he referred to has been available across Europe since 2016. It is not ‘new’.
In 2016, the EMA was in London, and the European Commission had British staff.
AstraZeneca's Tagrisso drug is used to treat one of the four common types of lung cancer. It is used when the cancer is advanced, or when it has spread.
Its approval by the EU was sped up.
A study has shown that Tagrisso can help in early stage cancer.
It is not yet licensed for early stage use by the EU – but it soon will be, as Pharma Times reported on April 2.
Changing the licence conditions of powerful drugs is a job requiring caution, that the EU takes seriously.
What the UK would be better doing is using its expertise in medicines and research in the EU – to help governments, businesses, science, and patients.
Member, European Movement UK
MP Joy Morrissey has raised concerns after learning that a Burnham Health Centre patient has been unable to obtain a GP appointment despite ‘numerous’ attempts.