Viewpoint: Are the grass verges in Maidenhead growing too high?

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Jam yesterday and jam tomorrow

My next-door neighbours reached the end of Ray Park Avenue on Thursday, and they were astounded to encounter the A4 traffic flowing freely in both directions.

They were bemused –- what could have happened? When they reached the Oldfield Road junction the reason for the resumption of normality became apparent.

The traffic lights were temporarily switched off while being moved, and instead there were two people in high vis jackets who were not really needed because the traffic was sorting itself out comfortably.

By the time the neighbours returned from the Stafferton Way Refuse Centre, the traffic lights were back in position and working again.

They were the only things that were - the traffic was once more at a halt and cars coming from Slough were yet again queued back over the River Thames and beyond.

Anyone with an ounce of intelligence might draw a conclusion from such visual evidence.

Is it just too absurd to think Cllr Clark might be among them?

The neighbours and I had a good laugh at Cllr Clark’s expense.

He is considered a joke throughout the community, even though his actions are no laughing matter.



What would it take for PM to fire anyone?

Last weekend’s resignation of Matt Hancock revealed how little Johnson and his government care about the basic standards of British public life. For a start Hancock should have been sacked on Friday morning, not for his personal morality (or lack of it), but because of his political conduct. His hypocrisy in ignoring the rules he himself set and the effect this had on public confidence were reason enough to sack him.

Yet Johnson refused to fire him, just as he refused to fire Dominic Cummings after his eye-test in Barnard Castle or Priti Patel after she broke the ministerial code over bullying. Why? Because Mr Johnson faces more questions over the flouting of the Nolan principles of public life than anybody else. If he accepted them he would have to fire himself. He and his government will continue to act as if the Nolan principles do not exist and it is an absolute certainty that he will not fire the next minister who gets himself in trouble. His morality code can be summed up in two words: anything goes.



Grass growing too high at Highfield Lane?

I am wondering if RBWM are not mowing the grass verge on the south side of Highfield Lane between Cannon Lane and the railway bridge because of ‘rewilding’ or lack of cash. The grass is now over 1ft/30cms high and was used for dog walking by local residents as there is a dog waste bin that the council put in several years ago. Are the council aware that ticks live in long grass and dogs and humans can contract Lyme disease from ticks which can be extremely serious for dogs and humans alike. I would therefore request the council to mow this area of grass as soon as possible.


Barn Drive

Not in a caper but the queues feel criminal

With reference to the current nonsensical travel ‘traffic light system’ it reminds me of the plot to paralyse Turin’s traffic light system in the 1969 crime caper The Italian Job. Green, amber, red, randomly and sometimes all at once. Ironically the computer hack wouldn’t require travel or entry to the building nowadays.

The lewd Professor Peach could be compared to a certain modern-day recently disgraced politician, although in this case it wasn’t a large Italian lady being ‘helped’ onto a tram!

Perhaps the traffic lights will turn blue tomorrow, much like the air for those finding themselves confined to a government -designated prison for 10 days upon arrival back from their holidays.

’Ang on lads, I’ve got an idea – er er...


Brownfield Gardens


Hoping to work with Phoenix Gym

The last 15 months have been among the hardest that any of us can remember. We have not only seen a tragic loss of life but also many local businesses and charities finding it impossible to continue in a sustainable way. The immediate loss to our residents and wider community is great and it will take time for us to recover. However, we should have faith in the great people of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) to rise to the challenges we face and work together to deliver the local recovery we all want and need.

On behalf of the council, we are genuinely saddened that Phoenix Gymnastics has been unable to continue in its present guise. Your values of leading by example, celebrating success, bringing out greatness in others, having fun and smiling, and nurturing and encouraging growth are worthy of any great local sporting provider and for 40 years Phoenix Gymnastics has been putting those values into action.

Your vision to create a charitable, self-funded, world-class children’s sporting facility in the heart of the borough was and remains outstanding and we will continue to support you however we can. However, with the club no longer sustainable at present, it seems to us that we must focus on how to support the 1,000 residents, who had previously been members and/or connected to the club. We would like to work with you and draw on your relationships, connections, and expertise to see how we might maximise the use of the borough’s existing facilities to ensure local provision of gymnastics can continue.

We strongly believe that where there is demonstrably strong demand for sporting provision then it is not beyond us to find a solution – however, it is only by working together that we can achieve this. Organisations like Phoenix are invaluable, helping young people achieve their aspirations, and learning important life skills on the way, like being part of a team and celebrating success.

Indeed, RBWM deployed expert officers in its Sport & Leisure, Property and Planning teams to work with you to discuss options over many years. You were granted planning permission for a new gym in Fifield following your application in 2017. That permission is still available to you. The club has known about this impending move date over the last few years and over that time RBWM has focussed resources on helping you to achieve your aims.

While our combined efforts were not sufficient in securing a temporary home for the club, we hope we can all agree that this was not through lack of trying, nor hours dedicated to the task, nor the will from any councillor, all of whom wanted to see the club survive. It is important for us to acknowledge that this has not panned out as any of us would have hoped.

We fully appreciate the desperate situation you were in and that you were acting to try to save the club you loved and were dedicated to. However, we likewise hope you will also appreciate that the Borough has strict planning processes and procedures to follow, which do not allow for ‘special cases’, particularly when relating to substantial development in the green belt. If we permit one green belt development to successfully go ahead without permission, then we would have set a troubling precedent that would be used against RBWM in future cases ad infinitum.

It is a shame that this recent episode has created a public impression that our relationship has been anything other than positive, constructive and focussed on helping the club over the last few years.

We hope this letter and our future discussions demonstrate to the public that RBWM is and will always be on the side of our residents and those organisations that seek to support them.

Notwithstanding, our focus should not be on rehashing the past, it should wholeheartedly be on working together for the future of Phoenix Gymnastics’ members, including many RBWM residents. They are the ones who will now be looking for alternative provision, they will be the ones left feeling a deep sense of community loss, and they will be the ones who will want to know what happens next.

There are no off-the-shelf solutions we can reach too, but we can reflect on the success of Leisure Focus and former SportsAble volunteers working together to deliver classes and services to former SportsAble members in RBWM’s leisure facilities.

Perhaps there is a way RBWM’s existing leisure estate can provide a temporary solution, albeit not on the same scale as before; perhaps there are private/charitable facilities in the Borough we can tap in to; or maybe we may even yet find a suitable location for a permanent new gymnastics facility.

We want to explore every possible option with you and seek to find a solution that ensures the former members of Phoenix Gymnastics continue to have access to gymnastics classes and facilities. With this in mind, we would like to invite you to meet with us and our senior team to discuss the best way to take matters forward.

We still want to help, and we believe we still can help. We are of the strong conviction that where there is a will there is a way. Let us work together to secure a future for the borough’s young gymnasts, including the former members of Phoenix Gym, which may yet rise like its mythical namesake.

CLLR DAVID COPPINGER (cabinet member for planning and environmental services), CLLR ROSS MCWILLIAMS (cabinet member for housing, sport and leisure and community engagement)

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