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Viewpoint: Simon Dudley's resignation, the BLP and the local elections

Featuring Simon Dudley's resignation letter and reaction, criticism of former Windsor councillors who blamed Brexit for not getting re-elected and discussion on the Borough Local Plan. Scroll down for all of this week's letters.

Staff reporter

Staff reporter

Viewpoint: Simon Dudley's resignation, the BLP and the local elections

Simon Dudley

Enormous honour to lead the Royal Borough

The following letter was shared by Simon Dudley on Thursday, September 12:

I hereby tender my resignation as a councillor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead with immediate effect.

I would like to place on record my thanks to all current and previous employees of the Royal Borough for all their hard work.

With recent survey satisfaction levels with the local area and Council of 88 per cent and 74 per cent respectively, they should all be very proud.

Thank you for all your hard work.

Secondly, I would like to thank all our local voluntary organisations for the life-changing work they do. When I see the amazing new facilities of Thames Hospice rising from the ground in Bray, I am proud of what local government and voluntary organisations can achieve together in partnership.

I would like to thank the residents of Riverside ward for electing me four times in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. Without you nothing would be possible, and I will be eternally grateful.

For the residents of Maidenhead, my home for the last 30 years, after decades of decline our town centre now stands at the threshold of a spectacular transformation.

I came into politics to make a difference.

All the necessary pieces are now in place and moving forwards to give you, the residents of Maidenhead, the town you deserve.

Finally, to the residents of the Royal Borough.

We live in a beautiful and precious place. I know we will go from strength to strength whilst retaining our unique character and natural splendour. The time has come for me to move on from the council.

Our great country will leave the European Union in 50 days. I campaigned for this in 2016, and we are now within touching distance. This presents us with a golden opportunity to transform our country for the better. I have always believed in making the future not watching it happen.

My priority now will be to focus on national issues including housing and infrastructure, giving the people of our country the opportunity to own a home.

I also want to help to give every child the opportunity to achieve their full potential through outstanding new schools like Holyport College (which I helped found locally).

As we renew the dream of home ownership and build the homes we desperately need, let us also build the schools and education system that our children deserve.

It has been an enormous honour to lead the Royal Borough since 2016 and to be a councillor since 2007.

I would like to thank all my colleagues past and present. We have a strong team locally and I will always be there to offer my support and advice if needed.

Thank you for the opportunity and honour of serving you.


Former leader of the Royal Borough

Hard decisions are not always popular ones

I would like to thank Simon Dudley for all his effort and hard work bringing the redevelopment of the town forward.

Hard decisions are not always popular but he has shown grit and determination to get the town development underway.

Before he came to office, the town was a shabby, crumbling mess destroyed by failing shops and online shopping.

The only solution to an inevitably shrinking high street is to put more residential units in the town centre.

This ensures a lively hub and a ready source of shoppers and diners.

Simon Dudley has had the vision and drive to make this happen.

Of course there will be disruption while the considerable redevelopment takes place but this is a price worth paying for what will be a dynamic, desirable town centre for current and future generations. Maidenhead is on the up!


Amberley Court


Defeated candidates shouldn’t blame others

Defeated candidates should be wary of blaming others for their failure to get elected.

Past Councillors Bicknell, N Airey, M Airey and Wilson claimed that they lost their seats as councillors because national politicians failed to deliver Brexit (Viewpoint, September 12).

We still have 23 Conservative councillors who don’t seem to have had this problem.

The reason these Conservative candidates did not get elected is more likely to be that voters were unhappy with their performance as councillors and chose to vote for better candidates.


Pinkneys Road


Councillors should look closer to home for loss

Four of the defeated Windsor Conservative councillors in the elections in May wrote last week of their frustrations with the shenanigans of national parties, particularly as it related to Brexit, and gave that as the reason for the loss of  their seats on the Royal Borough.

They asserted that ‘we are now left with a disparate group of councillors in Windsor who offer few ideas and no direction’.

Perhaps they should look closer to home for the reasons they lost their seats, and give the voters of Windsor some credit for being able to make their own minds up on local matters.

I note that many of the successful candidates who now appear to be bringing a new spirit of cooperation to the council, are not representatives of national parties but based within the borough with that being their only focus.

Many of your readers will be familiar with the five stages of grieving that starts with denial and ends with acceptance.

For their own wellbeing may I suggest that they move on from denial as quickly as possible through anger, bargaining and depression; the healing process can only begin with acceptance.

I wish them well on their journey.


Alwyn Road


Various duds led to councillors’ defeat

You could have knocked me over with a feather to find out that Cllrs Airey, Wilson, Airey and Bicknell lost their seats because national government hadn’t delivered Brexit.

I could have sworn it was because the electorate were fed up with the administration that they were part of.

In case others have forgotten, here are a few of the issues that concerned residents during that administration – approval of £480k developer funding to Holyport College to the detriment of other local schools (Cllr Dudley was chair of governors at the time); the managing director Alison Alexander was put on garden leave before leaving the Royal Borough so her and her successor were both being paid by the public purse for several months; the £250,000 cost for the Legoland planning debacle where councillors refused to accept officers recommendations; the loss of 20 mature trees from Braywick as part of access to school development despite the fact residents had raised this at planning; the £75,000 spent on a Desborough suite feasibility study which was never published; the u-turn over expanding Lowbrook Academy; the shambles over the BLP; the broken manifesto promise to protect the greenbelt; the £20,000 on a feasibility study to bring a grammar school into Maidenhead which has never been published; the Vicus Way vote, vote, vote, vote; the overspend on Stafferton Way link road; banner-gate; and the new formula for allocating SEN funding which led to most funding going to just two senior schools (Holyport College again).

The rejected four may also feel that Windsor now has a ‘disparate group of councillors’ but most residents feel that this will lead to better, more collaborative and transparent decision making.

They may have also hoped for things to continue with lack of scrutiny that had been apparent over the previous four years, but thankfully they have been held accountable through the ballot box.

People changed their minds!


Belmont Crescent


BLP needs more than a few ‘adjustments’

On October 23 the council will hold an extraordinary full council meeting to discuss changes needed to the Borough Local Plan (BLP). 

On June 21 of this year, the inspector queried whether the current examination should be halted due to the number and variety of issues she had identified. 

According to the RBWM website there has, as yet, been no formal reply to the inspector’s June letter, despite it listing nine issues that she described as being ‘potentially significant’.

As if this isn’t worrying enough, in your article of August 27, interim leader David Coppinger seemed to minimise the situation, talking simply of the need for ‘tweaks and adjustments’, and implied that there might be some pleasant changes for residents. 

The BLP is already six years overdue. Six years of failure. Six years of botched consultations. Six years of self-deception.

And the longer it takes, the more work we need to do to ensure retrospective compliance.

I sincerely hope, therefore, that these pleasant changes include, as a minimum, a renewed focus on protecting the greenbelt, better flood zone and infrastructure planning, and proper engagement with residents. 

 If not, might I suggest that when it comes to this administration, something more significant than ‘tweaks and adjustments’ could be in order? 


Leader of the opposition and Lib Dem councillor for Pinkneys Green

Isn’t it time to ban the right-turn ban?

The ban on the Queen Street right-turn towards Boyn Hill was originally championed by Cllr Bicknell, who lost his seat in May.

With the resignation of Simon Dudley, and the consistent solid opposition to the scheme by both Cllr Bhangra and Cllr Carroll (Boyn Hill ward), are there in fact any elected members left who are convinced this ban is a good idea?


Rutland Gate


Stunning blooms, but bloomin’ rubbish!

I endorse Christine Rogers’ comments on the amazing flower displays around the town (Viewpoint, September 12) but what a pity the excellent photo by Barry Clarke above the letter reflected the other side of Maidenhead – a discarded drinks cup in the gutter!


East Road


Your country needs YOU! (to pick up litter)

In January 2018, The Maidenhead Advertiser wrote an article about my personal ‘war on litter’. I thought you might like an update from the front.

In August of this year, the family reached the notable but disappointing landmark of having filled a thousand bags, largely collected from the streets of Maidenhead, over the past two years.

I report this, not as some act of self aggrandisement, merely to highlight the scale of the problem.

My letter is in no way a criticism of the Royal Borough council or any other local authority but should focus local residents on just what needs to be done if we are to win this ongoing battle against the ignorant and the inconsiderate.

I take heart from the fact that many others are engaged with this issue. Maidenhead Matters has taken up the cause. The Holyport Litterati meet on the first Sunday of each month to stem the tide and I have recently encountered the Marlow Wombles, who formed last November to improve the public spaces in Marlow.

In an era of social isolation, I cannot stress enough just how sociable a pastime litter picking can be.

Exercise, social engagement and a sense of achievement can be yours for the price of a few minutes of your time. Go on.

As Lord Kitchener put it: “Your country needs YOU!”


Kings Grove


Remember that hard times can be overcome

What a sad litany of negatives Mr Lansley expressed (Column, September 12) – he must be a very unhappy man!

An opposing list of views can easily be offered (for example the just finishing Proms which have brought joy to many around the world).

I am in my old age now, and have lived through periods of personal and national difficulty but always have overcome or accepted them and moved on. 

What I have discovered is that the people of this wonderful country are hugely resilient achievers and can overcome or adapt as necessary to whatever comes.

When the current mess is resolved, as it will be, things will have changed and, I believe, on the whole, the future is always better than the past. God will help us! 


Pinkneys Road


Personal attacks ‘lower tone of newspaper’

I'm sorry that your correspondent ad infinitum, Dr Cooper, has stooped from his usual standards of politeness by labelling those who disagree with him as fanatics (Viewpoint, September 12).

In my experience, those who make personal attacks, instead of arguing against another's views, have lost their case. 

Moreover, such remarks lower the tone of your newspaper.


Church Road

Cookham Dean

Why aren’t we prepared for a no deal Brexit?

It is not uncommon for historians to get into disputes about dates, and perhaps in the future scholars concentrating on the brief Brexit period in our national history may wonder whether the recently released Operation Yellowhammer document was correctly dated.

Surely, some will argue, it is scarcely credible that on August 2, 2019, the date given on the report, the country should still be so ill-prepared for a no deal withdrawal from the EU.

On August 2, 2016, shortly after Theresa May had become Prime Minister, yes, then that kind of cautionary report might have made sense.

But after she had spent three years telling all and sundry that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, surely she would have made sure that by the time she handed the reins over to Boris Johnson all the necessary preparations for a no deal exit were well advanced?

I am no fan of Boris Johnson, far from it, but how can it be right for a politician to say one thing but do another, and then stay silent while her successor is pilloried for the dire situation she bequeathed to him?


Belmont Park Avenue


Parliament should respect EU decision

One of the pleasures of reaching three score years and 10 is being able to look back and relive the journey.

As a young women arriving from the Commonwealth, discovering the Britain my grandparents loved was a great thrill and still is. Britain has given much to the world and I value her success in giving a voice to Empire-cum-Commonwealth.

Since Roman times the Continent has been in perpetual conflict.

It was an independent Britain that largely saved Europeans from themselves in two world wars.

Remainers who long for the superstate should beware.

It is possible, without our sobering presence and cash, the already creaking EU economy may splinter.

In 1862 Benjamin Disraeli said: ”Patriotism depends as much on mutual suffering as on mutual success; and it is by that experience of all fortunes and feelings that a great national character is created.”

In 1963 General de Gaulle said of Britain: “Her nature, structure, economic position differs profoundly from those of the Continentals.”

In 2016 we, the people, by a clear majority, voted for our independence from the EU. Parliament should respect that decision.


Oldfield Road


No reason cooperation with EU should cease

You published a letter by a Paul Janik last week (Viewpoint, September 12).  Whilst he has very decided political views, most of his statements are not borne out by the facts. 

To mention a few: The cost of membership of the EU includes a huge bureaucracy so that a large part does not go on any useful project;  As a net contributor we are helping to fund less successful economies; If we remain in the declining EU, and the expected crash occurs, we will be called upon to bail out the failing financial system –  I have seen estimates of the potential cost ranging from £200bn to £440bn, more than the annual cost of the NHS, education and defence put together.

There are those of us who consider an independent defence force as essential. Our interests do not always coincide with other nations in Europe, albeit that when we act together with EU countries we can be more effective. Major problems are on the horizon. For example, the Nordstream II pipeline from Russia will give German industry a huge advantage in energy costs. They will never stand up to Russia in the event of another Crimea event, for risk of the supply being cut off.

The Euro is not a benefit for most countries, in fact only Germany has a positive benefit by having a more competitive currency than the mark. Every other country, including France, has lost.

Scotland has a few minor politicians who like the sound of their voices, but the fact is that Scotland is hugely subsidised by England, and would not meet the basic economic criteria to join the EU independently. One can imagine how keen other member states would be to have an additional drain on their resources, particularly after the UK contribution to the budget has ceased. Similar comments apply to Wales. Gibraltar voted over 98 per cent to retain its relationship with UK.

There is no reason that cooperation with EU should not continue regarding security and immigration. Mutual interest will still make sensible people help each other.

The USA has come in to help us retain our sovereignty in two world wars, and in most matters has a common interest with us.

A dislike of, or misunderstanding of, the current President must not interfere with the long term relationship we have with America.


Saxon Gardens


Heathrow infrastructure part of runway plans

To suggest that Heathrow expansion means more pollution and congestion fails to recognise our commitments regarding transport and air quality around the airport (Borough’s response to impact of new runway, Viewpoint, August 22).

We welcome close review and scrutiny of our plans, through ongoing engagement, including our latest consultation on the preferred masterplan.

It is critical to remember that the project will only be granted permission to expand if it can be delivered within strict and legally binding environmental targets on noise, air quality and carbon emissions.

Over the past 12 weeks, we have been consulting on our plans which include a detailed surface access strategy to increase the number of people travelling to and from the airport sustainably. The strategy involves plans to help treble the airport’s rail capacity by 2040, enabling 30 million more passengers to use public transport.

Combined with schemes which are already in development – such as the proposed vehicle access charge, 20km of new dedicated cycling and walkways around the airport, colleague public transport incentives and limits on parking spaces available – more people will be able to travel to and from the airport via sustainable transport.

We are confident we can achieve our goals as passenger numbers have increased by 80 per cent in 25 years while airport-related road traffic has remained broadly static.

The letter also mentions that we are planning to build two new 25,000 capacity car parks. While it is true we will be building a Northern and Southern Parkway, the letter fails to identify the correct reason for this.

The new parkways are the result of a consolidation of existing car parking spaces, currently spread across the airport. Consolidation and better connections to terminals will reduce congestion around Heathrow by minimising the number of extra journeys.

We will go even further by introducing the world’s first airport Ultra Low Emissions Zone by 2022 and over time a wider Vehicle Access Charge will be implemented with the opening of the new runway in 2026.

This is a project of huge national and local significance, giving the country access more of the world, creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships locally and open new trading routes. Expansion will increase employment opportunities, boosting the current number of colleagues from Slough – 4,900 – significantly.

We will continue to work with our partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure we responsibly deliver this once in a life time national infrastructure project.


Director – Community & Stakeholder Engagement 

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