Triple threat blights Winnersh residents
Anger over tree felling, rat infestations and traffic problems
ANGRY Winnersh residents are demanding action on a triple threat to their neighbourhood. They took to the streets this week to protest after claiming the borough council are ‘ignoring’ their concerns. They say the area is infested with rats, warn the Winnersh relief road will create a residential bottleneck and are angry at a vast swathe of trees that have been felled for the Smart Motorway project. Mark Fisher is just one of the furious residents on Laburnum Road who contacted John Redwood MP claiming council officials are giving locals the runaround. “When we moved to Winnersh, it was such a quiet, pleasant place to live but this is no longer the case,” he said. “No one seems able to get a definitive answer and Wokingham Borough Council just send us round and round in circles, which gets very frustrating.”
In a letter to Mr Redwood, Mr Fisher said residents wanted immediate action over the three issues making their lives a misery.
“The Winnersh relief road is destroying a lot of the green land and killing off wildlife in the area with no clear indication of what the benefits will be. In addition to this, there is also the additional pollution, both from car exhausts and the additional noise that will be generated. The majority of traffic heading along this route is heading to or from the M4 or Reading. While the relief road may reduce traffic on the Reading road, it will create a bottleneck for traffic through the residential area.
“Due to all the work currently being carried out, the area is infested with rats, which the council refuse to do anything about apart from give out incorrect information, although they have admitted that this could be caused my all the construction work.
“As far as I am aware, no one had been notified about the Smart Motorway. I came home one day last week to find that a large majority of the trees on the embankment alongside Longdon Road had been removed. I contacted the council about this and have just received a message to say there was a news bulletin but we never saw this and have not found anyone that has.
“Obviously this has a further effect on the green areas, the wildlife and pollution but also the massive increase in noise pollution from the M4. When the workmen carrying out the tree removal were asked about the wildlife, they said that an environmental officer had checked for wildlife before they started but it would be interesting what they did with any squirrels of birds living there, as we know that they did. When asked about rats, the response was that they don’t check for them.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Prue Bray who lives in Winnersh, joined protesters on Sunday. She said they were furious about the way they were being treated.
“I have had rats get into my house and its a real problem for many residents,” she said.
“You see them walking down the street. They don’t seem to be afraid of anyone or anything. The council no longer provide a rat catching service. They give out information but it’s basically every person for themselves.”
She added residents were furious after trees were removed from Longdon Road and wanted assurances they would be replaced after work is completed.
“People turned out to protest because they are fed up at how they have been treated and it looks like all they’ve got to look forward to is years of more misery. We want people to have their voice heard and action to be taken.”
In reply to Mr Fisher’s letter, John Redwood said that he was aware of the issues with traffic and road works in Winnersh.
“I have also received some complaints about the impact of the new traffic lights on King Street Lane following the completion of the first phase of the Winnersh relief road,” he added.
“I have taken up the issue of rats with the Council and have just written new letters as I am aware that the matter has not yet been sorted out satisfactorily.
“I have been in regular contact with the Council over road matters all summer, urging them to restore the roads more quickly and to try to avoid simultaneous closures of roads that are needed to get round an original road closure. The Council believe that their road construction plans for Winnersh will reduce traffic flows and therefore reduce pollution on the present A329 which passes close to many houses, an aim I support.
“I have not been down Longdon Road recently so was unhappy to learn that there has been substantial damage to trees adjacent to the motorway. I will take this up with the authorities as well, though it will be to help in similar places that have not yet suffered this fate.”
And Conservative councillor for Winnersh, Cllr Philip Houldsworth added: “I am aware there is a problem with rats in the area as with many areas.
“I have seen them myself in California Park while walking my dog.
“It is not pleasant and very upsetting for residents. It is often caused with building works.
“I am surprised to hear trees have already been cut down. I will make inquiries to find out why this has happened.”