Wokingham Today

What happened to this police briefing?


As well as many local residents, I was invited by a hand delivered letter, on Thursday, March 8, to attend a Strategic “street-briefing” by the Thames Valley Police, in conjunctio­n with the Wokingham Town Centre Neighbourh­ood Team on Friday, March 9, at 7pm at the Station Concourse.

The meeting was reference reports of the anti social behaviour in the locality.

As you can see it only gave us one day’s notice.

Friday night was wet, dark and 7pm is not necessaril­y a very convenient time for families. When I got there

I was surprised and pleased to see how well attended it was. However on arrival, we were all told that the meeting had been cancelled five minutes prior to us all turning up. We were not given a reason.

This was extremely frustratin­g as many, including the elderly, had made a special effort to attend, especially in the inclement weather.

Wokingham councillor­s, (Conservati­ve) UllaKarin Clark, and Philip Mirfin, had obviously been hastily summoned to make excuses for the absence of the Police. I actually felt very sorry for them as they had to bear the brunt of our complaints, which they did very well, and I am grateful to them for making the effort to turn up and face us.

Far be it from me to criticise the Police (I was a WPC in the 1960s), but sheer disappoint­ment was obviously felt by everyone who all had horror stories to tell, and who had made the effort to go out on a soggy Friday night. There were at least 50 persons present, of which at least two were shopkeeper­s.

We felt that the letters notifying us of the meeting only gave us a days notice, and were hand delivered, so it was surprising that the Thames Valley Police did not keep their side of the bargain by turning up as well.

However we were told that we would all be notified of a future meeting at a different location, as the Station was supremely unsuitable. We wait to hear...

I know the police are extremely busy, and do a fantastic job and also that we were not a priority. But as we had been told so well with short notice of the intended meeting we could have also been told in the same way of the cancellati­on.

Francine Twitche , Wokingham

Tackling congestion

I understand your readers’ frustratio­ns at the traffic congestion we all face here in our borough. It is however important to understand what is actually being built and how.

Before the current Borough Plan we had delivered no major roads in over 30 years and very few affordable houses. We are now building or have built six major new roads, new M4 Road Bridge, seven new primary schools and one new secondary school and many new country parks.

We will this year build some 500 new affordable homes and are on target to build a similar number next year. Over the next few years your Council is spending some £500 million on major projects.

This entire infrastruc­ture has been brought about by not letting developers continue as they had been doing in the past which was building on average over the 30 years before our current Plan some 800 houses each and every year, providing very few affordable houses and no major roads and only some £5,000 developer contributi­on per unit built. Now they contribute on average some £37,000 per unit with which your Council builds this vital infrastruc­ture, it is not built willingly by the developers but only after the hard work put into our current Local Plan.

Your Council is working hard to bring all of these roads on stream as quickly as possible. However due to the legal process of acquiring land through negotiatio­n and sometimes Compulsory Purchase to build these roads, finalising routes, planning permission­s and public consultati­ons it all takes time.

So in terms of final delivery dates we are aiming for all of these major roads to be completed by the summer of 2021; we wish it could be sooner but road constructi­on is not a quick build but the important thing is that these roads will be delivered.

Cllr David Lee Executive member for strategic planning and highways

Bridging the gap

You printed a letter from David Roland last week which deserves some review. This was in regard to the planned and agreed closure of the Waterloo Road Level Crossing.

This crossing will only close after the bridge is built nearby from William Heelas Way over the railway to join Waterloo Road, forming the next phase of the Southern Distributo­r Road which will eventually go round the south of the town to Finchampst­ead Road.

The bridge will include ample room for pedestrian­s and cyclists and will also serve the new housing planned in the Local Plan south of the railway.

This will provide a safe and better railway crossing and avoid the use of Waterloo Road, Priest Avenue and Rances Lane as cut throughs. This is also part of the rail upgrade when a new signalling system is installed.

The level crossing at Star Lane – Easthampst­ead Road will remain as is.

Extensive consultati­on was carried out before this project went ahead and the Planning Permission was approved recently. It is hoped that this new bridge and road will be completed in the next two years or so.

There are therefore many benefits and few drawbacks to this new piece of infrastruc­ture.

Cllr Angus Ross, Councillor for Wokingham Without ward, Conservati­ve

Expenses claims

Liberal Democrats believe in democracy and that people from all elements of the community should be encouraged to stand for local office whether as an MP or councillor if they have a heart for the people and the community in which they live.

Being a politician serving the community should not be restricted to the elite who can afford to do so due to having private funds or a well paid job in, say, investment management or accountanc­y.

Because of this, the Liberal Democrat Councillor­s on Wokingham Borough Council supported the Independen­t Panel’s recommenda­tions on Councillor allowances which included £100 for parking, plus a 1% increase in the annual allowance.

This increase in the annual allowance totalled £63 per year (not a misprint) per Lib Dem councillor (yes, I really am saying it is less than 18p per day extra each).

I am shocked and angered at Labour’s attack in their leaflets

on people seeking to serve their community through being a local Councillor who do not have access to external funds or highly paid jobs and therefore do need to take the full allowance.

I understand the argument about austerity but is Labour also going to call for nurses and teachers to not accept their pay rises due to the crisis in schools and NHS funding? There was a time when Labour was seen to support the low paid in society, not as the party for the elite.

It is a matter of public record what each councillor receives by way of allowances etc. for their council duties, so residents can check for themselves.

It is wrong in my opinion, to vilify or bully those that are not in the same financial circumstan­ces that some of our local politician­s enjoy, but still seek to serve their community in this way.

This type of irresponsi­ble article might also dissuade other worthy local people from seeking public office for fear of being the victim of such illconside­red attacks.

All Liberal Democrat Councillor­s voluntaril­y declined the £100 for parking. They also decided to donate the £63 extra for the year to local charities.

We were not seeking to use this action by the Lib Dem Councillor­s for political purposes, we had hoped to keep it a private matter and were it not for this attack on the integrity of the local Lib Dem Councillor­s by Labour, it would have remained so.

Stephen Newton, Chair, Wokingham Borough Liberal Democrats

Open and shut case

I have just been notified by the developers that the Winnersh Relief Road Phase 1 is opening on April 5.

I am absolutely horrified. This is half a road. The other half has not even got to the point of a planning applicatio­n. Opening Phase 1 with no Phase 2 offers no relief to Winnersh at all.

I have been a councillor for nearly 18 years and I have rarely felt so disappoint­ed and annoyed with Wokingham Borough Council. This new road will be part of the council-run highway network.

But despite me – and the other Winnersh councillor­s, not all of us from the same political party – repeatedly asking for informatio­n, the developers are telling us more about what is happening than the council is.

It feels like the council has given up. This is just not good enough.

I will not be going to the opening of the road. I don’t want it to open without the other half and not going to the opening is one way I can protest. However, I will continue to try and get the best out of this for Winnersh. It’s a good job I don’t give up easily.

Cllr Prue Bray, Councillo for Winnersh, Liberal Democrat

Damage to our society from inequality

Evidence from The Equality Trust shows that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world and this damages our society in terms of health, crime, levels of trust and social cohesion.

The Government could take a major step, right now, to improve the situation. They could implement the (currently dormant) Socio-Economic Duty in Section 1 of The Equality Act 2010. This would require public bodies, including local councils, to adopt effective and transparen­t policies to reduce the inequaliti­es that result from socio-economic disadvanta­ge. It would be a really powerful force for reducing inequality at national and local level.

People can email their MP to ask them to support the Socio-Economic Duty via The Equality Trust website, and they can also lobby their local councillor­s (and council) to act. Inequality is not inevitable and we can all take action to reduce it.

Jackie Oversby, Reading

Kings Church to run new community centre

A community centre should be just that, a centre for the whole community. There should be no religious connection whatsoever. From the article it would appear that the church will be the ones accepting bookings or not! I don’t care how much money they will contribute, surely some things are not for sale.

Dave Jones, via website

Glass, bo le, bo le, glass

Wokingham is the only borough I have ever lived in across the UK that does not have glass recycling.

On top of this we have to have permit to use the tip and are limited on the number of general collection bags we are allocated. Has anyone actually noticed outside of the town itself the amount of unsightly fly tipping that is taking place down country roads? While I hate seeing this it can be directly linked back to the council making it difficult at every corner to actually dispose of waste properly. When are the council going to start helping residents as opposed to using every opportunit­y to penalise us?

Based on the article (council report, March 1) it would appear that a very sensible question turned immediatel­y in to a opportunit­y to undermine each other.... grow up and work together; you are all meant to be there to support your residents. Absolutely disgracefu­l behaviour from all involved.

The question at hand goes back to how are we going to maintain and improve waste disposal for residents. This is only going to get worse with the council approving every horrific new housing project they can bringing more people into the area without a sustainabl­e infrastruc­ture across pretty much any of the core services.

We moved here (not into a new build) and integrated ourselves into the local community.... attracted by the standards of living and countrysid­e. Time unfortunat­ely to reassess that I feel.

Andy, via website

We need more bins

The current method of recycling glass in Wokingham js unusable by the elderly and disabled who rely on public transport. If we can’t have a collection we need more bins installed 100 metres of all residents

David Wilson, via website

A Con trick?

I was really surprised to read Cllr Michael Firmager’s letter on how the Conservati­ve-majority run Wokingham Borough Council has been working hard to improve recycling and have listened to residents who would like to recycle more.

I wonder how they managed to make the same changes in Reading, which is run by a Labour council? Is this another example of Conservati­ve efficiency or perhaps different people all working together for the common good?

Name and address supplied

False impression­s

“We would not take money from anyone who would attempt to influence our coverage,” Editorial, The Wokingham

Paper, March 8.

The other newspapers I take are the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Times. All are members of the Independen­t Press Standards Organisati­on (IPSO).

The Wokingham Paper is a member of IMPRESS which is funded by a trust fund set up by an alleged fascist and racist.

The Wokingham Paper is standing by IMPRESS. As I am not a fascist or racist I can only assume that The Wokingham Paper will not be wanting any more of my money by buying a copy each week. I would not want to be seen to “attempt to influence our coverage”.

As I write, the words Hubris and Nemesis come to mind.

Paul Clarke, Wokingham

Stand up for Europe!

Your readers may be interested in standing as councillor in the May Local Elections.

We are looking for candidates for Viva Europa – a single-issue antiBrexit party. Anyone passionate about fighting Brexit should contact info@ vivaeuropa.org.uk.

Ed Thompson Cofounder Viva Europa www.vivaeuropa.org.uk

Time and tides

“There is a tide in the affairs of man which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current as it serves, or lose our venture.”

With thanks to Shakespear­e, those words describe exactly where we are with Brexit. The economy is in good condition, so what are we waiting for? (It may be different in six months’ time).

A Trade agreement that should have been fully defined and agreed before Christmas 2016, to be followed by all the other aspects of our future relationsh­ip with Europe over the past year, has now become a ‘Now or Never’ situation.

I will not comment on who is to blame for the delay – and it’s not the EU.

Many readers may not like the next subject! I have to turn to a pet subject on which I hold very strong views – in the interest of the population as a whole.

Pensions. There needs to be a complete change in this country and everyone should be governed by the same system.

Civil servants, politician­s – anyone paid out of public funds such as Council taxes - pseudo employees in quangos, so-called government service providers or government subsidised charities and so on, should have to put up with the private sector rules.

Apparently the country’s

Pensions Bill – the predicted liability – stands at £7.6 trillion. That sounds a high number, but let me show it in proper financial language; £7.600,000,000,000. Does anyone comprehend what that monstrous figure means?

Vitally for us taxpayers and Council Tax payers, £5.3 trillion is a government liability prediction – thus we are liable for it.

I believe the high and ever increasing Council Tax is bloated by us paying pensions to many obnoxious ‘jobsworths’ to whom we would not normally give a cup of tea! Perhaps council employees should be told who actually pays them. More often.

Pension schemes should be private or company, viz an employee pays contributi­ons to a scheme each pay day, and where appropriat­e the employer pays a top up/contributi­on.

Those funds go into an investment fund separate from the employer who cannot use the fund for dubious reasons such as into ‘pockets’.

I want to see public sector employees on the same pension system, thus we would not have £5.3 trillion needing to be paid by taxpayers!

How about that democratic suggestion?

Reg Cliƒon, Wokingham

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