The Wokingham Paper

READERS LETTERS: As seen in The Wokingham Paper of June 18, 2020

Broad Street
Social distancing measures in Broad Street, Wokingham Picture: Phil Creighton

Why are we being treated like two-year-olds?

What crazy council officials and/or counsellors dreamed up the mad hair-brained scheme to place crowd barriers around the one-way system, reducing the road to a single lane?

I understand it has been done to facilitate social distancing when more shops open.  But we have operated for weeks now with queues to banks, chemists, hardware shops and the market without any problems. 

People have acted sensibly and responsibly. 

But we are now being treated like two-year-olds. Barriers are totally unnecessary.

And what will happen to traffic – especially when delivery lorries have to service the shops?

Also, the PM has said don’t be afraid, but seeing all these barriers will make people more concerned and are thus counter-productive. 

It’s not going to help the shops recover.

And how much has been spent!

Let’s remove them immediately.

Keith Carter, Wokingham

They think it’s all over

Covid-19 has repeatedly been described as an ‘unprecedented’ pandemic. 

Many versions of what, when, how, actions taken or not taken, reporting, integrity of data and ‘science’ to mention but a few, have been debated long and hard. Arguments and counter arguments go back and forth on a daily basis. In some cases, responses seem to have been on a ‘make it up as it goes along’ basis.

As a nation we know more about Covid-19 now, and continue to learn,  but we all are all still seeking to better understand. The one unquestionable and undeniable truth is that Covid-19 is the enemy – able and willing to kill indiscriminately.  

Choices have been made (by a select few):

  • to transfer elderly people from hospitals to care homes without testing
  • to ignore social distancing and isolation rules and guidance
  • to manipulate ‘Covid-19 rules’ for selfish reasons including protecting personal wealth
  • to prioritise the economy over health science
  • to hold back or hide ‘true’ data for reasons not yet fully explained
  • and of course, to visit places other than Opticians to check one’s eye sight.

All deliberate choices.

Others (the great majority) have behaved with self-control, patience, respect for distancing, bravery and real heroism, by following the rules and guidelines, putting others and the community before themselves.

Again, deliberate choices.

Some of these choices have cost lives and that matters. Covid-19 is indiscriminate.

The time is coming, where there will be another set of difficult choices. Important choices, that will impact many lives and do we think it’s all over?

It isn’t yet and may not be for some time.

 It is time for us as individuals, local communities and as a nation to choose again. We need to choose wisely.

Cllr Jim Frewin, independent councillor on Wokingham Borough Council, Shinfield South

Positive equality

An interesting letter by Cllr Tahir Maher, Lib Dem councillor for Maiden Erlegh, Wokingham Borough Council (Wokingham.Today, Thursday, June 11, 2020). I like his idea of Lib Dems “positively promoting equality”.

Therefore, I hope that the good councillor is as good as his word.

You see, I’ve always fancied being a Lord, just like the ones who sit in the House of Lords.

You know, the ones who Lord it over us plebs.

The ones who sign in, get £300 and then clear off home, or to their club, immediately after (allegedly).

As Cllr Maher is so keen on “positively promoting equality” it therefore cannot be right that we still have a House of Lords as I, and others of my standing, cannot be one. As the Cllr should know, this is not equality.

Therefore, I expect to see a letter in Wokingham.Today next week written jointly by Cllr Maher and whoever is the so-called national leader of the Lib Dems.

This letter should state that because the House of Lords is electorally an unequal institution, out of step by promoting inequality by its very being, ALL of the Liberal Democrats presently sitting in the Lords will immediately give up their titles and privileges and sit no longer.

By this action, the electorate will then find out just how serious Cllr Maher and his Lib Dems are about “positively promoting equality”.

With something like 100 Lib Dem peers currently sitting it is quite obvious that some Lib Dems are more equal than the majority of the population. This cannot be right and just if the Lib Dems believe in what they claim about “positively promoting equality”.

Deeds, not words then Lib Dems. Abolish ALL Lib Dem Peers immediately and NEVER ever reinstate them, in the name of justice and equality. It might even make the national press!

Paul Clarke, Wokingham

Thank you, positively

Wokingham Positive Difference recently celebrated its’ 50th event and this appears to be an ideal time to say a big thank you to all those who have and who will continue to participate with developing “TEAM Wokingham”.

Once each month, groups have met at our beautiful town hall and more recently online, bringing together the best from business, community and local government.

Our speakers have included local MPs, councillors, charity leaders, authors and business owners, all sharing positive news, ideas and education. The goals for creating better understanding remain as they were four years ago when then former Cllr Mark Ashwell was our first speaker the day after Wokingham Borough Council won a national regeneration planning award.

The decision to launch this group in Wokingham back in 2016 was in recognition of the borough’s wonderful community spirit as already displayed by so many of its local citizens.

From Councillors giving up their time to make a difference, volunteer groups championing great causes and entrepreneurs of all types organising the fireworks, the carnival and running solid businesses, this is a great place to live and it keeps improving all the time.

Our 50th event showcased six speakers from across the spectrum of borough life and delivered no less than 50 positive difference that the audience could take up to survive and thrive in tough times.

Our final group thank you has to go to Phil Creighton and the team at The Wokingham Paper for the support it has given all of us over the four years. A most positive newspaper!

We celebrate event 51 with three more speakers focused on ‘values’ this Friday.

If you operate locally and wish to keep up with business, community and government issues and would like to know more about Wokingham Positive Difference then please email wokinghampositivedifference@gmail.com for further details.”

Graeme Hobbs, Wokingham Positive Difference Chairman

Join me on a dash

While in lockdown I rediscovered the word Coddiwomple, meaning to travel purposefully towards an as yet unknown destination – something we are all doing at the moment.

The days, weeks and months ahead will no doubt be full of challenges, full of anxiety, changes and even loss and things may never be quite the same as they were before.

Yet in these difficult times it is worth remembering that although we cannot stop this particular win of change, we can adjust our sails to enable us to reach our hoped for destination – a world that has conquered coronavirus, ensures that all lives matter – no matter the faith or the faith of an individual and no matter their race, and a world that remains united, not just a global village in name only.

Also with so much distancing and isolation et al going on, our local charities have seen a big reduction in their income so, with that in mind, I have decided to do a daily dash of at least 30 minutes throughout July to raise funds for Berkshire’s Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice which relies almost exclusively on donations.

I will be doing my Devine Daily Dash dressed as my interpretation of a bluebird– probably between Coley and Southcote estates.

Why not take part in your own Devine Daily Dash (dancy dress optional) by doing laps of your garden, local streets or local park on your own, with your household or with your four-legged friends?

You can, of course, simply stride or simply walk.

Yet if you wish only to support my personal Devine Daily Dash, visit, or get someone else to visit for you, www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pauls-daily-dash

Finally, stay alert, stay safe and remember, ‘God is (always) our strength and refuge, an ever-present help in times of trouble’ (Psalm 46:1).

Paul Farmer, Reading

Keep the statues

I refer to previous correspondence.

We should resist, strongly, the current attempts to destroy monuments to some of our national heroes; this is an attack on our history, and our civilisation.

Peaceful protest is all right, though, in my opinion, pointless, but vandalism is not acceptable. Look at some of the figures, targeted: Edward Colston lived, more than 300 years ago. He cannot be judged, according to 21st century values.

Presumably, Admiral Lord Nelson, deserves his place, on top of his column, since he defeated Napoleon, for us, at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Cecil Rhodes, was a successful, 19th century, businessman, so he operated, according to the values, of the 19th century.

Of course, Robert Baden-Powell, took an interest in the Hitler Youth Movement. In its early days, he probably regarded it, as being as innocent, as his own Boy Scouts.

 His Scout Movement is generally regarded as being the most successful youth movement of the 20th century – by the end of which, more than 500 million boys and girls throughout the world, had been Scouts or Guides.

So Robert Baden-Powell deserves to have a monument, in his honour.

I cannot understand why the statue of Sir Winston Churchill has been attacked in the name of anti-racism. He defeated Nazi Germany – which surely had, one of the most ruthless, and racist, regimes, in the history of mankind.

I can think of quite a few, great figures, from history, who would not measure up, by today’s standards. Some of the actions, of John Calvin, an early 16th century Christian reformer would now be regarded as distinctly lacking in Christian charity, and Henry VIII’s treatment of women, would
be thought to be decidedly inappropriate, but they are significant figures from our history, which cannot be erased.

We don’t want white supremacy, but we don’t want, black supremacy, either, and we most certainly don’t want mob supremacy.

What is needed is the equal treatment of all citizens under the law, and this is not achieved, by acts of vandalism.

On a more personal note, I should, through Wokingham.Today like to thank the people, who have helped me to keep our mental health service going during Lockdown. Firstly, I thank Richard and Jane, who run the McColl’s supermarket in Priestwood Square, Bracknell. They have donated, to the crisis house a most generous gift of biscuits, cakes, coffee, tea and sugar, which are keeping us going in this difficult time.

Secondly, I thank the local TLC Cleaning Company. By using personal protective equipment, and working on days when the crisis house is closed they, without risk to themselves, have managed to keep their cleaning service going for us during Lockdown.

Thirdly, I thank the Railway staff. The trains kept going throughout and the staff have been very kind and cheerful and have supplied me with protective gloves.

As a result, we, throughout the crisis, have been able to protect our vulnerable members.

Pam Jenkinson, The Wokingham Crisis House

Virtually, open

As you may be aware, on Friday 26th June, we would have marked the annual, nationwide Care Home Open Day by inviting everyone living in Wokingham to join us at Woodbury House Care Home to celebrate this day.

Unfortunately, this won’t be possible this year.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we’ve taken extraordinary measures to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of our residents in the face of this devastating pandemic. And this Friday will be no different, so we will continue to have in place restricted visitation and will therefore we will not be able to invite the community to Woodbury House Care Home.

Instead, we want to say a big thank you as over these past few weeks, we have been overwhelmed by all the kindness shown by so many in our local community and by our residents’ families.

We have a fantastic team here and our residents are coping very well under the circumstances but the community support shown is really helping us to get through these difficult times together.

As a way of thanking everyone in the community, we have prepared wildflower seeds as a symbol of our appreciation and hope for the future. 

The seeds will be placed outside the entrance to our home from Friday, June 26, and we invite everyone to please come along and take one –as a small gift from us to the community.

We want to say a big thank you and hope that next year we’ll see you all at Woodbury House Care Home to celebrate Care Home Open Day together and continue to build the community that has supported us so wonderfully.

Samantha Bell, Home Manager

Bloggs cartoon wokinham

Not because, rather despite …

There is much that could be said and many comparisons made regarding the tragedy of coronavirus and the way in which it has been dealt with.

This however is neither the time or place to do so – that will, and must be scrutinised at some future date.

To politicise Covid-19 would be an affront to and betrayal of the herculean efforts of the NHS, care services, volunteers and indeed those who have stoically followed the rules of lockdown together with all those other frontline and essential workers who have strived tirelessly to keep us safe and provided for.

Victory over the virus when it is eventually achieved and the pandemic declared over, will have been gained not because of the stable door ditherings of politicians and “experts” but rather despite of them.

J W Blaney, Wokingham

Thanks for the lottery

I would like to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their continued support as Cats Protection enters its third year of funding.

During these challenging times, Cats Protection is working flat out to keep caring for cats and the wonderful support we receive from players has never been more appreciated.

People’s Postcode Lottery players have helped us find loving new homes for thousands of cats by supporting essential cat care assistant and volunteer team leaders roles at our centres across England, Scotland and Wales, and funding our two cat behaviour posts (specialists who provide advice and support to our centres and branches). In addition, 10,000 microchips have been provided to our centres, helping to ensure that cats leave our care with a safe and permanent means of identification.

Over the coming year, players will also be supporting our important advocacy work, helping us create a better world for cats via campaigns such as Purrfect Landlords and Microchips Reunite, as well as helping to cover the overall costs of looking after cats at our centres.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the work of Cats Protection, or needing cat related advice, can visit www.cats.org.uk

James Yeates, Chief Executive, Cats Protection

Declutter and help BHF

I would like to let your readers know about a new service we have launched at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which will make it even easier to donate decluttered items and support our charity to help save lives.

Many people will have spent their time at home having a much-needed clear out and have been kindly holding onto their pre-loved items ready to donate to us.

Our post to donate service is a quick, free and simple initiative where you can donate smaller items via post. As our 750 UK shops and stores begin to reopen throughout June and July, this service is the perfect solution if your local BHF shop is not yet open, or you’re simply not ready to head to the high street.  

From electronic items, clothes and vinyl records to video games, shoes and collectible objects, we hope to receive good quality items which will be sold either online via our eBay store or at a BHF shop.

You can post your donations for free by downloading a postage label online and dropping it off at your local Collect+ store. To download your label and find your nearest Collect+ store, visit www.bhf.org.uk/shop/donating-goods/post-your-donations

Our charity shops run purely on the support of the public, which is why we never take for granted anything that’s donated to us. Every pound raised in our shops helps us to support the
7.4 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases, many of whom are at increased risk from Covid-19.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director, British Heart Foundation

Childline is vital

Since the lockdown began, life has been strange and difficult for almost everyone but in particular for vulnerable children who are struggling with their mental health or are at risk from abuse or neglect. 

The NSPCC’s Childline Service has delivered 4,631 counselling sessions to children and young people in England who have got in touch about Coronavirus and how it is affecting their mental health. 

Childline provides a vital lifeline to young people who are trying to cope with the fear, anxiety and distress caused by the pandemic.

From the counselling sessions we have delivered, we know there has been a direct impact on children’s mental health – and that those children who are living in homes which are not safe, or where there is violence, addiction or abuse are finding it especially difficult during lockdown.

We are now calling on the people of the East of England to support us so we can continue to be there for our young people whose lives have changed overnight.

The NSPCC’s third Childhood Day is taking place on Friday 26 June 2020 and in the run up to the Day, we are asking people  to stand with us and support our work – there are lots of fun and simple ways to  get involved.

This year, Childhood Day is encouraging the people of the East of England to “Be a big kid” and raise money to help us be here for children.

This could include organising a childhood themed quiz night, getting sponsored to dress up for the day or holding a mini sports day in your back garden but in all cases, remembering to follow the latest social distancing rules.  There are lots more ideas on how to get involved and suggestions for fun events on our website www.nspcc.org.uk/childhoodday  

Donating £24 could pay for the  trained counsellors in one of our Childline bases to answer six children’s calls for help and £54 could pay for two hours of a specialist counsellor, enabling children to get the help they need when they need it.

By supporting Childhood Day you are raising awareness and crucial funds to enable us to keep children and young people safe.

For further information on how you can get support this  campaign please visit www.nspcc.org.uk/childhoodday

Kate Hershkowitz, Supporter Fundraising Manager, NSPCC East of England

A little extra thought

Across England, non-essential shops are due to reopen on 15 June. It is expected that, as with shops that have remained open throughout lockdown, visual markers will be used to signify the correct distance from others, one-way systems and designated queuing areas.

With social distancing now part of everyday life it is important to highlight that not everyone can maintain the required distance as easily as others.

People who are blind and partially sighted can struggle to know when they are getting closer to someone, or if someone is approaching them.

And guide dogs, of course, aren’t trained to help in this regard. In general, people are supportive, but there have been occasions when individuals with sight loss have been challenged or even shouted at for coming too close to others, when the reality is they simply weren’t aware of it.

In such uncertain times, tensions over distancing can rise. But we would ask that if you feel someone seems to be ignoring the restrictions, consider for a moment whether that person, rather than being careless, might not be able to fully see you.

Hundreds of thousands of people in England are living with a degree of sight loss. Please be aware that some people do need just a little extra thought.

Keith Valentine

Development Director

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

What do you think? Send your letters to letters@wokinghampaper.co.uk

We love to hear from you! Send us your views on issues relating to the borough (in 250 words or less) to The Wokingham Paper, Crown House, 231 Kings Road, Reading RG1 4LS or email: letters@wokinghampaper.co.uk

We reserve the right to edit letters

Views expressed in this section are not necessarily those of the paper

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