Is this the price of protecting Northern Parishes?
THE TRAGEDY of Coronavirus and the dreadful impact it has on families everywhere including Wokingham our sympathies must go out to any family who has suffered terribly. Wokingham Borough Council has had to adjust to deal with this tragedy but, where possible, its business as normal, as the headline in last weeks Wokingham Paper ‘Leave our village alone’ would indicate.
It was excellent to see independent councillor Jim Frewin — who seems to be the only councillor who cares for Shinfield — summarising the issue very clearly when he said :“Over 70% of Wokingham Borough development in the last five years has been in Shinfield”. The numbers add up to 3,500 with another 400 in the pipeline. Before Jim’s election, Shinfield has been represented by the Conservative Party including a council leader and other senior executives for 20 years now and, simply put, they have sold Shinfield down the river.
In terms of housing locally I would add 3,500 at Arborfield Garrison not forgetting another 500-odd over a longer period in Arborfield.
How many houses have been built in the Conservative run Northern Parishes in the same time I wonder? My guess is it’s probably in single figures.
The leader of the council says that 13% of the Borough is Greenbelt and 87% is unprotected.
What consolation will that be to the residents in the south of Wokingham when all its green fields are concreted over yet hardly a house is built in the Northern Parishes?
I wonder if our residents in Shinfield and surrounds understand that is the price the Conservatives want them to pay to protect their little patches North of the Borough?
For seven years now Wokingham’s Conservatives secretly, until their grubby plans were leaked (Thanks Lib Dems) have wanted to build 15,000 houses in Grazeley and if they have their way that is still their master plan. They mistakenly or probably deliberatey think that if they destroy Grazeley and its surrounds all the developers who want to build elsewhere will just disappear into the night.
How naive can they be. To try and justify their cunning 15,000 house flagship Grazeley plan the Conservatives moved the New Local Plan Public Inquiry until a year when there were no elections so denying residents their democratic say in the year their plans were scheduled for approval in the mistaken belief that residents will have forgotten what they did. With a Conservative leader and Shinfield councillor for no good reason they agreed to release Cutbush Lane South for development and once they took that decision it was a done deal.
Be under no illusion the Southern Parishes Shinfield, Swallowfield, Grazeley, Arborfield Barkham and Finchampstead will take the brunt of all new housing from now until 2036 and beyond. It’s the Conservative avowed aim as nothing must touch the Northern Parishes. Let’s not forget that when the time comes.
Cllr Gary Cowan, Independent Borough Councillor for Arborfield at Wokingham Borough Council
Get with it Boris!
THE PM’s plans revealed on Sunday missed many factors that we the public are desperate for resolution.
He has a logical plan which frequently reviews the effect of the virus and its fluctuations, which soundly looks at the main locations of virus rates, and thus becomes a management tool. Hence if the “R” moves closer to or above the one rate in say, Birmingham, then a tightening of ‘social distancing’ can be made locally.
However, where we all thought some ‘relaxation of the battle’ should be possible, nothing has addressed highly important considerations of social matters.
When the PM said one can now drive anywhere, visit the countryside or even meet a friend or relation outside, I thought ‘you’ve missed the point’! Parking facilities, people separation, traffic congestion, toilet facilities, medical and dental facilities which are the sorts of detail that needs to be considered.
But that involves Risk Assessment. Sadly the government does not yet seem to know how to apply those, such as is needed regarding the next paragraph.
Everyone wants to visit the homes of relatives and close friends, frequently as we know who may currently be many miles away. What is the problem?
I can suggest that the appalling testing record and facilities that we need may be responsible, because everyone should ideally be tested before entering another home.
That could start with people identifying the relations or close friends they wish to or must visit – a limited number to make control easy – and occupants/visitors being tested locally to their homes, to obtain clearance to make or accept visits by the issue of a Certificate or stamped Passport.
Just an idea, but key is the speed with which testing and signing off as ok takes place. That would be safer than the amateur ideas currently upsetting our lives.
It must be on demand, say at Pharmacies or Surgeries, and I suggest a small fee be paid – for most people £25 would not be unreasonable for the administration. Note that in Germany, a three hour service of test to results is in use.
Turning to just one other issue – that concerns all owners of retail outlets, especially the small shops.
No instructions exist to order their closure, but it is a fact that every opportunity must be taken to help reopen their businesses.
A real problem is how many are able to have more than one or two customers in their shop/s keeping in mind current safety precautions for them and Customers.
Footfall is so important let alone the nature of their business – for example if you sell products that ‘require choosing’, e.g. cards, books, shoes, clothes, vegetables etc., you will suffer from the time it takes for customer decisions.
I do not offer any solutions other than Chambers of Commerce or local bodies need to gather together all affected shop keepers to see what alternatives can be found.
An example may be trade at shop entrances or their rear – especially for butchers and grocers – or even in local halls where spacing etc. can be maintained.
The old M&S store in Wokingham would have been ideal as a ‘market place’ for shops.Come what may, shopkeepers deserve our support and business to save all they have worked for, and survive this awful period in our lives.
Reg Clifton, Wokingham
Aren’t there more urgent matters during a pandemic?
YOU WOULD have thought that perhaps in the current climate of pandemic and need to protect the borough’s most vulnerable, the inmates of Shute End towers would have more urgent matters to concern themselves with than what has been described as “a vacuous witch hunt”, The Wokingham Paper April 30.
And as perceived by many others, the intent to waste money on depriving a long established and clearly respected independent trader of his legitimate livelihood and much appreciated services.
But then with their track record of ineptitude; what else can we expect from an out of touch with reality administration such as ours.
JW Blaney, Wokingham
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