YOUR VIEWS: Readers letters as seen in The Wokingham Paper of December 5

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wokingham cartoon

Remember the borough council’s promise of a cleaner, greener, safer Wokingham?

Cleaner? After shelling out £4.4 million to refurbish Market Place, it would appear someone realised there was no money in the kitty to keep it clean, resulting in it becoming stained with heaven knows what and littered with cigarette ends.

Greener? After spending their time enthusiastically felling trees and digging up many of the borough’s green open spaces, the inmates of Shute End Towers have now decided not only to disfigure Dinton Pastures with an architecturally out-of-keeping activity centre that Prince Charles would probably describe as a ‘monstrous carbuncle’, they also intend, once the old Ritz building is demolished, to replace it with 22 new flats (what no coffee shops?) which, bearing in mind the location, will inevitably create even greater levels of air pollution and add to the problems presented by an already congested Peach Street.

All this in addition to the number of heavy goods vehicles continuing to trundle with impunity, through and around the town centre breaking up already crumbling road surfaces.

Safer? After a year of municipal pussyfooting, apart from Peach Place, there is still no comprehensive operational CCTV prevalence and certainly no additional policing.

It seems local part-time politicians like their electioneering Westminster masters are good at making promises but not so good at keeping them.

JW Blaney, Wokingham

Touching a nerve

In his rebuttal letter of 28th November to my open letter of 21st November, John Redwood demands that I withdraw an allegation I didn’t make.

I would never accuse him of ceasing to extol the virtues of the sunny uplands that he believes await the British economy after Brexit.

But while he was doing this in 2017, a year after the referendum,
he was advising investors to remove their money from the UK and put it in Europe where the economic prospects were better.

This is a conundrum he is perfectly at ease with, but others like me are not.

It is interesting that he says my letter was “mainly … querying (his) engagement with the community and the effort (he) put(s) in”. In fact, that was a minor aspect of my letter, which focused mostly on his voting record and values, and his behaviour around Brexit.

Apparently I touched a nerve: he’s at great pains to establish his local credentials, even saying “As a Borough resident I shop locally and experience the same local conditions as everyone else”. Well, maybe a multi-millionaire experiences the same conditions as the rest of us, and maybe not. (He certainly doesn’t have to commute down Finchampstead Road at 8am every day!)

So don’t let Redwood’s smoke get in your eyes: he may be looking forward to representing us for another term, but many of us are not.

Clive Chafer

Wokingham

Brexit isn’t democracy

It is a shame Derek Harding has such a poor understanding of democracy (letters, November 28). More than three years ago – longer than the last General Election –  the country voted by a tiny margin to Leave. But democracy is a process, not a single event. People can and do change their minds, particularly as new evidence comes to light.

That evidence has meant that it is now widely accepted that the Brexiteers, led mainly by the Tories, lied about the ease and benefits of leaving our largest trading partners, the European Union.

But lies are still key to the Conservatives’ election strategy, for example:

• Claims of “40 new hospitals” when the truth is 6;

• Promises of “50,000 new nurses” – only if you count nurses already in the NHS:

• Plus just about everything else claimed by senior ministers recently.

We now know none of the benefits promised by the Leavers are real, which is why Leavers push their lie about democracy – they can’t point to any benefits under the proposed deal.

Yet whether May’s deal, Johnson’s deal or No deal – all are claimed as the ‘will of the people’ by the conmen who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for any of the deals on the table. Even Johnson only got his deal through by going back on the red lines he once claimed no Conservative government would accept!

So Mr Harding might try to understand that Democracy is about informed choice.

Sadly our Tory government hates democracy so much it had to be dragged through the courts by Gina Miller so Parliament could have a say, and then again to overturn an illegal prorogation of Parliament.

While Mr Harding may be content for a deal that leaves this country poorer (as every deal and ‘no deal’ will), the rest of us want the country to prosper. Is he so shockingly naive as to believe we don’t already trade with countries outside the EU?

Of course we do – and we do so having negotiated as part of the world’s largest free trade area with over half a billion people.

The reason the UK has conceded more in negotiations with the EU is because separate from the EU we have less negotiating power, our negotiators had to push the extreme version of Brexit that the Tories wanted, and we have less experience in negotiation. Or as Mr Redwood might once have boasted  – “We hold all the cards.”

Dr Peter Hornsby, Wokingham

It’s that time of year again

It’s that exciting time of year again.  Has anyone glimpsed him yet?  No, not Santa, I mean John ‘man of the people’ Redwood, who assures us that he often leaves his mansion to come and do a bit of shopping among the honest burghers of Wokingham. 

I have lived here ever since he was elected but have never seen him pushing his trolley around Tesco or Waitrose, nor popping into any of the coffee-shops we have for a swift cappuccino and biscotti to go.

Maybe I just visit the wrong places or perhaps he wears one of those fake nose and glasses ensembles plus a woolly hat, a bit like Where’s Wally, in an effort to mingle incognito amongst the adoring crowds. 

I mean, being SO very approachable must surely get in the way when all you really want to do is pack the week’s comestibles safely into the boot of the Range Rover.

But, speculation aside about the whereabouts of ‘call me John’, we all know that this election is about one thing only and, unfortunately, on this he is not gregariously rubbing shoulders with us whatsoever.

And that is a matter of fact, not opinion. 

He has defiantly ignored our instruction, intent instead on pursuing his long-held, Thatcherite dogma to excise our country at any cost from an institution which has provided it with economic and social stability for decades. 

At least Dr Phillip Lee had the decency to resign from his seat when it was clear that he did not represent the views of his constituents. Not JR, he ploughs his furrow regardless of it being a fundamental betrayal of the majority of the Borough’s voters. 

And what of Wokingham Conservative Association – why has it never proposed to deselect a candidate so out-of-tune with the very people who send him to Westminster? 

Are its members so bent-kneed and supine that they do not dare to?

Something to ponder when we have the stubby pencils in our hands soon, I suggest.  But now I’m off to town, to see if I can spot the great man himself.  No, I mean Santa of course…

Peter Hopkins, Wokingham

I’m backing Sir John

I will be voting for Brexit by supporting Sir John Redwood for the following reasons: I have contacted Sir John on a few occasions and have always received an answer – I always receive an answer, not always to my liking.

1 The £7 million WBC are likely to pay to central government in 2018

2 The changes to a reinforcement of 30mph zones carried out by Chris Grayling in 2016.  Sir John got me an answer on this. I have been looking to petition parliament on this problem with power returned to local councils on this problem but currently its no go due to general election. I would be looking for Sir Johns support on this matter

3 Replacement trees along the M4 removed for bank strengthening. I suggested they use Leylandi the curse of back gardens to deaden the sound no answer from Highways England Sir John and his team got me one. Unfortunately due to the fact they are not native species although they have been in the country for 100+ year they cannot be used.

Unlike Ms Swinson I have emailed her and her HQ because I believe local politics should not confused with national which I believe they do with statements like look how well we are do in Local politics. I have requested an answer/ view but to date I have had no reply the local L/D councillors are aware

Next: We need to control the people who come into the country.
I support the Australian points system it works for them so why not us. We need hard-working people in and for the betterment of the country – we should let them in not the people who come here to run drugs and prostitution and murder not the free- for-all that is the EU.

I remember the time when top rate of tax was 90% so we had a lot of tax exiles so we had 90% of nothing lowering the rate brought people back and we gained. During my working life of 55 years, yes started at 15 and stopped at 70 last five being part-time. I have seen the country have ups and downs and wage restraint which led to a boom in company cars but modest pay rises. I have been made redundant twice I just got my head down and worked harder and took a step back if required to put food on the table.

Let’s look at Labour proposal a New Deal that keeps us aligned with the rules and policy. A second referendum will be Leave with Labour’s deal or stay. Due to alignment with the rules stay or revoke will be the same thing so no change the way I believe it will pan out.

The EU will go forward in its corrupt way without budgets being audited and if we chose either leave in name only or stay we will be punished by increased contribution when the new budgets are set I believe next year and you will kiss goodbye to our rebate 12/14 billion depending on were you do your research. This is why we need to get Brexit done and we need to leave without a deal on the table as we go at the end of 2020 to sharpen the minds of the EU otherwise they will kick the can down the road.

In short, I am not anti EU but we need to take back control and work on a trading partnership that is beneficial to both sides.  Let’s remember they also need us for there good

Rod Needs, Wokingham 

Sir John’s climate views

There have been a number of letters to The Wokingham Paper both for and against the re-election of Sir John Redwood as our MP. One topic that doesn’t seem to have been mentioned is his position on climate change.

I have written to him on a number of occasions and I think it would be fair to say that he takes a sceptical view of the link between climate change and emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. He emphasises what he claims are uncertainties about climate data and models and seems unwilling to accept that the overwhelming majority of scientists now agree on the reality of serious trends in global warming. The fossil fuel industries and unscrupulous politicians continue to mislead public opinion by wrongly claiming that there are still valid doubts about the evidence and its interpretation.

Voters of all persuasions should take a look at the very useful website www.theyworkforyou.com where you can see the Parliamentary voting record of all MPs on matters such as the environment, welfare and health – to name but a few.

Sir John has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change and, incidentally, was in favour of selling off England’s state-owned forests.

The challenge we face as electors is that the heated row about Brexit has distracted us from the fact that we must take responsibility for returning MPs to Westminster who will work for us and our children and not on behalf of the polluters and destroyers of our planet.

Malcolm Inglis, Wokingham

Holding all the cards

Hello, Edna here. I read with interest Mr. Redwood’s vigorous defence of his record as Member of Parliament for Wokingham. As he seems to do most of his shopping on-line, it’s rare that one has the opportunity to bump into him while out shopping in our splendid new town centre and engage him in conversation.

I was wondering, therefore, if you could ask him to explain, through the pages of your fine organ, the following statement he made in July 2016.

As usual here’s a link for those who may care to read his blog in full. johnredwoodsdiary.com/2016/07/17/getting-out-of-the-eu-can-be-quick-and-easy-the-uk-holds-most-of-the-cards-in-any-negotiation/

“Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards in any negotiation”

I look forward to reading his vigorous and detailed reply in your organ before election day.

Edna Welthorpe, Mrs, Wokingham

Aircraft noise

Dr Phillip Lee, while under the Conservative cloak, freely admitted climate denial and supporting community destruction by the backing of both Heathrow and Gatwick expansion.

The Liberal Democrats are firmly against both such schemes, yet he refuses to answer the question on which way he currently favours – his inherent views or those of his latest party cloak. The good folk of Wokingham deserve a straight answer from their prospective MP.

Murray Barter, Residents Against Aircraft Noise @RAAN_BERKS

Turncoat

Reading the letters and the paper editions over the past few weeks I find it amazing the effort taken by the Lib Dems and their camp followers, to push/promote Dr Phillip Lee.

This is a person (I will not use the term gentleman) whose views, while a Conservative MP, were in opposition to those of the Lib Dems and regularly condemned by that party in Parliament and one who was happy to remain a Conservative MP whilst Theresa May was PM, only changing his stance when the leader changed to someone who might actually honour the results of the 2016 referendum.

Dr Lee was elected, like many others, based on the party manifesto which stated that the party and its MPs would honour the results of the 2016 referendum, obviously ignored by Dr Lee as he has ignored the views and wishes of the constituents of Bracknell Forest, hence why they held a vote of “no confidence” in 2018 and wanted to deselect him as their MP this year.

Even under the website “They Work For You”, Dr Lee is regarded to have below average attendance in the house, yet now claims that his constituents and their views are important, not something that the Bracknell Forest residents would agree to.

As for the ludicrous comments by Mr Chafer about John Redwood having a second job and then regarding him as a “part-time MP”, I notice that there is no mention of  Dr Phillip Lee still operating as a GP within the Thames Valley!

I find it interesting that the Lib Dem leaders have been happy to push aside their previous Parliamentary candidate, with apparent little regard for the efforts and money he has poured into the local party, to accept a person who is regarded as having deliberately misled his previous constituents, changed sides only when his personal position as an MP was threatened (two state salaries are always nice, as is the MP pension) and who can only be regarded as a turncoat, concerned more with his own interests.

 David Anderson, Wokingham

Sack Sir John?

If I thought that politics could not get any lower, then the election material I received this morning told me I was wrong.

Its sole message was “Sack John Redwood”, accusing him of hypocrisy. It cherry picked paragraphs from various publications to imply improper financial conduct.

I am surprised that it has not been judged libellous.

It took me a while to find out (from the very small print) that it was from Annabel Mullin representing Advance Together.

Obviously this party has nothing positive in their manifesto.

John Williams, Wokingham

Backing Sir John

We have known John Redwood for 30 years and have always admired his principled approach to politics and have trust in his integrity.

Dr Phillip Lee has been a friend for over 10 years.

In recent times, Phillip has made clear that the original EU Referendum decision was a close call for him between supporting Brexit or Remain.

Phillip also indicated to us before leaving the Conservative Party benches that he saw his role “as saving the Conservative Party” and told us, with the exception of Brexit, there was no difference between himself and other Conservative Party policies.

A vote for Phillip Lee at this election will help to hand the keys of Number 10 to Jeremy Corbyn.

We strongly recommend that the electors of Wokingham vote for someone with principles and integrity. Please vote for John Redwood.

Don Porter Former National Chairman, Conservative Party Volunteers

And Brian Hamill, Former National Treasurer, The Conservative Party 

Festive mental health

Looming, once again, is the annual nightmare for the mentally ill – Christmas! Everywhere is closed; there is no public transport, and all their carefully devised routines are disrupted. So they sit in their four walls – lonely and isolated – thinking enviously of all the happy families who are having such a wonderful time. I am not convinced that all families do have such a wonderful time at Christmas, but this is how the mentally ill perceive things to be.

One Christmas, at the Crisis House,  a mentally ill man who happened to be a trained Army chef stayed here. I gave him the money to get a turkey, a Christmas pudding, and some  wine.

He cooked a splendid Christmas dinner for any service users who would have been alone on Christmas Day.

It was a great success, and helped him to get his self-confidence back – so he recovered, and went back to work. I wish that we could have those days back, but, nevertheless, I endeavour to make the ordeal as brief as possible. This year, strictly speaking, the Crisis House won’t close over Christmas.

Our party is to be held on Monday 23rd December. Every year, faithfully, our Patron, Lady Elizabeth Godsal, comes to the party in order to distribute the Christmas presents – which, sad to say, together with the greetings card from us, are the only ones that some of our service users receive.

 I am also opening the drop-in centre on Christmas Eve – so that members with no family support at all, can at least get some company then. This year, Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday and Boxing Day, on a Thursday – which are days when the drop-in centre doesn’t normally open anyway. We shall re-open on Friday 27th December – thankfully, all back to normal, and it will all be over, once again, for another year.

Pam Jenkinson,
The Wokingham Crisis House

Electric dreams

The On Your Bike feature (The Wokingham Paper, November 28) promoting electric cycles fails to mention the crucial fact that at present their use is illegal on roads and pavements in the UK.

On many occasions, I have seen electric cycles/scooters in use locally.

Only last week I was nearly knocked down by an electric unicycle user travelling at speed on a pavement.

From now on, I shall try to photograph offenders, though the police are likely to turn a blind eye.

The law certainly needs updating but, as is the case with ordinary cycles, the fault lies not with the conveyance, but with the attitude of the user.

In my experience, pavement cyclists rarely show much consideration for pedestrians.  That has to change, and electric devices must have insurance.

There is now a campaign to give cyclists legal access to countryside public footpaths (sic).  Doubtless, that will eventually include electric cycles.

I hope the ramblers are up to resisting the challenge.

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