The Wokingham Paper

YOUR VIEWS: Readers letters as seen in The Wokingham Paper of May 9, 2019


Post Office move was purely political

The Post Office ‘consultation’ was never about whether or not the Crown Post Office in Wokingham should move to WHSmith. It was about issues such as access/disability access and services offered. Even then these issues were not seriously considered by Post Office Ltd as important.

The reason for the transfer is political. Not only backdoor privatisation as this government does not believe in public spending, but also helping out a private company that is clearly in financial straits on the High Street.

The only way the closure could be stopped was by John Redwood persuading his Tory colleague, the minister dealing with Post Office (Kelly Tolhurst) to reconsider, as Iain Duncan Smith did in Chingford.

Unfortunately, John Redwood is too busy trying to take Britain out of the EU (and, in my view, damaging our economy) than dealing with constituency issues.

The question now is if WHSmith collapses, will the Post Office remain? Other parts of the country where it has transferred into a retail outlet suggests not. As no one knows the deal that the Government and Post Offices Ltd has made with WHSmith, John Redwood should be making t clear to the minister that the Post Office should remain if the outlet closes.

Labour party’s policy is not only to bring Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd back into an integrated public service, as it still is in most other major economies. It is also to create a Post Office bank that will provide a financial service on the high Street.

This is needed because that other bastion of the British economy, the major banks, are not interested in providing a service to small business or individual customers.

Their main emphasis is making money to pay inflated salaries to idle directors who leave after a few years. The latest one of these is the ex-RBS chief, Ross McEwan, who is no doubt laughing all the way to his own bank.

Ian Warrick, CWU SE No 5 branch

In the past, Wokingham Borough Council has, for the most part when dealing with petitions, one very simple plan A – ignore them.

Now it appears they have an equally simple plan B – lose them.

The farcical ineptitude of the inmates of Shute End Towers all-too often beggars belief.

Botched regeneration projects, the release of unauthorised personal data, failed legal actions, the duplication of local election voting forms and now this, the ‘missing’ Crown Post Office petition bearing more than 5,000 signatures.

Rather than getting a grip and doing something about it, they are content to squabble among themselves, pointing the finger of blame at others while contriving to blunder from one embarrassing and costly gaffe to the next.

J W Blaney,  Wokingham

Thanks for your support

I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the residents who voted for me at last Thursday’s local elections.

In the Sonning and Warren area we have many issues to tackle and I look forward to taking up these on your behalf with the Borough Council, starting with more traffic speed tests and to keep changing traffic patterns under constant review.

It is an honour and privilege to represent the residents of Sonning & Warren Ward with meetings starting as early as next week.  Whatever happens I will always strive to do my best to represent you all.

Cllr Michael Firmager, Conservative councillor for Sonning & Warren Ward on Wokingham Borough Council

We lost only because of Brexit

I would like to thank the electors of Hawkedon Ward in Lower Earley for giving me the opportunity to represent them for 16 years on Earley Town Council and 15 years on the borough.

The results on Thursday were not a surprise as having canvassed extensively it was clear there were only three issues – Brexit, Brexit and Brexit.

If the Conservative candidates had been rejected in Earley because of our local policies and achievements and others offered a better alternative that is democracy. This was not the case.

I now ask those newly elected Lib Dem Councillors once Brexit is finalised will they stand down and have another local election so that the residents can vote on local issues?

Tim Holton, former Conservative councillor for Hawkedon Ward

We won because we stood up for residents

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted to elect me to represent Hawkedon Ward in the Wokingham Borough and Earley Town Council elections.

I relish the opportunity to represent and stand up for all of our residents, without fear or favour, on issues that matter to them.

These include working with Wokingham Borough to get a dedicated parking warden for Earley to help tackle our illegal and antisocial parking problems, especially near schools, following a petition signed by over 1,000 Earley residents.

Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh, Liberal Democrat councillor for Hawkedon Ward, Wokingham Borough Council

I will protect woodland

I am so pleased to have recently been elected in Hillside and would like to thank everyone who voted for me.

I would also like to add that I will try to protect the woodland at Chalfont Park for the future

Cllr Caroline Smith, Liberal Democrat councillor for Hillside Ward, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you to our residents

The Wokingham and Winnersh Town Liberal Democrats would like to say a huge thank you to our local residents.

The Lib Dems now hold eight of the 14 Borough seats in Wokingham Town and Winnersh, and are the largest group of councillors on Wokingham Town Council.

During months of talking to residents on the doorstep we’ve heard about the problems which you’re experiencing with anti-social behaviour, traffic jams and school funding.

We know that you want to see better care for the environment in Wokingham and that over-development and the housing numbers being pushed onto Wokingham Borough are of significant concern.

We’re committed to positive change.

We’ll be fighting for improvements to the town centre, better provision for young people and better management of council finances.

We’re also committed to listening to our residents and keeping them informed.

We’ve been distributing our contact details on regular Focus newsletters and you can also get hold of the Lib Dem team at

So please let us know about the issues in your area and where it’s something that we can fix, we’ll work to help you.

Your new borough councillors – Paul Fishwick (Winnersh), Maria Gee (Wescott), Adrian Mather (Evendons) and Rachel Bishop-Firth (Emmbrook).

Town councillors Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, Anna Box, Keith Malvern, Elizabeth Bishop, Maria Gee, Matteo Fumagalli, Morag Malvern, Peter Hornsby, Peter Dennis, Adrian Mather and Rachel Bishop-Firth

How can I help?

More than 2,800 residents of Norreys made the effort to vote on Thursday, May 2.

In light of the national uncertainty, I believe that this represents a tremendous display of civic pride from our community. To everyone who made the effort to vote, regardless of how you voted, I thank you.

During the campaign I have been fortunate enough to speak with many, many residents of Norreys.

I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and your honesty with me on your doorsteps.

I share your concerns over infrastructure, extensive house building, anti-social behaviour and many other issues.

I want you to know that I will champion your issues on Wokingham Borough Council, that I will be your voice and that I will make sure that your concerns are heard, regardless of if, or how you voted.

Thursday’s election results show a clear desire for change across Wokingham and I am pleased that both Nick Fox and Elizabeth Bishop gained seats on the Town Council.

All your Norreys Conservative councillors want to change Wokingham for the better and I know that they do too.

Congratulations to everyone who won a seat on either the Borough or Town Councils on Thursday. Now that the election is over and all the results are in it is clear that for the residents of Wokingham we need to put aside party divisions and work together for the benefit of all our communities.

None of us wanted to stand for election to have arguments and to squabble, we did it because we are passionate about our community and we are eager to make the lives of our residents better.

Our mandate is clear, to work together for the greater good of the community, to help people resolve the issues that impair their peaceful, law abiding lives and to improve our town for future generations to benefit from.

Your Norreys representatives can help shape the future of our town and our community, but first we need you to answer us a question, How can we help?

We want too, we have been elected too, so please, get in touch and tell us how we can help make our town, our community and your lives better.

Many thanks again to everyone who took the time to vote on May 2, and particularly to everyone who has done me the honour of casting their vote for me.

I am truly humbled by your support and I am determined to live up to the faith that you have shown in me.

Cllr Gregor Murray, Conservative councillor for Norreys ward on Wokingham Borough Council

A complete lack of trust

Not being a statistician I will leave it for the experts to run the slide rule over the Election results but from a simpler view this is how I saw it.

Brexit or not was the question? I do think it was a combination of Brexit and a complete lack of trust in the current Conservative administration at Wokingham Borough who have ruled the roost continuously for the past 20 years.

I would add they still do, but with a reduced majority.

The Conservative ideology of power first and me, me, me with residents second or even third hit the buffers last Thursday.

This ideology, supported by their Executive (Politburo) bully boy tactics and three-line whip imposed on its back benchers under threat of disciplinary action if anyone dares to stray, is as far as possible from democracy as it’s possible to be.

It was not all Brexit.

Back to the election itself which saw the Leader, three of his ruling executive and the Chair of planning all lose their seats by a massive total of about 2,600 votes.

The Conservatives hung on to four other seats by 250 votes in total and even the Mayor who last time out had a majority of 1,245 votes ended up this time with a reduced majority of just 66.

The message is clear for all to see.

The best form of Consultation residents have – and the only one Conservatives might understand – was how they voted last Thursday in very large numbers.

The Conservatives still run the council but it will be interesting to see if it will be head in sands and put it all down to Brexit or will leopards actually change their spots? I doubt it but if they don’t then roll on next May.

Cllr Gary Cowan, Independent Borough Councillor for Arborfield

We will be open and transparent for you

On behalf of the 21 Liberal Democrat councillors who were elected to Earley TownCouncil in the recent local elections, I would like to thank all the residents who placed their trust in the Lib Dems and assure those who didn’t vote for us or just didn’t vote at all, that we will work just as hard for all of you.

We will be as open and as transparent as we can be in our decision making and will work hard to ensure the council is run efficiently and effectively.

Hopefully we will be able to work closely with the Conservative controlled Wokingham Borough Council where the Lib Dems doubled their number of councillors to 16 and the Conservative majority was cut from 26 to just eight.

Cllr Clive Jones, Earley Town Councillor

To the new Councillors of Wokingham Borough Council

During 2018 & 2019 Wokingham Borough Council lost two extremely high profile and expensive High Court cases against the garden nursery, Hare Hatch Sheeplands.

The Judge in the Appeal Court stated categorically that Wokingham Borough Council had acted in an unfair and unjust way towards Hare Hatch Sheeplands. These two cases must have cost the Wokingham taxpayers thousands of pounds.

Following these cases, a number of local residents requested an External Enquiry to ascertain who in the Council was responsible for bringing these cases to court and wasting the taxpayers money.

The Council, prompted by the Council Leader, who has now lost his seat, together with Council staff, decided an External Enquiry was not appropriate and instead they would carry out an Internal Review.

This review would be carried out by an independent monitor.

Many requests have been made to the former council leader, the Chief Executive and her staff to publish the Terms of Reference of the review, and also name and status of the person who is undertaking the review.

All such information has so far been refused.

This would indicate that the Council wish to hide information from the public, suggesting a ‘white wash or cover-up’ is taking place.

As new Councillors I trust you will familiarize yourselves with these Court Cases to ensure Wokingham Borough Council is acting in a fair and proper manner both to the citizens of the Borough and Hare Hatch Sheeplands.

Frank Moore, Charvil

How is it an impartial review?

Editor’s note – this letter was received before the results of last week’s election were known

It was with interest I read about the Independent Review planned by WBC to look into the council’s actions.

I also noted that Andrew Moulton had already met and talked with them.

If this is an impartial review when are the ‘unnamed reviewers’ coming to Hare Hatch to also talk to Mr Scott I wonder?

May we also enquire how this independent reviewer was chosen?

What sort of qualifications they hold to make this a worthwhile project?

And more importantly, have they at any time been previously employed by Wokingham Borough Council in any form?

I have read that the [then] leader Mr McGhee-Sumner has said: “I am only here to represent the residents, not to represent the government and I will do my best to represent the residents”.

He is also quoted as saying, “And despite, and I mean this genuinely, despite what people might tell you, there is no secrecy”.

I hope Mr McGhee-Sumner will prove all his words true by making this Independent Review a fair one, and then it is made public so people can judge for themselves.

Patricia Miller, via email

May’s comedy turn

I write from Lago di Garda in Italy, because whilst it is lovely to get away from the continuing ‘May comedy’, I cannot resist joyful feelings at the results of last week’s elections.

The ‘nasty party’ has received due punishment for their total lack of interest in ‘ you and me’.

The most alarming and concerning result is May’s lack of interest in the result – her only interest is in her position as PM.

Three years of farce has turned a conservative nation into a very ratty one – all down to her and her ignorance in failing to listen to wise counsel that DOES exist in the Party, but not among her friends and youngsters she, in a puerile way, employs.

When one thinks about our situation as the laughing stock at least in Europe, all I can observe is that the Conservative Party has been far too kind to her.

As a politically neutral individual, I long for that as yet non-existing Centre Party.  Then May MUST go.

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Cheap drugs

I read your report – ‘Shock at flood of cheap drugs – Social Media has made buying drugs easier’ – [2nd May 2019].

I am not entirely convinced that the price of drugs and alcohol, influences their misuse. Pure cocaine was once the prerogative of the upper classes – because it was so expensive – so those of lesser means resorted to drowning their sorrows in cheap gin!

Elizabeth Burton-Phillips is correct in saying people ‘started using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate for a number of reasons. It could be loneliness, depression, or many other issues.’

Of the five, unnatural, deaths that have occurred in our ranks over the past five years, just one was suicide. All the others were caused by the abuse of drugs and alcohol – what could be described as ‘slow suicide’! But the most recent death – that of a man in his early thirties – who had used our services for many years – was not at all affected by the price of drugs.

On the occasions that he had no money for his latest fix of heroin, he would grind up prescription opiates, mix them with water, and then inject. I thought this practice to be very dangerous, but I did not criticise it. This man knew that I believe in legalisation, and in the prescription of heroin to addicts – which is why he was open about what he did. Had I been critical, he would have done it anyway, but not told me about it!

The same is true of alcoholics. I was reliably informed, by a patient who shared a room with him – at Prospect Park Mental Hospital – that one of our service-users, kept a regular supply of vodka, by his bed, in a Lucozade bottle!

Thus people always find a way of satisfying their addictions, and attempts by other people, to stop them, always fail. We have had a few, spectacular, success stories, when supporting people in coming off heroin, or alcohol, but only where these people had established successful lives, before becoming addicted, and wanted those successful lives, back.

This is why Elizabeth Burton-Phillips’s educational work with DrugFam is so important. If youngsters become addicted from an early age, as UKAT’s CEO, Eytan Alexander, says, ‘The drugs could impact their education, overall achievement in life, and expose them to a criminal environment at a young age.’

This is, indeed, our experience. We have never succeeded, in helping to cure, addicts who – due to such young addiction –  have never achieved anything in life, and thus see no prospect of a better life awaiting them, if they cease to abuse drugs, or alcohol, so they stick with their addiction-euphoria! Education is also important so that people understand what they have to cope with.

A most dramatic drugs-incident once occurred at the crisis house – when a service-user staggered in – jerking in all directions, shouting, and asking us to close the curtains, because he was photo-phobic in sunlight. ‘I’ve just had a dose of ‘Billy’, he said.

‘What, in all the earth, is Billy?’ I enquired.

Other service-users enlightened me. ‘Billy Whiz’ is street slang for amphetamine! I thus believe the work in schools, and with parents, to be invaluable.

Pam Jenkinson – The Wokingham Crisis House


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