YOUR VIEWS: Readers letters as seen in The Wokingham Paper of September 12, 2019


Parliament is not respecting the referendum

Cllr Andy Croy in his letter (The Wokingham Paper, September 5), criticised Sir John Redwood over his support for the prorogation of Parliament.

There are several points of contention in Cllr Croy’s letter.

He refers to our ‘unelected’ Prime Minister. We do not directly elect our PM, they are the person who can command a majority in Parliament and is usually the leader of the majority party after a General Election.

Sometimes, when a PM resigns mid-term then, these days, the PM is usually the person subsequently elected or appointed as the leader by the majority party, eg as Gordon Brown became PM after Tony Blair.

Secondly, the prorogation of Parliament is not ‘profoundly anti-democratic’. My understanding of the prorogation is that it happens normally in the autumn to allow time for the party conferences.

Thirdly, in the 2016 referendum, the majority of people voted to leave the European Union. The vote was not decided by the results in constituencies, but by individuals taken countrywide.

In these circumstances, MPs should not be obliged to represent the majority of views in an individual constituency if different from the overall vote in the UK.

Cllr Croy says that Sir John Redwood ‘has now decided that Parliament itself should not be able to do its job”.

Parliament has not done its job, which should have been to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, owing to the actions of opposition parties, certain members of the Conservative party and the speaker.

Fourthly, Andy Croy says that the people of this country are ‘overwhelmingly against the no-deal Brexit which is about to be foisted on us’. Where does this idea come from? By voting for Article 50, by a large majority, Parliament was also voting to leave on March 29, 2019, whether or not there was a ‘deal’. This two-year deadline is implicit on Article 50.

Fifthly, he says that we need an MP who will ‘respect our democratic institutions’. It seems that Parliament itself does not represent our democratic institutions by trying to block Brexit.

In 2016, we were told that the government would implement the result of the referendum and, in the General Election of 2017, both the Conservative and Labour parties declared that they would honour the result.

Neither party has done so.

Theresa May’s ‘deal’ was to agree to be half-in, half-out with the UK having no influence in the EU.

It is those who would keep us in the anti-democratic EU who are the ones who are flouting democracy.

I believe that Sir John Redwood has acted in the national interest and has respected our democratic institutions.

Anne Kingston, Wokingham

Gullible Remainers

How gullible these holier than thou Remainers are. Despots and Dictators like to be pictured with children to make them look cuddly and fluffy.

Underneath the avuncular exterior is an iron fist ready to unleash the Gulags and firing squads on the non-compliant. The Communists were particularly good at brainwashing children.

How deliciously ironic it would be if that unaccountable monolith, the EU, decided that Brexit means Brexit on the 31 October 2019 because its members have lost patience with the UK Parliament! What will the hand wringing Remainers do then? Threaten to send the Eurocrats to bed early?

The Referendum result stays unchanged. The message is still the same i.e. B*s to the Liberal Autocrats.

Paul Clarke, Wokingham

All mixed up

Councillor Croy seems a little mixed up. He criticises John Redwood for not representing the inhabitants of Wokingham and then states that we need an MP who will not only fight Wokinghams corner but will act in the national interest.

He seems to forget that it was in the national interest to abide by the referendum result.

Unfortunately, too many MPs did not appear to understand what that was. If all MPs had gone by the wishes of the majority we would now be out of Europe and not in the total mess caused by the Remainers.

Jo Pester, via email

Legally elected

Responding to ‘lead letter ‘ September 5 by Cllr Croy: Not admitting to any preference in the slightest, but the fact is Boris Johnson WAS legally elected. This was undertaken by the Conservative party

Stella Webb, via email

Turbulent times

Your article last week on the resignation from the Conservative Party of Dr Phillip Lee MP, who represents many Wokingham residents in Parliament, was a fascinating snapshot of the turbulent political times in which we live.

Dr Lee has received criticism from those who think the narrow margin for Leave in Bracknell in 2016 should prevent any further debate on the subject.

Sir John Redwood MP, who represents the remainder of Wokingham, uses this same argument based on the narrow national margin, not only ignoring but attacking the views of the majority of his constituents.

The Brexit on offer in 2019 bears no resemblance to that promised and voted on in 2016. Given the seismic nature of the change, it is common sense that the public are given the chance to say whether they wish to accept this form of Brexit or not.

All the indications from polling, recent elections and demographics are that Bracknell would join Wokingham in voting for the UK to remain in the EU if the question was asked again.

Phillip Lee has recognised this for some time. John Redwood appears incapable of fresh thought on the issue, and cannot claim to be our representative.

The surge in Liberal Democrat support in all recent elections in Wokingham shows that the constituency has an appetite for change. When candidates’ positions on Brexit are added to this mix, I predict that the result of a forthcoming General Election in Wokingham will make national news.

Adrian Betteridge, Wokingham

Still not nearly enough, Sir John

In his Westminster Diary in last week’s Wokingham Paper, Sir John Redwood wrote with great gusto about the recently announced £14 billion cash boost for schools in England, enabling every child in Wokingham and West Berkshire “a world class education”.

This is much needed money. 91 % of primary schools and 94% of secondary schools have had their per pupil funding cut in real terms since 2015. You cannot take money out of education and pretend that there will not be harmful consequences. However, the promised cash boost for education does not solve all the funding crisis, contrary to what might be implied from Sir John’s article.

Sir John referred to “levelling up pupil funding across the country”. His government has pledged that from 2021-22 the minimum funding schools receive per pupil will rise £3500 to £4000 in primary schools and from £4,800 to £5,000 in secondary schools.

I have calculated that this desperately needed funding would benefit 18 primary schools and 6 secondary schools in Wokingham Borough, by an average of £359.50 and £162.83 per pupil respectively. But, this promised funding should have been in place for the new school year that has just begun, not delayed until next academic year, to enable proper planning, and to stop any of the increase being eaten into by inflation and other substantial costs over which schools have not control.

Sir John also noted the pledge of an extra £700 million for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Again, whilst welcome, this is less than half of the £1.5billion SEND funding shortfall since 2015.
It also does not address very real challenges and pressures that add to costs, including a rise in pupils diagnosed with SEND, and increasing severity and complexity of many SEND cases.

Let us be under no illusions. The school funding crisis is far from over. All of our MPs, including Sir John, must do much more to ensure that there is a rapid and once and for all end to the crisis in school funding.

Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh, Liberal Democrat ETC & WBC councillor for Hawkedon Ward

Destroyed town centre

I totally agree with Gillian Gatehouse, letters, September 5. The so-called regeneration has destroyed the town, and surrounding area.

I have only lived here for 60 years and Wokingham was such a nice place to live, not any more. It’s now soulless and characterless. From reading reports, air pollution is reaching dangerous levels at times, and we also have high light and noise pollution. Crime and anti-social behaviour is increasing at 17%.

Traffic is another problem. What used to be a comfortable 10-minute journey can now take anything up to an hour. My son and other family members, born, bred and working in Wokingham can’t afford to live here. The cost of housing is beyond most locals and why are they building so many retirement dwellings. Not for the locals that’s for sure.

I attended a lot of the meetings concerning expansion, especially Mathews Green and Elms Field. The lies that the council members came out with, especially one particular member. On a doorstep call during an election he was extremely rude, his way or no way. After he walked off one of his compatriots apologised to me for his attitude. The council has changed, slightly, but the damage has been done.

We have lost our lovely town.

Name and address supplied

Spending a penny

I understand from a previous councillor that there will be Public Toilets in Peach Place, I can’t see them, please let’s have public toilets in town very soon, we need them, we can’t go into pubs or restaurants at 9.30am in the morning!

Also when can we get a Chinese restaurant in Wokingham, we can’t all drive to Crowthorne or Finchampstead.

Jane Bingham, Wokingham

The real deal

In reply to Mr Hora’s letter. I most certainly am a real person and therefore accept his apology. However, I most certainly am not an eco-warrior and resent the implication that I am.

In fact, there’s nothing I like better than firing up my wood burning stove, particularly as the nights draw in, and having a good burn up in the garden. I also enjoy steam locomotives and traction engines.

Although I’ve never been what one might call a ‘spotter’. However, it is nice to breathe fresh air and I would hope that my grandchildren will have the opportunity to do the same, as well as watch coal-fired engines running on heritage lines and at steam fairs. What fun!

As for being selective with my quotes, I’m hardly going to cite an entire article, and I very much doubt that The Wokingham Paper would have published it if I had. I did provide links so those interested could read the reports for themselves so I don’t know what the problem is.

Edna Welthorpe, via email

Heathrow consultation

The public consultation on the proposal to add a third runway at Heathrow Airport ends on Friday, September 13.

All information and an opportunity to add your views can be found at https://aec.heathrow

Wokingham Borough Council will be submitting its feedback in the coming days to the consultation as well.

I believe it is crucial the submission supports the council’s recently declared climate change emergency.

A third runway at Heathrow would negatively impact on what the council is trying to achieve, increasing levels of pollution. You can’t support the climate change emergency and the Heathrow expansion.

Please take the opportunity to feedback to WBC your views on the matter via contact-us/contact-us-online/.

Cllr Sarah Kerr, Liberal Democract councillor for Evendons Ward, Wokingham Borough Council

Opposition to third runway

Wokingham Liberal Democrats are clearly opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow is the biggest single source of greenhouse gases in the UK. New aircraft will come on stream in the next 20 years which will be quieter and emit less greenhouse gases than the current aircraft that are being used.

However, the addition of the third runway and the extra flights that this will bring will not give us the reductions we need in greenhouse gases for us to be carbon neutral by 2030.

This is of course the stated aim of Wokingham Borough Council.

I won’t pre-judge the response from the Council Leader to the Heathrow expansion consultation, neither will I pre-judge the Lib Dem motion that is before the full council on 19th September which requests that this Council does not support the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

What I will say is if this council is serious about reversing the effects of Climate Change and reducing greenhouse gases they cannot support the building of a third runway at Heathrow.

Additionally, If there were no third runway at Heathrow, would there still be the need for Wokingham to accept the massive numbers of new housing that the Conservative government are imposing on us?

Cllr Clive Jones, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group, Lib Dem Environment spokesperson

Denmark Street Car Park – Strange times

I refer to the rather strange letter from former councillor David Davies (The Wokingham Paper, September 5).

Back in 2013/14 I remember Cllr Prue Bray then leader of the Liberal Democrats on WBC campaigning to keep at least one of Rose Street and/or the Paddocks Car Parks open, otherwise there would not be sufficient car parking in the centre of Wokingham.

Despite this, Wokingham Regeneration run by WBC in conjunction with WTC ignored this and both car parks closed as a result. The then Cllr David Davies was I believe Leader of WTC at that time and did nothing to prevent their closure.

Now in 2019, he is complaining about the closure of Denmark Street car park and why has the Leader of WTC not done anything about it. Denmark Street car park is privately owned and as a result neither WTC, or WBC have any direct control of a private companies actions provided they are legal, which closure is. I do agree that it is extremely unfortunate that the car park has closed with all the resultant problems that have occurred.

He also mentions that the Leader of the Town Council has recently indicated that she knew it was due to close for a little while now. This information was provided at a confidential WBC meeting in June, at which the Leader of Wokingham Borough Council was present, so why is Mr Davies not complaining about that Leader as well, remember he is a Tory as well!

I have been present in at least one meeting with Imogen Shepherd-Dubey and senior WBC officers on this topic, several other meetings have now taken place., clearly showing that in her role as Leader of Wokingham Town Council, she has been trying to get a suitable solution to the problem.

We have put forward our proposals to the council including the Chief Executive, but we have been advised that these proposals are confidential. Release of confidential information (as David Davies knows full well) would be a breach of Council code of conduct.

If Imogen had released this, she would no doubt have been pursued under the code of conduct process.

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wokingham Borough Council

Lacking Leadership

My social media feed recently seems to be full of anti-Brexit rallies and protests for ‘democracy’.

All the pictures have led me to ask two questions: How can the Liberals call themselves democrats when they want to ignore the democratic will of the people? And what job does Imogen Shepherd-DuBey do for a living that gives her so much time off to protest but not enough time off to actually lead Wokingham Town Council?

Kay Moss, via email

Car park petition

I would like to provide a quick update ref Denmark Street car park.

We now have approx. 3,250 signatures and will be speaking at the next full council.

I have to say this would not have been possible without the local businesses putting in a huge effort to help me collect signatures.
I’m hoping we can all get a positive result on this and it will be a huge team effort.

So you will pardon my surprise when the latest drivel from the Liberal Democrats turns up with them protesting in front of Denmark street car park.

This is after Imogen Sheppard Dubey has continuously argued with Conservative councillors and only at the last minute signed the petition.

This has been a huge team effort but the Liberals have been playing defence on this one.

I wouldn’t mind but I emailed all town councillors asking for support and only got two replies from councillors outside of my political party.

Cllr Daniel Hinton, Wokingham Town Councillor for Evendons and leader of the Conservative group

Cleaning up

One of the last meetings I chaired on the Town Council discussed at length and agreed the need to fund cleaning of our wonderful new market place so I was both surprised and pleased to read the Lib Dems were to continue with this policy in their latest flyer proclaim that they were ‘sorting out the problems’ by looking how to fund additional cleaning.

However given this was previously all but a settled matter it seems strange that following the change in leadership to the Lib Dems, Wokingham Town Council are still ‘looking’ at anything rather than actually doing it.

What is not a surprise though is them again trying to take credit for the success of the previous council and do I hope that the Town Council will soon return to the more apolitical approach, centred on the Town as previously encouraged, and away from the scoring of cheap political points.

Dave Davies, Wokingham

Sad times

I have to say I currently feel very depressed, what with the disgrace of the political scene – no more comments other than I do hope Boris resigns for his own future good. Maybe, even better for him, telephone Mr Barnier and cancel Brexit. No Election needed!

Other members of society suffering these days, are those who fall for fraud and other rackets. May I suggest all readers never respond to any calls or visits (note the techniques of offering to collect your personal details for your bank etc., supposedly required to check for a suspect withdrawal or suspicious activity on your account).

You may ask a caller for their name, position, company, contact number and address, and tell them you will need details of their call in writing, as a starter. Give no personal data. Some hours later you may contact your bank or preferably visit your Branch.

If by ‘phone, still be very careful, keeping in mind that the telephone system can be monitored by crooks. Most mobiles appear to list callers numbers – or of course ‘no number’.

A good clue of Evil at bay.

If in doubt as to what to do, seek advice from a trusted neighbour, friend or your bank/building society – if via ‘phone use a different mobile, not one in your name.

The final sad news for me, is that the wonderful Bernard Haitink, now 90 years of age and one of the greatest Classical Conductors of my lifetime, has performed for the last time in the UK. (The Proms.) Perhaps Simon Rattle will assume Bernard’s reputation one day?

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Not another coffee shop?

Reading in The Wokingham Paper that yet another new coffee shop is to take up residence in Wokingham town centre, adding to the plethora of similar establishments in existence, I was reminded of Brenda from Bristol – remember her saying, “You’re joking, not another one?”

Afraid so Brenda, afraid so.

Are the inmates of Shute End Towers acting out of desperation?

Regeneration has descended from municipal fantasy, via a costly and egotistical comedy of errors to, inspire of their glowing claims, the Executive remaining doggedly in denial of an act of self-harm, driving residents and would-be visitors alike into the welcoming arms of other nearby shopping centres.

Now that another of the dwindling number of town centre car parks has closed and Wallis, the women’s fashion store deciding to join a string of other retailers and leave town, adding further disincentives to anyone visiting in the first place, then surely the time has come to seek other solutions.

Suggestion one: set up an out-of-town park and ride, say somewhere between Binfield and Bracknell, in fact anywhere as long as it’s inconvenient.

Suggestion two: Construct a six-lane highway through the town centre, thus achieving the council’s apparent objective in one fell swoop.

Sound daft? Certainly no more so than some of the reasoning conjured up by the often seemingly out-of-touch-with-reality powers that be.

JW Blaney, Wokingham

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Joe Blow

Can whoever is looking after Paul Clarke please make sure he starts taking his medication.