YOUR VIEWS: Readers letters as seen in The Wokingham Paper of September 26, 2019

JW Blaney Wokingham

Why I joined in with the school strikes

Rex Hora (Letters, 19th September) talks of ‘eco-warriors’ – but please let’s keep this non-violent!

With thousands of other ‘eco-worriers’ I joined the ‘school strikes’ last Friday because ‘climate emergency’ declarations are welcome but must result in plans and actions, the government 2050 ‘net zero’ target date is not ambitious enough, and much more progress on international co-operation is needed.

Rex is right that the Drax power station in Yorkshire emits more carbon dioxide by burning wood than if it had used coal, but is wrong to say that it ‘satisfies the eco-warriors’.

It receives massive subsidy to burn wood pellets, largely from trees felled in the USA, under well-meaning but now withdrawn ‘Renewables Obligation’ legislation dating from 2010. 

It has been widely criticised by environmentalists – on both climate and biodiversity grounds – for details look on the internet for ‘axe drax’.

Wood in principle can look like a ‘renewable’ resource but even in the best circumstances it will be decades before felled forests re-grow fully. We should be planting trees to keep to lockup carbon!

John Booth, Earley

Plastic bans

Very encouraging that in their battle to tackle global warming, Wokingham Borough Council is planning to ban single-use plastic. 

Will this extend to the Blue plastic waste bags, which must number in the millions over the years since implementation, and recently introduced non-biodegradable food waste bags? 

Has WBC sought to investigate the final resting place of all the rubbish collected, including plastics, as a recent TV programme showed that from some parts of the country much of rubbish can end up in Malaysian Rain Forest clearings. 

Additionally, as China refuses to take more plastic often itself contaminated with ‘the wrong type of plastic’ and Councils do not see it as their responsibility once it is collected by the waste operative and potential for criminal organisations to exploit a weak system.

Rubbish needs to be dealt with holistically with Government enforcing the standardisation of waste management, putting pressure on the packaging originators and provision of appropriate Plants to effectively deal with our rubbish within the UK.

Brian Wood, Shinfield

Speed limits

I live in Emmbrook on a stretch of the Northern distribution road (NDR) we have raised on a number of occasions raise the speeding on the realigned Toutley Road. In spite of backing by our local councillors the highway department tells us they have no budget to look at the problem. 

We have a problem created by Chris Grayling in 2016 when he was at the Ministry of Transport. 

In their wisdom, they decided that reinforcement of 30mph was no longer allowed where the street lighting is at the approved level and spacing. Reinforcement is the small repeater signs on lampposts and roundels – this is where 30mph in applied to the road. You will these elsewhere in the Borough but they are pre-2016.

Wokingham Borough Council did commission a survey on part of this road, known as Queens Road, which in my opinion is corrupted by the two site entrances into Linden and Bovis. 

When I asked under the freedom of information act what was the highest speed recorded and could I get an average speed for only on a Sunday, when there was no influence from site entrances, I was told that they had not commissioned this as part of the survey. 

While I can understand regarding Sunday, the highest speed should be a matter of course.

Also, I would suspect the company who did this survey could supply this data at a cost yet again a money issue.

Take this further I believe we are allowed Speed indication device (SID) these are the flashing signs that tell you your speed. Yet again, we run into the wall of no budget.

In short, WBC wake-up and spend the Section 106 money on real benefit of the residents not on fancy benches that could be subject to vandalised and a high cost to put it right.

I am totally fed up with our Conservative councillors (elected), the lack of control of council officers (employees) and the waste of money without thought throughout the borough.

Rod Needs, Emmbrook 

More Important than Brexit!

Seeing the young demonstrating against deadly predicted Global Warming effects, tugged at my heart-strings this past week.

How impressive to see their concerns being voiced in so many parts of the world, plus that they are addressing the very politicians we have learned to distrust and dislike, Dictators and world Leaders etc., whose interest in life as always, is power and wealth.

Recalling the Christian Hymn “Stand up! Stand up for Jesus! Ye soldiers of the cross”, words in the third verse include: “Where duty calls, or danger, Be never wanting there.”

Many of the young I mention may be demonstrating at risk where their countries may not allow such freedoms, but they are fearlessly meeting the words above.

What can I comment on Climate Change, when ‘money’ (the root of all evil) is destroying vital trees and vegetation the world over?

I admire the young ‘world leader’ Greta Thunberg from Sweden, may God bless her and help her to continue leading the battle for a more definitive attack on the causes of Global Warming.

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Moving schools

On Facebook Farley Hill Primary School made the following announcement; “I am delighted to tell you that the Governors are in discussions with WBC about the prospect of relocating the School to brand new state of the art premises, just a mile away, on the Arborfield Green site.

Several concerned parents brought this to my attention so I asked the Council if this was fact or fiction. The eventual reply I got was that we have held some exploratory discussions with Farley Hill regarding the potential expansion on the planned Arborfield Primary School site. It is unfortunate that Farley Hill have decided to communicate this before we had the opportunity to do so. We have discussed the merits of this proposal with the Lead Member and Executive. The word UNFORTUNATE sums up this council perfectly which is like mushrooms keep residents in the dark until the dirty deed is done.  

The Borough Councillor for this area is Stuart Munro who is also on the Executive so he has knowledge of this proposal. The Chairman of Wokingham Conservatives is a School Governor at Farley Hill so I would assume he has knowledge of this proposal also. The ruling Conservatives are well aware of this but the local residents know nothing and I doubt if they will until the ‘consultation’  sorry diktat like the lollypop ladies is announced. There are many such other examples where residents are not worthy of trust by the Council. 

I questioned among other points the delay is delivering the new school and the impact of moving Farley Hill School lock stock and barrel to a new school which has been designed specifically for the new residents of Arborfield Garrisons but I have been told nothing. The most galling fact was when I asked what would happen to the Farley Hill School site if this move takes place and the cynical reply I got was we have no plans for the site. I must admit I find it bizarre as the worst funded Council in England it would consider relocating a school so freeing up a prime development brownfield site and have the audacity to say we have no plans for it in our strategy. If that is the honest truth its very very irresponsible to say the least. 

I wonder what the residents of Farley Hill will feel if as expected a load of affordable or private houses are dumped on them and their ward member knew all about it but never warned them. Residents deserve certainty not innuendo and misinformation from a Council so locked into a culture of secrecy and an obvious distrust of its residents it defies belief. This Council is run by a very small clique in which even members are kept in the dark without any say-so what hope have residents got. I feel sorry for Wokingham’s Residents if this is an example of the faith the Council has in them. 

Cllr Gary Cowan, Independent Borough Councillor for Arborfield 

Short Memories

The Brass neck of some failed local Tory politicians knows no bounds. They seem to think that local Wokingham residents have short memories.

They are where they are because:

  • We had best part of two years of massive traffic chaos.
  • Wokingham Town Centre left like a bombsite for months on end.
  • Local residents ignored or put down for daring to raise concerns, often treated in an arrogant dismissive way.
  • Local Town Centre Businesses left to fend for themselves, many using their savings just to survive, unfortunately not all did.
  • Any alternative proposals shouted down. 
  • The destruction of 150-year-old Oak Trees  in Elms Field (in my view an utter disgrace)
  • Spiralling costs for Town Centre regeneration having risen from an initial estimate of £75 million to one that now exceeds £140 million
  • A substantial overspend and significant delays to the works on Market Place. (A project that was in my view one of the worst managed projects of all time)
  • Rose Street and The Paddocks car parks are both closed, despite appeals to keep at least one open.
  • and much more.

I have spoken to a number of local Town Centre Businesses and they tell me that whilst there has been an increase in business since the dark days, it has not got anywhere near the levels of business that used to occur.

They tell me that many residents have yet to return to Wokingham Town Centre. They have been told that they went elsewhere during the works and have decided to stay visiting there.

When I have gone to Town Centre I have found the Town Centre reasonably busy in the morning and until lunchtime, but very quiet in the afternoon.

I also wonder if many Wokingham residents have visited many of the new shops in the Town Centre. We have lots of Coffee Shops and Restaurants plus drinking places, but few shops that attract new visitors. Unfortunately only recently yet another established store closed.

Not all their fault I accept, but what arrogance.

Cllr Linsday Ferris, leader Wokingham Liberal Democrats, Wokingham Borough Council

Grumpy old men

​In The Wokingham Paper last week Mr Clifton chose to have a go at the current major political parties in this country, which is fair enough, they are big enough to take the comments.  But then he chose to attack the younger members of our society (‘One might understand the appeal to the young of this country’).

This is where he changed from political commentator to ‘Grumpy older man’ and to presume that the young make no good decisions in the week where many of them took the lead in the climate change campaigns worldwide was well wide of the mark as they are showing themselves to be ready to take us forward in ways that could help the planet to survive, and with their youth and enthusiasm, we might yet escape the terrible fate that could await us if we don’t make changes, and fast.

We were all young once, even you Mr Claifton, and it is grossly unfair of those of us who aren’t now quite so young in presuming we alone should decide what direction our country takes.

Paul Wassell, Wokingham

Funding nursery schools

Let’s properly fund our maintained nursery schools

Nursery schools provide much more than just childcare. High quality early years education makes a vital, positive difference to a child’s start in life and their future.

We should all be concerned at recent reports of financial pressures facing many nursery schools, including (state) maintained nursery schools (MNS). In England one third of MNS have closed since 1980.

Currently, all 392 MNS across England, educating more than 40,000 children, are rated by OFSTED as Good, or Outstanding. This includes WBC’s only MNS, at the Ambleside Centre in Woodley, rated Outstanding.

MNS work particularly closely with health and social care professionals to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families. This includes caring for more than double the national average of children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

I have written before to this paper that recent government pledges for an additional £700 million for SEND are less than half that required to compensate for the government funding shortfalls since 2015. Some supplementary funding for MNS has been secured, but these arrangements expire after 2020.

I urge people to write to the Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Children and Families, to demand that MNS receive the sufficient and sustainable increase in funding required to enable all MNS to continue their vital work, including for our children with SEND.

Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh, WBC and ETC Liberal Democrat Councillor for Hawkedon Ward

After May’s elections I had thought I would step away from the Borough Council and planning issues but have been angered about two speculative planning applications that are now going to appeal that I feel I need to get back involved.

These appeals do no favours for the residents of Wokingham and in particular Wescott Ward and take no account of our already overstretched roads.

The two applications I am referring to are the Gladman appeal for 250 new house off the Finchampstead Road and the Denmark Street car park. These appeals are made by companies who don’t care about Wokingham or the residents and are in it for one reason – profits.  

I have been working with the leader of Wokingham Borough Council – Cllr John Halsall who has confirmed we have retained a top flight QC to fight for our residents.

Every time we have to fight an appeal it costs thousands of pounds but if we are to defend these appeals we need the best advocates available.  

Enough is Enough for Wokingham and we must now fight to stop these speculators and I would ask all residents to support our fight and your community.

Cllr Julian McGhee-Sumner, Wokingham Town Councillr for Wescott East East

JW Blaney Wokingham

THE FARCE that is Brexit blunders, it seems, on and on and on. 

Everyone, for, against or undecided, has strongly held, differing opinions to which, in our much-prized democracy, they are perfectly entitled. 

However, no matter on which side of the fence we may stand, there is one thing upon which we can all surely agree: our politicians, whatever their persuasion, have left, right and centre, shamed themselves and their office, while, from the very outset, cynically betrayed those who were elected to represent. 

The one real casualty of the ya-boo jiggery-pokery sleight of hand politicking has and continues to be, the seemingly overlooked once Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Now reduced in the eyes of much of the rest of the world to something of an international joke. 

So it was a pleasant relief to see so many local residents, their families and visitors enjoying and taking part in celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of Wokingham Market on Saturday, September 14. 

Clearly a great deal of planning and effort on the part of organisers, traders and entertainers alike had been put into the staging and success of the event, which for one, short, sunny autumn day took our minds off the chaos of B****t.

J W Blaney, Wokingham

A nation of animal lovers

With almost half of adults owning a pet, Britain is truly a nation of animal lovers – and the benefits are clear. New research shows that 83 per cent of pet owners in the UK believe their animals help reduce their stress levels and improve their emotional wellbeing.

However, few people are aware that working animals are vitally important to the health and survival of people in the world’s poorest communities. These horses, donkeys, camels and other animals help provide millions of impoverished families with a basic income for food, transport to hospital, and other necessities for life, such as water and firewood.

Just like pet owners in the UK, the owners of working animals would be lost without their animals. But hardworking animals in developing countries often have no access to vital veterinary treatment when they are sick or injured.

This World Animal Day (4 October), I’m asking everyone to recognise the value and importance of every single animal, be they the ones we share our homes with, or working animals overseas that support the livelihoods of over half a billion people worldwide.

Please help us to give working animals the care they so desperately need by visiting

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive,
SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

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