Opinion

What Wokingham thinks: Your letters February 22, 2018

Our bin men are heroes

Re: “Food Waste Collections from 2019” The Wokingham Paper, February 18.

Even as I write, local magpies, foxes and other scavengers are hurriedly organising protest meetings and forming cross species working groups, squabbling incoherently like Brexit ministers to consider how best to deal with the threat presented by the proposed new fangled 23 litre kerbside waste containers to be introduced next year.

Angered by the fact that, rather than as they are at present, able to gain access to a cornucopia of favourite tit bits by simply pecking or gnawing into flimsy blue plastic bags, they will in future find their way barred by sturdy sealed containers, preventing them from selecting their favourite morsels.

No doubt however, in spite of precautions likely to be taken by the powers that be, our feathered and furry friends will find some ingenious method of circumnavigating the problem, thus enabling them to continue enjoying free weekly helpings of our leftovers, leaving the residue of their spoils scattered around and about our pavements and garden paths.

Seriously though, the subject does provide an opportunity to recognise the work of our waste disposal teams whose less than glamorous task is all too often taken for granted.

Regularly, in all winds and weather, they like so many other unsung heroes provide an essential service vital to us all and for which we should be grateful.

J W Blaney, Wokingham

Now’s the time to plan for Winter Carnival

Can l through your columns please invite our residents, organisations and commercial businesses to join us again this year on November 25 to make this the best Winter Carnival for years to celebrate our new Town Centre?

We start our planning this month for this year’s Carnival, and at this early stage we are seeking interested parties to agree to join the parade of vehicles and floats going through the town in the late afternoon of Sunday, November 25.

If you own vehicles that you are willing for organisations to use, please contact us.

If your organisation has had floats before, please join us again this year (we will assist in pairing vehicles to organisations.)

If you have never had a float to promote your organisation or business, then please do so this year.

If you have never had a stall before, to participate in the biggest event of the year, please write to the email address below.

If you feel you want to help with the event organisation, then please contact us, by joining our very professional team of volunteers.

If you simply want to bring the family on the day to enjoy the stalls, entertainment, and parade, then please mark SUNDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2018 in your diaries, we shall look forward to welcoming all our residents.

To be involved, contact me please by email to: chairman.wintercarnival@gmail.com

I very much look forward to hearing from everyone interested in being a part of this marvellously unique Wokingham Carnival event.

Philip Mirfin

Chairman,

Wokingham Winter Carnival

Traffic planning

I left the Council Chamber on the January 29, feeling elated by an agreement to set up a cross party working group  in response to the superb petition from a resident Clive Chafer.

Clive deserves our gratitude and thanks for his very well supported petition (over 2,200 signatures) which highlighted the lack of highway capacity planned for the extra houses coming our way.

Clive saw the bigger longer term picture which is the chaos that will evolve as more and more houses are built but the roads are not improved to meet the demand.

Running in parallel to this is the shorter term chaos caused by all the ongoing roadworks along with the town centre regeneration.

It seems that no thought goes into work programmes that minimise disruption to residents by the use of those awful words forward planning or putting residents first.

It’s as if in Traffic  Chaos HQ  at Shute End  the view is  residents don’t matter but developers do.

I set off from Sheerlands Road on Arborfield Garrison today to go to Barkham Post Office  and after three sets of roadworks and three sets of traffic lights I eventually got there.

I purchased The Wokingham Paper to read over a cuppa on my return only to read that the Mole Road was to be closed for nine days to repair a culvert.

Needless to say the diverted route was via the traffic lights at Langley Common Road and Barkham Bridge.

Only an idiot would plan that as a diversion.

Not one ounce of thought has gone into planning this  and my elation at the outcome of the petition on Wokingham’s traffic woes  quickly evaporated.

If one also reads the many letters over months which show the damage being done to Wokingham’s  traders who are being bled to death by the so called regeneration works to read the heading on page 5 council plans to raise car parking charges in March it makes one think does this Conservative run council give a hoot about residents using our roads or traders trading in the town.

The brutal truth is they don’t.

Cllr Gary Cowan, independent member for Arborfield at Wokingham Borough Council

Car parking charges

I was extremely disappoint by the journalist standards of the Editor in his coverage of the proposal to change a single price he converts this to imply a wide scale across the board “car parking prices to rise” (front page, February 15).

He then compounds this error in the article on  page 5 in his article where he quotes the two and four hours and later 10 hour charges.

The final misleading article is in the editorial column on page 15 where the council is berated about “parking charges are increasing in the day”.

So let me explain the truth.

The only charge which is being increased is  the one hour charge from 70p to 80p in all but two car parks where the increase is 40p to 50p of the non Woodley car parks for a 12 months trial.

The two-hour, four-hour, six-hour and 10 hour charges are totally unchanged.

In fact they have been exactly the same for the last 10 years.

To offset that increase the evening and Sunday charges will be suspended for the duration of the trial.

I do not understand why the editor did not approach me to clarify this as it is clear that he has got it totally wrong.

So in summary NO CHANGE on all daytime charges which have remained the same since 2008 other than the one hour where it has gone up from 70p to 80p. The evening and Sunday charges will also be removed.

After 12 months the impact of this trial will be evaluated and the appropriate action taken.

Cllr Keith Baker

Executive Member for Highways & Transport

Coronation Ward, Woodley

Editor notes: We approached Wokingham Borough Council for a comment on the proposals and this was included in the article. Cllr Baker did correspond with us in the preparation of the piece. As the first line of the story makes clear – “Car parking charges across the borough are to be shaken up next month, with the axing of evening and Sunday fees, but an increase in daytime rates” – car park charges are increasing in the day across borough-owned car parks, so the headline and the story are accurate.

Is there another way than felling the oaks?

Cllr Imogen Shepherd DuBey in Elms Field

Over the weekend I visited Elms Field to look at the tree works that had been happening there.

It was very clear that some very large, prominent Oak trees had been cut down. These trees were in a public park and had been part of our town for over two centuries. There is no way that they could be replaced in my life time, our children’s lifetime or our grandchildren’s lifetime.

So, for what purpose have we lost these healthy mature trees? Well, it seems they are to be replaced with a supermarket and a reasonably priced hotel.

I want to see our town develop and grow, but at what cost will this be to our community? Why couldn’t our developers be a little more creative in their design and help us preserve this part of our heritage that must have been with us for generations? I, for one, do not believe that destroying our heritage is the price we should be paying for progress.

Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey

Liberal Democrat Wokingham Borough Councillor for Emmbrook Ward

What planet are you on?

Cllr Stuart Munro, in The Wokingham Paper, said how exciting it was to start on Elms Field and there would be little or no impact.

What planet are you on?

You are certainly not on the residents of Wokingham’s planet.

The impact is as such as ruining our town, building on our natural spaces, cutting down our old Windsor Forest oaks and other trees and, above all, starting the work at the time of the nesting season.

Already birds are building nests. A lot of our birds are in distress and need help, not destruction.

You also said that more restaurants, a cinema, parks and supermarket here on Elms Field are coming. Have you not noticed that our town is full of restaurants, nail parlours, estate agents and little else.

And don’t forget the pubs.

Other than a few shops that are brave enough to stay including the market stalls, there is little else.

As I have written before, we will become Bracknell the second.

Our town’s character will be lost for ever and cannot be reversed, thanks to this council.

Half of the council do not live here and do not care. Shame on you.

This so-called regeneration of Wokingham looks to be a terrible mistake.

To see what is happening around us is heartbreaking. I know I am not alone in this feeling. I am very angry.

H Boyed, Wokingham

The scandal of Oxfam

The scandal, in Oxfam, has brought to a head something that as long been the case – that the Charity Commission should keep a much tighter rein on national charities, and on how they spend public money.

I used to make a monthly subscription to Oxfam. Not any more, I don’t!

I recall going into their shop in Bracknell – asking if they were active in Haiti, and putting extra money in – for the earthquake’s victims. They WERE active in Haiti! If I had known that my money would pay for their staff’s prostitutes, I would have collapsed, from shock, in their shop!

When I was a Trustee, on the National Executive of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, one of my duties was to ‘approve’ their draft accounts, before they were published.

I disapproved, resigned, and complained to the Charity Commission! They had spent £1 million – on salaries, cars, and pensions – for their top-heavy staff – who did nothing but sit around, talking.

They had spent practically nothing on actual services, for schizophrenics, and their families – which was their, constitutional, reason for existence. One of the items in the Accounts, that was listed under ‘Expenditure’, was ‘£25,000 – Sundries’! I enquired of them, sarcastically, whether they ran to solid gold paper-clips, and diamond encrusted coffee cups? Twenty-five thousand pounds would run the crisis house for years. Their paid staff, sat around, talking – while their volunteers did the work!

One, handsomely paid, employee – who was leaving after five years’ ‘service’- was given a leaving-present of £2,000!

It should have been a £5 book token!

The Charity Commission upheld my complaint, but said that, by Law, they could only interfere in charities, if ‘Breach of Trust’, [actually stealing the money], could be demonstrated. I consider that paying people to sit around talking, and giving them £2,000 – as leaving presents – IS stealing the public’s money, but this is not the case, in Law. The Charity Commission needs to have wider legal powers.  

To survive, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship re-invented itself – as RETHINK, and did, at least, then, start to provide some tangible services.

Now, look at National MIND. I have seen their collection boxes – in shops, and in the Post Office in Bracknell.

Where does that money actually go, and what is it spent on? MIND has no services whatsoever in Berkshire, and yet it is the people of Berkshire who are putting their money into those boxes.

MIND has a charity shop – on the Oxford Road in Reading. The money, raised there, must go to MIND’s national office. It can’t be funding MIND services in Reading. There aren’t any!

No doubt it is much easier to keep tabs on little, local, charities – like ours. Anyone who makes a donation to the Crisis House, can walk in, at any time, and see how we are spending their money. They can ask the people, directly, ‘What do they do for you?’

We never spend the public’s money on anything other than the mentally ill – unless it is on our animals – and they are with us only because they are therapeutic, and help to relieve mental distress. They earn their keep! The mentally ill love them!

One of our volunteers has served with me, faithfully, for 40 years! In that time, I have, probably stood him a couple of drinks! I haven’t given him a brass farthing of the charity’s money – not even for the petrol he uses when visiting people for us. By contrast, he makes regular donations to our charity.

That is what I call dedication.

I don’t believe in having paid staff, [who are, often, failed social workers], in charities, and, as I have told them, ‘I joined the Mental Health Movement because I had a strong vocation to improve life for the mentally ill and their families, and NOT because I had a strong vocation, to pay for your cars!’

Pam Jenkinson,
The Wokingham Crisis House

Slime!

There are a number of definitions, but one suits my letter – that is ‘Moral Filth’. As you will see. Slugs and Snails are excluded.

Think of the financial world and the evils it is solely responsible for, and hence the slime I mention.

Reading this weekend of young divorcee 51-year-old Leonie Morris, who succumbed to a financial fraudster and lost all her £400,000 savings, I have to comment ‘can anyone trust anyone’ involved in the financial world? I certainly do not!

I spent a short while training to be a Financial Adviser 30 years ago, and passed an Examination to be certified (maybe I should have been certified in another sense!).

It was a racket even in those days, fuelled by commission, and very quickly I learned that whereas I entered the business to act as an honest purveyor of advice, there was no role for the likes of me!

Back to Leonie, I would like to see the PM ban all and any finance related approaches to people other than via a Bank or established Adviser in writing. They should have been subjected to at least the equivalent of a CRB check and have proven financial resources that via an insurance system is capable of full refunds. As per the Pensions Protection Fund.

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Let’s raise Parkinson’s awareness

In recent weeks we have heard an alarming number of stories about people with Parkinson’s being misunderstood or mistreated by the staff of public-facing businesses across the UK.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time.

Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, but the main symptoms are tremor (shaking), slowness of movement, and rigidity (muscle stiffness). Other symptoms can also include depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia.

Lack of public understanding can make simple things like getting the bus, paying at a checkout or even going for a coffee with friends daunting for people with Parkinson’s.

To make matters worse, Parkinson’s UK research shows one in every four people have had their condition confused for drunkenness, and one in ten have been laughed at in public due to their symptoms.

We also know that one in three people with Parkinson’s have felt the need to cover up their symptoms, because they’re not seen as socially acceptable. This is completely unacceptable. It’s time to change.

Parkinson’s UK has created a free and easily accessible Parkinson’s in your workplace training package and, via an open letter, the charity is calling on all businesses to roll out the training and make sure their staff understand Parkinson’s and can support their customers’ needs.

To join the campaign and call for businesses to better understand Parkinson’s, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/UFP

Together we can raise awareness and make society more understanding of Parkinson’s.

Steve Ford, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK, London

Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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