READERS’ LETTERS: As seen in Wokingham.Today of January 14, 2021

Picture: Andrys via Pixabay

Relentless as floodwater

Covid-19 is relentless as floodwater.

It will enter through any crack it can find, flooding your home, damaging your livelihood and endangering your life. Anyone who has experienced a flood knows that the battle to restrain flood water is a constant battle until after the rain has stopped.

For Covid-19, the battle can only end once sufficient numbers are fully vaccinated. So, why does this government KEEP giving up the battle, creating new vectors of transmission, every time progress is made? In a flood, you’d never turn off the pump as the water level just started going down because the pump was noisy.

The answer is easy. This government continues to follow a flawed strategy that prioritises business over the public health. But there can never be a stable economy while human activity is destabilised by uncontrolled contagion.

Sensible countries like Australia, South Korea and New Zealand have pursued a “zero Covid” containment strategy which has saved lives AND stabilised the economy.

This government’s strategy is … what? It most obviously is NOT to protect everyone from falling ill or to keep the R rate to 0.

It is manifestly not “following the science” as loudly as ministers would repeat that claim.

No, it is a strategy of catastrophe-avoidance where “near full” hospitals and hundreds of deaths per day are deemed an acceptable price for maximising trade.

Because of this ghoulish strategy, we ended a national lockdown on December 3, just as the R rate dipped below 1.0. Just like the inevitability of floodwater, the PM accepted the inevitable increase of cases that would occur.

He ignored the newly identified strain of the virus and put London and our area into Tier 2, creating an immediate and dramatic spike in cases.

As cases rose, inept ministers encouraged shopping and fought short-handed schools to remain open. In just one month, London and our region were back in Tier 4 lockdown, followed shortly by a national lockdown because… catastrophe loomed again as hospitals reached breaking point.

This is not a game. On one day last week, more than 1,300 people died from the virus. It will be worse before it is better. I plead with everyone reading to take this virus seriously and curtail your public activities as much as possible. Like flood water, this virus will find a way to disrupt your life unless we aggressively and persistently act to contain it. More strategically, I encourage you to join me in writing your MP to demand a change in government policy – demanding a zero Covid strategy.

We must have competent ministerial decisions, where loosening of restrictions occurs only AFTER the R rate and case numbers are so extremely low that they can be contained by our testing and tracing capability.

No more policies based on bravado, wishful assessments of our capabilities and dependent on luck. The alternative is as obvious as floodwater in a rainstorm is as inevitable as our current re-lockdown, and as serious as the death toll.

Tom Ross, address supplied

Yes, new roundabout plan is unsafe

I read with interest the letter in the paper from Councillors Sarah Kerr and Maria Gee in reference to the planning application (203535) for the new roundabout at Molly Millars Lane and Finchampstead Road.

I decided to take a look at the planning application as I struggled to believe that the Borough Council’s highways team would submit a design that independent safety auditors said was unsafe.

I am shocked to find that Cllrs Kerr and Gee are correct.

Not only that, but the Council are trying to say that no one uses the pedestrian crossing, which is completely untrue, as the steady stream of non-lockdown lunchtime foot traffic between Molly Millars’ businesses and Tesco testifies.

I too am concerned about the lack of walking and cycling infrastructure.

I use that junction as a car driver and a pedestrian and used to use it as a cyclist before I gave up cycling some years ago due to safety concerns, and am therefore very aware of the safety of cyclists.

The Council’s proposal is not safe, at a time when it should be imperative for them to give people the option of zero-emissions travel for the sake of our environment and the quality of the air that we breathe.

The pavements at this junction remain incredibly narrow in places, which is worrying for parents who have children walking to school, and the only cycling provision is a small continuation of the shared walking and cycle path on Molly Millars Lane.

These are not ideal as they can lead to conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, and the government has asked councils to not install them. This will particularly be the case when e-scooters are approved.

I also struggle to understand why all this money is being spent on making a roundabout a bit bigger while the narrow, low bridges are not being tackled. How does making a roundabout a bit bigger accommodate the vehicles from 2,500 houses when this section of road is already congested?

I will be submitting my comments and hope that others do too.

Ian Shenton, Wokingham

Climate change

Who is taking climate change seriously? It seems like neither the council or opposition are.

A Winnersh councillor has just asked residents to sign a petition for the removal of a very well used Zebra crossing on King Street Lane. They deem it dangerous and want pedestrians to use the nearby new crossroads. These crossroads take an age to cross.

I have lived here for 32 years and the Zebra crossing has been here most of that time. There has never been a pedestrian hit by a car on it. The new crossroads has been in place less than two years and a child was hit by a car on it while trying to cross and needed to go to hospital by ambulance.

May I suggest the cars are now very inconvenienced by the Zebra because they see a green light at the crossroads and are prevented from going forward by pedestrians crossing.

This is a very busy road with constant queues. These car drivers are very likely to sign the petition.

This kind of change will make pedestrians journeys slower making it less likely for them to continue walking.

Bridget Hobbs, Wokingham

The good and some bad

I received my first jab on Saturday at the Bradbury Centre in Wokingham – what a pleasure.

I say that because the Centre was so well organised, with pleasant and professional staff, so it’s thanks to all who gave their time to help us. We didn’t need our troops after all.

Since my letter last week regarding the Pfizer Vaccine, there has been many a condemnation of the government’s proposal to disobey the manufacturer’s requirements for treatment, including the WHO.

Before leaving the Bradbury Centre, I was given a statement saying I will receive two injections 21 days apart.

I call that a ‘contract’ – let’s see!

Turning to the frightening spread of the virus, I think we need to call in HM Forces to take over from the police.

The Derby Force I think it was, fined two young ladies out in the wilds because they had a drink in their hands – classed by the police as food?

Is this the way the country is going to prepare for ‘1984’ dictatorship?

My second reaction was ‘why were these police not where they should have been? Where all the idiots who ignore the regulations are – as in Wokingham – in the town and supermarkets.

Welsh readers will be pleased that advice from Wales on the 9th makes more sense than anything uttered on Hancock’s ‘half hour’.

With supermarkets, they want “to make sure they are policed in a way that allows people not to be bumping into one another and that when people come to the checkout it is carefully organised to help people’s safety in the workplace as well.” I would add ‘only single shoppers allowed and that they are policed by police’.

That leaves town centres local roads and parks – we desperately need police presence all day to discipline the disgraceful behaviour we see. I suggest 20 police would be a good idea.

Perhaps one final word – please everyone – find out what 2 metres is and stick to it! Wear a mask at all times, and keep the separation distance from all others.

We MUST stop spreading the virus.

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Thank you

Thank you to the clinicians, numerous unsung volunteers and others who planned, organised and implemented the Wokingham Medical Centre coronavirus vaccination clinics at the Bradbury Centre – cheerful, patient and efficient, heroes of another kind, all carried out “Operation Covid” with military precision and helpful good humour.

John W Blaney, Wokingham

Excellent organisation

I was a little sceptical about whether we would be included quickly in the promised roll out of the covid vaccination even though we are both in our 80s.

We were amazed at the excellent organisation at the delivery point at The Bradbury Centre in Wokingham.

From the phone call three days before the date – courteous and clear – the timing – four minutes before the hour and four minutes after the hour.

Reassurance that parking would be available and marshalled ; and the smooth, unhurried journey via checks about names.

To our separate arrival at a table with two people – one on a computer and the other kindly helping to remove clothing and administer the ‘jab’.

We were given a small card to show we had received the ‘jab ‘ which we need to bring with us when we return for the second one; we will be notified of date and time.

We were then ushered to an area- where we were asked to fill in a form while we waited for 15 minutes in specially distanced seating with a timed ‘label’ to say when we could leave.

We were on our way home within 20 minutes of our appointed time.

We were a little early.

No queues. No hassle.

No irritation!

Whoever organised the situation and the number of helpers deserve a real ‘pat on the back. Well done.

Nina Preston, Wokingham

Stamp appeal

I collected used stamps to help rescue animals. If anyone has any spare used stamps that we can use to help them, please forward them to: Stamp Donations, Mrs D Ashton, 66 Highbank, RoeLee, Blackburn, Lancashire BB1 9SX.

High standards

Having had the misfortune to have been at the so-called Wokingham Borough Councils Standards Committee meeting on Monday night when it transpired that a residents public question was not properly answered and seemed to be heading for the long grass to be dumped long with our illustrious Lollypop Ladies and other past residents’ petitions.

The Chairman was the Leader of the Council and he would not answer the supplementary question but offered a written reply. Thanks to a point of order from Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey the question was debated.

It transpired that according to the council’s constitution, the committee must comprise “six elected members of Wokingham Borough Council, and only one of those elected can be a member of the executive”.

It also states “the leader of the council is not entitled to be a member of the Standards Committee”.

This Standards Committee was chaired by the Council leader with two fellow Executive Members. The other two were the Deputy leader and the Executive Member responsible for the evolving local plan (house building in the borough). A powerful trio.

According to the Council Leader nobody, including officers and opposition councillors, had spotted that the committee was in contravention of the council’s constitution until last night, adding that its current make-up had been in place for 21 months.

It raises a series of questions/concerns starting with was this a blatant abuse of the Constitution by the ruling administration or was it a genuine mistake?

Whatever the view is I am of the opinion that the matter must be subject to an inquiry by an independent outside body. I have asked the Chief Executive this exact question. Openness and Transparency or what?

It also raises another point and that is does it invalidate all the past decisions made by this committee over 21 months or not?

Should they all be revisited?

Are there any other ‘DODGY’ committees?

I was offended when in Wokingham.Today, the leader of the Council tried to put the blame on others for missing the constitutional breaches.

By his comment that all decisions made by the Committee had been ratified by a previous full council meeting, with no concerns raised is putting the boot into all 54 Councillors. Am I surprised? NO.

I am personally happy to put up my hand to missing that constitutional breach but what he fails to understand is that as members we rely on our leader, executive and senior officers to guide us.

For the leader to try and dump this on to all the other members is an outrage.

Cllr Gary Cowan, Independent Borough Councillor for Arborfield at Wokingham Borough Council

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Views expressed in this section are not necessarily those of the paper.

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