READERS’ LETTERS: As seen in Wokingham.Today of January 28, 2021


Don’t send me to Slough for my vaccination

I have lived in Crowthorne since 1965, and will be 80 in June, when a birthday celebration has been planned. I live alone, but had two daughters, both of whom live in the Wokingham area.

I have been reading of the so-called successful introduction of the covid vaccination programme in our area and was delighted to receive a letter from the Bristol NHS officer inviting me to book an online appointment to have both jabs.

I entered the required details including my postcode and was advised that my appointment could be either 7pm or 8pm in 10 days time on a Friday evening at a location in Church Crookham, a village between Fleet and Farnham.

I decided not to proceed as I needed something nearer.

The next day, I tried again and was offered an appointment in Slough, which is the last place I would wish to visit at the present time, due to their high infection rate.

I also tried the following day and was offered the Slough location again, or Wembley Arena, Epsom racecourse or various locations
in the London postal area, all of which I refused to proceed with.

Imagine my surprise when I read in your paper of all the local services being provided in the Wokingham area, when my Crowthorne postcode is sending me to Slough, Wembley, Epsom or London.

I have decided to wait until my GP surgery makes contact with me, but goodness knows when or where that will be.

The other surgery in Crowthorne is sending their patients to be vaccinated in Birch Hill, Bracknell.

I assume NHS Bristol has no geographical knowledge of the area, hence the postcode lottery of the arrangements being offered.

I now fear that I will be unable to have my two injections before my birthday celebrations in June, which will need to be cancelled.

Terry Sparkes, Crowthorne

An Open Letter to Cllr Murray

Dear Cllr Murray,

Following on from my question at full council about air pollution, I wanted to follow up as I am disappointed to hear you say that targets have not been set for tackling air pollution in the borough. 

The borough has an air quality action plan which should set these targets but focuses predominantly on one pollutant – nitrogen dioxide (NO2). 

The report quite rightly states that there is a “link between air quality, particularly from PM2.5, and public health in the Borough requires exploration and this has been set as one of the priorities,” but since the action plan was written, nothing has been done about this. 

It took the Liberal Democrat motion last autumn to get this on to the agenda and get a commitment to monitoring these fine particles.

I was amazed that several members of the council chamber thought we already monitored PM2.5s when we’ve never done it despite how deadly they are. 

As you know, PM2.5s are solid particles that penetrate deep into the body, entering the blood stream. 

Depending on what they are made of, many are classed as carcinogenic. 

Air pollution is the number one environmental cause of premature death, with 80% of those deaths attributable to PM2.5s alone. 

Personally, in the last 10 months, I have had to say goodbye to two members of my family and two friends who have all sadly passed away from cancer.  This does not mean it was solely air pollution that caused their cancers, but we would have a lot less pain and suffering from diseases like this if we tackled air pollution effectively. 

The recent Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) report demonstrate that the number one cause of death in the borough is cancer, and we are above regional and national averages for young children being hospitalised for respiratory tract infections. 

Air pollution shortens people’s lives and makes those lives more uncomfortable due to chronic illnesses. 

You asked me for my input on what our local targets should be, and I am requesting that we take the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

While the WHO admits that there is no threshold where no damage to health is observed, it recommends that for PM2.5s, a maximum annual mean of 10 µg/m3 is used.  There is a huge amount of data and information that supports the WHO recommendation, and
I strongly urge you to instruct the council to adopt this target. 

Kind regards,

Cllr Sarah Kerr, Liberal Democrat Member for Evendons, Wokingham Borough Council 

The Black Boy Pub

I have never been in the Black Boy Pub but am aware where it is.

I was astonished when I read in Wokingham.Today that the powers that be who engineer political correctness which has got completely out of hand, want to rename this pub. I wonder if any readers realise that the name is meant to mean a ‘chimney sweep boy’.

After all the Water Babies were renowned in this area.

I expect they will feel a bit stupid when they realise the meaning of The Black Boy.

Keep the name for goodness sake and forget political correctness.

Moira MacDougall, Wokingham

The name was called after a chimney sweep boy I have been told. Nothing to do with political correctness.

Douglas MacDougall, Wokingham


Love the first line of  Page 3 article New Area Commander to Start in Wokingham: “Thieves beware, there is a new sheriff in town.”


Merve Buston, Wokingham

Where are you going?

When out for a walk last Sunday afternoon at about 3pm I could not help noticing the level of traffic in Wokingham’s London Road.

 It was almost at the volume one would expect on a normal non-Covid Sunday – much higher than should have been the case during the current lockdown. 

The rules say that one should only leave home for essential travel such as food shopping; even going for exercise should be undertaken close to home on foot.  So where were all these people going?

It would be very interesting to know how many of those cars were occupied by people in breach of the lockdown regulations.

Stephen Smith, Wokingham

Cheerful by the streams

The headline on page 8 of last week’s Wokingham Today, really gave me a ‘reason to be cheerful’.

As residents of Wokingham since 1960 we have often had reason to be sad about some of the aspects of our ‘town’ but the Emmbrook and Riverside walk has become a favourite place to ‘exercise’ especially during lockdown.

We have often wondered and wished we could do something about the very aspect which makes it enjoyable and interesting, namely the apparent lack of care for the various shrubs and fruiting bushes that line, and sometimes invade, the walking paths

Of course, we also remember the times that the ‘brook’ flooded and the difficulty that the flooding imposed on travel (on one occasion we had to drive to Winnersh Crossoads, and back along Bearwood Road and down Barkham Road to get back from taking our young grandchild to the Swimming Pool because Meadow Road and Barkham Road bridges were flooded) and we remember the owners of the houses which suffered great difficulty because of the flood.

I do believe that the Brook has since been dredged though in places it still looks very overgrown.

Two years ago we were able to walk a circular ‘tour’ which took us past a hidden pool. Sadly at the time it did not smell very nice.

The tarmacked paths are helpful for walking, being carefully laid and therefore not difficult for dodgy hips and legs to travel, unlike many pavements which have been dug up and ‘repaired’ with apparent little care as walking on them can be fraught with ankle twisting, variable levels.

It provides a welcome break from ‘staying at home’ and cheerful greetings from similarly employed people, who smile and wave is also uplifting.

Everyone takes care to keep us all officially ‘distanced’.

So the news that a project ‘to breathe life back into the waterway’ is music to our ears.

We just hope that the part of the Emmbrook which runs alongside Riverside Walk is included in the South East Rivers Trust Plans and that we will still be around to enjoy it.

Nina Preston, Wokingham

Speaking up

As a close neighbour of Swallows Meadow, the proposed site for a supermarket and 40 homes in Lower Earley on land designated by Wokingham Borough Council as countryside I am carefully monitoring the campaign to protect this precious green space.

I thank Wokingham.Today for their ongoing coverage.

Residents and the three Liberal Democrat Borough Councillors for the Ward are campaigning together very effectively: lobbying hard, organising petitions, using social media, they have already delivered leaflets, and are preparing to robustly challenge the expected planning application.

Last week, Liberal Democrat councillor Clive Jones was aptly quoted by your paper as one of the ward councillors who local residents recognise as having been at the forefront of the campaign.

However, I was surprised to also see lengthy quotes from Norman Jorgensen, prospective Conservative candidate for a different Ward in the May elections.

I was pleased that Mr Jorgensen stated his opposition to the proposed development, but surprised, as he seems to have been rather quiet on the matter in the three months since the campaign began.

There are so many reasons why what has already happened to Swallows Meadow and the proposed development are wrong.

Perhaps Mr Jorgensen might explain what he has done to support this campaign, and when he did it. I find it hard to discover, apart from the quotes in your newspaper, if he has done anything over the last three months.

Larry Godfrey, Lower Earley

Many Happy Returns? No!

I refer to Virus vaccinations – when all those who attended the Bradbury Centre on January 9, should be meeting next weekend for our second promised Pfizer dose.

Now Joe Biden is US President, when he stated ‘national Health Policy’ will not be influenced by politicians, I thought he must have been watching the UK’s example of ignoring the medical profession.

Many of our doctors and the BMA, believe we should adhere to the Pfizer treatment, and are ignoring the politicians where they are able to.

We have to keep reminding ourselves of the lack of any evidence or test results that support any change to the treatment pattern defined by Pfizer, plus the risks to our fight against the virus are unknown.

Do a risk assessment to pass the time!

One difficulty we the public cannot understand, is the policy of ensuring everyone gets a first jab.

This is an appealing idea until you do the risk assessment.

There is no prediction of the effect of not having the second Pfizer jab in terms of the possible rapidly declining first jab protection.

That could lead to the farcical scenario whereby there could be an increase in cases involving first jab-only patients, and a decline for those being given a first jab! Until they also then become less protected!

While having a good whinge, I am appalled at our MPs who apart from costing us I believe a quarter of £1m per annum each, seem to sit back and do little. I wonder why?

They can so easily get their heads together and influence where we are going – well outside the Hancock and now Tony Blair’s clique?

By the way, does anyone know if we tax payers are rewarding Tony Blair for his ‘so-valuable’ input?

In closing, there are still far too many people in our area ignoring the spacing and protection rules – especially important in local streets with narrow sidewalks – although the town centre is the best place to spread the virus if that’s what you like doing!

Perhaps one day we may get enough policing of public behaviour – but that’s a dream I feel.

Lastly, runners should get nowhere near pedestrians – and in my view should be made to keep at least three metres away from us.

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Have focus on lockdown

I would like to bring to the public’s attention the flagrant flouting of the law in the Wokingham area (and the whole country) by the Liberal Democrats.

Government guidelines state the single most important action is to stay at home to protect the NHS and by definition, every one of us.

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a reasonable excuse. This is the law.

There are various sections and under ‘Volunteering’ it states: You can leave home to provide Voluntary or Charitable Services.

Any idiot knows that Voluntary Services means working for Link Visiting Scheme, Homeless Charities, Mental Health Organisations, Church Groups.

Not delivering political newspapers.

The Liberal Democrats’ website advises its activists: “The WHO has concluded there is ‘very little risk’ of spreading the virus on paper, especially where the leaflets signpost local residents to Covid support.

The Liberal Democrats decided to ‘bend’ the rules by intimating delivering newspapers was ‘exempt’ (can’t find that anywhere on any Government website) and that delivering these newspapers was a ‘service’.

In the latest Focus there is no mention of Covid support and ‘what to do’. Litter Pickers were thanked for delivering.

So with all these Lib Dems traipsing the streets it is very clear they are prepared to ‘risk’ spreading a ‘little risk’ rather than ensuring no risk.

Jackie Rance, Conservative candidate for Shinfield South

Higher standards

There is a certain irony in Wokingham’s Conservatives who preach tolerance and democracy but are the least tolerant and democratic when it comes to anyone who challenges their political and ideological dogma as last week’s council meeting showed.

The Council Leader having found out for chairing an improperly constituted Standards Committee which he had done for the last 19 months tried to put the blame on all and sundry but himself.

But rightly or wrongly when the Leader was then challenged again on disregarding another part of the Constitution at Council the Conservatives were allowed to get away with it again.

So where is the Red Line Drawn with our Constitution?

Does it mean that the ruling Conservative Party now has the Authority to ignore any protocol they don’t agree with?

It would seem so.

A point the Leader of the Council missed is the Constitutional Review Working Group consists of himself, his deputy and another member of his Executive and the fourth Member is a Lib Dem so he has the ability to make any changes to the constitution he wants.

How democratic is that?

The politburo in Russia might learn a lesson or two from Wokingham’s Conservatives.

Finally when the Labour Group brought a superb motion to Council on Climate Emergency all the Conservatives present (except the Mayor and his Deputy who abstained) voted it down.

The motion was simply that the Council should commission a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Emergency.

The Conservative argument was quite simply it wanted nothing to do with citizens having any say in their business.

Why? I have no idea but residents involved well that’s a definite NO NO to the Conservatives it would seem.

Whether local elections are held in May or later in the year I hope our residents do not forget what Wokingham’s Conservatives think of them.

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

A difficult year

2020 was a difficult year for everyone.

Though there is hope on the horizon, starting 2021 in lockdown is not how most people wanted to ring in the New Year.

It’s understandable that many of us are feeling down and in need of a little extra emotional support.

The situation is especially challenging for the more than two million people in the UK living with sight loss.

Many have faced anxiety, sadness and even fear about the unique challenges they have experienced – such as problems social distancing, difficulty shopping without guidance and isolation from losing tactile contact with friends and family during lockdown.

That’s why the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) launched Emergency Mental Health Sessions for local blind and partially sighted people in October.

The sessions are completely free and offer people with sight loss the opportunity to speak to a counsellor for an hour over the phone about however they are feeling and any problems that are on their mind. It doesn’t have to be about their sight at all.

We know that the next few months might be tough for many, so we want to remind you that RNIB is here to help. If you or someone you know could benefit from speaking to someone, please call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

We can set up a chat within 36 hours and the service can be used as many times as needed.

No one with sight loss has to suffer on their own.

Blind and partially sighted people deserve the same expectation of mental wellbeing as everyone else. That’s why RNIB will always be here.

Thank you.

Amanda Hawkins, Specialist Lead for Counselling and Wellbeing at RNIB

We love to hear from you! Send us your views on issues relating to the borough (in 250 words or less) to letters@wokinghampaper.co.uk

We reserve the right to edit letters.

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

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