Wokingham.Today

READERS’ LETTERS: As seen in Wokingham.Today of November 12, 2020

In this week's readers' letters, one reader addresses fly tipping in Wokingham. Picture: Sue Corcoran

Fly-tipping is tempting unless the price is right

On October 29 you reported that the council decreed that fly-tipping is irresponsible and they queried whether it was more prevalent lately because people were at home more or because they had limited access to the tip.

On November 5, you reported that the council would crackdown on fly tipping, “we are watching” and “zero tolerance”.

Perhaps if they paused to reflect on the amount they charge for removing items (I have recently paid £56 for 2 large items to be removed and was given a five-week wait initially, a large lump out of my pension), also that not everyone has access to large vehicles to move unwanted items or the physical strength to move the items to the front of the house – they will not enter your home to help with this – they might realise how tempting an offer is from unlicensed “removers” who may merely fly-tip the unwanted goods.

Many councils remove items free of charge especially for those on benefit…

Name and address supplied

Fares fair?

Since November 2019 I have been pleading with WBC Taxi licensing dept to use some common sense regarding the age Private Hire Taxis are allowed to operate, especially those that are in a very good condition inside and out. But as usual the only response I got was “computer says no”.

Due to this intransigence, I had no choice but to cancel my Taxi insurance renewal, stop trading and insure on a normal car insurance policy.

The next day WBC Licensing Dept changed their rules and extended the operating age. At least other vehicle operators will gain from this new-found common sense.

Four years ago, WBC Licensing Dept decided to force all Taxi Operators to pay five years operators costs in one go. I phoned the licensing department on October 3, 2016 at 15.13 to question this decision and also their refund policy. They assured me that any refund would be paid in full, there would be no charges.

Four weeks ago I applied for two refunds, so two minor calculations that would take a 13-year-old no more than 15 minutes to work out. The council actually got one of the calculations wrong.

For the two refunds WBC Taxi Licensing have charged me £114 total. This is an absolute disgrace.

To ignore their promise to me is disgraceful behaviour, and then to compound their bad behaviour by this Price Gouging is disgraceful.

Compare this to Hays Travel Ltd who had to claim money back from an airline and a hotel for a covid cancelled £740 holiday and they are charging me just £13.

P Smith, Wokingham

Citizens assemble

I am flattered that two Conservative activists have been assigned the role of responding to Wokingham Labour’s campaign for a Citizens’ Assembly but both letters are misleading.

I did not voice disapproval at Cllr Murray’s new-found support for a Citizens’ Assembly – it was incredulity at what he was saying.

Cllr Murray gave the impression that one could simply trot out a few Citizens’ Assemblies, each covering an area of the Climate Emergency and each consisting of people in part chosen by him.

In doing so, he demonstrated that he does not understand how a Citizens’ Assembly works and he does not understand they cost money.

In effect he was talking about a series of mini-Conservative Council consultations on the cheap – and we all know how those end.

A Citizens’ Assembly must be free from the control of the Council and local political parties.

I think I have been in 17 Council meetings where the Climate Emergency has been the sole topic or a major item on the agenda and in addition, I have reviewed the minutes of a further three officer steering group meeting and a Citizens’ Assembly has never, ever been promoted as a credible part of the Borough’s response to the Climate Emergency.

Never.

In the meeting to which Cllr Hinton refers, the full text of the minutes is “Officers were considering the potential for a Citizens Assembly in order to increase awareness and engage with residents” once again demonstrating either a lack of understanding of the purpose of a Citizens’ Assembly or a deliberate fudging of the issue.

I suspect it is the latter.

The purpose of Citizens’ Assembly must be to shape and drive policy.

If Cllr Hinton thinks officers use words like “considering” and “potential” when they mean “plan” then I have an oven-ready deal I would like to sell him.

I think Cllr Hinton was referring to Extinction Rebellion (ER) when he wrote about “Extension Rebellion” and he is right, it has been one of ER’s demands. Wokingham Labour does not claim to have invented Citizens’ Assemblies, indeed our website references a number of organisations, including the UK Parliament and the Local Government Association, which explain how Citizens’ Assemblies work.

A full list of resources can be found here: www.wokinghamlabourparty.org/green-vision/why-we-need-a-citizens-assembly-on-the-climate-emergency

What Wokingham Labour is doing is campaigning for (1) a Citizens’ Assembly to address the issue of how to make the Borough Carbon neutral by 2030; (2) that the Citizens’ Assembly is free from political inference and control; (3) that WBC commit to adopting the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly.

I hope this helps clarify Conservative confusion on this issue.

Cllr Andy Croy, Labour group leader, Wokingham Borough Council

Celebrate young people

Despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and the difficult world we are living in today, it is important to celebrate the truly outstanding contribution of some of our young people who continue to do extraordinary things in extraordinary times.

This is particularly the case when thinking about some of our children in care and care leavers who never cease to impress and amaze me with their brilliant achievements, awesome resilience and critical insights.

At a recent full council meeting of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council, I presented a critical paper regarding the council’s role as corporate parents: protecting and supporting our children in care and care leavers.

As Lead Member for Children’s Services, I have the honour and privilege to chair the Corporate Parenting Forum, which includes youth ambassadors and some of our children in care as representatives.

These are critical meetings that allow our young people to speak, articulate their experiences and contribute to how we can improve the service and offering. Since becoming chair last May, I have fundamentally changed the format of the meetings to allow for a more informal and relaxed approach removing much of the formality that surrounds council meetings and encouraging our young people to set agendas, speak openly and to control the meeting set up.

We have had live workshops and exercises run by our young people including a live simulation of what it is like to be taken into care; a truly profound and moving experience that provoked me to request policy changes to parts of our service.

I can comfortably say these sessions are easily the most interesting and rewarding meetings I chair and attend. I thank all our young people for all the insights they bring.

The report highlighted the excellent progress we have made combined with our recent Good rating by Ofstad which specifically accentuated areas of outstanding practice in this area. Protecting vulnerable people is at the heart of this administration’s values and agenda and there is nothing more important than vulnerable children.

Our young people, particularly those in care, continue to inspire me with their enthusiasm, humility, worldly perspective and sense of fun. Every single one them are deeply valued and we will continue to do our very best to give each and every person, the very best life chances and opportunities possible across the Royal Borough.

Cllr Stuart Carroll, Boyn Hill Ward, Maidenhead , Deputy Chair of Cabinet, Lead Member Adult Social Care, Children Services, Health and Mental Health

Remember these key workers

Key workers in Britain are rightly receiving the recognition and appreciation they deserve, with NHS staff, care workers and delivery drivers among the professions that have been praised for their heroic efforts this year.

But, some of the most essential workers in developing countries worldwide are continually overlooked and neglected. Working animals play a key role in the world’s poorest communities and help provide a livelihood for more than half a billion people.

An estimated 200 million working horses, donkeys, camels and elephants are relied upon to transport goods, food, water and firewood.

By doing the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis, this invisible workforce ensures the survival of poverty-stricken families.

However, these animals often endure appalling conditions, with poor nutrition and no access to veterinary treatment when they are sick or injured.

At the animal charity SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad), we believe that working animals overseas should receive the respect, compassion and vital veterinary care they desperately need.

On International Working Animal Day (19 November), please find out how you can show your support for these hardworking animals by visiting www.spana.org/iwad

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

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