LETTERS: Are they really providing facilities for all?

Blaney cartoon

There is a certain irony in the headline “Providing facilities for all” which appeared above an article from Wokingham Borough Council’s lead on Leisure in last week’s Wokingham Paper.

This council has just built a multi-storey car park at Carnival Place having heavy manual doors which cannot be used by anyone in a wheelchair or with weak muscles.

They will not install a push panel to operate the doors, as “this would be vandalised”, a statement made to me when I rang the Council about this issue.

Furthermore, Wokingham Library is to be relocated to a new building which will have no disabled parking spaces immediately outside.

At present the nearest disabled parking will be in the multi-storey car park mentioned above. Even if a disabled library user can get the doors open, the distance to the library entrance is further than many disabled people can walk, especially when burdened with heavy books.

However, according to statements from Wokingham Borough Council reported in your paper, this is acceptable because benches are provided for people to have a rest part-way, in rain, blistering heat, strong wind, bitter cold, or any of the other vagaries of our weather.

Facilities for all? I think not.

J C White, Wokingham

The nasty party

Cllr David Chopping’s letter in The Wokingham Paper last week made very interesting reading. David is one of the councillors whom I have the greatest respect for as he is one of the most dedicated and hard working councillors

I know. He is a credit to Wokingham Borough Council.

What a shame he allows the NASTY party DNA to come to the fore when in an attempt to defend the indefensible he puts the boot into every Borough Councillor in Wokingham Borough who are not part of the nasty Tory Party.

What he fails to say is he belongs to a Conservative Party with a massive majority that rules in secrecy and uses threatening bully boy tactics backed up by the three line whip to bash all their back benchers into line as history clearly shows.

When the opposition try to hold them to account and they have no defence they just put the boot with personal attacks. Sadly they know of no other way to behave when in very simple terms all they had to do to right the wrong and atone their past errors on Councillors pay and allowances was to support the motion submitted by the Lib Dems designed to ensure Councillors only got one extra allowance payment but they voted it down.

What this means is the Leader of the council and her “chosen few” can exercise huge patronage and so keep their snouts in the trough by the retention of a system of Councillor pay that is not open or transparent.

The Conservatives also miss that point that no matter who gets what it’s you the council taxpayer who pays.

The Prime Minister wants business to be open and transparent in its wage structure and all the other Berkshire Councils only pay one allowance per member but Wokingham’s Conservatives prefer to do the complete opposite by keeping it secret and retaining a system that secretly just looks after themselves.

Parliament operates a system where MP’s pay is not the subject of debate as it is fully independent and accepted by all. Wokingham Conservatives prefer a system where they can overrule the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) recommendations, as they always do which kills their independence. Perhaps this explains why the panel have all resigned twice in the last five years. I wonder how long this IRP will last when whatever they recommend the Conservatives will just overrule them.

As for David putting the boot into me I would add that all monies I get from the council is fully declared and listed on the council’s website. How many Conservatives can honestly say the same.

Sadly the NASTY Conservative party is still alive and well and living in Wokingham Borough. Roll on next May.

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

Blast from the past

I very rarely feel sufficiently vexed to put quill to vellum to write to the public prints. However, your normally excellent publication, has in recent weeks driven me into such a state of choleric indisposition that I feel have no alternative but to write to you and complain in the most uncertain terms.

I refer of course to the suggestion that Wokingham Borough Council’s attitude to Christmas at Hare Hatch Sheeplands is like that of a bunch of miserable Scrooges.

This attempt to blacken the reputation of a well-loved and important institution, especially at this Christmas Season, is quite intolerable and must cease immediately!

The institution to which I refer, is of course the late great Mr Ebenezer Scrooge.

The tales of the celebrations of his wake are still legendary.

Mr Scrooge left this life a much-loved public benefactor, celebrated as someone who possessed the good grace to admit to the error of ways and also be open to the popular mood.

I am sure that were Mr Scrooge alive today he would be attempting, possibly with supernatural assistance, to take over as head of WBC. I think his platform would be sound finances, peace and goodwill to all humans, especially at Christmas time and a helping hand to the less fortunate.

I Remain Sincerely Yours,

The Ghost of Christmas Present,
On behalf of: The Ebenezer was a Good Gentlemen Party

Hidden agendas

I followed the Sheeplands story with interest.

Nobody, without hidden agenda, could want to prevent a popular garden centre from selling
Christmas trees! If a Council deliberately victimises anyone, it can be investigated for maladministration.

Ten years ago, when a Wokingham Borough Council social worker tried to get the crisis house closed down, I submitted evidence of maladministration to the Local Authority Ombudsman. Fortunately, the then excellent Council Leader, David Lee, intervened, and put a stop to her machinations.

Her agenda were not that well-hidden! One – greed for power. An independent charity cannot be controlled by a Council employee! Two – jealousy. Excellence shows up mediocrity! Three – and most cogent – threat. Charities demonstrate that it can all be done by volunteers.

here does that leave social workers – with their fat salaries, expensive cars, and gold-plated pensions? Of course they dislike us. As Mandy Rice-Davies, would say – ‘They would, wouldn’t they?’

We, taxpayers, funded this social worker’s annual salary of £100,000 – for that, piffling, little job! A volunteer could have done it – easily, and better!

I enquired of her boss as to whether, or not, she had any work to do at all – since she was spending so much time, and taxpayers’ money – harassing us.

In earlier years, yet another social worker, with the same agenda, didn’t want us to have mentally ill people staying in the crisis house, so he pretended that we would need planning permission to put in bathrooms. I applied, heard nothing, and so went ahead with my bathrooms.

Twenty-seven years later, I am still waiting to hear whether planning permission has been granted. That’s a long time to wait for a wash!

No doubt, this social worker, had a nice, comfortable, centrally- heated house – for himself! Rickety, but warm, Station House, adequately accommodated the mentally ill for two decades. They are now freezing to death in shop-doorways. Last Friday night was cold!

A homeless schizophrenic turned up at our door, and asked the, very sane, question – ‘This house has empty rooms. Why can’t I have one?’ I advised him to hasten to Reading – where the churches are running a ‘Bed for the Night’ scheme. It’s Christmas, but there is no room at the inn – in Wokingham.

We are firm believers in Father Christmas, and glad that the crisis house has chimneys – so that Santa can get in easily with our presents. He always delivers exactly what the mentally ill need – socks, soap, shower gel – the basics – and, sad to relate, the gifts that he delivers down our chimney, are often the only ones that our people receive.

Here is a seasonal poser for your young readers. How does Santa get into modern houses – which have no chimneys?

Trying to prevent Sheeplands from selling Christmas trees, is like Puritans banning Christmas puddings! Charities and businesses should insist upon their freedom to deliver services without interference.

How desperately we are needed, was illustrated recently by the lady who rushed into the crisis house, dumped her mentally ill, and addicted, friend into a chair, and ran for her life! We have every sympathy.

You CANNOT accommodate a mentally ill, and addicted, friend, indefinitely, if, like this lady, you have to work, have other commitments, and only a one bedroom flat!

Crisis houses are needed everywhere – because we have the space, the facilities, and the TIME, to solve problems, and since we are self-funding, and run by volunteers, we, incidentally, save taxpayers a fortune.

Kind Regards, and a Merry Christmas, to all readers.

Pam Jenkinson, The Wokingham Crisis House, Station Road

Remove democracy

When the Labour Party win the next election, it will more likely than not, remove the word “Democracy” from our language! That is the hidden agenda behind any communist regime, as it has been behind Mugabe and many other dictators.

Which causes me to comment that the EU is heading the same way, if one studies the declared plans from Brussels. Given the EU Mafia’s intent it is difficult to comprehend any civilised person in this country being against Brexit. Perhaps, other than those who do not think deeply enough, can we conclude that anti Brexiteers have a financial interest in fighting against our country’s interests?

Talking about the decline in democracy, leads me to coment on the disgraceful financial rewards given to what I call non-productive people – those who do not contribute to the GDP. Such includes a wide range of so-called managers, e.g. NHS; education lecturers and their “chief this” and “chief that”, e.g Chancellors; so-called Lords, plus do not forget Police Commissioners and

Councils etc.

I conclude that democracy DOES NOT actually currently exist in this country – the classic technique of awards committees of voting for ever increasing pay awards, is a method of increasing their own! Take the wasted £billions we give to “deserving causes” abroad, e.g a new aircraft for a corrupt President; add all the permutations of costs to the country, and it becomes obvious that we could rapidly slash the crippling National Debt. But of course, as an example, particularly since Pretti Patel took over the government “Big Spenders”, staffing levels rapidly grew, together with expenses and probably pensions – all with one intention – to get rid of our money. (So glad she’s gone!)

Sadly the public who have to pay for the greedy, have no say at all in this sick society.
The Prime Minister is ultimately responsible for all the foregoing, and ignores that the alternative – real tough control over such outgoings – would leave this country able to pay more for our Defence; more for our Nurses and Doctors; more for policing – on the streets – and of course to cope with an aging population, their care, and defeat Dementia and Cancer. AND a better balanced society – fair to all?

Reg Clifton, Wokingham

Not good enough

Recently both the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK)’s and the National Child Development study reports revealed that children and adolescents who have experiences sexual abuse are far more likely to be unemployed from the age of 55 or younger, until retirement, than those with no experience of sexual abuse.

Bear this in mind along with the fact that 75% of all adult mental health problems first surface in the individual’s first 16 years of life and 75% of this 75% as a direct result of having been sexually abused prior to adulthood.

Our local NHS Child and Adolescent mental health – CAMH – commissioners’’ reasons for not commissioning specialist NHS CAMH services or staff for such victims, because – and I quote from several letters of reply – “being sexually abused is not a mental illness”. This is just not good enough. It is totally unacceptable.

Paul Farmer, Campaigner for better commissioning of NHS CAMH services and staff across Berkshire

What secrets are being kept?

Blaney cartoon

RE the editorial column of November 30 headed “What is the point of a council meeting?” Its subject matter made disturbing reading.

The truth of the matter is that there was a time when councillors were made up of local residents elected for their qualities of decency, honesty, reliability and concern for local people and the community at large.

Today, local politicians are chosen on the back of party allegiance, resulting in a cohort of autocrats, a number of whom sit on both town and borough councils, creating a cosy conflict of interests.

Regarding the borough council’s recent decision to purchase the dormant Marks & Spencer store and car park to its rear, the cost is being kept secret on the grounds of commercial sensitivity. What commercial sensitivity?

It is public money – our money – and we have every right to be told exactly how much of it is being spent on our behalf, unless of course there is some commercially questionable reason for them wishing to keep it under bureaucratic hats.

These and other issues underline yet again the indispensability of an independent local newspaper with the courage to expose and comment on the all too often duplicitous activities of an Executive that is, in the eye of many, becoming increasingly unfit for purpose.

J W Blaney, Wokingham


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