David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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Parting speech to Cabinet

Posted by davidburbage on April 28, 2016

I’ve been attending the Cabinet of the Royal Borough for not just the last 9 years, but for over 14 – in the earlier Conservative administration from 2001 – and almost all Cabinet meetings since.

The only times I’ve not been here are either that I’ve been on holiday – or on one occasion, on an operating theatre table.

I know that Members, officers and the media know about the council tax cuts, the increase in libraries and Sunday opening, the weekly bin collections, the 100% delivery of our 2007 and 2011 manifesto pledges, the spending transparency and the investment in roads.

I know you know about the saving of Windsor Fire Station, the planting of over 10,000 trees and this Leader’s fondness for fountains which are springing up, if you forgive the pun, around and about. And shortly on a roundabout!

We allowed all those residents who say they don’t really like council tax cuts to donate back their council tax savings for us to invest in local public services. I think there has been one ever? Maybe two?

Anyway, tens of millions of pounds has been left in local residents’ pockets for them to spend.

Things do take years to complete – we’ve got the new Oldfield School, completed the missing link in the Thames Path and of course we were talking about the great new Stafferton Way Link at Council.

We have 3 new free schools including Holyport College in my ward courtesy of Cllr Dudley, new and improved leisure centre facilities at Cox Green, Charters and Furze Platt, hundreds of streets adopted by residents to keep free of litter, we have Royal Borough Ambassadors and a great big purple Town Crier.

Maidenhead is regenerating, Windsor is thriving, customer services are improving, new bus shelters are standing, grit bins and dog bins are proliferating but traffic lights are disappearing, solar panels and Bright Ideas are happening, to parishes, powers are devolving, Cllr Wilson’s local plan is emerging and the Council is transforming.

I’d like to sincerely thank all of the hard working council officers and tremendous efforts of my fellow Members to help this Conservative administration deliver such amazing results for local people. With our 2015 manifesto being delivered, much more is to come.

Finally, and to lift a quote from Tony Blair’s departing remarks, “Some may belittle politics but we who are engaged in it know it is where people stand tall. If it is, on occasions, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes.”

Thanks to one and all

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Posted by davidburbage on April 22, 2016

Over the last 9 years the Royal Borough has gone from strength to strength. The work of this flagship Conservative Council has delivered large and sustained council tax cuts, opened new libraries, kept weekly refuse and weekly recycling collections, seen massive increases in volunteering (being selected as a Big Society vanguard) and nationally pioneering public spending transparency, participatory budgeting and incentives for recycling.


In Maidenhead we’ve opened the Stafferton Way Link road, linked up the Thames Path and are seeing massive investments in the town centre and the Waterways being built.


In Windsor we restored the Lutyens’ King George V Memorial fountain and installed a much-loved Jubilee fountain – alongside the new bandstand. We also saved the town’s fire station.


We have introduced a safeguarding hub (a “MASH”), shared services with other local authorities, increased our community wardens and become one of the best authorities in the country in processing residents’ revenues and benefits.


This has been done whilst reducing the tax bills of residents, and running the most efficient unitary authority in the country.


I have spent 16 years as a councillor for Bray, 13 years as the Conservative Group Leader and 9 as the Leader of the Council. I’ve chaired the inter-authority South East Strategic Leaders and Berkshire Leaders’ groups over many of the last 6 years – and received an MBE for my efforts.


With that done, it is time for a change at the top.


Nobody carries on for ever – so whilst the tremendous support from both councillor colleagues and Borough employees throughout my time has been amazing, I am going to give others the opportunity to succeed as the Council’s Leader, to continue the work of this excellent Conservative administration for many years into the future, starting at the forthcoming Annual Council meeting in May.


This is a fantastic Royal Borough and I hope I have served with dedication, enthusiasm and a passion for local democracy and public service. I thank the thousands of local people I have had the privilege of meeting, and particularly to all those who have elected me in Bray 5 times in succession, I do aim to continue to serve, in any way I usefully can.







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Leave or Remain?

Posted by davidburbage on February 22, 2016

The executive summary – Leave!

Behind the conclusion lie a wide range of issues, however. As a free marketer, and one who applauds the openness of borders for trade and commerce and for people generally, the common market has always been an attractive concept.

In my view, as with most people, Europe has never been the totemic policy below which all other issues become less important. But as someone who couldn’t vote in 1975, it has now become one, with the referendum delivered by the majority Conservative Government.

The sovereignty issue is the most significant argument for me. It was brought home by the strange requirement to garner an agreement across 28 heads of government regarding a change to how a UK Government chooses to pay UK benefits from UK public finances. This is, at best, pretty tangential to the ability of people to live and work and trade freely across Europe without penalty. Yet this is the situation that cumulative EU rules and treaties have given us.

Tony Benn used to argue against the EU as undemocratic . In his 5 questions on the exercise of power by powerful people, the last of the questions reads “and how can we get rid of you?”. Point made, EU. How do we remove Donald Tusk, or Jean-Claude Juncker? (Mrs Miggins on the Maidenhead omnibus might even ask who they are – or Corina Cretu, or Gunther Oettinger, or Cecilia Malmstrom*).

As Michael Gove pointed out, every minister has been told that to do X is against EU rules. This has happened to me as a Council leader.

Not so long ago, when we were looking at the delay to the Maidenhead Waterways planning application, it became apparent that the charity had to submit a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment. “Why bother?” I said. “Brunel never required an EIA to build an entire railway!”

It was, of course, because of an EU Directive, copied into UK law, that any proposal for more than 2 miles of “canalisation” demanded that additional piece of red tape and bureaucracy. Ignoring it was not an option – it would have created an unlawful , subject to challenge, planning permission….

Back to borders. The original aim for free movement of people has been completely blown away by the surge in economic migrants. So borders are popping up everywhere. Even with EU migrants, immigration pressures are causing problems. Only this week Bosolver Council has been in the news because of houses being subdivided into flats to provide worker accommodation for Eastern Europeans. Councils in London have set up teams to deal with “Beds in Sheds”.

What about the Euro? It is telling that many of the same people who wanted us to join the euro are the same people who want us at the heart of Europe, at the table, on the train that’s leaving the station, in the tent etc etc. Like with the cast iron 3% budget deficit limit (remember the Stability and Growth Pact?), the best intentions of the halcyon days of a strong common currency are distant dreams. France, Spain, Portugal have all run deficits for many years, and they are not alone. Don’t even start looking at Greece! Wikipedia notes dryly “The Pact has proved to be unenforceable against big countries such as France and Germany, which were its strongest promoters when it was created”.

Our economic interests must lie in the wider global market, having wisely kept the Pound. We are the fifth largest economy in the world – I think we can cope!

In conclusion, to have control of our own affairs, to decide our own laws, the taxes we must pay, the ability to remove those who set our laws – and even decide the levels of our benefits payments – most of all, for the simple reason of British Parliamentary sovereignty, I will be supporting the Leave campaign.


*Donald Tusk, from Poland, is the President of the European Council. Jean-Claude Juncker, from Luxembourg, is the President of the EU Commission. Corina Cretu, Gunther Oettinger and Cecilia Malmstrom are commissioners from Romania, Germany and Sweden respectively with responsibility for Regional Policy, Digital Economy and Society, and Trade.

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with apologies

Posted by davidburbage on July 22, 2015

I can’t keep up with open comments discussions, sorry. Have scalped the relevant points.

Love a good debate (obv) but sadly am reverting back to the more mundane blog approach for purely practical reasons (noting it is now 11.54 pm).

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And we’re (nearly) off

Posted by davidburbage on April 2, 2015

I’ll be back into full on campaign mode during April, which means more regular blog posts.

More info on our candidates, our achievements during the last 4 years, and on our manifesto promises for the next 4 years, if we’re returned to office at the Royal Borough.

Stay tuned for more!

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Happy Birthday Sir Nicholas Winton, 105, honoured today

Posted by davidburbage on October 28, 2014

I was on the train from Paddington to Maidenhead just last week, and I overheard a lady nearby say to her fellow passenger “where is the statue at Maidenhead station”? She knew there was a statue, but she didn’t know where it was, or of whom the statue was.

I briefly explained – and hopefully now the lady not only knows where the statue is, but will understand why the statue is there.

With credit to Cllr Derek Wilson, who made it happen.


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Scottish Referendum and all that follows

Posted by davidburbage on September 20, 2014

David Cameron played a blinder at 7am yesterday – finally grasping the West Lothian nettle (thistle?) and declaring that English voters must have parity with Scottish voters. After all, we should end the Barnett formula and allow devolution to take up the slack if the folks up north (or round here) want to spend more of their voters money for them.

The Labour party are going to have to tackle the issue head on – I predicted they would want to long-grass the issue which they have done, but basic common sense dictates that English votes for English laws must be implemented now that Scotland’s MSPs will get even more powers, and can already decide their own policies on health, education and so on.

Where we could do with some constitutional change is to decentralise some more from Whitehall to councils, communities and individuals. That’s where Labour is looking to make the running but we should overtake them by rolling out effective devolution on the back of the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday.

At Labour and Conservative conferences, South East Strategic Leaders with Localis are promoting a South East manifesto, drawn up in conjunction with the South East England Councils, to ask for devolution to South East authorities, but the principle applies everywhere in England. Time for change.

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Feeding into Twitter

Posted by davidburbage on August 14, 2014

Test post eric-pickles

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Posted by davidburbage on April 19, 2014

I was thrilled to attend Windsor Castle on Tuesday for my investiture – receiving the MBE from the Queen in person. We didn’t know that it would be the Queen for sure, but someone pointed out that the Royal Standard was flying and therefore surely Her Majesty was at home!

It was clearly a well rehearsed occasion – from the confiscation of all mobile phones and cameras at the entrance, then being split from the guests, and finally (after chatting to other recipients) lining up in a relatively silent queue prior to entering the chamber. I worried (too much) about what I would say to the Queen, and then it was all over bar the photographs! There was a small opportunity to visit the state chambers, through which I had queued, and then outside into a gloriously sunny April day.


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Labour’s advanced policy for public service improvement

Posted by davidburbage on April 7, 2014

Labour plan to ‘bust open’ Whitehall to ‘working class’


Nice ambition, but it would be more reassuring if they had a plan to run the country better than they did last time !

Dealing with “inputs” neglects “outputs”, just as spending more of other people’s money doesn’t necessarily produce better outcomes for them….


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