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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Letters

I do write letters to the local press. I started practising this when I was still at school much to the entertainment of my Maths teacher who would write in reply – he was dyed in the wool Labour then and I guess he still is now!

  • 2nd March 2007 On the Council Tax increase of 3.8% 
  • 25th March 2007 On the Borough’s Scrutiny Panel under Libdem control
  • 19th September 2007 On Harry Parker and the curse of history
  • 14th February 2008 Article : Revitalising Maidenhead
  • Express / Observer 2nd March 2007

  • Dear Sir, Wandsworth has the lowest Council Tax in the country, and that is why we Conservatives visited them last month to see how they do it. Not only is their tax low, they keep it low with no increases at all – 0% – for the last three years.On the other hand, the Royal Borough will once again be asking for more money from residents in 2007/8. With an inflation-busting 3.8% rise, those on low and fixed incomes such as pensioners, will be hardest hit. The financial strategy of the Liberal Democrats passed in November and states that Council tax should be “used to generate the maximum amount of income possible”.No contrition or apology emerges from the Liberal Democrats at the Town Hall. Far from it – they suggest we should be pleased with this tax increase. To quote from their press release we are ‘benefitting’ from efforts to keep the Council tax low – the increase of 3.8%, is apparently ‘as low as possible’! I kid you not. However, ‘as high as possible’ would be an increase of just 5% under the Government’s current capping rules. Increases in Government grants, not acknowledged by the Council in their press release mean that in fact the Council is going to be receiving more money than last year overall.Can the Council find £5,000 to change a speed limit in Bray Road? No. But Cllr Eglise’s tax rise simply continues growing the budget, increasing salaries, funding pensions – in short, more of the same in terms of services provided, but less in your pockets for Borough residents.With tax rises totalling almost 25% in four short years of Liberal Democrat rule, and the Borough’s debt spiralling to beyond £50 million it is no wonder that the Audit Commission questioned the Borough’s financial plans and downgraded the Council to ‘adequate performance – only at minimum requirements’.That’s the reality of the Royal Borough under Liberal Democrat ‘control’.Cllr David BurbageConservative Group Leader, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead


  • Dear Sir

    Cllr Holness’ hubris knows no bounds. (Letters, March 22nd 2007)

    The Royal Borough was criticised by the Audit Commission for having less-than-effective scrutiny systems – although not for the want of trying by Conservative members, Cllr Holness takes not a scintilla of blame on his own shoulders.

    This Liberal Democrat administration, of which Cllr Holness is a member, was determined to reduce and marginalise any scrutiny of their actions from Day 1, cutting the number of panels from 4 to 1 and removing Members’ policy researchers. They also repeatedly failed to set up a Health Scrutiny Panel despite being urged to do so by the Conservatives – now it’s too late to change the rules, Cllr Holness proudly announces it’s been “easily” agreed!

    If some Liberal Democrats are lucky enough to survive the electorate’s judgement on May 3rd, under a Conservative administration they will find a real role, and real power, for members of Scrutiny Panels at the Royal Borough. That is because we want to offer the best services for residents, not just an easy ride for those in the Executive. Strong Councils have effective and empowered scrutiny, not a marginalised and enfeebled sideshow.

    Under the failed stewardship of the Liberal Democrats, residents have been badly let down – paying ever more through Council Tax for local services, we have a responsibility to do so much better.

    Cllr David Burbage
    Leader, Conservative Group, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

    Your correspondant Harry Parker, who as a Councillor used to sit with the Libdems, writes hoping history will not repeat itself (Readers’ Viewpoint, 14/9), and then goes on to describe lots of things that he disapproves of.

    One thing is certain, if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.
    In the case of the former Libdem administration, they raised the Council Tax by 25% over just four years, spent some £12 million of taxpayer’s money on the Town Hall and in the Council’s offices, and were turfed out of office leaving local residents with a debt in excess of £50 million.

    We are anxious to avoid this high-tax habit. It was the absence of effective political control that we are addressing in the resident-focused approach of this Conservative administration – best practice is what we seek and implement.

    Finally, the Advantage card ‘topping up’ that the letter refers to is nothing new and has been inherited from the system ran by the previous administration supported by Mr Parker. We pledged to abolish the short term onstreet charge for Advantage Card holders in Windsor – and have done just that.

    Cllr David J Burbage

    Leader, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead


    I write in response to your front page and editorial surrounding how Maidenhead must be improved. From me you will find no evasion or spin to the need for investment to be brought to parts of the town, and the Advertiser is right to draw this issue to the attention of its readers.

    But firstly, to address some of the statements made last week.

    The new Partnership for the Rejuvenation of Maidenhead (“PRoM”) has full Council officer resource, and will continue to do so. To say that there is no ‘budget’ or that PRoM is unresourced is simply not true. And if we need to add further officer resource or commission additional work to facilitate external investment, we will do that, too. Under an independent and respected Chairman we have a forum with representation across partners, political parties and interest groups – the best way to progress.

    It is also not fair or accurate to compare investments that have been finalised or announced elsewhere against an alleged “£0.00” sum for developments in Maidenhead. The town has had a number of recent investments (including major sites such as Sainsburys, Grenfell Island/King St and Waitrose) – I’m informed that sums invested in Maidenhead in recent years amount to some £200 Million – and more. It is worth remembering that such sums involved are not Council investments by Reading Council, or Bracknell Council etc, but are of necessity developer funded.

    What is true is that there is not yet a ‘masterplan’ which identifies a broad vision and resolves the priorities for investment or development in large areas of the town. That is exactly what the Partnership has been brought together to achieve, to take the work (from the Great Debate and other partners) that was put into the Orange 2026 document and build on it, developing some bigger pictures and potential solutions. But I don’t want to steal the thunder of Bob Dulson who chairs the PRoM and who, I know, wants to properly join up and announce the current and future work of the Partnership in a few weeks time – we must get things right, as well as getting things done.

    I have every enthusiasm for the opportunities available now – there is certainly an urgency, and to claim that the Council feels no sense of that or that we are complacent is totally wrong. Furthermore, if anyone encounters complacency at the Council on this issue, I want to know about it!

    We are also determined to not lose sight of the ‘day job’ – keeping the town centre tidy and safe, with improvements to the street environment, regular events and other necessary works by strengthening the role and responsibility of the Council’s Town Centre manager (which we’ve just done), with the Maidenhead Town Partnership.

    The coming of Crossrail is an opportunity, not a comfort blanket, whether or not it eventually gets extended to Reading. The accessibility of Maidenhead and some of the areas around the station have been, and will be, taken into account when considering potential redevelopment in terms of accessibility and links to the wider town.

    Our heads are well out of the sand, our feet are on the ground and I am keen to enable PRoM to achieve whatever is necessary to deliver investment and rejuvenation to Maidenhead, and at a maximum speed – without making a mess of things, or promising the impossible, or delaying for the sake of delay, or compromising to the undesirable.

    What I do not want to do is spend time dwelling on negativity and despair. If we only talked about the bad things, we won’t deliver positive change and investment.

    But people who have ideas, creativity, constructive engagement and importantly, a passion for improving Maidenhead is what we’re about. With its relative affluence and strong transport connections, Maidenhead can be so much more and working through PRoM, future investment partners and with the approval of residents is exactly what the Council intends to do, to deliver a better town for everyone.

    Cllr David Burbage
    Lead Member for Maidenhead (and Leader of the Council)

     
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