I’d like to pay tribute to the work of our community wardens. I’ve been on the Community Action Group for north Maidenhead for about ten years and been impressed by the depth of local knowledge of the wardens and the neighbourhood police – so essential for dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour. The wardens and police each have their particular role and work well together, they are always very helpful. I’m worried about the effect of the proposals before us and hope as much of their work as possible can be retained.
It seems only recently that the library at Boyn Grove was opened, when it gave the Conservatives something of a populist headline along the lines of “Look, we’re keeping Council Tax down and we’re opening a new library”. Libraries somehow have a symbolic importance in the relationship between community and government, perhaps even reflected by the Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher in a speech to the Royal Academy in the 1980s spoke of her government’s support for libraries, and for the arts.
Boyn Grove is accessible on foot or bike from the whole of western Maidenhead. Here’s what people have been telling me: One resident spoke of visiting with a grandchild for the excellent collection of children’s books. When it opened, someone wrote, “Best thing to come to Maidenhead until Crossrail”. Who would have thought then that just six years after the official opening the council would be cutting its hours and consulting on closing it altogether, even before Crossrail has opened – though that’s perhaps as much a comment on Crossrail than about the lack of strategic budgetary thinking over this period.
Another has told me, “I thought it was a wonderful idea to open that library, adjacent to the play area, a quiet and calm place … it would be a great shame to close that – or any – local library, especially at a time when children will probably need calm places to borrow books for learning as the UK faces a gradual return to normal. I cannot understand why, having invested in the library six or seven years ago, they would want to undo that.”
I remain open to working with anyone across the community to see if there is a way to keep it viable and open, and I appeal to members of the public who want to be actively involved to please come forward and give something back to their community.