Posts Tagged ‘Maidenhead’

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead 2017

Monday, June 3rd, 2024

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead: In June 2017 we were also in a General Election campaign after Theresa May called a snap election. Labour would have won back then, but for the deliberate interference by the party right who sabotaged their efforts in some key seats to stop a Corbyn victory. Instead we got another 7 years of Tory blunders and incompetence. May, Johnson, Truss, Sunak…

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

Even now I wonder when Labour seems to be in a commanding position in the opinion polls whether Labour will somehow manage to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. They are certainly doing their best at the moment to alienate party workers in many constituencies by barring their choice of candidates and imposing often quite unsuitable (and sometimes unspeakable) people in their place.

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

Theresa May was standing in the safe Tory seat of Maidenhead and was re-elected with a majority of over 26,000 over Labour and in 2019 again with almost 19,000 more votes than the then second place Lib-Dem. This time May has retired but it may well be a close run thing with both Reform UK and the Lib-Dems taking votes from the Tories.

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

DPAC were not fielding a candidate or supporting one of the other twelve in the 2017 race but were there to protest against the Tory government, the first in the world to be found guilty of the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights by the UN.

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

They stated that Tory cuts since 2010 had 9 times the impact on disabled people as on any other group, 19 times more for those with the highest support needs. Tory polices are heartless, starving, isolating and finally killing the disabled who they view as unproductive members of society – and by ending the Independent Living Fund they have has actually stopped many from making a positive contribution.

The Tory Government rejected the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities findings in 2016, which had found failures in the right to live independently and be included in the community, to work and employment, and to an adequate standard of living and social protection across all parts of the UK. A further report by the committee in 2024 found that there had been “no significant progress” since 2016 in improving disabled people’s rights and that there were signs that things were getting worse in some areas.

The 2024 report concluded that the UK has “failed to take all appropriate measures to address grave and systematic violations of the human rights of persons with disabilities and has failed to eliminate the root causes of inequality and discrimination.” Labour has yet to announce anything likely to improve the situation.

A couple of buses took me slowly to Maidenhead where I met the group from DPAC who had come from Paddington in a quarter of the time. They marched to the High Street with a straw effigy of ‘Theresa May – Weak and Wobbly’ and the message ‘Cuts Kill’. After a hour of protest with speeches, chanting and handing out fliers calling on Maidenhead voters to vote for anyone but Theresa May they returned to the station.

Although it looked to the police who had followed them closely as well as to some of the photographers who had travelled down from London that the protest had come to an end I knew that DPAC would not leave without some further action.

They waited on the pavement close to the station until most of the police had left – and most photographers had caught a train – and then moved to occupy one of the busiest roads into the town. The police came running back and began to argue with the protesters to get them to return to the pavement.

Police find it hard to deal with disabled protesters, especially those in wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and they were rather confused (as I was) by the arguments of ‘General William Taggart of the NCA‘ who claimed a military right to block roads. DPAC told the police that they would leave the road after having made their point for a few more minutes, but the police wanted them to move at once.

Eventually having blocked the road for around 15 minutes the protesters were told they would be arrested unless they moved and slowly began to do so. I left rather more quickly as my bus to Windsor was coming and if I missed it I would have to wait two hours for the next one. I arrived at the stop as it was coming in.

My journey home was not an entirely happy one. There was the usual walk between stops and wait for another bus to take me close to home. I got off, walked a short distance down the road, felt in my pocket for my phone and found nothing – I had left it on the bus, which was by then disappearing around the corner. Fortunately the bus driver later found it and handed it in at the depot and two days later I was able to cycle to Slough and retrieve it.

More on My London Diary at DPAC Trash The Tories in Maidenhead.

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CND Aldermaston March 2004

Friday, April 12th, 2024

CND Aldermaston March – On Easter Monday 12th April 2004 I walked from Reading to Aldermaston in a protest against the next generation of nuclear weapons organised by CND, the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp and Slough4Peace. Since the original march in 1958 the dangers of nuclear weapons have proliferated and we have seen many more years of lies and deception dressed up as security and national interest.

CND Aldermaston March

I hadn’t marched all the way from London though I had gone to the Trafalgar Square ‘No New Nukes’ Rally before the march on Friday 9th April and had walked with them tas far as Kensington. I had other business on the Saturday, but on Sunday 11th I cycled to meet the march at Maidenhead and walked the next four miles with them to their lunch stop at Knowl Hill before walking back to Maidenhead to pick up my bike and cycle home.

CND Aldermaston March
Pat Arrowsmith

I was up early on Easter Monday to catch a train to Reading with my wife and elder son where we joined the marchers who had spent the night in Reading as they were about to set off.

CND Aldermaston March

I’d spent the previous 3 days walking around ten miles a day carrying a heavy camera bag, and the weight of a Nikon with a solid lens round my neck was getting to be too much for me. I felt I couldn’t do another day with at least 12 miles carrying this load. So unusually my only photographic equipment for the day was a tiny Canon Digital Ixus 400, a 4Mp camera weighing around 230 grams.

CND Aldermaston March

It generally did a very good job, though the 2272 x 1704 pixel files were a little smaller than usual, and it only gave jpeg files rather than the RAW I normally used allowing much less post-processing. Despite having a sensor less than a tenth the area of my Nikon DX camera it was hard to tell a difference in the quality of the result. Of course I was taking pictures in good daylight – and under more taxing conditions the Nikon raw files would have been streets ahead. All of the pictures in this post were made with the Canon Ixus.

The main limitation of the Ixus was its sometimes very slow focus. The pause between pressing the shutter button and the camera actually taking a picture could sometimes be very long. Sometimes so long that I’d actually put the camera down before the exposure, and as well as the pictures it made I also returned home with quite a few pictures of random patches of road and grass from Berkshire.

But we walked all the way, with a stop at AWE Burghfield, the UK’s nuclear bomb factory and then on the Aldermaston, where we also walked halfway around the perimeter fence before getting a lift to the station.

You can see pictures from Friday’s rally and the march on Sunday on My London Diary as well as many more pictures from Easter Monday.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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DPAC Trash The Tories – Maidenhead

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

DPAC Trash The Tories – Maidenhead
Back when the Tories got back into power with the support of the Lib Dems in the UK 2010 General Election they decided to launch a policy of austerity, making deep cuts in the services and benefits that enabled the less wealthy in the country to get by and lead decent lives.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead
Paula Peters of DPAC argues with police as they block a road junction

The cuts they proceeded to make had relatively little effect on those in the better-paid jobs many of whom didn’t need or had opted out of public services such as the NHS and state education and didn’t live in public housing or working class areas. But in any case the Tories made sure these people were protected with increasing real salaries as inequality increased. The Office of National Statistics reported in 2020 “The gap between the richest in society and the rest of the population has widened over the 10-year period; the income share of the richest 1% increased from 7% to 8.2% between FYE 2011 and FYE 2020.”

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead
Theresa May – Weak And Wobbly

In particular, the government continued to bail out the bankers, despite it being the bankers who had precipitated the 2008 financial crisis – and in the longer term had been responsible for creating instability by creating and exploiting huge loopholes in the world financial system established after the war. It was of course British banks and the City of London which played the leading role in this, making London the money-laundering capital of the world with former colonies at the centre of offshoring and enabling after the break-up of the Soviet Union Russians to legalise their illegal plunder and become oligarchs, with a huge influence in the Conservative Party.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

But the Tories came in determined to cut benefits and in particular looked at the amounts going to support disabled people and enable them to live in the community. They thought wrongly that disabled people would be an easy target because of their various disabilities. They were wrong on two counts. Firstly because many disabled people had experience of having to fight for their rights and secondly because they greatly underestimated the wide support for them among the general population. Tories may not have a heart (and certainly many Tories have demonstrated this in recent years) but the general public do.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

At the centre of the protests by disabled people is DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, formed by disabled people after the mass protests against cuts in Birmingham in October 2010 had been led by disabled people. On its web site it proclaims “DPAC is for everyone who believes that disabled people should have full human rights and equality. It is for everyone that refuses to accept that any country can destroy the lives of people just because they are or become disabled or have chronic health issues. It is for everyone against government austerity measures which target the poor while leaving the wealthy unscathed. It is for everyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices delivered by wealthy politicians on ordinary people and their lives.”

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

On Saturday 3rd June 2017, five days before the General Election called by Theresa May, I joined DPAC for a protest in her constituency of Maidenhead. Her government was the first in the world the UN had found guilty of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights. Tory cuts since 2010 had 9 times the impact on disabled people as on any other group, 19 times more for those with the highest support needs. DPAC call the policies heartless and say they are starving, isolating and ultimately killing the disabled who the Tories regard them as unproductive members of society. Though it was the cuts, particularly the axing of the Independent Living Fund, ILF, which had stopped many making a real contribution.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

It was a fairly small group that arrived at Maidenhead station for the protest. Travel by rail is often very difficult for disabled people. Few stations have step-free access and there are often large gaps between train and platform. Rail companies do make an effort to provide support but this needs to be booked in advance and is sometimes unreliable. And rail fares are an expensive luxury for people on benefits – who may also need a taxi to get to the station.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

They paraded a straw effigy of ‘Theresa May – Weak and Wobbly‘ and a hatchet with the message ‘Cuts Kill‘ to the High St for a rally, with speeches, loud chanting and handing out fliers calling on Maidenhead voters to vote for anyone but Theresa May before returning to the station.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

Most other photographers thought the protest was ended and some had rushed to get the train back to London, and the police had largely gone away, but I knew DPAC from previous events and stayed with them, taking photographs as they moved to block one of the busiest road junctions in the town for around 15 minutes as police tried to persuade them to move.

DPAC Trash The Tories - Maidenhead

Eventually they did get off the road, just in time for me to catch a bus to start my journey home. I was sorry to have to rush away, but the next bus wasn’t for a couple of hours. I changed buses in Windsor and got off in Staines, walked along the road and put my hand in my pocket for my phone and it wasn’t there. At home I went to ‘Google Find My Device‘ and saw on the map it was still travelling on the bus all the way to Slough, where fortunately the driver found it and handed it in to the office and I was able to cycle there and collect it the following Monday.

More on the protest at DPAC Trash The Tories in Maidenhead.

Thames Path: Maidenhead – Marlow

Friday, December 31st, 2021

Thames Path: Maidenhead – Marlow – A New Year’s Eve Walk

Back in 2007 our New Year’s Eve walk was a little more distant than we will attempt this year, though we started from the same place. This year public transport will be rather less available and less reliable than it was 14 years ago, thanks only partly to Covid which this year will put many train and bus drivers into isolation at short notice.


But we’ve seen an increasing trend over recent years to close various rail lines for engineering works over all of our holiday periods, and travelling anywhere on New Year’s Eve had begun increasingly to resemble Russian Roulette. I can’t understand why the railways now seem to need so many more closures for repairs than they used to; perhaps less work is now carried out overnight.

Ray Mill Island behind Boulters Lock, Maidenhead

We spent a few years walking the Thames Path, from the Estuary beyond its official ending to the source, taking the route in short sections, perhaps ten or twelve miles at a time, with the start and finish determined by where trains and buses could take us until we were some way west of Oxford. It was only for the final three days from Hinton Waldrist to Kemble we had to spend a couple of nights staying at Buscot and Cricklade.

Protected by Laser Security

But to get to Maidenhead we had to take a train to Windsor & Eton Riverside, run from there to Windsor Central to take the train to Slough where we could change for the train to Maidenhead. And after our walk to Marlow we could catch a train back to Maidenhead, another to Slough and then Windsor. At least on the return journey we had time to walk for the connection. It worked in 2007, but the chances of 4 trains running without any cancellations in the early evening of New Years Eve 2021 seem low.

Cliveden woods and River Thames

The section from Maidenhead to Marlow is only around 8 miles, though as usual we made a few detours on the way to explore some of the places it took us through. As the pictures show, the day was a dull one and I left the pictures making that clear rather than try to brighten them up.

Cookham Parish Church

The pictures on My London Diary are generally in the order of the route, and the captions there give some information about the walk. On the introductory page I wrote a very short text, and here it is in full (with the odd typo corrected):

The Thames path between Maidenhead and Marlow is quite picturesque, but full of evidence of how the rich get rich by theft. Anyone attempting to tow their boat will find that large sections of the towpath are now fenced in as private property. For walkers, the lack of access opposite Cliveden is annoying – you can really only see this part of the Thames from the river.

Maidenhead – Marlow
The Stanley Spencer Gallery is in the former chapel at the centre of the old village of Cookham

Parts of the route were familiar to me from earlier walks, and I’d recommend doing this walk on a day of the year when the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham is open – and there are also several pubs worthy of some attention where I wasn’t allowed this time to linger.

I think these paired triangles which are navigational transit markers, placed in pairs a set distance apart for craft to time how long they take between them and thus calculate their speed.

On Marlow Bridge I photographed the seals which state SIGIL DE DESBRO and back in 2007 I invited people to e-mail me to explain these. Sigil is simply an archaic word for a seal or pictorial symbol, from the Latin ‘sigillum’. De for ‘of’ comes from the Norman invasion and Desbro is a shortened form of Desborough, one of the three Chiltern Hundreds which dates back to pre-Norman times, though then made up of a number of smaller hundreds.

But by the time the bridge was built the hundreds were largely or entirely historical, and the Chiltern Hundreds last had a real steward in the sixteenth century. In 1624 it was made illegal for Members of Parliament to retire from office, and still are appointed as either ‘Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds’ or of the Manor of Northstead as a legal fiction enabling them to do so.

Marlow Bridge and Church

The name Desborough came back into use in 1905 when William Henry Grenfell who had been an MP for 25 years and made is home in Taplow was sent to the House of Lords as the 1st Baron Desborough. For 35 years he was President of the Thames Conservancy Board and was responsible for the Desborough Cut, a navigational shortcut on the Thames between Walton and Weybridge which, together with the island it created were named after him.

Looking back towards Bourne End

Given there is little or no commercial traffic on the Thames the creation of the cut now seems rather pointless. Although it saves around 1.2 km on the route, the longer passage is far more interesting. But it was perhaps more a scheme to create jobs for men in the depression than anything else.

More at Maidenhead – Marlow.