There obviously isn’t that much happening in Wokingham at the moment – the big news, splashed on the front page of the Wokingham Times this week is that local links have emerged with potential US presidential candidate, Barack Obama, and he has even visited! Sounds really quite exciting until you realise that the ‘visit’ was when he enjoyed a night out in Wokingham and Bracknell a decade ago…
The front page of the Wokingham Times this week proclaimed that Wokingham had been crowned the best place to live in the UK – a story that even made the national news – the source of the story being Halifax Estate Agents. Having said that, two pages on in the paper was an article under the headline â€œCost, Weather and Crime cause Mass Exodus to Australiaâ€?:
The rising cost of living and bad weather has been blamed for a surge in the number of Wokingham residents moving abroad.
Needless to say, the irony of a ‘mass exodus’ to leave the apparently best place to live in the UK is not lost on some of comments on the Get Wokingham site!
I may have baulked at the prospect of my local council spending my taxes on a probably fruitless attempt to stop it, but I’m certainly pleased to hear that Reading has scrapped the loony one way IDR plan. The idea was that turning the whole of the IDR into one giant roundabout would ease traffic congestion in the town, however taking our usage as an example, a trip to almost anywhere in town, like the sorting office, or the station would have resulted in us having to drive a complete circuit around the town centre to get there and back. Currently we only have to use a short stretch of the IDR for most journeys, so making the change would increase the amount of time we would have spent driving around Reading not reduced it. Unfortunately for Reading taxpayers though, their local council has now spent a truckload of money on a totally fruitless exercise – it’s back to the drawing board for how to solve Reading’s traffic problems.
That Palmer killed Steven Bayliss and T.Wood Nadauld wasn’t in any doubt – he had pleaded guilty to manslaughter – however the prosecution maintained, and proved the charge of murder this afternoon.
The arguments that it was manslaughter were presented last week, firstly that they had been drinking, and had disagreed – Palmer saying that the alcohol had meant that he couldn’t think straight. However, medical tests indicated that he had no drink or drugs in his bloodstream at the time of the attack.
Later, there was evidence from a psychiatrist of Palmer’s mental state. He had reported symptoms of paranoia associated with the early stages of schizophrenia, and also with his use of cannabis – somewhat of a sad irony considering the front page of the Independent yesterday. He also had a fascination with knives, and according to his girlfriend a film about a serial killer had recently become a favourite.
Hopefully, Palmer being convicted will bring some sense of closure to the families, who from their statements after the verdict are still struggling to make sense of what has happened. According to her victim impact statement read at the trial, Steven’s mother has not even changed the sheets on her son’s bed. (Incidentally, there is a separate article exploring the impact of the murders on the BBC site.) However the life sentence with a recommended tariff of 20 years, of which Palmer has already served 2 years, has already sparked much discussion as being too lenient – certainly with all the talk of schizophrenia and paranoia I was expecting him to be sent somewhere like Broadmoor, whether he was found guilty of the murder charge or manslaughter.
So as of today, we now live in the Borough of Wokingham, after the local council changed it’s name for the third time in five years. The other change is that the Council Chairman is now called the Mayor of Wokingham – a slight confusion with the other Mayor of Wokingham, who is Mayor of Wokingham town only. The Wokingham Borough name is not new though – the name was used up until 1974 when Wokingham Borough, and Wokingham Rural District were brought together to form Wokingham District, which existed under Berkshire County Council, until that was abolished in 1998.
The BBC is mocking the whole name change too, especially as the council is reacting to the many complaints that it is a waste of money by saying that none of the signs will be changed… So why bother?
According to the leader of the Council Frank Browne, it is to get ‘proper’ funding – as if changing the name will have any effect. Sadly, I think he may find that the reduced funding is as much to do with the fact that Wokingham regularly comes high up in quality of life surveys due to the high earnings and above average house prices across the area.
In reality I suspect the name change is as much to do with being called a borough, and having a mayor as any of this stuff over money – just local councillors wanting to make themselves sound important – if they were really concerned about money, they wouldn’t be wasting it on another pointless name change would they? After all, the new name isn’t going to change the people actually running the local authority…
So the much predicted snowfall finally hit our area overnight.
As usual for a snow day in Southern England, scores of schools are closed, and there is travel chaos. This is the view of our office car park at just before 9am this morning – somewhat more empty than usual. However since I’m now working only about 5 miles from home, rather than nearly 50 miles, it was a pretty straightforward trip to work for me. Of course the real problems will come tonight, when having partially melted during the day, it’s all going to freeze.
I snapped this shot off last night when I was leaving work to head home. So after the chaos the day before, this is the one remaining TV crew, from the BBC South news team, all set up on the corner for a live outside broadcast. They’d been there pretty well all day, sitting around, with a lone policeman for part of the day parked up in an adjacent car park. Everybody else packed up and went home the day before – BBC South seemed to be the only people who thought it was important to leave a crew here.
Needless to say nothing happened during the day, and the reporter just ended up linking together a couple of other film sequences about the events of the day before – all the action had moved to Swansea…