Is all well with WEL?

The Lib Dems have been startled to discover that the Conservative councillors on the Trading & Enterprises sub-committee (TESC), charged with overseeing the activities of Wokingham Enterprises Ltd, have approved the appointment of a director to the board of the company – even though the company had already terminated his appointment.

Wokingham Enterprises Ltd (WEL) is the company set up by the council to take over council-owned property in Wokingham town centre as part of the regeneration.  It is planned that it will also be given control of other property around the borough, and may even expand its property portfolio beyond the borough’s borders.   The company has been set up with 7 directors – 2 councillors, 2 council officers and 3 paid external directors with specialist knowledge.

Cllr Dee Tomlin (Lib Dem Councillor for Twyford ward) said: “WEL currently holds £10 million of council – that is, public – assets.  Handing assets over to someone else is not without risk.  It is really important that we are sure that the money is safe.  An awful lot of what is happening is being done behind closed doors.  That makes the role of TESC vitally important, as TESC meetings are almost the only place where the public, press and opposition can go to find out what is happening and reassure ourselves that there is proper oversight of WEL.

“The Lib Dems have been trying hard to find out what is going on, and so we have been paying our own money in fees to Companies House to get copies of the WEL documents that have been filed.  One of those documents showed that one of the paid external directors, only appointed to the board in January, had his appointment terminated on 10th February.  Imagine our surprise when on 21st February, TESC went ahead and confirmed his appointment – without a word being said about the fact that he was no longer a director.   This calls into question the effectiveness of TESC – and is yet another example of the unacceptable secrecy surrounding the set up of WEL.”

Published by Woodley & Whitegates Liberal Democrats, 26 Farriers Close Woodley, Reading RG5 3DD.

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