Lib Dems in Woodley understand that the agents for some of the boarded up flats above the shops in Woodley town centre have confirmed that they are going to be brought back into use for housing with assistance from a government grant. Lib Dems are pleased that the Lib Dem proposal to bring these flats back into use is finally moving forward.
In 2011 a Lib Dem petition seeking efforts to regenerate Woodley was rejected in a very off-hand way by the Conservative leadership at Wokingham Borough Council. When presenting the petition with almost 1000 signatures Phil Challis, who was a Lib Dem borough councillor at the time said “I would suggest that a little investment of officer time in discussing issues and promoting improvements with property owners would be a good start – it is a scandal that many flats over the shops in Woodley are boarded up whilst the borough is crying out for affordable homes”
The response from the Conservative Executive Member for regeneration was that Woodley would have to wait for funds to become available after a successful Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration project, which the Conservatives thought would provide the funds to regenerate Woodley.
Lib Dems believed that progress could be made much more quickly and that Woodley town centre could be improved without spending the millions that the Conservatives were planning to spend on Wokingham. Despite the negative response from the Conservative leadership, Lib Dems councillors worked with officers behind the scenes to identify possibilities.
Jenny Lissaman, former Lib Dem councillor said “It’s a good job we didn’t wait for the Conservatives to finish the Wokingham project, as that all seems to be going pear-shaped and taking a long time. There are much simpler, community based actions that can make big improvements to the town’s environment. I and other Lib Dems kept up the pressure and with council officers we identified that a government grant was available to bring these boarded up and empty properties back into use as affordable homes”.
Tom McCann, Lib Dem councillor for Loddon said “This was part of a commitment I made when I was elected in 2012 and this is a very positive step for Woodley. Lib Dems will always speak up for Woodley”.