A lively debate ensued at Wokingham Borough’s Council meeting as the Lib Dems proposed that the Council should commit to two clear priorities when setting the budget.
The Lib Dems proposed that the Council should prioritise the provision of services for the benefit of the public and value for money for residents. Councillor Lindsay Ferris explained “focusing on these two priorities would help the Conservatives avoid making decisions using the wrong priorities, which happened in July when they decided to pay themselves more at the same time as deciding to cut local youth services. It is clear that next year’s budget is going to be tough and may require a more radical approach but at the moment the Conservatives have the wrong priorities.”
Cllr Dee Tomlin who proposed the motion slammed the Council Leader with a quote from Mr Lee who said previously “Finance openness is not a priority for Council.” Dee said “why is it that after all these years during which the Lib Dems have cried out for inclusion in the budget process the Conservatives are only now saying they might involve us – just when things are really tough? We disagree with the Conservatives’ priorities – paying themselves while cutting services, ignoring the Independent Remuneration Panel, rolling the dice on the Town Centre Regeneration project and missing opportunities to vastly improve the Council’s contract management.”
The Conservatives amended the motion so that it put less emphasis on value for money and services for residents.
At last week’s Council Meeting, Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats clashed with Conservatives over their controversial plans to build on Elms Field.
Desperate to sell their scheme in the face of increasing opposition, the Conservatives wheeled out a Conservative Wokingham Town Councillor and sympathetic local trader to back up a presentation on their plans. Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Twyford Ward) said “we tried valiantly to get to the facts beyond the PR exercise and raised concerns about the loss of green space and the viability of the scheme but fifteen minutes for questions was never going to be enough time.”
The public gallery was overflowing with residents also desperate to find out what is planned but Leader of the Council David Lee absolutely refused to hold a local poll on the issue. Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey (Winnersh ward) said “perhaps he’s afraid that the result would show just how much opposition there is to the plans”.
Local Lib Dems are holding a Rally on Elms Field at 2pm on Sunday 29th September and urge local residents to come along and make their voices heard. Cllr Prue Bray said “We look forward to giving residents an opportunity to hear the facts, ask questions freely and most importantly we will listen to their views. I am really concerned that the message about these plans for Elms Field has failed to reach the majority of Wokingham’s residents.
“Elms Field is a valuable green space that once ‘regenerated’ will hold houses, shops and a hotel, and the green open space will be reduced by two thirds. Come along to the rally to listen to the facts and make your voice heard.”
Wokingham Borough Council looks set to make a decision about which site to choose for a new Twyford library. Local Twford Liberal Democrat councillors have been campaigning for a new village library for more than twelve years and finally seem to be on the verge of achieving what so many people in the village want.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Twyford Ward) explained “The Council has been considering two options and it looks as though they now favour one of these. At last week’s Council meeting I asked for confirmation of the status of our Twyford Community Hub project. I also raised concerns that the Council is leaving interested local people and local Lib Dems out of the process. This is risky, as after all our hard work over more than twelve years, we are fully aware of what local residents want. The Conservatives have so far kept the local councillors out of the talks, but Twyford Lib Dem councillors are determined to push this through to a successful completion.”