True to form, Wokingham’s Tories didn’t listen and will plough on with ill-thought-out and rushed cuts to local youth and children’s services. This is despite cross-party committee agreement that consultation on the plans to make cuts had not been done well and had failed to get across to local residents the full implication of what was happening and the impact the cuts might have on the Borough’s young people.
Local Lib Dems have consistently tried to get the Conservatives to stop, listen and think about what they were planning to do. This month the Lib Dems formally challenged the decision of the Conservative Executive. This was after Conservatives at a full council meeting refused to back a Lib Dem motion also calling for Conservatives to stop and listen to residents’ concerns.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Twyford ward) presented the Lib Dem challenge saying “This call-in has been made not so much because there has been a cut in the Youth & Children’s Services budget, but because of how the process of consultation took place and in particular the lack of openness that has occurred.” Following the meeting Lindsay, said “we forced the Conservatives to admit that the consultation wasn’t good enough, but still they all voted to plough on regardless.”
Lib Dem Cllr Beth Rowland (South Lake ward) was furious that the Conservatives voted to continue with their plans despite criticism from the cross-party committee. Beth said “Conservatives just can’t listen because they always think they know what’s best for everyone. Well they don’t. It was clear at the meeting that the Lib Dems won the arguments but the Conservatives just won’t listen.”
Wokingham Borough’s Conservatives have voted through cuts to Youth Services and Children’s centres. Liberal Democrat councillors are so concerned about the basis, justification and impact of these Conservative cuts that they have called in the decision.
Lib Dem councillor Lindsay Ferris (Twyford ward) said “How can this be the right thing for the Borough’s youth when a decision has been made but has not been properly consulted on, it’s not been open, has been misleading and has not made clear what services would be best for young people? For the Tories it’s all about saving money not how this affects people. The Lib Dems fully understand the financial pressures on Wokingham Borough Council but any cuts need to be thoroughly thought through. We want the Council to get this right because young people, their families and local communities will be the ones who suffer. The Lib Dems believe there should be a service for all of the Borough’s young people – Youth and Children’s centres should give an inclusive not exclusive service. We are formally challenging the Tories on these rushed and ill thought out cuts.”
- At the Executive Meeting 26th July Item 36.00 Review of Youth Service and Children’s Centres the Conservative Executive unanimously voted for the cuts.
- The Liberal Democrat Call In was submitted on Tuesday 30th July. It has been signed by five Lib Dem Councillors: Prue Bray (Winnersh ward), Lindsay Ferris (Twyford ward) , Rachelle Shepherd DuBey (Winnersh ward), Dee Tomlin (Twyford ward) and Beth Rowland (South Lake ward).
The Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on Wokingham Borough Council is outraged to discover that the Conservatives have sneaked through an amendment to their planning policy for Wokingham town centre that would allow them to build houses around the site of Carnival Pool.
The Carnival Pool area is included in the masterplan for the town centre as a “Leisure Quarter” and there has previously been no mention of residential development in that location. But a change has been slipped into the final stages of the preparation of an overarching policy document that would allow the Council to build houses there.
The change was spotted by eagle-eyed local Lib Dem Leader Prue Bray while she was reading the agenda for the July meeting of the Council Executive. When challenged, Conservative Council Leader David Lee said that the change had been made so that all options were open to the Council. But Councillor Bray is asking why the Conservatives would need to add the option at this late stage if they weren’t planning to use it.
She says “The Council has an adopted masterplan for the town centre, as it does for all the other major development areas. But the Conservatives have chosen to disregard that document and have added in the possibility of building houses somewhere on the Carnival Pool site, something not previously discussed. So much for all the public consultations and town centre forums! It’s not just the underhand way in which this has been sneaked in that annoys me. It’s the hypocrisy. The Conservatives demand that everyone else follows planning policies, but then disregard the masterplan themselves when it suits them. It’s absolutely outrageous.”