Last night there was utter disbelief from the Lib Dems as the Tories showed that we are definitely NOT all in it together by putting themselves first and the Borough’s young people second.
The Council received a report from the independent panel that looks at councillors pay. The panel recommended no increases this year. The Conservatives overrode the report and voted for extra pay for six of their own councillors.
Later in the meeting after rewarding themselves, the Conservatives voted against a Lib Dem motion calling on the Council to stop the Conservative decision making Executive from making sweeping cuts to the borough’s children’s and youth services. The Liberal Democrats voted against the extra pay and were outraged that the Conservatives awarded themselves more money at a time when they are cutting services for young people.
Kay Gilder (South Lake ward) said “The Conservatives have sent a message loud and clear that for them its local residents last and Wokingham’s Conservatives first. They refuse to listen and just disregard anyone that tries to stop them riding roughshod over local residents’ views. The panel explained that the Conservative councillors should not be paid more as they do not have any additional responsibility or any extra decision making powers over and above any other member of the council. Why on earth should they be given more of local taxer payer’s money? These Conservatives are comfortable in their safe seats and seem to think residents just have to put up with whatever rewards they decide to give themselves.”
We understand the tough financial squeeze on the Council and recognise that money needs to go further and do more. Liberal Democrats believe services to the public should come first. Conservatives obviously believe in feathering their own nest – they even backdated their extra pay!”
Local Liberal Democrat councillors are extremely worried about planned Conservative cuts to Wokingham Borough’s Children’s Centres and the Youth Services.
Over half a million pounds of cuts are coming, and judging from the Council’s own press release, they are set to hit hardest the children and youth of Woodley, Earley, Winnersh and Twyford.
Cllr Kay Gilder (South Lake ward) said “I am deeply worried that our local children and youth will suffer most from Conservative cuts. In February the Tories voted for £570,000a year to be cut from the budget of the youth service and children’s centres. The Lib Dems voted against this.
“In June, the Tories have asked people to ‘have a say and help make a difference’ but surely it would have been better to consult first and then adjust the budget, rather than the other way round? Conservatives and Lib Dems have very different views on consultation – the usual Conservative version tells people what they are going to get.
“In July, the Conservative Executive will make their final decision. Local Lib Dems have listened to local residents’ concerns and will be spearheading a petition to challenge the Conservative cuts to services for our young people.”
Our recent press release (23/05/13) confirmed that the Leisure Services and Plans Committees at Woodley Town Council were incorrectly constituted at the recent controversial Full Council Meeting. Conservative councillors were elected to seats on these committees that were allocated to the Independent Group under proportionality rules, by the Independent and Conservative groups voting together. These seats have now been declared vacant.
The Lib Dem Group can now further confirm that following a protest by the Lib Dem group regarding these voting irregularities that the elections of the Conservative Chair and Vice Chairs of the Plans and Leisure Services Committees by the committees at the Annual Meeting have also been rules invalid.
Phil Challis, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group said “The Independent Group and Conservative group ignored Standing Orders and gave more seats on committees to Conservatives than Lib Dems although the Conservatives have fewer seats on the council. This blatant attempt to ignore basic democratic processes shows a lack of any conscience, a total contempt for democracy and a willingness to do anything to grab power”
Beth Rowland, Leader of the Lib Dem Group said “I am calling on Cllr Jenny Cheng, Leader of the Conservative Group to join me in urging the two councillors, who triggered this situation by resigning from our two parties to resign their seats on the council. The people of Woodley should be allowed to use the ballot box to decide who runs Woodley” Beth added “If these councillors had a conscience and respect for democracy and their residents wishes, who voted for them as Lib Dems and Conservatives, they would both resign anyway without any further prompting”