The Coalition Government has announced a £150 million boost for school sports nationally from September. Every state primary school in the Wokingham Borough will receive funding for sports in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
The funding is the equivalent of around two days a week of a primary teacher’s time to provide more sport for their pupils.
Wokingham Borough’s schools will receive more than £400,000 in funding.
Commenting Liberal Democrat Cllr Kay Gilder (South Lake ward) said: “This money means children in Wokingham Borough will have more opportunities to take part in sport in primary schools.
Sport can help children to build confidence, understand teamwork and, above all, keep healthy. Liberal Democrats are determined to make sure we take advantage of the enthusiasm we saw during the Olympics last year.
The best legacy of the Games would be more children taking part in sport and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Liberal Democrat Councillors are extremely concerned about the additional costs of OPTALIS – the Wokingham Borough Council owned company that provides adult social care to the Borough’s residents. A Special Council Executive Meeting was held on 28th March at which councillors were asked to approve a £50,000 injection into OPTALIS to help balance its books for the year 2012/13.
The Liberal Democrat representative on that committee, Cllr Prue Bray, said: “The residents of Wokingham are being asked to provide £50,000 to make Optalis’s balance sheet look better than it really is. The Conservatives claimed that this is entirely normal and the extra equity could have been provided when the company was set up. But they didn’t anticipate the need for it then. Things don’t seem to have gone as well as they thought, and it has become necessary to out more money in to avoid a poor credit rating affecting Optalis’s ability to win new business. I find this deeply unsatisfactory. The council-owned limited companies are supposed to make money for the council, not cost us more.”
Noting that Optalis had recently parted company with its finance director, Cllr Bray continued “This should have gone to the full council meeting for a decision, encouraging debate and showing transparency. Instead it went to a committee of only 6 councillors. There was a full council meeting only last week. The excuse given as to why the item did not go to that meeting was that the council did not know in time that the equity injection was needed. I find that deeply worrying, as it would mean Optalis had almost reached the end of its financial year before it realised it was going to need a helping hand. Surely it should have been obvious earlier?”
Councillor Bray voted against the recommendation. The Liberal Democrats will continue to scrutinise the limited companies and to demand greater transparency on their activities.
Liberal Democrat councillors have proposed that Wokingham Borough Council create a cross party group to look at improving the Council’s management of existing and future contracts. Co-ordinating this work across the whole of the council’s services would ensure suppliers are delivering exactly what the Council wants at the best possible price.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris was disappointed that the Conservatives voted against this suggestion to improve the Council’s procurement and contract management process despite evidence the Council needs to do better. He said: “This is a blow for common sense, this is an area that could help the Council and in the current financial climate the Council must be more business-like and commercial in its approach. We believe that many thousands of pounds could be saved, particularly if we work together for the benefit of our residents.
The Conservatives obviously believe that the Council’s procurement and contract management are fine as they are. Well the Lib Dems do not. We will be looking closely at contracts and are determined to make sure that Wokingham’s residents get the best possible from them.”