Scottish and Southern Energy were poised to cut down three landmark willows at Kennet Mouth. Fortunately quick thinking from Wokingham Councillor Jenny Lissaman and some cross-boundary work with Reading Councillor Rob White has saved the day.
While working with Grahame Hawker from Earley Town Council planning a tidy up of Kennet Mouth, at the boundary of east Reading and Wokingham, Jenny came across Scottish and Southern Energy and their plans to fell three significant willow trees at Kennet Mouth which were growing close to electricity cables.
As Kennet Mouth is on the boundary between Reading and Wokingham Jenny contacted Reading Councillor Rob White. Both Councillors lobbied the tree officers from their respective authorities, and following a site meeting with Scottish and Southern Energy a compromise was agreed.
The problematic trees are now all due to be reshaped to bring them away from the power cables and not cut down as was previously planned.
Jenny said: “it was a stroke of luck that I was waiting to meet up with my colleague and the Conservation Volunteers and found out about the plans, otherwise the outcome could have been very different.”
Rob said: “Reading officers were really helpful on this providing us with professional opinion and technical detail which helped us to argue that these trees are an important feature of the area and that the felling of them is unnecessary.”
Local Lib Dems have mounted a furious attack on the Conservatives over their plans to focus spending on Wokingham as their “key” town, to the exclusion of all other parts of the Borough. The Conservatives have announced plans to spend almost £100 million on Wokingham town centre, including a new station link road and a revamped railway station, with almost no money planned to be spent on improvements elsewhere in the Borough.
Lib Dem leader, Cllr Prue Bray (Winnersh ward) said “This borough is not like Bracknell Forest or Reading, with one big town and a few satellite communities. We have three communities roughly the same size in Earley, Woodley and Wokingham town, and a whole host of villages. Wokingham town is getting nearly all the money, and nearly all the attention. It feels like the Conservatives have forgotten that this council has a responsibility to the whole borough, not just to one corner of it.
The Conservatives constructed their budget in isolation without consultation with anyone outside their group. They ignore what the borough’s residents are calling for – not expensive schemes but basic services – for example, public toilets, a decent library in Twyford, and tackling illegal parking problems. The council is pouring the best part of £100 million into Wokingham town centre. The whole of the rest of the borough has to make do with only a tiny fraction of that amount.”
Cllr Dee Tomlin (Twyford ward) added “For years we have campaigned to replace Twyford’s grotty dilapidated portacabin library with a decent community facility. But in this budget there is no money for Twyford – or anywhere else. Wokingham town gets a whole feast of investment. And the rest of us are left with – well, not even scraps. “
Wokingham Borough’s Lib Dems have vowed to continue to fight for a fair deal for residents across the Borough.
Woodley Town Council decided at their Full Council meeting on Tuesday (12th February) to maintain the precept at the same level as last year.
Beth Rowland, Lib Dem leader of Woodley Town Council said “I think it is important that Woodley Town Council continues to respond to the difficult financial situation faced by many families in Woodley and this is the fourth year in a row the Woodley Town Council precept has been set at the same level. This represents a huge effort to control costs by everyone at Woodley Town Council.”
Phil Challis Lib Dem deputy leader of Woodley Town Council said “The Lib Dem leadership of Woodley Town Council are committed to maintaining the range of services the town council provide and wherever possible, we will step in to provide some of the services that are being cut back by Wokingham Borough Council.” He added “Woodley Town Council provide the swimming pool, leisure centres and community facilities that are so necessary to retain Woodley’s sense of community without any funding from Wokingham Borough Council”
Beth Rowland said “We think the decision of the Conservative’s leadership at Wokingham Borough Council to close public toilets was uncivilised and wrong for Woodley. Lib Dems have been pressing for new proper public toilets in the town and have agreed to maintain any new toilets in the future. We are pressing Wokingham Borough to provide funds to build new toilets as soon as possible”
Phil Challis “Other Conservative led town and parish councils in Wokingham Borough have increased household precepts up to 2.7% and so Lib Dems are proud that the prudent financial management at Woodley Town Council has once more meant no increase in our precept for our residents.”