At the Trading and Enterprises sub-committee of Wokingham Borough Council on 22nd October, Liberal Democrat councillors questioned the Conservatives over their sudden decision to place Wokingham Enterprises Ltd (WEL) into a dormant state. The Conservatives did not offer any explanation as to why their move came out of the blue.
Leader of the Lib Dem Group, Prue Bray said “Only a month ago John Pike (a director of WEL) and Cllr Alistair Corrie spoke to a meeting of the Wokingham Society. Nothing was said then about WEL ceasing its activities. At the last council meeting, also a month ago, the Lib Dems asked questions about the council-owned companies, including WEL. Nothing was said about WEL ceasing its activities at that meeting either.
“And it was only in August this year that – despite Lib Dem protests – the Conservatives insisted on paying fellow Conservative councillors £6,095 a year for being non-executive directors, for what they claimed was a very important job. It can’t have been that important if the company has been made dormant without a single word from any of the directors!”
The Liberal Democrats say the Conservatives must explain why they have brought WEL’s activities to so sudden a halt .
Prue Bray added “The activities of WEL have been shrouded in mystery from the start. WEL had control of over £9 million of council assets, but their finances have not been open to scrutiny in the same way that the council’s own finances are. Councillors have had to resort to paying Companies House to view copies of documents. The Conservatives spent a lot of money on setting the company up and paying directors, but we don’t really know what they have been doing.
“The Conservatives have made WEL dormant but we don’t know whether that is permanent. And they haven’t explained why it had to be done so suddenly. This is no way to treat taxpayers’ money.
“The whole thing has been unsatisfactory from start to finish, and the Lib Dems will be calling for a proper explanation.”
Alistair Corrie is the Conservative councillor responsible for the regeneration of Wokingham town centre. He is also a member of the Trading and Enterprises Sub-Committee (TESC).