The Liberal Democrats at Wokingham Borough Council have been pointing out problems with the grass-cutting service for over a year, and there have been a number of complaints about long grass, untidiness, and poor maintenance. The issue was discussed by the council’s Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee on Monday 28th July, in response to a petition set up by resident Brian Clark, who was dismayed by the quality of the grass-cutting service run by the Borough. At the meeting it was announced that Executive member Cllr Angus Ross is conducting a review of the grass-cutting which will report in the Autumn.
Lib Dem councillors welcome the council’s review of the grass-cutting regime, but say it is a pity that it took a petition from a member of the public to prompt the council to look at the service.
Leader of the Lib Dem Group, Councillor Prue Bray, who is a member of the Overview & Scrutiny Committe, said “People don’t usually ask the Council for more cuts – but this is one occasion when it might be a good thing! Play areas need more frequent grass-cutting than they are getting, while other areas could be cut less often, such as roadside verges which can be planted with wild flowers. We don’t want dog poo or crushed cans mixed up with the cuttings in our open spaces, and we want hedges and brambles kept under control so that pavements are safe to walk along, road signs are visible, and drivers can see when they are turning out onto a main road.”
She continued “I would like to congratulate Brian Clark on his initiative in starting a petition to get the grass-cutting service improved. I hope Cllr Ross’s review does produce some changes, and won’t just kick this issue into the long grass.”
At last week’s Council meeting, Liberal Democrat councillors proposed that Wokingham Borough Council take control of enforcing parking restrictions and tackle the issue of inconsiderate parking in the Borough once and for all. Wokingham’s council is one of very few that relies on the police to provide parking enforcement but the police do not have the resources to deal with it.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Twyford ward) said “This is a problem across the Borough and many councillors have received complaints or concerns from residents about anti-social parking in their area. Problems range from long term parking where commuters park all day, or short term inconsiderate parking outside of schools in the morning or evening rush hours. The current situation where any action on parking enforcement is dependent upon Thames Valley Police support is no longer sustainable. We believe now is the time to review this relationship and decriminalise parking in this area as soon as practically possible. We realise there will be costs involved and that it will take some time to organise, but we believe our long suffering residents deserve better.”
Cllr Dee Tomlin (Twyford ward) added “I am pleased that the Conservatives have seen sense and supported our proposal and will consult with residents. But I am concerned that they will take their time and then hide behind an unnecessarily drawn out consultation to delay doing anything as they have been avoiding this problem for years. The Lib Dems have been pushing for improvements to enforcement for years and we will not let them off the hook – our residents want to see an end to the nightmare this illegal and inconsiderate parking causes them.”
In April the Lib Dems announced their alternative town centre plans, a key part of which would help small independent retailers in the town to benefit from the huge growth potential of online shopping and also boost trade for all the shops in our towns across the Borough. Now the lib Dems are urging the Conservative led Wokingham Borough Council to get a move on and address the potential impact of internet shopping on their plans for Wokingham Town Centre.
Cllr Prue Bray Leader of the Lib Dems said ” Recent studies and indeed activity in the retail sector backs exactly what we have been saying and now even a Conservative government minister has woken up to the scale and potential of internet shopping for our town centres. Yet the Council is still silent on this issue. Philip Mirfin has recently publically dismissed the idea that on line shopping is worth looking at. It is really worrying that Wokingham Borough Council’s Conservatives are so behind on all this. They are out of touch, won’t listen to us or more importantly many of our residents, and have failed to understand what’s going on in the retail sector.
They seem determined to press on with their plans without taking account of the impact of on line retail and click and collect. If they don’t take account of this their £95 million project may fail to regenerate the town. The cost of this project continues to rise and so do the risks for Wokingham Borough council tax payers. “
Cllr Lindsay Ferris added “We urge the Conservatives to look at our plans and listen to residents. We urge them not to build unnecessary shops on Elms Field, but to be innovative and make the most of our assets keeping and improving Elms Field as a large green park. We urge the Conservatives to get a move on and adapt their stalled Town Centre plans in line with our alternatives before Wokingham and all our other high streets get left behind.”