At the Wokingham Borough Council meeting on 19th January, Lib Dem Cllr Sue Smith called on the Conservatives to make their Green Waste Scheme fairer by reducing the proposed charges, especially for people on the lowest incomes.
The Council’s current garden waste collection is free. The Conservatives have announced that from April they will charge £60 a year for a green waste wheelie bin or £1 each for disposable paper sacks.
Cllr Smith says “Recycling is better for the environment and saves the council many thousands a year in Landfill Tax. So it is really important that residents join in a Green Waste Recycling Scheme. But charging £60 a year is likely to put them off rather than encourage them. Other councils manage to offer a similar service at only half the cost to residents. Why is Wokingham planning to charge so much?
Cllr Smith added “We are particularly concerned that there are no concessions on the charges for those on the lowest incomes. We don’t think that is fair.”
Although the Conservatives voted against the call to rethink the scheme, the Liberal Democrats hope that now they have heard the arguments the Conservatives will change the scheme to make it fairer.
A row erupted last night in Wokingham Borough Council Chamber when Lib Dems were outraged by Conservative hypocrisy over public toilets.
Woodley Conservative Councillors Shahid Younis and Keith Baker attacked the Lib Dems for proposing the reinstatement of public toilets – even though Woodley Conservative leaflets claimed the Conservatives were lobbying for new public toilets for Woodley & Whitegates.
Cllr Jenny Lissaman, Lib Dem councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates, said “I was really shocked. Not only had the Tories put out the leaflets, but also in private some Tory members had indicated that they agreed with residents’ calls to return public loos to our town centres. Yet when given the opportunity to vote to reinstate public toilets all the Conservative councillors lined up like sheep and voted against.”
In the debate it was announced that the Chequers Pub in Woodley had recently joined the local loos scheme. Munir Ahmed, Lib Dem campaigner for Bulmershe & Whitegates, said “Many sections of our community are uncomfortable having to go into a public house to use the toilet and for those in the Asian and Muslim communities this is simply not an option. I call on Wokingham Borough Council to simply give us back our public toilets.”
Lesley Hayward, Lib Dem Woodley Town Councillor for Bulmershe, said “Woodley Town Council has requested that Wokingham Borough Council use some of the developer contributions from the Sandford Farm development and do the decent thing by reinstating public toilets in Woodley Town Centre.”
Lib Dems in Woodley are continuing to press the Conservative led Wokingham Borough Council to replace the borough managed toilets that were closed and removed in 2009.
Following indications that the Conservative’s might be weakening their “no public toilets” policy Sam Rahmouni, Lib Dem Wokingham Borough Councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates, asked Gary Cowan, the Executive member for toilets, at Thursday’s council meeting “When will you be replacing the public toilets in Woodley Town Centre”? David Lee, the leader of the council, answering for the absent Cllr Cowan did not rule out new toilets, saying residents would have to wait to see what would be in their next budget.
Beth Rowland, Lib Dem leader of Woodley Town Council, said “It was a very bad day for Woodley when the Conservatives closed all of the borough managed toilets. I understand that Wokingham Town may be getting new public toilets, as part of the Wokingham Regeneration Project, in which the Conservative led council is investing £87m. As there appears to be no sign of the Conservatives supporting a regeneration of Woodley town centre anytime in the near future I am calling on them to do the right thing by Woodley and least give us back a borough-managed public toilet – quickly!”
Lesley Hayward, Lib Dem Woodley Town Councillor for Bulmershe, said “I suggest that residents email or write to their borough councillors to keep up the pressure on the Conservative led council to deliver new public toilets”.