Woodley and Whitegates Liberal Democrats are calling on the Conservatives to return borough managed public toilets to Woodley town centre and the borough’s other commercial centres. There is a clear need in a civilised society for public toilets in our commercial centres and the “local loos” scheme introduced by the Conservatives is just not good enough.
Lesley Hayward, Woodley Town Councillor for Bulmershe, says “Lib Dems in Woodley have undertaken extensive research and have confirmed that a good quality, modern, automatic, self-cleaning toilet with many anti-vandal features could be installed in the town centre for £80,000 to £100,000″. Lesley Hayward added that “Research has shown that a small charge of 20p is highly effective at reducing vandalism of public toilets and the borough council could use the income to cover a percentage of the annual running costs by making a charge so, overall, Lib Dems would support charging as a positive step in securing a long term future for public toilets in Woodley town centre.”
Plans for major developments at Sandford Farm, Reading University’s Bulmershe Campus, Old Addington School and the old LinPac site in Headley Road have been submitted to Wokingham Borough Council. Phil Challis, Woodley Town Councillor for Loddon Airfield, says “Lib Dems are calling on the Wokingham Borough Council to ensure that developer contributions from all developments in Woodley are spent in Woodley for the benefit of new and existing residents and I feel that it would be absolutely right to spend some of the developer contributions for community facilities on a public toilet in the town centre”
Beth Rowland, Lib Dem leader of Woodley Town Council, said “It was a very bad day for Woodley when the Conservatives closed all the borough managed toilets. I understand that Wokingham Town may be getting a new public toilet 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!”
When they were planning to build their supermarket LIDL offered to build toilets for Woodley, but were asked to withdraw this offer when the Conservative led Wokingham Borough Council decided to do away with borough managed public toilets altogether. Prue Bray, Lib Dem leader on Wokingham Borough Council, says “I fully support this proposal by Woodley and Whitegates Lib Dems, but would like to point out that yet again the failure of the Conservatives to think through the impact of their knee jerk policy decisions will scupper other worthy community projects by using up a fair chunk of the limited amount of contributions available from developers.”
Library campaigners Anthony Vick and Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey are calling on the public to come and witness the first debate triggered by a petition in the history of Wokingham Borough Council. The debate will take place at the Council meeting on 17th November. It will be the first time non-councillors have had the chance to speak in a debate – and the first chance for a full public discussion of the Conservatives’ plans for the library service.
The petition asking the Conservatives to think again about privatisation of the library service is the first to exceed the threshold of 1500 signatures required to trigger a debate at Council meeting. The petition was started after Conservative councillor UllaKarin Clark announced out of the blue in May that the Council would be “outsourcing the library service to a private sector organisation”.
Rachelle and Anthony will be speaking at the beginning of the debate, with councillors then able to join in. Anthony believes it is important that the council takes notice of the strength of feeling about this issue. He said “Over 2,300 people signed our petition. They are concerned about the future of a service that many people in the Borough value. There has been no consultation and no discussion on this issue. I hope that the Conservatives will now, for once, listen to what the public say, and rethink their plans.”
Rachelle hopes that as many people as possible will attend the Council meeting on 17th November. She said “The meeting is open to the public, and I would encourage them to come and hear what councillors from both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have to say. There is a chance sanity will prevail, as over the past few months there have been signs that the petition has forced the Conservatives to think the issue through. I hope they will reconsider and not simply plough ahead as they have done on other issues in the past.”
Hundreds of people have signed the Liberal Democrats’ petition to ask Conservative Wokingham Borough Council to think again about outsourcing the library service to a private company. And the number of signatures is growing on a daily basis.
The first part of the outsourcing process has been completed, and the council are now choosing which bidders they are taking forward to next stage.
The leader of the council, Cllr David Lee, has objected to the Liberal Democrat campaign and has publicly accused them of scaremongering.
Cllr Prue Bray (Leader of Wokingham Liberal Democrats) said: ‘The Leader of the Council appears to think he should be able to do what ever he wants without any opposition. That is ridiculous. Libraries matter to people and we are going to carry on campaigning. We think the Conservatives have got this wrong.
‘The Conservatives want to spend less on libraries – but how can anyone deliver a good service for less money and make a profit at the same time?
‘Libraries are an invaluable resource that should be run for the benefit of local communities and not for profit. It would be very easy for the leader of the Council to reassure local residents. All he has to do is to guarantee that no libraries will be closed as a result of the process and that all the services that are currently available will continue.’
The petition can be found at http://tinyurl.com/WBCLibraries.