Despite promises to return a community garden to its original state after completing the Decent Homes work in Drovers Way, Woodley, Liberal Democrats have learnt that Conservative-led borough council now plan to keep the compound on the site of the Drover’s Way community garden until the end of the year while they work in Winnersh.
Tom McCann (Liberal Democrat campaigner for Loddon) said: ‘When the Conservative-led council placed the work compound on the community garden it destroyed the wonderful efforts of our young citizens in creating a garden on a patch of land that had been poorly maintained by the council for years. At the time, the Liberal Democrats argued that the compound should have gone elsewhere, but were told that it needed to be near to the houses being renovated – so why isn’t it being moved to Winnersh now?’
Sue Smith (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon ward) said: ‘At this rate the children involved in the project, which was run by the council’s own community officers, will have grown up and left home before it is restored. It is a disgrace that when our children have shown an interest in their community that the Conservative-led council has shown such little respect for their efforts.’
Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon ward) said: ‘I want to hold David Lee, the Conservatives leader, to his commitment that the children’s community garden would definitely be reinstated as soon as the contractors have moved off site. The contractors have now finished work in Drovers Way, and the compound is not moving, so this appears to be yet another broken Tory promise.’
Liberal Democrats are concerned that stories about the possible investment of £6 million in the refurbishment of Bulmershe School were just a political stunt by the Conservatives during the election campaign.
Jenny Lissaman (Lib Dem councillor for Bulmershe & Whitegates ward) said: “I intend to ensure that the pledges made by the Conservatives in the press and in their election literature regarding investments in the refurbishment of Bulmershe School during the election campaign are met in full.
“I have real concerns that the investment may not materialise and hope that I, the school, parents, pupils and prospective pupils have not had our hopes raised for nothing by some Conservative election stunt. In a highly unusual step, a senior Borough Council officer, Andy Couldrick, was driven to writing to the press to deny claims during the elections by the Conservative candidate in Bulmershe & Whitegates that more money had been allocated to Bulmershe School. In this letter, Andy Couldrick stated: ‘No Executive or council decision on financial investment has yet been taken.’”
Lesley Hayward, the unsuccessful Liberal Democrat candidate in the ward, said: “I would be delighted to see refurbishment at Bulmershe, as it is long overdue. Lib Dems have been lobbying the council to maintain the school properly for years. It is a great shame that it took the controversy around this year’s consultation on school catchment areas for the Tory-led council to realise that they cannot continue to let the fabric of our school crumble.”
Prue Bray (leader of Wokingham Liberal Democrats) said: “Senior council officers have confirmed to me that no money has currently been allocated for a Bulmershe project and Lesley’s election agent and I will be raising the electoral implications of these stories with the Returning Officer.”
Jenny Lissaman added: “The Liberal Democrats will be asking Rob Stanton (Executive Member for Children’s Services) to confirm this pledge of £6 million and provide details of what this £6 million investment will buy at the earliest opportunity. Bulmershe urgently needs extra investment and I have no intention of letting the Conservatives off the hook now that they have promised the money in their election campaign.”
Wokingham Liberal Democrats were outraged to learn that no decision making body at Wokingham Borough Council took any decision to axe travel tokens from the elderly. Following her question at last Thursday’s Executive, Cllr Jenny Lissaman was told that the decision to axe travel tokens was made during the budget process because it was the most “efficient” way of doing so.
Cllr Lissaman said: ‘It is disgraceful that the Conservatives have admitted that the decision to axe travel tokens from the elderly was taken in secret because it was more “efficient” to do so. It was nothing to do with efficiency. The Conservative council took the decision in secret because they knew what an outcry there would be if anyone found out beforehand.’
‘Now more than 5,000 residents over the age of 70 no longer receive travel tokens. This change has been made without any warning or consideration for the needs of those elderly people. This is entirely the wrong way to go about things and our elderly residents deserve much better than this.’