At the Executive meeting last Thursday, the Conservative Executive imposed increases to car parking charges in the Borough.
Councillor Prue Bray (leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wokingham Borough Council) said: ‘One of our councillors, Councillor Kay Gilder, submitted a question asking how the Conservative Executive could contemplate increasing car parking charges in the current economic climate. Thankfully, the Executive took this point on board and decided not to proceed with increasing charges in town centre car parks as they intended. Unfortunately, they slapped even greater increases on the users of the country park car parks than had been suggested. The users of council-owned station car parks will see the amount they pay go up too. The Executive also decided to increase the charges for some season ticket holders.
‘The Liberal Democrats do not believe that car parking charges should be used by the Council as a cash cow. Local people are feeling the squeeze in the current economic climate, and increasing the charges will just make things worse. If the Council wants to encourage people to use its country parks, it has got a very funny way of showing it.’
Liberal Democrats are appalled by the lack of openness shown by the Conservative Executive regarding Wokingham Borough Council’s £10 million investment in the regeneration of Wokingham town centre.
Prue Bray (leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wokingham Borough Council) said: ‘Residents need to know that their money is safe, especially at a time when important services are under threat. It was clear from Cllr Matt Deegan’s recent pleas to members of the Planning Committee to refuse the plans for Lidl that he thought that approval would lead to ‘great dangers’ and significant risks to the town centre regeneration project.’
Councillor Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon ward) said: ‘Residents need to know what financial risks the Council is taking with their money, but the wholly-Conservative council committee formed to oversee the Council’s £10 million investment has not met since November, and even then all the papers and discussion were held in secret.
‘Perhaps this lack of openness was partially responsible for members ignoring Matt Deegan’s pleas to refuse the Lidl application.’
Councillor Bray added: ‘I am shocked that the Leader of the Council was reported in the Wokingham Times as saying that financial openness was not a priority. In these difficult financial times, residents deserve to know the risks that the Council is taking with their money.’
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Leader of the Council, David Lee, to show some leadership and take control of his troubled Conservative Executive – or resign.
Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wokingham Borough Council) said: ‘The Lidl planning application has exposed previously hidden tensions among the Conservatives in Wokingham Borough.
‘In one corner is Matt Deegan, in his role as Executive member for community regeneration, who has angered some of his colleagues by trying to influence the planning committee against Lidl. In the other corner is Gary Cowan, who has annoyed others by cheerleading for Lidl in a planning matter that has nothing to do with his council ward or his Executive brief.
‘At a difficult time for the Council, the decision-makers need to be focused on resolving Wokingham Borough’s problems, not being distracted by a political boxing match.
‘The Leader of the Council cannot keep both Matt Deegan and Gary Cowan on the Executive. He has to decide which side he is on. And if he can’t make up his mind where he stands, he should resign and make way for someone who will show some proper leadership.’