Wokingham Liberal Democrats are extremely concerned that the committee set up to oversee the town centre regeneration, has never met, because its two planned meetings were cancelled. Councillor Phil Challis will be asking a question about the double cancellation of the committee at the Executive meeting on Thursday.
Phil Challis said: ‘How can we be sure that the Council’s investment of over £9 million to regenerate Wokingham town centre is being competently managed, when the committee set up to oversee it has failed to ever meet.
‘Given the size of the investment, local people need to have confidence that the investment is being managed wisely.
‘The confidence that Wokingham residents have in the town centre regeneration project hasn’t been helped by the fact that an unnecessary amount of the discussions about it are being held in secret.
‘Two questions have to be asked. Who is currently scrutinising the town regeneration project on behalf of the people of Wokingham? And how can residents find out what they are doing?’
At Thursday’s council meeting, Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon ward) asked a question that pointed out the apparent change in Wokingham Borough Council’s approach to community clubs using publicly owned land. Councillor Challis’ question related to the recent leasing of part of the banks of the River Loddon to the Southlake Angling Society by the Council.
Phil Challis said: ‘Communities are becoming increasingly dependent on clubs and societies to provide affordable services as public funding is reduced. I believe it is important for both residents and clubs to feel that the council has a consistent approach to community clubs using publicly owned land – otherwise the impression will be that the council is making it up as it goes along.
‘It is quite clear to me that the council has no policy. First, they complain that Hurst Golf Course and the Black Swan Sailing Club at Dinton Pastures had privileged access to publicly owned land, and then they give exclusive – not just privileged – access to fishing rights on the River Loddon.’
At last Thursday’s council meeting, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors unanimously supported Prue Bray’s (leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wokingham Borough Council) motion calling for the council to bring back gardening and decorating for some of Wokingham Borough’s most vulnerable residents who cannot do it themselves or afford to pay to have it done for them.
Prue Bray said: ‘I brought this motion because looking after vulnerable people should be one of the council’s top priorities. I was extremely glad that the Conservatives felt able to support my motion – and that they were even happy to broaden it beyond council tenants to cover investigating how such a service might be provided to every disabled or frail person living in the Borough who cannot afford to pay for decorating or gardening and can’t do it themselves.
‘I hope very much that a commitment to investigating providing a service rather than actually providing it is not a smoke screen to dilute the original aim of my motion. What we put forward had been fully costed and we knew it could be delivered, whereas what the Conservatives put forward is much more vague. The Liberal Democrats in Wokingham will certainly be holding the Conservatives to account over this. We look forward to making progress so that a service can be provided, as soon as is feasibly possible, to those vulnerable residents who most need it.’