At the Council meeting on Thursday, Cllr Prue Bray (leader of the Liberal Democrat group) will be submitting a motion demanding that Wokingham Borough Council reinstate its basic garden maintenance and interior decorating service for vulnerable tenants in council-owned homes, who are unable to undertake the work or pay for it themselves. Such a service used to be offered by the council, but was withdrawn in 2008.
Prue Bray said: ‘We were shocked in March 2008 when the basic garden maintenance and interior decorating service for the council’s most vulnerable tenants was withdrawn, despite the Conservative administration’s repeated assurance that protecting vulnerable people was its priority. My motion calls for the reinstatement of this invaluable service for vulnerable tenants in Wokingham Borough. The council, as a landlord, has a duty to maintain its properties and to look after its most vulnerable tenants.
‘The Liberal Democrats understand that money is tight, particularly in the current economic climate, but believe that front line services for vulnerable people must be protected wherever possible.’
At last Thursday’s Executive meeting, the results of Wokingham Borough Council’s care charges consultation were discussed. Wokingham Liberal Democrats were stunned to see that the Conservative Executive agreed to carry on with their policy to change their care charges policy despite more than half of those responding to the consultation disagreeing that people who have over £23,250 should pay for the care they receive.
Cllr Stephen Conway (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Twyford ward) said: ‘What is the point in having a consultation if the outcome is completely ignored? The Conservative-led Council announced in their budget in February that charges for respite care would be increasing from £126 to £575 a week, and that day care would no longer be free. Then they consulted with the public. 52 per cent of those who responded to the consultation disagreed that people who have over £23,250 should pay for the care they receive.
‘Yet the Executive has disregarded the views of local residents and rubber-stamped the changes they had already decided upon in February. At that time, the Liberal Democrats said that the changes to care charges were both mean-spirited and financially short-sighted. We continue to believe that this is the case.’
At last Thursday’s Council meeting, Wokingham Liberal Democrats were pleased that councillors unanimously backed their motion calling for greater resident involvement in Council decision making.
Cllr Stephen Conway (Lib Dem Councillor for Twyford ward) who proposed the motion said: ‘Wokingham Borough Council faces great changes as a result of the coalition government’s policy of giving local government more decision-making powers. As a result this Council will have to engage much more effectively with residents.
‘Public consultations undertaken by this Council have been very much hit and miss affairs. In this new era, where more and more decisions are going to be taken, and accounted for, locally, it is going to be absolutely imperative that the Council engages in proper, meaningful consultation with its residents.
‘There have been far too many examples of the Executive making up its mind before it has consulted with local residents. A notable recent example of this was the consultation on charging for social care services, which saw the public being brought in far too late to make a difference to the new charges in this area, which Conservative councillors had agreed to in the budget back in February.
‘I am pleased that my motion was backed unanimously. I look forward to seeing meaningful public consultation consistently shaping council policies in the future.’