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Council fails to spend allocated money on housing maintenance

Wokingham Liberal Democrats were surprised to learn that £451,000 allocated in the last financial year by Wokingham Borough Council for housing maintenance has not been spent. Instead, £400,000 of the £451,000 has been carried forward to this financial year.

Cllr Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon Ward) said, ‘I am shocked that money allocated by the Conservative Council to be spent on housing maintenance has not been spent at the earliest opportunity. It should have been spent in the financial year it was allocated. This has had a hugely detrimental effect on the quality of the housing stock in Wokingham Borough.

‘I will be asking a question at this week’s Executive to try to clarify the situation for local residents, who have once again been let down by the Conservative-run Council.’

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Decent Homes target questioned again by Lib Dems

The Conservative Executive on Wokingham Borough Council have set themselves the easiest of targets when it comes to bringing the Council’s housing stock up to the Decent Homes Standard, as it will be met if just one house is improved between now and 2013. Despite Cllr Phil Challis’ (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon) questioning of the Executive about the target’s smartness in January, it still remains the one to which the Council aspires.

Cllr Phil Challis said: ‘The Council will meet their target if they bring just one more house up to the Decent Homes Standard before 2013 – is that really the best that they can do? I believe this Council must be more ambitious. I am very sad that under the Conservatives it looks like hundreds of tenants will have to put up with living in housing that may not meet the Decent Homes Standard for years to come.

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to continue their scrutiny of the Decent Homes target, and Cllr Jenny Lissaman (Liberal Democrat councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates ward) will be asking a question about it at the Executive meeting next Thursday.

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Reduction in Councillor allowance voted down by Conservatives

Wokingham Liberal Democrats are astounded that, at the Wokingham Borough Council meeting last Thursday, the Conservatives on the Council voted against reducing the amount of extra money that councillors with special responsibilities are paid.

At the Council meeting, Prue Bray, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, proposed that there should be a 5 per cent reduction in the so-called Special Responsibilities Allowance.

Cllr Bray said: ‘The Liberal Democrats proposed a five per cent reduction in the Special Responsibilities Allowance to demonstrate that we, as Councillors, are prepared to reduce the amount of money we receive, just as so many hard-working people across the Borough have had to do in the current economic climate.

‘I am extremely disappointed that the Conservatives failed to support the Liberal Democrat proposal. It shows a complete lack of understanding on their part about the economic hardship local people are facing in the world outside of the Council chamber. The Prime Minister and all his Ministers agreed to take a 5 per cent pay cut, yet the Conservatives locally refused to do likewise.’

Cllr Stephen Conway, Liberal Democrat councillor for Twyford ward, said: ‘We were not proposing something that would only have affected Conservative councillors. The proposal to reduce the Special Responsibilities Allowance would have affected nearly 30 per cent of the Liberal Democrat councillor group too.

‘We hope that the Conservatives will reflect upon their decision and will consider taking a reduction in the future. However, at the moment, it seems that the Conservatives in Wokingham, unlike those in Westminster, are the same as they have ever been.’

The Liberal Democrat Councillors who receive the Special Responsibilities Allowance will be taking the five per cent reduction that they proposed, and have called upon the Conservatives counterparts to do likewise.

Published by Woodley & Whitegates Liberal Democrats, 26 Farriers Close Woodley, Reading RG5 3DD.

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