Wokingham Borough Council issued a press release on Wednesday 24th March saying that bus services for South Lake were being improved. Unfortunately the press release did not provide any details. Investigations by Lib Dems have discovered that the proposals are very complicated.
Beth Rowland, Wokingham Borough Councillor for South Lake, said “I have been campaigning to get a service from South Lake to the Loddon Vale Practice since the new routes were first discussed. I proposed to Reading Buses that they could extend the 14 service up Colemansmoor Rd to include the Loddon Vale Practice. However Wokingham Borough Council and Reading Buses are proposing a very confusing “loop within a loop” on the 19 Bus service.”
The number 19 currently waits for 7 mins at Silver Fox Crescent and Lib Dems have discovered that the proposal is that rather than wait the 19 will go along Crockhamwell Rd, down Nightingale Road, up Fairwater Drive and back along Woodlands Avenue to Silver Fox Crescent again, it will then go along Crockhamwell Rd, again but this time it will continue to Loddon Bridge Rd, picking up the existing route. If you catch the bus at Silver Fox Crescent you might be going on the original 19 route or you might find yourself back where you began after a trip around Southlake.
Beth Rowland said “I welcome any attempt to improve the service to South Lake, but this proposal is just not good enough. The return journey from Loddon Vale Practice to South Lake will be even more confusing than getting there! Only every other 19 passing the Loddon Vale bus stop will go to Southlake and the other bus would take you into Reading. I think these proposals are just too complicated.”
“What South Lake and Woodley require is a proper, well thought out bus network rather than trying to cover all of Woodley with one little bus – Wokingham Tories needs to listen properly to residents.”
At last Thursday’s Council meeting, Councillor Sam Rahmouni (Lib Dem Councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates) presented a petition signed by 647 people. It called upon Wokingham Borough Council to construct an appropriate pedestrian crossing to improve safety for people crossing between the Headley Road Car Park and the Oakwood Centre and Woodford Park in Woodley. In response to a later question on this matter, the call was dismissed by Cllr Keith Baker, the Executive Member for Highways and Transport, who said that the location was too close to a roundabout.
Cllr Rahmouni said: ‘The 647 residents who signed my petition and I want a definitive statement from a professional highways officer, rather than from an elected politician, as to whether a pedestrian crossing can be put in this location.’
Paddy Power, Liberal Democrat campaigner in Coronation ward, said: ‘The council has installed a new pedestrian crossing in Station Road in Wokingham which is 20 metres from a roundabout. A crossing 20 metres from a roundabout in Headley Road would provide the crossing that has been requested by the petition.
‘It is clear from the number of people that signed the petition that something needs to be done to allow pedestrians to cross Headley Road safely. The Council should not dismiss such a reasonable request so lightly.’
Answering a question from Cllr Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat councillor for Loddon) at last Thursday’s Executive meeting, Cllr Gary Cowan (Executive Member for Local and Regional Planning) confirmed that the Conservatives are happy to see any money provided by the developers of Sandford Farm to be spent outside of Woodley.
Sue Smith, the Liberal Democrat campaigner in Loddon, said: ‘This is just not acceptable. Money from Sandford Farm should be spent in Woodley so that in the future, residents will have easy access to sports and leisure facilities in the town.
‘Legally, all developer contributions have to be functionally or geographically linked to a development. But Wokingham Borough Council seems prepared to ignore this.’
Cllr Beth Rowland (Liberal Democrat councillor for South Lake) added: ‘This council has a track record of spending Woodley money in places like Sonning. The Liberal Democrats will continue to push for a fair deal for Woodley.’