Wokingham Liberal Democrats were pleased that at last Thursday’s council meeting, councillors unanimously backed their motion, proposed by Cllr Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat councillor for Loddon), calling for the council to improve its record in planning enforcement.
Councillor Jenny Lissaman (Liberal Democrat councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates) said: ‘Time and time again, Wokingham Borough Council has allowed developers to walk away before meeting their planning conditions.’
Councillor Sam Rahmouni (Liberal Democrat councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates) added, ‘A pedestrian crossing in Lytham Road in Woodley should have been installed, under a planning condition, before the houses were occupied. The council failed to enforce this condition at the time and is now trying to play catch up. However, the developer has already sold the houses and got his profit, so 18 months later the crossing is still not there. This just isn’t good enough.’
Cllr Phil Challis said: ‘This was a deadly important motion. The development of a toxic landfill site at Sandford Farm was recently approved by the inspector, with 47 conditions attached to it. Some of these relate to the safe removal of the toxic waste.
‘Residents in Loddon, Hurst, Coronation and Twyford wards that are the closest to this site will be relying on the council to enforce planning conditions. For their sakes, the council must improve its record on enforcement before this development commences.’
At last Thursday’s Council meeting, the Liberal Democrat policy of providing a free week’s respite care, funded by the government, was endorsed by the Conservative leader of Wokingham Borough Council, Cllr David Lee.
Cllr Malcolm Armstrong (Liberal Democrat councillor for Winnersh) said: ‘Wokingham Borough Council gets great financial benefit because of the sterling efforts of the carers in the borough. I am appalled that the council is being both mean-spirited and financially short-sighted by increasing the full cost of respite care from £126 to £576 a week.
‘However, I am pleased that Cllr David Lee sees the merit of the Liberal Democrat policy to provide a week’s free respite care, funded by the government. I just wish he could see the value of the council continuing to support carers and not increase the full cost of respite care by £450 a week.’
Wokingham Liberal Democrats were extremely surprised to learn that the Cllr Anthony Pollock, the Executive Member for Council Budgets, was unable to give a full, up to date assessment of how much money the Council will lose as a result of its failed investments in collapsed Icelandic banks.
Cllr Malcolm Armstrong (Liberal Democrat councillor for Winnersh) said: ‘With over £1 million of Wokingham council tax payers’ money still at risk, I would expect Cllr Pollock to have a full grasp of the details relating to the current situation in Iceland. But when I asked him a question about it at the Council meeting on Thursday, he admitted that he didn’t know.
‘The Executive Member for Council Budgets, with responsibility for investments, should have a crystal clear understanding of what is happening with the Council’s money. I am still in the dark as to whether this missing million will ever be recovered. Council tax payers have the right to know what has happened to their money, and the Conservative administration has a duty to keep them informed. This cannot just be swept under the carpet.
‘It was odd that during the same meeting Cllr Pollock presumed to give advice to town councils on how to manage their investments, when his own record of managing the borough council’s investments is so blighted by the Icelandic bank fiasco.’