On Wednesday night, at Wokingham Borough’s Planning Committee, a controversial scheme to build new toilets on the side of the library was approved by a split vote.
Phil Challis Lib Dem Town Councillor for Loddon Airfield spoke on behalf of Woodley Town Council at the meeting, saying that the proposed toilet block was poorly designed and was out of keeping with the library. He explained to members that the proposed toilet block has a flat roof, against Wokingham Borough Council’s own guidelines and will block out part of one of the large library windows and will look awful from inside and outside.
Beth Rowland Lib Dem Leader of Woodley Town Council said “The Tory leadership pushed ahead with the demolition of the old toilets; turned down an offer by LIDL to build new public toilets and are now pushing through a very poor design. Woodley is right to expect better from Wokingham Borough. The old toilets should not have been demolished until suitable alternatives had been arranged” she expanded on this by saying “My preference would have been to accept the offer from LIDL to build new toilets but the Tories decided to do away with proper public toilets altogether”. She went on to say “I am pleased that the town council has been able to provide some relief to residents with the toilets at the Oakwood Centre for the last 6 months or so while Wokingham sort out this mess”
Phil Challis later commented that “This is a botch job to solve a problem the council got into with public toilets in Woodley, and to cap it all the design doesn’t even solve one of the main issues; the demolition of the original disabled toilet controlled by a RADAR key that could be used 24 hours a day. The library is not even open on a Wednesday”.
In the Planning Committee meeting Phil Challis said that he thought Wokingham Borough could have been more imaginative. He suggested that they consider locating the toilet elsewhere in the library where a disabled toilet can be accessed from an external RADAR controlled door and to build a proper library extension for library use to replace the space taken up by the toilet”
Wokingham Liberal Democrats are calling on Labour and Conservative councillors on Reading Borough Council to drop their plans to bid for city status. In order for the bid to be a success, Reading would need to expand to include Woodley, Earley, Reading University, and the two business areas of Thames Valley Park and Green Park, all of which are currently in Wokingham Borough.
Councillor Prue Bray, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wokingham Borough Council, said, “Reading Borough Council should spend more time supporting its residents and existing services, and less on trying to bolster its own importance.
“We agree with the Liberal Democrats in Reading that bidding for city status again is bonkers and won’t benefit residents at all. Woodley and Earley are an integral part of Wokingham Borough, and must remain so.”
Lib Dem councillors have today attacked the Conservatives on Wokingham Borough Council for failing residents. Lib Dem Group Leader Prue Bray said: “Services have been cut, school buildings are crumbling, the roads are full of pot holes, council tenants are suffering and Children’s Services has been judged among the worst in the country. The council is going backwards in terms of performance. But all we hear from the Conservatives is that it’s the government’s fault for not giving Wokingham enough money. It is time the Conservative leadership stopped blaming other people and admitted that they are the ones at fault.”
Evidence put together by the Liberal Democrats shows that while Wokingham Borough Council is in the bottom 5 unitaries for government funding, it is the only one of the bottom 5 not to have been rated as “performing well”. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is the second worst funded authority, and they have performed far better than Wokingham in nearly all areas, including Children’s Services. Not only that, but their council tax is lower than Wokingham’s.
Cllr Bray added, “Other authorities have been able to run services well with little money, including our next door neighbour – so what has gone wrong in Wokingham? The obvious answer is: incompetence on the part of the Conservatives who are in charge.
“People are fed up with hearing Conservative councillors telling then how wonderfully they are running the council. Evidence to the contrary is all around us. It is time for the Conservatives to take responsibility for their failings.”