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Wokingham Tories Vote Themselves a Massive 9% Increase in Allowances and Expenses

At last night’s Wokingham Borough council meeting at Shute End, Tory councillors unanimously voted themselves a massive 9% increase in allowances and extra opportunities to claim expenses.

Councillors Stephen Conway (Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Councillor Group and councillor of Twyford ward) said, “The Lib Dems all voted against any increase. We believe that in the current economic climate it is quite wrong to award ourselves a pay rise. Imagine how this looks to some of our residents who are in danger of losing their jobs and, in some cases, their homes”.

An independent panel reviews allowances and expenses for councillors, but it is the councillors themselves who decide whether to accept the panel’s recommendations or not.

Stephen Conway added, “Councillors should not be seriously out of pocket for the costs that they necessarily incur. We want a good mix of councillors to represent residents, and we don’t want people to be put off because they can’t afford it. But we have to strike the right balance, and I strongly believe that awarding ourselves a 9% increase at this time is completely wrong.”

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Wokingham Town Off-Street Parking Charge Plan – “Tories Have Got It Wrong” Say Lib Dems

In response to the Wokingham Tory plan to charge £1 for half an hour’s parking, Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats say the Tories have got it all wrong.

The council’s executive has referred the matter to Overview & Scrutiny committee, which started its review last night.

Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Lib Dem Councillor Group, councillor for Winnersh ward, and member of the Overview & Scrutiny committee) says, “Despite the Tories saying it would help local traders, the Lib Dems believe that the Tory plans to charge £1 to park in the street for half an hour would be a disaster. And from what they said, the town representatives who came to speak at the meeting agree with us. Who would be prepared to pay £1 just to pop into the shops for half an hour?

“This is just another Tory attempt to make more money and has nothing to do with helping our town. If the Tories really wanted to make Wokingham vibrant and to help our hard-pressed traders, and residents too, they should be encouraging more shoppers to the town not discouraging them by charging £1 for half an hour’s parking.

Councillor Phil Challis (Councillor for Loddon ward and member of the Overview & Scrutiny committee) said, “From the evidence we heard, the Tory Executive made their decision to charge for on-street parking without doing any work to find out the impact this would have on traders and residents. And amazingly, we were told last night that the proposed scheme has changed completely but we were given no details whatsoever about what the differences were.

“It’s unbelievable that the Tory Executive made a decision based on no information or evidence, but I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, as they decided to scrap dog waste bins and close public toilets and sports pavilions without any kind of business case to back their decisions.

“The Executive may be prepared to make decisions without having all the facts, but the Overview & Scrutiny Committee must make sure that this important issue gets the full investigation and consideration it deserves. The Executive cannot expect the Overview & Scrutiny committee to simply rubberstamp their plans. Detailed plans and evidence must be made available for our next meeting.”

Prue Bray added, “We were stunned to be told at the meeting that the timing of this decision means that the public consultation would take place in August. The Tory Executive has been heavily criticised for consulting over the summer holidays in the past and you would have thought the Tories would have learnt not to repeat that mistake. The committee agreed with my proposal that the Executive should be told to change the timing of the consultation. The Tories would be a laughing-stock if they went ahead with it over the holidays.”

Phil Challis said, “This ill-thought out attempt to make money is a complete fiasco. The Tories really should get their act together and come up with a coherent parking strategy for the whole borough which properly takes into account the needs of businesses and residents.”

The next Overview and Scrutiny meeting takes place at 7.30 p.m on 16th July at Shute End.

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Wokingham Lib Dems Oppose Tory Plans For Housing Development

At an Executive meeting at Wokingham Borough Council on Thursday 25th June, Wokingham Tories confirmed their support for building no more than 3,500 houses in Arborfield Garrison. If their plans go ahead, it means that three other development sites in the borough will have to take a much higher number of houses and would put enormous pressure on the borough’s roads, schools, GP surgeries, and water supply.

The Tories criticised the Liberal Democrat plan for a settlement of 5,000 houses in Arborfield, although this plan would create a proper community with all the amenities residents want, such as schools, shops, proper public transport links, recreation spaces, and ample parking space. It even provides for allotments, as well as plenty of room for gardens.

Following the meeting, Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Lib Dem Councillor Group and Councillor for Winnersh ward) said, “We believe the Arborfield Garrison site could support at least 5,000 houses. They would not have to be built at any greater density than sites that are being developed at the moment, but we could make sure that they get all the facilities they need.

“But under the Tory plan, they’re having to cram 1,500 extra houses into Wokingham town instead of Arborfield, which will put huge pressure on our already congested roads, and all the other services.

“Wokingham borough residents have told the Council they don’t want yet more housing development in our towns, they want properly planned settlements. Wokingham Tories should stop ignoring what people want and start listening to them.”

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

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