Tory Councillors on the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority voted themselves a massive 450% pay increase last week. The Fire Authority is made up of 24 councillors from Councils across Berkshire, a majority of whom are Conservatives, and oversees the running of the Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service, with the average councillor putting in about 12 days’ work a year. The Liberal Democrat councillors on the Fire Authority are led by Jeff Brooks, leader of the Lib Dem Councillor group on West Berks Council, and the deputy leader is Prue Bray, leader of the Lib Dem Councillor group on Wokingham Borough Council.
Councillor Jeff Brooks says, “The Tories voted for a massive hike in allowances from £400 a year to £1,800. On top of that they also voted extra pay for 12 members in the form of Special Responsibility Allowances – and the whole package will cost the Fire Service an extra £77,000 a year, way beyond the budget that had been agreed for this year.”
Councillor Prue Bray says, “We were appalled at the greed of the Tories, especially at this time of recession, when residents of Berkshire are struggling to keep their jobs and their homes. The Lib Dems on the Fire Authority agree it was right for someone independent to review councillors’ pay, but we were disgusted when the Tories demanded the whole of this whopping increase was paid immediately instead of supporting our proposals to phase in the increases over a number of years.”
Councillor Brooks added, “The Fire Service’s finances are very stretched. They should be spending their budget on firefighters and equipment, not on greedy councillors.”
Liberal Democrats succeeded in doubling their share of the vote in the Wokingham Without borough council by-election which took place yesterday – and got more than double the number of votes they got last time the seat was contested.
The by-election, caused by the resignation of Perry Lewis, a previous Tory Leader of the Council, was won by the Conservatives, on a reduced share of the vote.
Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Lib Dem Councillor Group and councillor for Winnersh ward), said, “This was an encouraging result in what has traditionally been a rock-solid Conservative seat. David Vaughan was an excellent candidate, and I look forward to the time I can welcome him to the Lib Dem team at the borough council.
“The Liberal Democrats also gained a seat from the Conservatives on Woodley Town Council on the same day, which is even more cause for celebration. The Lib Dems locally are clearly a force to be reckoned with.”
Sharon Bowles, one of the South Centrals two Liberal Democrat MEPs enjoyed a walkabout in Woodley’s Shopping Centre on Thursday 21st May.
Sharon enjoys her visits to Woodley. “I find that when I come to Woodley, the town has a tremendous sense of ‘community’ and the Shopping Centre benefits from having a good retail mix with a large supermarket along side numerous other chains and independent shops”.
Sharon later went on to the MEP Hustings that were held at the RISC Centre in Reading where a lively audience posed many questions to the assembled MEP candidates.
Sharon said of the meeting, “The Lib Dems have very strong Green credentials and I was pleased to note that this struck a cord of agreement with the questioners”.