Wokingham Liberal Democrats are concerned that the Tory Executive at Wokingham Borough Council will close its public toilets across the borough before proper alternative toilets are put in place. The council is offering to pay local shops and businesses to open their toilet facilities to the public, but so far none appear to have agreed to do so.
Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Councillor Group and councillor for Winnersh ward) says, “This ‘Local Loo’ scheme has worked successfully in some parts of the country, but I’d feel a lot more confident it was going to work here if the Tories had actually managed to get any local businesses to agree to it!
“The council has approached a number of shops and businesses across the borough to open their toilet facilities to the public, but my understanding is that so far not a single business has signed up to the scheme.
“I am concerned that the Tories will just push ahead with their plans to close all public toilets by March 2010 without proper alternatives being in place. We don’t want a repeat of the dog waste bin removal fiasco. If the Tories want to regain any credibility with the public, they must make sure they get it right this time.”
Wokingham Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to the way Wokingham Borough Council has organised the distribution of free travel tokens to elderly and disabled people.
Councillor Stephen Conway (Deputy Leader of the Wokingham Borough Lib Dem Councillor Group and councillor for Twyford ward) says, “Not content with preventing most pensioners aged 60 – 69 from receiving travel tokens, the Conservatives at Wokingham Borough Council have now tried to make it more difficult to collect tokens for those who are still able to have them.
“In the past, the tokens were distributed at local collection points throughout the borough. This year, the Executive has insisted that the tokens have to be collected from the council offices in Wokingham only.”
Stephen Conway said that many elderly residents have been put to considerable trouble to collect their tokens, and many others have probably been deterred from collecting them at all. On Monday (6th April) queues of elderly and disabled people stretched out the door at the council offices and many people were distressed because they had to wait in the queue so long.
Cllr Conway added, “The Conservatives have never liked the travel tokens, and this lack of consideration for some of the most vulnerable people in our community is seen by some as a deliberate attempt to stop people claiming their tokens. No doubt in the future the Conservatives will claim that as fewer people are choosing tokens, they can be cut further!”
Liberal Democrats call on Wokingham Tories not to repeat their mistake of last year when they turned down a grant from the government to fund free swimming for the over 60’s and under 16’s.
Lib Dems understand that the Tory controlled council have been offered a second chance to obtain funding for free swimming, but have yet to make up their mind.
Cllr Phil Challis (Lib Dem councillor for Loddon ward in Woodley) said, “The Tories need to show some leadership and grab this second chance for Wokingham Borough residents to get the same opportunity to save money and keep fit as residents of Reading and Bracknell. I understand that residents have been travelling to Reading and Bracknell to get their free swim, so free swimming in Wokingham would also be a boost to the local economy.”