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Wokingham Lib Dems strongly reject Reading's expansion plans

March 25, 2004 12:00 AM

At the Wokingham District Council meeting at Shute End last night, Liberal Democrats spoke out against Reading Borough Council's plans to "take over" Woodley, Earley, Shinfield and Sonning. Reading will not be granted "City" status until it enlarges its boundaries, and their proposals include parts of West Berkshire and Oxfordshire in addition to Wokingham district.

Councillor Coling Lawley (Leader of the Lib Dem Group and Lib Dem Councillor for South Lake ward) said, "Reading just won't give up on this ludicrous idea. I well remember Alan Spratling (former Leader of the Lib Dem Group and currently Lib Dem Councillor for Redhatch ward) telling Reading Borough Council to 'keep their tanks off our lawn' when this idea came to light in 2002.

"The people of Woodley, Earley, Shinfield and Sonning have very good reasons to want to stay in Wokingham District. Our education service is the envy of many, our social services provide a higher standard of care than Reading provide, and our Council Tax is cheaper, too."

Councillor Sam Rahmouni (Lib Dem Councillor for Bulmershe ward) said, "When Reading started its land-grab fantasy, the Lib Dems carried out a survey in Woodley, asking residents if they supported Reading's expansion plans. 90% were against Woodley being subsumed into Reading. They said they would rather stay in Wokingham district. I agree with them, and I fully support the Liberal Democrat call to ask the Government to squash Reading's loony ambitions."

The motion was originally proposed by the Conservatives, but was strengthened with an amendment by the Lib Dems which was supported unanimously. The amended motion was as follows:

"This Council notes with concern the repeated proposals by Reading Borough Council to annex various parts of Woodley, Earley, Shinfield and Sonning. As residents have continued to express real concerns about this "landgrab", this council opposes any moves by Reading Borough Council to take over any part of Wokingham District. The views of this Council should once again be reported to Government to ensure that the wishes of the people of Wokingham District are respected."