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Wokingham Lib Dems Question Tory Plans to Build New Shopping Centre on Earley Open Space

July 5, 2006 12:00 AM

At last night's Council meeting at Wokingham District Council, Councillor Alan Spratling (Lib Dem Councillor for Hillside ward) sought answers to Tory denials that a new town centre is being planned for Earley.

Alan Spratling said, "It was reported in October 2004 that Tory Councillor, Matthew Deegan, was proposing that a town centre be built in Earley. During the recent local election campaign, Tory canvassers were apparently telling residents of Tory proposals to build this centre on public open space such as Chalfont Park, Area DD, the bowling club and the tennis courts.

"When David Hare (Lib Dem Councillor for Hillside ward) asked Frank Browne, the Leader of the Council, about these claims last month, Frank Browne categorically denied there were any such plans.

"But now we find that all along the Tories have had money set aside for a feasibility study to look into building a new town centre in Earley. Why on earth didn't Frank Browne just tell the truth when he was asked in May? Even last night, he tried to dodge the question. I would like him to tell us exactly which pieces of land are going to be included in the feasibility study now that we have got him to admit that he has plans to develop the open space around Asda."

Alan Spratling said that the Liberal Democrat Councillors in Hillside had conducted a survey of residents in November 2004 asking for their opinion of how open space in Earley should be used. He said, "Our research shows that the overwhelming majority of Earley residents are strongly opposed to a new shopping centre. They made it quite clear to us that they want to protect the open spaces from development.

"The Tories had better remember that if they flog off this family silver, they do so in the face of strong opposition from Earley residents and Lib Dem Councillors."