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  • Wokingham Liberal Democrat councillors holding the rainbow flag partially aloft in front of the borough council offices
    Article: Nov 23, 2020
    By Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey

    The Liberal Democrat Constitution begins by stating that the Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. It then goes on to specify that we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

  • Imogen shepherd-DuBey
    Article: Nov 22, 2020
    By Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey & Cllr Maria Gee

    Let's say you are putting aside money every month, saving up to buy a new kitchen that will cost £8,000. So far, you have saved up £7,000 in your kitchen fund, and it is in an interest-earning account, even better! You dream of that new kitchen in a few months' time. Wow, it will be fab-u-lous.

    You happen see a car that you like, it's a great price, £6,000. You need £2,000 for a deposit and then you can purchase the car with a loan of £4,000 from the car finance company. You think, 'A-ha, I can just borrow the money for the deposit from my kitchen fund, I can have my cake and eat it too! I get the car now, and I can continue to put money aside for my kitchen.'

    You buy the car, and you are happily driving around when a month later, all of a sudden, there is a serious water leak in your existing kitchen. Oh no! Your insurance covers the basic repair, but you urgently need a new kitchen. Hmmm… you no longer have the kitchen fund that you need to replace the kitchen. You are very sad, looking at the soggy kitchen cupboards. You cannot sell the car to replace the kitchen, because you need it to travel to work. You are going to have to save up again for the new kitchen.

    Well, this is how the Wokingham Conservatives are managing Wokingham Borough Council's Finances. They have taken out lots of borrowing. The Council also has lots of assets, but they cannot sell them because they need them to run the Council. Having assets does not mean that the Council will have the money when they need it and still have to pay off their debts at some point.

    The Conservatives say that internal borrowing is not really borrowing, because it is all the Council's money anyway. They say the loans from banks are fine because the Council has assets worth more than the loans. Is this complacency justified? What are the effects of internal and external borrowing on the Council's finances? What happens if you already have lots of borrowing and something unexpected happens?

    Under the direction of the Conservatives, Wokingham Borough Council has borrowed from its kitchen fund, and it calls this 'internal borrowing'. They are planning to have internal borrowings of £201M, and external loans of £476M in March 2023. That's a total of almost £700M borrowings in two and a half year's time. Using the internal borrowings for current projects costs £2M in lost interest and the annual finance cost of the external loans this year is almost £8M. They are big numbers!

    This is fine so long as there is not an unexpected event. Your unexpected event was the water leak. The Council's unexpected event might be the financial hit from Covid. If it loses income, how will it pay the interest on the loans from banks, how will it replenish its 'kitchen fund', and how will it repay the loans from the banks and elsewhere? These are the questions you need to ask your local Conservative Councillor.

  • London Road cycle lane
    Article: Nov 21, 2020
    By Paul Fishwick
    On 12th November Wokingham Borough Council announced the completion of the A329 London Road cycle route, stating "The new off-road cycleway will provide a link for cyclists from the Coppid Beech/A329M roundabout into the town centre." In reality, however, the off road route (a shared footway and cycleway) ends at a point between Rances Lane and Binfield Road (see photo), just over 1 KM short of the town centre.
  • abstract art
    Article: Nov 9, 2020
    By Sarah Kerr
    Wokingham Borough Council is currently consulting on it's Arts & Culture strategy. We would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to complete the survey which can be found here - https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/.../current-consultations/.... The deadline for responses is 20th November.
    Most of the questions are straight forward, but it's best to keep in mind that this is a longer term strategy that will go beyond the restrictions we face due to Covid. It's also an arts & culture strategy, so if you can have a think about the broad spectrum of cultural activities as well as artistic/creative ones, that would be very helpful to the team putting this together. It's worth considering activities/events that either you are directly involved in, such as a book club or a community choir, or that you like to experience, such as watching something at the cinema or the theatre.
  • Article: Oct 22, 2020
    By Sarah Kerr

    Wokingham Liberal Democrats are pleased that the issue of poverty is finally on the Council's agenda. Cllr Sarah Kerr, Liberal Democrat member for Evendons Ward said "for too long the issue of poverty and the inequalities associated with it have gone under the radar in Wokingham Borough. The narrative being pushed out there is that Wokingham is one of the least deprived authorities in the country and levels of poverty are relatively low. What this says to me is, 'we're doing OK,' but the truth is we're not. Wokingham Borough Council is benchmarking against other authorities in a country where poverty levels are increasing and social mobility is decreasing, and this was pre-Covid. How can over 7,000 children in this Borough be living in poverty and 3,500 households in fuel poverty be seen as 'we're doing OK?' This is why the Liberal Democrats requested this pressing issue is brought to the forefront and meaningful strategies and actions to effectively tackle poverty in our Borough discussed."

  • Article: Sep 4, 2020
    In The Wokingham Paper

    We were delighted to see that so many people turned up for the Black Lives Matter protest in Wokingham at the weekend. We were not able to join them, as we were all self-isolating or shielding due to Covid-19. There will be many others who were in our situation, and the crowd would have been even bigger if everyone who wanted to be there had been able to go.

  • Wokingham Liberal Democrats at the local BLM event
    Article: Sep 1, 2020

    Wokingham Liberal Democrats proudly attended the Wokingham Black Lives Matter event in Elms Field on Saturday.

  • Article: Aug 31, 2020
    By Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey

    There is unequivocal evidence that terror is being perpetrated by the Chinese state against the Uighurs Muslims in the Xinjiang region of northwest China. This includes reports that concentration camps have been set up for the mass internment and 're-education' of up to a million Uighurs Muslims, along with reports of torture and coercion in these camps. The Uighurs also face harsh religious and cultural restrictions, for example - facial hair being too long, not being allowed to fast in Ramadan, and prohibitions on speaking the Uyghur language in public spaces.

  • Article: Aug 27, 2020
    By Clive Jones and Sarah Kerr

    The Liberal Democrat group on Wokingham Borough Council are angry that the decision of investing in polypropylene recycling sacks has been upheld despite the obvious lack of due diligence and disregard for good financial management. Action on tackling wet waste has been unnecessarily delayed due to the poor financial management of taxpayers money by this Conservative administration. The delay of not having provided a full business case in July when funding was approved has cost taxpayers £100k according to estimates by the Conservative administration.

  • Article: Aug 25, 2020

    Highways and Transport

    The highway asset

    The highway is the most used service that the Borough Council offers, and we all use it, whether you are walking, cycling, a bus or rail passenger or driving.

    It is therefore an extremely important asset and needs to be looked after for all its users. A road shows major signs of deterioration when potholes appear, and the travelling public may claim for damage to their vehicle. Unless the council can defend the claim, they will need to pay out, creating more inefficiencies. The Executive Member for Highways and Transport proudly announced in February that 7,000 works orders for routine repairs had been issued and more resources had been put in to fill potholes. This is inefficient use of money as the road has not been looked after properly. It comes down to preventative maintenance, treating the road before the potholes occur. This continues to be our plan.