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Wokingham celebrates LGBT pride

Lib Dem Councillors with Rainbow Flags
Libdem Councillors with Rainbow Flags

Uniting people with differing viewpoints is vital to a functioning human society and the Liberal Democrats have gone a step further in bringing people together in Wokingham. Next weekend, covering our local LGBT Pride event in Reading on the 31st August, the Rainbow flag will be raised on Wokingham town Hall and on the Wokingham Borough Council Offices.

It is a symbol of inclusion and acceptance for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people and we want then to feel acknowledged and included in Wokingham too. You will notice that many businesses in Wokingham will also  flying rainbow flags and stickers, in support too.

Happy Pride day everyone!

A new Town Council for Wokingham

It’s been an interesting few weeks for all of our Wokingham Liberal Democrat team. Our successes at Wokingham Borough Council are well publicised. We went from a group of 8 councillors to a group of 16. However, Wokingham is still Conservative controlled.

However, Wokingham Town Council has gone a slightly different path. It has 25 Councillors who are now 11 Liberal Democrats, 7 Conservatives, 4 Labour and 3 Independents. We are now No Overall Control with the Liberal Democrats as the largest group. It as been a long time coming and has certainly not been a Conservative majority in this century and for some time before that.

 While I was the only Liberal Democrat Councillor for the last 4 years, I now find myself as the Leader of Wokingham Town Council and leader of the largest group. As a Wokingham native, it is something I will gladly do with honour.

One of our first tasks was identifying our new mayor. Lynne Forbes, one of our Independent Councillors, had shown an interest for the last couple of years and it quickly became clear that she was the best person for this role within our new council. The picture here is me happily signing her nomination to be mayor.  

My hope is that all of our town councillors can continue to work together, find our common ground and use all of our talents for the good of Wokingham. That is where my leadership position will lie.

Maintenance of Garages owned by Wokingham Borough Council

So, WBC Garage rents are going up by 3.49%. If you’ve ever seen these garages, they are usually in blocks near areas built as Social housing. They are often falling apart, shabby, damp and leaking. In some cases, demolishing them for extra parking space is a good move, but in others they are used by residents as storage. I don’t think anyone uses them to store cars any more.

The thing is, residents are paying around £600 a year for one. Where has this money going? It’s certainly not being used to maintain these garages. So, I raised the question at the WBC Executive meeting last Thursday:

Evendons by election

If you don’t live in Evendons in Wokingham, you probably didn’t know about the Wokingham Borough Council by-election that was held on the 7th of February. This was a seat that was won by Liberal Democrat Councillor Helen Power in May 2018. Unfortunately, not long after her election, she was diagnosed with incurable cancer. She carried on for as long as she could, but shortly after Christmas she resigned.

In the midst of these sad circumstances, Sarah Kerr stepped up to fight for the seat. Despite the winter weather, local Liberal Democrats were all hands to the pump, helping her to win it. We were all rewarded by a very strong win of 63.1% of the vote – well done to Sarah for being a great candidate that everyone could get behind.

Evendons is the ward directly next to my own Emmbrook Ward. It covers most of Woosehill, the housing around Barkham Road from Molly Millars Lane to the Barkham border and the housing west of Finchampstead Road. If you combine it with the Labour Party win in Norreys last year, it is a very clear indicator that the way people are voting in Wokingham is changing. They are increasing fed up with the way that our local Conservatives have been behaving.

We are all here to serve the people who elected us first – not our party or ourselves.

 

Evendons by-election – February 2019

 

 

Wokingham Borough Full Council Meeting – 22nd November, 2018

Imogen Shepherd-DuBey – Wokingham Borough Council

It was an eventful meeting, this month. Not only did the Council Leader resign as leader, one other Conservative Councillor went independent. We had a debate on the Barkham Square development, public questions about how Brexit will affect Wokingham Borough and the development of the land next to the Thames.

I managed to ask a question about how we can best manage the graffiti problems in the Woosehill Subway, the road resurfacing in Joel Park and why Jubilee Avenue was missed. I also raised the concerns about the lack of input into the sign off large contracts.

We debated and agreed three motions – a long awaited requirement to include sprinklers in ALL new school buildings, a motion on the handling protected trees and lastly, writing a letter from the Borough about our need to keep our Post Office services and protecting their jobs.

Blot on the Landscape

 

Cement Batching Plant

Cement Batching plant

Residents in Emmbrook North may have noticed a new feature on the landscape at Toutley Depot. This is a three storey tall Cement Batching Plant that appeared suddenly in May.

It seems that the owner of this plant, didn’t think they needed permission to put this here. Thankfully, Wokingham Borough Council now disagrees. Planning Enforcement is normally taken against the land owner, but in this case that is Wokingham Borough Council, who see it as a pointless response to take action against themselves.

Toutley depot is leased it to Sita and Sita have sub-let some space to a third party owner. The terms of the lease do require Sita to comply with the planning rules. We are now at the mercy of Wokingham Borough Council chasing a breach of lease involving a third party who have signed no agreement with them.

In the mean time, four months on, residents are not seeing any movement of this ‘blot on the landscape’. The depot has the rights to operate 24 hours a day and it means there extra trucks in the neighbourhood. I am pretty sure the residents of the new houses that are being built won’t appreciate its presence either.

I raised this as a ward issue at Full Council on Thursday 21st September. Lets see if we can get some movement.

Bus Stops in Broad St, Wokingham

I sent the following letter to the Wokingham paper:

My foot showing the shallow kerbs on Broad St

With all of the millions that the Wokingham Borough Council is spending on Wokingham Town Centre regeneration, there is one important group that seems to be being overlooked.
That is bus users, especially those with mobility problems. The bus stops on Broad Street are central to the town and are a vital service for accessing local services, such as the doctor’s surgery on Rose Street, local banks and shops.

The kerbs in Broad Street are well below the national standard and are largely only one or two inches tall. This makes the step up into the bus quite high, even when the bus is ‘kneeling’ and many of our less able passengers find that step very high, especially when they are carrying shopping.

With wheelchair users it is possible to deploy a ramp, but that is quite steep, it takes time to operate and it causes a significant delay to the bus departure.

If the kerbs were raised to meet the bus, wheelchair users could roll right onto the bus with everyone else along with prams, shopping trolleys and people with heavy suitcases and it could be done quickly and without a fuss or any special treatment for anyone.

These raised kerbs are being deployed everywhere to meet this need, except in our Town Centre bus stops.

I was told in the Executive last week by Cllr Chris Bowring, the Wokingham Borough Council executive member for highways, that to raise the kerbs in Broad Street would be physically impossible.

This is because of the entrance thresholds into the properties are quite low and drainage would be a problem.

I disagree – difficult, yes – impossible, no – this is a ROAD we are talking about. If we can send people to the moon are we suggesting this could never be sorted out on Broad Street?

If our Council is serious about complying with its Equality Duty and meeting the obligations of the Equality Act, it needs people who can think through these problems and make it work for all of our community and it should not be overlooked when we are spending so much money on regenerating the Town Centre.

Life as Borough Councillor

I am now the new kid on the block at Wokingham Borough Council and part of the challenge is figuring who do I speak to and what can I actually do for the residents of Emmbrook.

I’ve  started with some of the easier challenges,such as getting potholes fixed, getting streetlights repaired or replaced, getting grass cut when it has been left to long, getting pavements repaired and road signs replaced. Wow, there have been a lot of them. Emmbrook has been left to put up with these simple problems for far too long.

Some examples are below:

St Pauls Gate Street sign retrieved from a ditch and replaced.

Tan House Lane overgrown Grass Cut

Fixed Cable TV Box trip hazard on Emmbrook Rd

It’s the little things that count…

Some may think of these small tasks as trivial things, but they are far from it. It is the little things that blight the lives of our residents. Over the years, I have reported numerous potholes, leaks, graffiti, streetlights, broken equipment, and missing signs. The most severe being escalated and followed up directly to get them fixed or replaced as quickly as possible.

longpothole2

Long pot hole on St Paul’s Gate

Water leak and pot hole on Emmbrook Road

Water leak and pot hole on Emmbrook Road

arthursign

Missing sign on Arthur Road