It's #askhertostand day! We need more women MPs and local councillors from ALL backgrounds.
Wokingham's youngest councillor was elected when she was 18.
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On 12th November 2020 Wokingham Borough Council formally announced the completion of the A329 London Road cycle route.
The news release stated, “The new off-road cycleway will provide a link for cyclists from the Coppid Beech/A329M roundabout into the town centre.”
However, the off road route, a shared footway and cycleway suddenly ends at a point between Rances Lane and Binfield Road (see photo). This is just over 1 KM short of the town centre.
The news release also stated, “Completion of work on London Road means the council has completed its parts of the National Cycle Route 422 and one seamless route through Berkshire.” It is quite clear that the route has not been completed there are similar gaps in the route west of the town centre and beyond and it is not seamless.
Would you allow a 12-year-old child to cycle on the London Road from this point into the town centre on their own?
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."
The Liberal Democrat team made 3 proposals during the council's Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee meeting report on poverty on Wednesday 21st October, all of which were adopted as recommendations to go to the WBC Executive.
- This committee recommends to the Executive that this Council will limit use of comparative data and benchmarking narrative, such as being ranked the least deprived upper tier authority, when talking about poverty except when making specific reference to reduction in poverty.
- This committee recommends to the Executive that this Council will co-produce an anti-poverty strategy.
- In view of the multi-dimensional nature of 'poverty', that all discussions, data, policy and actions focus on all who are suffering different types of rising and significant hardship.
Cllr Paul Fishwick, Liberal Democrat member for Winnersh ward said "we're pleased that this committee not only recognises the need for an anti-poverty strategy, but that it needs to be co-produced with partner organisations and the voluntary sector. This is something that any Council would struggle to tackle on its own, but can be achieved locally with some real partnership working. I strongly urge the Council's Executive to approve this and get the ball rolling."
Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey, Liberal Democrat member for Winnersh ward added that "what we saw in tonight's report, in addition to the alarming data on poverty in the area, was the support that the council and it's partners are currently providing. There is much that needs to be done in this area, and most of the current support is in effect a sticking plaster to treat the symptoms rather than the cause. We need to address the drivers of poverty and hope that we've started to take a step forward in doing so."
Two other recommendations were made during the meeting. The first was that "The Executive urgently re-examine the issue of 21-25 year old care leavers paying Council Tax for the rest of this Financial Year." Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh, Liberal Democrat member for Hawkedon ward said "we are equally pleased that this recommendation was approved. It is our duty to ensure that all children in care in Wokingham Borough always receive the same support that we would give to our own children. As they move into adulthood, we continue to support them up to the age of 25. Currently, the Council has removed the requirement to pay council tax up to the age of 21, but this request is to extend that to the age of 25. This would help provide the stability required to do well in life for the young people in our care."
Council officers have confirmed that the budget approved for the council tax exemption for care leavers scheme up to the age of 21 has enough money left in it now to extend it to care leavers up to the age of 25 without needing to request any further budget. Cllr Sarah Kerr added "whilst we're pleased that this recommendation was approved, it was very disappointing that all but one of the Conservative councillors voted against giving this much needed stability to our care leavers."
One recommendation made in the meeting, was rejected by all Conservative councillors and therefore fell. The recommendation that didn't get approved was "the Executive instruct officers to urgently engage with poverty facing charities to formalise communications and support offered by WBC to charities." Cllr Kerr said "I struggle to understand why this couldn't be approved, given everything we heard from the charities about what was required. We thought we were getting through to the Conservative administration that there is a very real poverty issue that needs addressing, but when they vote down a recommendation like this, it feels like we're taking a step backwards. We just pray that for the sake of our many residents who are facing real, growing and significant hardship, that the Conservatives quickly revisit this issue."
I spoke at the Liberal Democrat Autumn 2020 Conference on supporting the motion against the government land grab on planning. You can watch me in action below!
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.
On behalf of all those who would have liked to have been there, can we say a huge thank you to the organisers, to all of the speakers, and to those who recorded and uploaded the speeches to Facebook . We know that this is a cause which is supported by many Wokingham residents from all backgrounds, and we look forward to seeing what we can do to further support the causes of equality and anti-racism.
Cllr Lizzie Bishop and Heather Richards (campaigner), Wokingham Liberal Democrats
It is with great sadness that Wokingham Liberal Democrats have learned that former party campaigner and Evendons Ward Councillor Helen Power, lost her long battle with cancer on Saturday 29th August.
Helen was part of the team that started the local Lib Dem revival on the Borough Council, winning her seat in Evendons Ward on a momentous night in May 2018. Tragically it was just 8 months later that Helen would have to resign as a Counsellor after undergoing what Helen described as 'brutal' chemotherapy treatment and being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
Helen was an amazing and inspirational lady, her fighting spirit, joyous personality, and caring nature brought light into the lives of everyone who knew her. During her short time on the Borough Council she fought hard for her residents and both local party members and residents of Evendons Ward will always remember her with great love and affection. Helen spent her last few weeks in the excellent care of the Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice. Our grateful thanks to everyone who cared for her during this time and our thoughts and prayers are with husband Liam and their family.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Wokingham Borough Council, Lindsay Ferris said 'I first had the pleasure of getting to know Helen in 2012 when she was the Political Assistant to the Liberal Democrat group at WBC. Helen was always enthusiastic, helpful, and willing to do whatever was asked of her. Throughout she was always passionate about supporting the local community and residents. My delight when Helen was elected in 2018 turned to devastation when incurable cancer was diagnosed. Helen was loved and respected by everyone who knew her and made an invaluable contribution to the Liberal Democrat group. Helen will be remembered by everyone who was fortunate enough to meet her and will be greatly missed.'
Fellow Lib Dem Councillor Prue Bray said 'Before she was a councillor, Helen was political assistant to the Lib Dem group on the Borough Council. She was a real pleasure to work with but also so determined to fight for what she believed in and to make a difference. It is so hard to think she is gone."
Lib Dem Councillor Sarah Kerr took over Helen's Council seat following a by-election in February 2019. Amongst Sarah's most treasured possessions is the Lib Dem rosette which she wore to victory and was given to her by Helen Power. Sarah said 'Helen meant so much to so many people. I have lost count of the number of times I have been stopped in the street with people asking after her. On a personal level, Helen was the one that inspired me to move into public service - I owe her so much. She was my mentor. We were supposed to do this role side by side and the by-election win was very much a bittersweet moment. Helen was so much more than a colleague and fellow campaigner: she was our friend. The memories I hold of our friendship I will treasure forever, and my only regret is that we were not able to make more memories. My heart goes out to Helen's family and friends.'
So, the results are in and unfortunately we fell short in the Wokingham constituency. At the end of the day, despite the huge number of people who voted LibDem for the first time and backing from former Labour and Conservative party voters, we could simply not overcome the national trend of leave-voting Labour supporters switching directly to the Conservatives.
This is disappointing, but there is also much about which I feel proud and optimistic.
To everyone who voted for me I extend my sincere thanks. To those who took the time to write offering their support, I also add my gratitude. You can have no idea how encouraging it has been to receive your emails.
I'm also pleased by how many of you have said that, having voted LibDem for the first time, you will now continue to do so. This will be crucial if we want to deliver the real change that this country needs and not the sham populist vision espoused by Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.
I believe that this country’s politics is in a parlous state. Based on lies and being implemented by politicians who care more for their own careers than for the well-being of the country. I spoke briefly about this during my final speech at the Wokingham count last week.
You can listen to that here:
As I said during that speech, democracy is an evolutionary process, it does not stand still. And so it will be with this latest result. Boris Johnson has sought over recent months to cast the blame for the failure of his policies on everyone else but himself. But he now has a majority and the blame for failing will fall squarely on the shoulders of him and his government.
In time, we will have the opportunity of passing judgement on his achievements - or otherwise. I hope to see you all again when that time comes.
Very best regards.
Read more about Phillip's Plan in the Wokingham Times article or below:
Liberal Democrat candidate for the Wokingham constituency, Dr Phillip Lee, has today announced the five areas that will form the focus of his local plan if he is successful on 12 December.
The areas, which cover fair funding for schools, improvements to primary health care provision, a reduction in plastic pollution, investment in youth services and controls over 'guerrilla' property developers, have been developed after extensive discussions with residents.
Speaking at the launch of the plan, Phillip said:
"I have spoken to hundreds of residents, from Aldermaston to Wescott, over the last few weeks and there is a strong correlation about people's local concerns.
"These are the problems of uncontrolled development and the absence of proper infrastructure provision for new housing, lack of school funding and support for youth services, and, more widely, the high level of plastic pollution which too often finds itself on our streets and country lanes.”
"None of these problems are particularly insurmountable, but they have never been properly addressed by those in authority. They have always been treated as someone else's problem. Well that has to change.”
"Take, for example, the provision of primary health care. New developments are being built, but rarely do they contain a health centre, let alone plans for new GP practices to occupy them. This means that the new residents have to use surrounding surgeries, which puts pressure on their numbers, and increases the waiting time to get a GP appointment.”
"All of this is because no one has chosen to make healthcare provision a factor that needs to be taken into account when submitting a planning application. That means it is not the developers' concern and, once the houses are built, the local CCG is under no obligation to provide facilities.
"A simple change to the legislation would mean that new developments could not get the go-ahead unless somebody had taken responsibility for the problem."
For too long, Wokingham constituency hasn't had the deal it deserves from Westminster.
Local schools are suffering a funding squeeze - they've lost £ millions and are struggling to make ends meet.
We've seen out of control house building, but without sufficient services like healthcare clinics needed to keep down GP waiting times.
Sign up to hear more about my five priorities for our town.
People know if they vote Conservative then they're going to get Nigel Farage's Brexit Party. That's the message I've heard from people today (over the wind!). If you want to stop Nigel Farage and his vision of Britain, you've got to vote Liberal Democrat in Wokingham