Monday, 19 January 2015

Wokingham’s Conservatives won’t do democracy

Liberal Democrat councillors were deeply disappointed by the Conservatives flat refusal to agree to add a much needed extra council meeting to the council’s annual schedule in both this and every subsequent January.

Cllr Prue Bray, leader of the Lib Dems explained “It was really disturbing to listen to the Conservatives - they just don’t get it. According to them we would have quite enough meetings if only the Lib Dems didn’t raise so many issues!  They behave as if Wokingham Borough Council is a one party state where debate and opposition is not allowed. No wonder it’s so hard to get people engaged in local politics and voting, when the local Conservatives won’t even allow or listen to reasoned opposition. “

Between November and February there are several months in which residents cannot ask questions or present petitions and during which debate at the Council is not possible. A January council meeting would plug this gap. Every January there is also the need to have a Special Council Executive meeting to agree the council tax base. A January full Council Meeting could replace this meeting and cover a wider range of issues, questions and debate in a timely way. 

Cllr Lindsay Ferris added “The Conservative leader of the council summed up their attitude saying “we really should be at home” instead of being at the meeting.  Why does he say such silly things? We think it is extremely important to hold the Conservatives to account. For example, the Conservatives were determined to force through their flawed plans for Elms Field until the Lib Dems with the Save Elms Field campaign finally forced them to listen to the crescendo of local opposition to their unpopular plans. With successes like that no wonder the Conservatives want to minimise opportunities to challenge them. 

The Conservatives blocked our calls for a January full council meeting, but Wokingham’s residents deserve a council that works harder, engages in better democracy and is more open and accountable.”