Review of the Year - February 2010
December 30, 2010
As 2011 approaches we take a look back at the biggest stories in Wokingham from February this year.
Plans for thousands of homes were a step closer after the documents for development were approved.
The Conservative majority on Wokingham Borough Council voted in favour of the plans, which set out where homes and infrastructure will be sited in the borough.
Council leader Cllr David Lee expressed his disappointment at the Lib Dems’ lack of support for the plans but said: “These documents were drawn up after many workshops so the public got involved and this is the final stage.”
The third annual Wokingham Battle of the Bands kicked off with more performers and better prizes than ever.
An audience of almost 300 enjoyed performances by seven bands from across the borough competing for a top prize of £300 cash and a day of recording at Whitehouse Studios in Reading.
Round one kicked off with performers Disopator, from London, Refuse The Hero, from Reading, That Darn Sasquatch, from Wokingham, Golden Tanks, from Reading, A Week in Verona, from Thame, No Longer Bandits, from Marlow and Maidenhead, and Kraken, from Bracknell.
After much deliberation, Kraken, which is made up of Robin Gooding, Dan French, Stephen Stanford, Marcus Kelly and Oliver Soundy, was declared the winner.
A Wokingham choir joined the likes of pop superstars Lady Ga Ga and Take That after signing a multi-album record deal.
Wokingham Rock Choir members were among 1,000 voices who had already recorded tracks for an album, featuring songs including Something Inside So Strong, as part of the four-album deal with top record label Universal, which is also home to The Rolling Stones.
The Rock Choir, one of 60 in the South of England signed up to the deal, only had its first meeting in September 2009 at Wokingham Town Hall.
However, it has gone from strength to strength.
The group is made up of singers from all walks of life.
The crunch of metal and crumbling bricks signalled the beginning of Wokingham town centre’s regeneration.
Diggers descended on Wellington House in Wellington Road to begin knocking down the empty building to make way for the redevelopment.
Council leader Councillor David Lee was there to see the work begin.
He said: “This is the start of the regeneration of Wokingham town centre and it will progress quite quickly after this.
“I think I could knock the building down in a day but I’m told it will take around a month!”
A cost-cutting exercise to balance Wokingham Borough Council’s books would result in 150 redundancies as part of plans to save £9.5 million, and a council tax increase of 1.9 per cent, it was announced.
However, opposition councillors poked holes in the council’s finances relating to its Transformation Programme, criticising plans to spend more than £5 million implementing the ambitious project.
Susan Law, chief executive at the council, explained the £5 million would be spent on new IT systems and technology.
She said this would enable staff to access systems remotely and processes to be shared.
Ms Law added the Transformation Programme included looking at ways services can be outsourced and where the council can expand on sharing services with local authorities, which it already does with its waste and recycling partnership with Bracknell and Reading.
The devastated parents of a newlywed who died from carbon monoxide poisoning urged her friends to buy gas alarms in her memory to prevent further tragedy.
Katie Haines, 31, who lived in Barkham Road, died in February following a carbon monoxide leak thought to be from a faulty boiler.
Mrs Haines’ team-mates in Wokingham Netball Club honoured her with a one-minute silence at Saturday fixtures after her death.
Instead of holding a collection for a charity of the family’s choice in memory of Mrs Haines, her parents Avril and Gordon Samuel asked netball club members to buy carbon monoxide alarms for their homes.
Mrs Haines, a press officer for University of Oxford, was a former journalist who had written for The Sunday Times and The Express among others.
A keen member of Wokingham Netball Club, she also wrote match reviews for The Wokingham Times’ sports pages under her maiden name, Katie Samuel.
She married husband Richard, who works at Hewlett Packard in Bracknell, in the Cotswolds in December 2009 and had only returned from her honeymoon in mid-January.
Her father said: “Katie was the most wonderful daughter imaginable.”