Battle lines are drawn as election nearsBy Victoria Corbett
April 18, 2011
The ruling Conservative party is gearing up to fight off challenges from the Liberal Democrats, Labour, UK Independence Party (UKIP) and Green Party at next month’s local elections.
Voters in 18 wards will head to the polls to choose councillors to represent them on Wokingham Borough Council for the next four years.
One third of the council’s 54 seats are up for grabs on Thursday, May 5, but voters will also be asked to cast votes in a national referendum on the way MPs are elected.
There are also elections for nine of the borough’s 17 parish and town councils, including Wokingham and Woodley.
The Liberal Democrats hold four of the seats up for election on the borough council. The remainder are held by the Conservatives.
The Conservatives have candidates for every ward, however the election will spell the end for some Tories.
Councillor Pam Stubbs, ward member for Barkham, will not stand again for the Conservatives and has also chosen not to stand in the parish elections.
Cllr Steve Chapman, ward member for Sonning, is also stepping down from his seat.
Cllr David Lee, Conservative leader of the council, said: “We have got some strong candidates and I would be hopeful we could increase our majority.
“I think the national attitude towards the coalition Government is going to have an impact because people do group politicians together.
“From a local prospective, we have shown that we can control finances pretty well and we have continued with the services we said we would, like weekly bin collections, and we are moving forward with the town centre regeneration.”
Cllr Prue Bray, leader of Wokingham Lib Dems, said the party is fielding candidates for every ward except Sonning.
She said: “We are in new political territory with the coalition Government, so in the national press the Lib Dems are coming under a lot of fire. But locally in our campaigning we are not finding that our vote has fallen away.
“Obviously there are one or two people who are Labour supporters who are not happy, however locally it is still a fight between us and the Conservatives.
“We are putting out more literature than we have ever done before, including areas where we have not put any out before, like Barkham.”
Marjory Bisset, who is standing in the Shinfield South ward for the Green Party, said her party had 10 candidates for this year’s borough council elections.
She said: “We have twice as many candidates as we had last year. Our membership is growing quickly. More and more people are getting the Green message.”
Stella Howell, who is standing for UKIP in Emmbrook, said the party was fielding 13 candidates in the borough council elections.
She said the party is hoping to address concerns such as health and education.