Wokingham Enterprise Limited called a waste of public moneyBy Laura Herbert
October 24, 2012
A taxpayer-owned firm set up to oversee the town’s regeneration has been branded a waste of public money after it was suddenly put on hold without warning.
Wokingham Enterprises Limited (WEL), which Wokingham Borough Council launched two years ago, is now dormant as bosses say “it has achieved everything it set out to achieve”.
WEL was set up to purchase land in Peach Street, Market Place and Rose Street from developer Rock Investment Group.
It is one of three council-owned businesses which also include Optalis and Wokingham Housing Limited.
The Liberal Democrats, the Wokingham Society and commentators on getwokingham have all now questioned the mothballing of the company.
Damiano_Tommassi posted on getwokingham: “So hard to know what’s going on. I was never comfortable with WEL oOptalis being set-up in the first place – we have a council, it was responsible for these
things, I didn’t see a reason to set up two new companies.
“The fact it’s being made dormant now, having achieved nothing, is suspicious, and suggests the whole thing was a waste of time and money, so far as the taxpayer goes.”
The council’s trading and enterprises sub-committee agreed to transfer WEL’s activities to the council so it could become a dormant company on Monday. Dormant companies have no accounting transactions, but can be reinstated for trading in the future.
During the meeting Councillor Prue Bray, leader of Wokingham Liberal Democrats, questioned why the decision had ‘come out of the blue’.
Cllr Anthony Pollock, who chaired the meeting, said: “As you are well aware the regeneration has gone through a number of different phases and we have now signed the contract.
"It seems appropriate to take the decision that is on this paper tonight.”
He added: “We have not given up on WEL.”
Following the meeting, Cllr Bray said: “The activities of WEL have been shrouded in mystery from the start.
"The Conservatives spent a lot of money setting the company up and paying directors, but we don’t really know what they have been doing.
“The Conservatives have made WEL dormant, but we don’t know whether that is permanent, and they haven’t explained why it had to be done so suddenly.
“This is no way to treat taxpayers’ money.”
Last month directors of WEL and the council’s executive member for regeneration Cllr Alistair Corrie talked to the Wokingham Society about the company.
Peter Must, society chairman, said: “There were questions raised about the value of WEL since its inception in terms of additional value it is bringing to the town and council.
John Pike, who spoke at the meeting, said: "It had given value in terms of advice and financial management but I don’t think
everybody was totally convinced.
"We have got no great expectations of it being resuscitated.”