Regeneration to press ahead despite criticismBy Jon Nurse
November 30, 2012
People will get their wish for a revamped town centre even if a vocal minority continue to knock the plans, the council’s regeneration boss insisted.
Councillor Alistair Corrie, executive member for regeneration and affordable housing, said the majority of people endorse plans for Elms Field, no matter how statistics are viewed.
Liberal Democrats criticised his “dismissive attitude to residents” at Thursday’s full council meeting when he answered a question posed by Councillor Prue Bray over how many people support the Elms Field development.
The group claims his response, a “lengthy tirade of nonsensical statistics, showed quite clearly that a very small percentage of residents have actually come out in favour of this scheme”.
In response, Cllr Corrie said: “Of course it was not my intention, in any shape or form, to be dismissive when I gave my answer.
“I was replying to a very important question, and I wanted to ensure people are aware that, whichever way we look at the figures, the majority of residents support our plans for Elms Field as part of the regeneration of our town.
“The majority of the town’s people should not be denied their wish for a regenerated town because a few people continually try to disrupt the project.
“I am working on behalf of the majority as their elected representative.”
In Thursday’s answer, Cllr Corrie explained 1,200 people attended the consultation for the Elms Field development – around 3.9 per cent of the town’s population.
“If all were opposed we could claim 96.1 per cent were in favour as they didn’t bother to turn up,” he said.
After the meeting, Wokingham Lib Dem leader Cllr Bray said: “The reason for asking the question was the Conservatives claim anyone who hasn’t objected – the so called ‘silent majority’ – agrees with their plans for Elms Field.
“That is clearly ridiculous. It’s like claiming the 86 per cent of people who didn’t vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections were really all supporting the Conservative candidate.
“Most of the population almost certainly have no idea what the plans for Elms Field actually are.”
Cllr Corrie explained that asked if they supported some or all of the Elms Field proposals, 83.8 per cent of 204 respondents were positive.
Cllr Bray added: “Hundreds of people have objected at earlier stages, but the Conservatives have turned a deaf ear to all their previous responses.
“I suspect they have therefore concluded there is no point in objecting because the Tories are determined to press ahead whatever anyone may say.”