Council leader says people need to come together with more tough times aheadBy Jon Nurse
March 05, 2013
The leader of the council rallied people to work together with a budget speech anticipating more tough times.
Councillor David Lee called for Wokingham people to continue to rise to the challenge at Thursday’s budget meeting, but opposition leader Cllr Prue Bray warned council risk-taking could lead to serious problems.
Cllr Lee said: “Everyone knows the challenges we face.
“We can no longer put our heads in the sand and demand everything free and constantly say ‘someone should do something’.
“We all are that someone – we all have responsibilities to one another. We can, by all working together and playing our part, get through this period.”
Millions will be spent on education, housing, the town centre regeneration and easing traffic congestion over the next three years, while children’s centres and the borough’s youth service will see funding slashed by £570,000 a year. Job losses at the borough council will save £500,000 a year over three years.
Cllr Lee commended residents for ‘rising to the challenge’ of the new waste collection service through its teething problems and pointed to its £1 million savings per year.
Cllr Bray used her budget speech to question whether Conservative councillors understood the dangers.
She said: “Boy, are there risks. One of those risks arises from putting all your eggs in one basket in the regeneration of Wokingham town centre.
“Not just because it might go pear-shaped, but because of the effect your exclusive focus on Wokingham town centre is having everywhere else.”
Cllr Lee said: “When completed our revitalised town centre will generate some £3 million annual rental income, will be a town fit for the 21st century and will satisfy the wishes of our residents.
“It will also and most importantly give us the ability to raise the capital we need to invest in our major towns and villages like Twyford, Woodley and Earley.
“We have always said in our vision that Wokingham is only the start.”