Why won’t Wokingham Council mend the potholes? More money for Wokingham and West Berks.

The state of Wokingham’s roads is atrocious. I am getting plenty of complaints about the increased number of potholes and the poor surfaces which have deteriorated badly in the last two years. The¬† Lib Dems seem to want the roads to¬† get worse to deter people from driving to work or school.

I have successfully pressed with some other Conservative MPs to make tackling potholes a priority. Wokingham is getting a current baseline sum of 3,314,000 from government each year for road maintenance. The government is also providing an additional £418,000 extra this year and again next year for additional work on potholes. The minimum promised uplift in road money between 2023-4 and 2033-34 will be £13,095,000.

So Wokingham Council, what is your excuse now? This is another increased sum  and new money  the Lib Dems do not want to tell us about. Time to do something with all this extra money.

West Berkshire with more road to maintain gets £5,387,000 as base sum, with a pothole uplift of 679,000 this year and next.

More money for Wokingham Borough in 2023-24

Settlement Funding Assessment       £ million 14.8
Compensation for under-indexing the business rates multiplier                                     £ million 2.5
Council Tax Requirement excluding parish precepts                                                   £ million 134.2
Improved Better Care Fund                £ million 0.5
New Homes Bonus                               £ million 1.9
Social Care Grant3                                       £  million 5.4
ASC Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund4                                                                  £ million 0.9
ASC Discharge Fund                             £  million 0.1
Services Grant5                                              £  million 0.6
Funding Guarantee                               £  million 1.1
Core Spending Power                    £  million 161.9

These additional figures summarise some of the various grants Wokingham Borough is getting this year. It does not include the large grant for schools or the funds for special purposes like transport and roads.  It reminds us that there is a grant for social care, a grant for discharge from hospital, and  a Better Care fund grant in response to lobbying for more money for social care beyond the general resources. It also sets out the funding guarantee top up and compensation for business rates as well as the main funding settlement spending capacity.

Wokingham funding grants

I have now obtained more of the details of some of the many grants Wokingham Borough gets from the government. The Councillors seem unaware of all this money or want to keep quiet about it.

Funding Segment Total Spend (£)
2022-23
Council Tax Requirement excluding parish precepts                                  129,957,000
Settlement Funding Assessment                                    16,068,000
Help to Buy                                    10,802,000
New Homes Bonus                                      4,765,000
Homes for Ukraine                                      4,478,000
Social Care Grant                                      3,140,000
Compensation for under-indexing the business rates multiplier                                      1,578,000
Disabled Facilities Grants                                      1,076,000
2022/23 Services Grant                                      1,064,000
Local Authority Housing Fund                                          932,000
Homelessness and Rough Sleeping                                          808,000
Improved Better Care Fund                                          472,000
Adjustment for rolled in grants                                          387,000
Supporting Families Programme                                          379,000
Lower Tier Service Grant                                          338,000
Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care Fund                                          271,000
Domestic Abuse                                          248,000
Planning Inspectorate                                          186,000
UK Shared Prosperity Fund                                          104,000
Reopening High Streets Safely                                          102,000
Local Government Digital Transformation                                          100,000
Changing Places                                            80,000
European Regional Development Fund                                            45,000
Local Government Finance Family Annexes                                            40,000
Grenfell Site                                            39,000
Constitution, Union and Elections                                            27,000
Mandating Data Transparency                                            14,000
Resilience Team                                            12,000
Affordable Housing                                              9,000
Planning Delivery Fund                                              6,000
HCA Land Assembly Fund                                              2,000
Integration                                              1,000
Markets, Partners and Places ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†–
Local Growth Fund ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†–
LA Land Release Fund ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†–
Shielding ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†–

More money for Wokingham Borough

One of the many pots of cash for local government that Wokingham Borough is keen to raid is the Active travel fund. This is money for cycling and walking that government gives for plans and priorities of the Council”s own choosing. The Lib Dem Council choose badly, favouring schemes which make driving to work, school and the shops increasingly difficult.

In 2022-3 the Council spent £636,000 from these grants, and is negotiating for much more again this year and next. To make better use of these funds they should come up with helpful and popular schemes instead of using the money to attack drivers. It is yet more evidence too that they are in denial about how much the government sends them, always pleading poverty.

More money for social care

I held a meeting with the local government Minister to press the case for more money for social care in Wokingham.¬† I have received a letter today from Michael Gove to MPs confirming there will be an extra allocation of cash for social care for 2024-5 on top of the general settlement indications. I look forward to receiving the final details of Wokingham’s share of the increased spending pot.

Great British Rail Sale 2

Please see below the letter I have received from the Minister concerning rail ticket sales.

Dear Colleague

Great British Rail Sale 2

On Tuesday 23 January we are launching the second Great British Rail Sale, following the success of the last sale in 2022, offering over a million rail tickets for passengers across Britain at up to 50 per cent off. Passengers can buy tickets between 23 to 29 January for travel from 30 January to 15 March.

The rail sale will offer passengers significant savings on journeys across England and Wales, as well as on journeys between England and Scotland ‚Äď allowing people to visit different places, connect with friends and loved ones, and get out and about around the country.

The last sale in 2022 previously saw over 1.3 million tickets sold, saving around £7 million for passengers, according to industry estimates.

It was also great news for the railway too. Industry estimates suggest the sale generated over £3 million in additional revenue and helped bring passengers back to rail. The Great British Rail Sale is just one part of how we’re improving the passenger experience, encouraging better value fares and helping to grow revenue on the railways.

As you’ll also be aware, ASLEF have recently called rolling strikes between 30th Jan and 5th Feb, with each operator striking for one day, coinciding with the first week of travel dates for the sale. Additionally, LNER drivers will strike the whole working week between the 5th and 9th of February. Operators will not offer sale tickets on strike days, including any additional dates should they be announced by ASLEF. However, with the travel window extending to the 15th March, there will be plenty of opportunity for your constituents to take advantage of discounts.
It’s very disappointing to see ASLEF continuing to target those who travel to work, school or important medical appointments by train.

ASLEF is now the only rail union that is continuing to strike while refusing to put a fair and reasonable offer to its members. The offer that remains on the table would bring the average train driver’s salary up to ¬£65,000.

The ASLEF leadership should do the right thing and let their members decide their own future, instead of deciding it for them.
The Government has also made it clear to train operators that they should be ready to use the Minimum Service Levels regulations, a tool the Government has provided to reduce the impact of rail strikes on passengers.

The discount will be available on selected Advance or Off peak tickets from participating train companies. Your constituents can find tickets and more information by visiting: www.nationalrail.co.uk/railsale.

Yours ever,

HUW MERRIMAN MP

MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT

Wokingham gets more money for schools and teachers in 2023-4 Total £192.75 m

The Council have been putting out that they get very little money from the government. I will set out again just how many grants and how much money they do get, as they seem forgetful of the various sources of government cash and just how much they receive.

Wokingham in 2023-4 is receiving £192.75 in capital and revenue grants for education. This comprises

 

Dedicated Schools grant      £168m

Pupil Premium      £4.3m

PE and Sports        £1.06m

Covid recovery grant    £0.42m

Universal infant free meals     £1.46 m

National tutoring programme    £0.22m

Pensions grant         ££0.41m

Mainstream schools Additional grant       £4.55m

Teacher pay grant       £1.48m

School conditions capital     £2.17m

Basic needs capital     £0.72m

High Needs capital      £7.6m

Childcare expansion    £0.30m

The  main schools grant is up by £11.5m with an additional grant of £4.55m for mainstream schools  or over  10%  this year on last.

Planning problems in Wokingham

The Lib Dem Council needs to raise its game in handling planning issues for our community. It needs to make a stronger case to demonstrate that the recent high rate of building has more than taken care of the targets in the current local plan. It needs to demonstrate there is plenty of land with planning permissions available for the rest of the plan.

It also needs to get on with producing a successor plan. The government has made it very clear that if the Council does not have an up to date local plan then Inspectors may well grant more housebuilding permissions and may well choose locations local people do not want to see built on. I have worked with a group of MPs to secure the promise from the government that they will not impose mandatory top down targets for numbers of homes to be built. More power will wrest with local Council to design a suitable local plan . An up to date local plan will be a key influence on any planning appeals after it comes into force. So get on with it, Wokingham Borough.