Drivers are being taxed and regulated off the roads by Lib Dem , Green and Labour Councils

In Wokingham a Lib Dem led Borough Council embarked on a £5.5 m waste of money to worsen a crucial roundabout junction of two important  B roads in Finchampstead. The junction also gave access to a public car park and retail car parks for local shops and a garage. The aim was to narrow the roads, replace normal pavements with Lib Dem yellow brick ones which quickly discolour and become uneven, and to persuade more people to shop and take children to the local school on foot or by bike.

The long period of works and road closures has slashed shop and garage turnover badly. It has driven vehicles into adjacent residential roads seeking rat runs. The Council has littered the area with road closure and diversion signs and bollards to narrow these routes. I had to travel 5 miles yesterday to complete a one mile journey. The alternative route also included a closure of half that main road with three way lights and four minute waiting time. Locals have been up in arms about the disruption and cost. Lib Dems lost all 3 of the local seats in the village as a result of this crazy scheme in the May election. They tried to blame the previous Council who refused to vote the scheme through, realising what bad value it was and how unpopular it would be. There has been no compensation to the shops and garage for lost turnover.

Flushed with their success in making the lives of those of us who drive to work, drive to the shops or to drop off children such a misery, the Lib Dems now want to repeat this anti driver policy in other parts of the Borough and send taxpayers the bill. They are about to embark on the battle of the Woosehill roundabout. This is one of Wokingham’s best junctions. It is crucial to all who live on Woosehill as it is the main route in and out of this delightful residential area. Anyone needing to drive to work, to the Wokingham shops and to local schools needs to rely on this usually free flowing roundabout. The Lib Dems want to make that very difficult during prolonged roadworks. They want to reduce the carriageways for vehicles and create traffic jams where none exist. The California Crossroads experience should make them think again, but they are motivated by a wish to hit the drivers.

Wokingham Conservatives select Lucy Demery as Parliamentary candidate

I attended the Wokingham Conservatives selection meeting   on Friday 31 May. We interviewed three candidates proposed by CCHQ from their approved list.
I agreed with the majority view that Lucy Demery was the best candidate for the vacancy.
Lucy Demery is a talented business woman with a good understanding of fin tech and the opportunities of the digital world. She is a confident speaker, a hard working community volunteer and willing to commit herself to public service.
She has my support and best wishes.

Visit to WADE day care centre

I visited Wade in Wokingham to talk to the users of the Centre and to thank the staff. It was a flower arranging day when I visited with some lovely blooms available for display. Wade makes a good contribution to our community, enriching the lives of the elderly who go there for company and activities.

Wokingham Council gets a substantial uplift in money this year

I keep hearing from the Lib Dem Council that Wokingham gets little money from central government. I will use a few blogs to set out again what Wokingham Council is receiving from government. These are often areas where I have put the case for more funding to government.

The biggest sum of money the Borough never mentions is the ¬£167,979,385 of grant to run our schools. Education represents around a half of the Council’s spending and all the main costs are covered by government grant. Why do they forget this? The current year money is up by more than 7% on the previous year.

In addition this year there is an additional £4,555,857 of Additional grant , £1,480,767 to cover extra pay rises this year for teachers and an extra £552,039 to cover additional pension contributions.

Wokingham will also receive a general pupil premium of £3,982,757. There is an extra £1,048,340 for sports.

There is a grant of £2,386,368 to cover the costs of free meals for infants. There is  £510,885 for the National Tutoring programme.  There are payments for the Coronavirus recovery programme of £816,058.  There will be additional money later this year under these last  two headings.

There is also £10,823,438 of capital money for schools. to improve and expand buildings.

It would be good to hear a bit more from the Council about how this money is being spent and some recognition of these substantial national grant sums.

 

 

Will Wokingham Borough take some pride in our neighbourhood?

When I was out about last week end doing one of my usual visits around the constituency I was saddened to see the neglect and damage being done to our environment by the Council.

I started at Shute End. There were cobwebs over the main entrance to the Borough offices. On the lefthand side glass there were two side remnants of some red poster sticking to the window where most  of the poster had been ripped off. The garden borders were overgrown with weeds in front of the buildings.

As I made my way there were countless yellow  diversion signs on roads. Some were badly positioned. None told you where they were diverting you from or to. The one by the Woosehill roundabout was partly missing and hanging off a rusty metal frame at a lopsided angle.

I visited California Crossroads over my boundary. The contractors are installing expensive yellow bricks, which will doubtless shift position and discolour badly where cars are driven over them. Clearly the Lib Dems are out to paint the Borough yellow in as many ways as possible.

I found several pavements where the hedgerows overhang and had  not been clipped back. Road drains are often blocked causing excessive water across roads when it rains. Grass goes unmowed. The potholes grow and grow.

Why will the Council not take a pride in our place? Why will they not carry out proper maintenance?

My Visit to Oak Tree School

I visited Oak Tree School in Winnersh to meet the staff and thank them for the work they are doing with pupils with an Autism Spectrum Condition diagnosis and associated complex needs.  It was interesting to learn about the curriculum, and the specialist personal development education and therapeutic programmes delivered by the school.  Parents can also access support from a dedicated family support member of staff.

The school opened in September 2023 and it is already heavily subscribed so I was pleased to see that the buildings provide some growing room to accommodate extra pupils.  At capacity, the school will provide places for 150 students from Year 1 to Year 13.

The local elections

I have been out and about delivering leaflets and talking to people about the local elections.

People did want to talk about local matters controlled by Wokingham Borough Council. They are understandably very critical of the Council , which charges too  much, delivers too little and ignores public wishes.

People are angry about the extreme anti driver policies the Council  is pursuing. The big increase in car park charges is a rip off, putting people off going to local centres.

They are annoyed with the plans to end weekly rubbish collections for all items, and amazed that worsening the service will not lead to any cost savings.

They are opposed to such poor road maintenance, leaving the roads badly damaged with potholes.

They are fed up with expensive consultations to be followed by doing the opposite of what the public  wants. Why waste £5.5 m on damaging the California crossroads when the advice was not to do this scheme. Why plan a similar mess up for the Woosehill roundabout?

They worry that the Council’s refusal to publish a local plan leaves Wokingham wide open to more development.

The Council specialises in undermining  local businesses that want to give us good service. Road closures and dear and restricted parking are hitting local businesses hard.

The Council delights in doing what people do not want and then sending them the bill. Time for a change.

 

 

California Crossroads

I called in today as a local resident  to refuel at the garage . The works I am told are now running behind schedule. The local businesses are suffering very badly. Turnover is massively down with many customers  unable to get there or to park easily. We local users did not want the junction changed and certainly did not want roads closed for weeks on end. We want the local businesses to flourish and to be accessible. One business I was told had its electricity cut off without warning. Residential roads are clogged with cars trying to get round the closures.

Why didn’t the Council listen to local opinion and the Opposition Councillors who warned them not to proceed? Why did they proceed with no plans to help the local businesses? Why is there no compensation for lost business? Why are the works over running? Why did the Council tell us it would make things better and that it was on schedule? Why do some Councillors who voted for it now want to blame anyone but themselves?

The gradual introduction of a ban on buying tobacco products

The results of my consultation  showed little interest in the topic, with just 12 against and 6 in favour.  It has not been a subject coming up in doorstep conversations when I have been out and about in recent weeks, nor has it figured much in the email box.

Tonight we have a vote on the second reading of the Bill. It is likely to pass with a large majority as Labour and a majority of Conservative MPs are in favour. I have concerns  about how the ban on tobacco purchases will be enforced as it will be difficult for retailers to distinguish people by an annually changing age restriction. Smoking will not become an offence, so a younger person can ask an older person to buy for them. I look forward to clarification and amendment over impact and enforcement.

Update from National Highways on M4 works

Please find below the letter update that I have received from National Highways concerning works on the M4.

 

Dear Rt Hon. Sir John Redwood MP

National Emergency Area Retrofit ‚Äď work set to begin on M4 between junction 10 and junction 12.

We are delivering a government commitment to add more than 150 more emergency areas to motorways across the country including several sections of the M25 and surrounding motorways.

I am writing to update you on what this means for the M4 in your area. Between junctions 10 (Wokingham) and 12 (Theale) we are adding 12 new emergency areas to the existing 10, providing drivers with more places to stop if they need to in an emergency.

The work is expected to start from Tuesday 7 May 2024 and is due to be completed by March 2025. Whilst we will do our upmost to maintain these dates, these dates may be subject to change.

There are major upgrades already underway at junctions 10 and 28 of the M25, as well as regular roadworks for maintenance and renewals. We know just how busy this section of the motorway network is and are working tirelessly to coordinate all this work closely and keep disruption to an absolute minimum. You can find out more about these projects, including a series of planned weekend closures on the M25 junction 10 project on their webpages:
https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/south-east/m25-junction-10/
https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/south-east/m25-junction-28-improvements/

To carry out the work safely, lane one (the left lane) on the four-lane motorway, will be closed throughout construction. Lanes two, three and four will remain open with a 50mph speed limit in place. Existing emergency areas through roadworks will remain open and a free recovery service will be in place throughout the roadworks.

The traffic management for the working areas will be installed overnight when the traffic flows are quieter. We always do our best to minimise disruption and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience these works may cause to your constituents.

It may take a few weeks before the roadworks appear as preparatory work is completed. We will regularly publish information about the upgrade and the roadworks on our website at www.nationalhighways.co.uk/emergency-areas.

The new emergency area work will mainly be carried out Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 7pm. There will be occasions when we need to close lanes, slip roads or the carriageway between junctions for construction activities and deliveries to the work sites, but this will be overnight and at weekends when traffic flows are at their lowest. Should there be a need to close overnight there will be clearly signed diversion routes in place.

We are in close contact with local authorities through coordinated collaborative meetings to minimise the impact of roadworks as much as possible. A summary of all planned closures on the strategic road network is available at: Road closure report ‚Äď National Highways.

Emergency areas provide a place to stop in an emergency if drivers cannot exit the motorway or stop at a motorway service area. They are clearly signed at regular intervals along the motorway and have bright orange road surfaces to help identify them. At 100 metres long, they have plenty of space for even the largest lorry plus a recovery vehicle and they are equipped with emergency telephones linking directly to our control rooms to get help on the way quickly.

You can find out more about what to do if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway here: https://nationalhighways.co.uk/road-safety/breakdowns.
This investment in extra emergency areas, along with technology like stopped vehicle detection, more signs, and clear advice about all lane running motorways online and in an updated Highway Code, will help road users feel safe and be safer on our roads.

Through all the work we are doing, we are determined to further improve public confidence in driving on our motorways and to continue to build and operate one of the safest and best performing road networks in the world.

Drivers can visit Driving on the motorways – National Highways for more details on what to do in the event of an emergency, including how to use an emergency area.

We are encouraging drivers to plan their journeys and check before travelling and we would be grateful if you could consider re-sharing our posts and information on your channels and with your audiences to help increase awareness about the work.

For more information you can follow National Highways @highwaysseast and https://www.facebook.com/HighwaysSEast .

I hope you find this update useful.

Yours sincerely

National emergency area project sponsor