WOKINGHAM BOROUGH CONSERVATIVES
2022 Local Election Manifesto
Wokingham Borough is one of the best places to live in the UK.
We are the healthiest area, with some of the best schools, home to many global enterprises and small businesses.
The Conservatives are honoured to have been elected to run the Council for more than 20 years, working with you, local residents, to deliver the success story that is Wokingham Borough.
This manifesto sets out just some of our priorities for the coming years which we will implement if we have the privilege of being re-elected at the local elections on 5th May 2022.
Looking after your money
Recently, we have seen councils around the country, for example Labour-run Slough, go bust because they have failed to manage their finances properly. In Wokingham Borough, we recognise that it is not our money it is yours… The Council’s money comes from local taxpayers, and it is our duty to safeguard it.
For more than 20 years, your local Conservatives have been financially prudent, ensuring that we have not had to cut back on your services and yet we have been extremely ambitious.
We pledge to:
• Deliver balanced budgets, ensuring that our revenue budget spending does not exceed our income;
• Make no cuts to services by delivering greater efficiencies and better use of data to maximise impact;
• Deliver value for money, looking for opportunities where facilities the Council invests can pay their own way;
• Make the Council less dependent on taxes for income by making sensible investments which can also deliver a benefit for residents.
Supporting residents through difficult times
The pandemic has been a difficult time for many people across the Borough. As life returns to normal, we know that there are still people who are struggling financially.
This Conservative Wokingham Borough Council administration for recognises this, and we are committed to taking steps to help you to get back on your feet.
If we are re-elected, we will:
• Continue to issue grants for residents and businesses who are struggling due, building on the millions of pounds we have provided so far;
• Freeze car parking charges, reducing costs for consumers and encouraging people to shop local;
• Maintain the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, something which local Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors refused to support;
• Identify those in need and react through our anti-poverty strategy and help to resolve those needs.
A strong local economy
It is one of our core aims that Wokingham Borough remains a great place to work and do business. This means that companies should see our area as the right place to create high-skill, high-wage jobs.
We also must ensure that small and medium-sized businesses are not cut off from customers and workers, with easy access in attractive town and village centres.
The Conservatives in Wokingham Borough pledge to:
• Continue making the Borough an attractive for businesses to invest and create jobs;
• Invest in infrastructure and regenerate our towns and villages, ensuring that there are the best roads, public transport, parks, green spaces and sites for offices and shops;
• Ensure that developers pay their fair share towards infrastructure, using every tool at our disposal so that they do not profit for free at the expense of local residents.
The right homes in the right places
Over the past couple of years, we have successfully fought off attempts to impose housing targets on Wokingham Borough which would have doubled the number of homes that developers would build in our area. Our borough has delivered more than its fair share of development.
However, we also recognise that in some areas there is a need to build more affordable and social homes to help younger people get on the housing ladder and help less affluent people to stay here. At the same time, we must ensure that homes are built in the right places with the right infrastructure.
We commit to:
• Invest £57m to build and modernise social and affordable housing in areas where new houses are needed, ensuring that younger people are not priced out of the Borough;
• Build 300 social homes per year;
• Challenge the imposed housing target to reduce it further to a level that is reasonable for the Borough;
• Continue to fight unnecessary speculative development, while continuing to lobby the Government so that developers cannot game the planning system.
Excellent schools and adult social care
Wokingham Borough remains one of the best places for children to go to school and grow up. Although most of our schools are now academies, and are not run by the Council, we still work in partnership with them to ensure a high standard of education.
We also are committed to supporting our older and vulnerable residents however they need assistance.
If re-elected, we will:
• Build new schools to provide enough school places, including new Special Educational Need schools, the first one in Winnersh, invest in secondary schools including Bohunt, Piggott, St Crispin’s and Emmbrook and invest in new primaries and invest in our older primaries;
• Ensure that every child has the best educational opportunities, working with maintained schools and academies to deliver the best outcomes for pupils;
• Increase spending on adult social care to £61m to deliver the very best, including making sure that there is a greater focus on individual need.
A safe and healthy place to live
In 2021, Wokingham was officially rated the healthiest place to live in England. Your local Conservatives are determined to build on this and continue this record. Over the last couple of years, we have rebuilt and upgraded Bulmershe and Loddon Valley leisure centres, and Carnival Hub in Wokingham will open this summer. At the same time, we recognise concerns around anti-social behaviour.
We will ensure that our Borough continues to be a safe place to live and raise a family.
The Conservatives in Wokingham Borough commit to:
• Deliver low crime rates and reduce anti-social behaviour via actions such as increased CCTV and by working in partnership with the local Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner;
• Invest in greenways, cycleways and leisure centres to give opportunity for local people lead active and healthy lifestyles;
• Improve air quality and lower noxious emissions, making sure that your health is improved by breathing clean air.
Keeping the Borough moving
In 2020, the Council’s Conservative administration has invested more than £100m in by-passes for Arborfield, Shinfield, Winnersh and Wokingham. It is vital for a flourishing local economy our residents can move easily around our Borough.
We are also focused on helping people to adopt more sustainable and green modes of transport, while recognising that some people will need assistance to travel.
We pledge to:
• Introduce a smart traffic system to ease congestion on the Borough’s roads, alongside our investment in expanding our road network;
• Create more cycle lanes away from busy narrow roads, giving more sustainable transport options safely separated from the main highway;
• Ensure utility companies are not able to dig up roads where there are already road closures underway, reducing disruption and congestion.
Protecting our environment and green spaces
Wokingham Borough has fantastic green spaces, and it is a core Conservative value to protect and preserve these for future generations. Three years ago, we introduced food waste collection which is helping to achieve our ambition of recycling 70% of our waste.
We were also one of the first councils to declare a Climate Emergency and have an Action Plan which has been declared as the 8th best among UK single tier authorities.
If we are re-elected, we will:
• Continue to provide weekly waste collection because we are one of the few councils who are so financially sound that we can do so;
• Fight the causes of fly-tipping, as well as continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those who are caught dumping rubbish;
• Plant 250,000 new trees to enhance green spaces and urban areas in our Borough as well as improve air quality;
• Build four solar farms in Wokingham Borough to generate our own clean energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
We have a strong record of delivering the best for the people of Wokingham Borough.
We have an ambitious plan to build back from the pandemic and make our great Borough even better.