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Interesting times

Updated: May 10, 2022

Following on from the Local Elections held on May 5th the make-up of Wokingham Borough Council is now:

  • Conservatives - 26

  • Liberal Democrats - 23

  • Labour - 3

  • Independent - 2

Given that there are a total of 54 seats, 27 seats are needed for an overall majority. It is clear from looking at the numbers above that the Conservatives have lost overall control, and that if all the others form a coalition they potentially have a majority of 2. This clearly has enormous implications for the Revised Local Plan Update, so much so I think I may attend the next meeting of Wokingham Borough Council in person, just to savour the atmosphere :-)

The next meeting will be the Annual Council meeting. It will be held on Thursday May 19th, starting at 19.00, in the Council Chamber at Shute End.

“Wokingham Today” has a good article regarding the potential power struggle for control of the Council, you can read it here:

Editor Phil Creighton writes about being interviewed by Evan Davies for Radio 4:

Much has been made in the past few years of the sheer amount of housing being forced upon us. Every party leader says enough is enough, and every party leader has been trying to convince Westminster to do something about it.”.

The article also includes an interesting analysis of the potential part to be played by Labour and Independent Councillors in any future administration for Wokingham, and whether the Conservatives or the Lib Dem Councillors might choose to try and run a minority administration. Whatever is decided, it will be decided at this meeting and I would encourage all SOLVE Hall Farm members to attend the meeting if you possibly can.

It also seems that the part planning has potentially played in the results nationally have not been lost on Boris Johnsons administration and the Government are already talking about some much needed planning reforms:

“Ministers will also examine how the planning inspectorate enforces local housing need targets. Areas that are constrained by greenbelt land or areas of natural beauty will no longer be expected to reach “unrealistic” targets if they can produce a plan that is “well evidenced and drawn up in good faith”.

"Ministers said they hoped the reforms would address the anger from residents at inappropriate buildings being granted planning consent. A senior Tory said that planning had been a factor at last week’s local elections and had “cost the party a lot of votes”."

The measures are contained in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that is due to be announced as part of the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

Last, but not least, Carters Hill resident Jan Heard, and Clive Jones, leader of the Wokingham Lib Dems are both interviewed again by Andrew Peach on Radio Berkshire and you can listen to the broadcast on catch up on BBC Sounds. (The show was broadcast on 9th May and the key bits start at around 1 hour in). Clive talks about the need to update the Local Plan and the need to look again at all the sites submitted, and to engage with Michael Gove and the Department for “Levelling Up”. He also mentions the Environment Agency concerns about the increased risk of flooding at Hall Farm.

Jan talks more about the transport and sustainability issues and the massive imbalance between development already proposed or planned in the South of the borough, compared to nothing built or planned for the North.

The link to the ANDREW PEACH programme mentioned above is now available here:

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