by Phil Cunnington – Parliamentary Candidate for Wokingham
As Conservative plans to hide Wokingham town centre’s character beneath a layer of ‘concrete vanity’ come closer to fruition, UKIP want to make sure local people can have their voice heard.
Voters on the doorstep are telling us that they feel the Conservative council will carry out their plans regardless of what local people think.
This isn’t only the case in Wokingham town centre but all over the constituency from Norreys to Arborfield to Mortimer to Burghfield residents are frustrated and feel that Wokingham Borough Council and West Berkshire Council give the impression of engaging with the public and listening to their views and concerns but that this is little more than a ‘tick box exercise’ on behalf of the councils. There is no real accountability because the cabinet system of local government means that opposition party councillors are side-lined and ignored in decision making.
There are a number of key policies proposed by UKIP which deal directly with this issue, here are a few:
Local UKIP policies
• Protection of local Green Space with development on brown-field sites only supported by a range of incentives to developers.
• Local referendums on key issues including development instigated by a petition of 5% of the population.
• Abolish undemocratic council cabinet arrangements. In Wokingham Borough Council and West Berkshire District Council an ‘Executive Committee’ of 10 councillors effectively dictate policy and the other 4o+ councillors and their electorate are ignored.
• Support for local small businesses by accompanying any regeneration in town centres with suitable travel infrastructure including free car parking near to local shops.
National UKIP policies
• Control of our borders allowing us to know how many people will be living in the Country and to plan accordingly – uncontrolled immigration means planning housing and infrastructure is all guesswork.
• Abandoning the EU Common Agricultural Policy which encourages inefficient farming practices, favours overseas farming communities leaving the UK incapable of feeding itself.
• Elected representatives that answer to the people that elected them rather than toe the party line ignoring the views of their constituents.
The simultaneous implementation of roadworks at significant locations and traffic congestion spots show the lack of sensible scheduling and no concern for the inconvenience to local people and businesses.
One resident commented that the Wokingham Conservatives are proposing ten years of major development and that relief roads will not be completed before housing. So whilst no-one knows if things will be better going forward from 2025, potentially the final ten years of their life willbe spent embroiled in the misery of building lorries and disruption, traffic and town centre chaos and loss of beautiful and vital green space. That’s no way to enjoy hard-earned retirement.
A wider view
Stuart Agnew MEP said at the UKIP conference in Margate that right now the UK is at the tipping point of being able to be self-sufficient for food. Over the next five years the situation will get significantly worse with the major contributors being EU agricultural policy and building on green spaces.
The interlinks between local development policy, agriculture policy, immigration policy and local accountability are often discussed separately by political parties but UKIP takes a wider view and proposes a cohesive approach for the benefit of the wider public rather than silo thinking and vanity projects.