Saturday, 8 December 2012

Why it is that Wokingham are so in favour of 200 houses, loss of green space and foodstore and a hotel.

It does not matter that letters for the the initial 2011 consultation suggested nothing of new property developments, another superstore, a hotel and loss of more green space having recently lost the cricket field.

2011 Consultation letter circular version

Busy locals would have guessed and in their absence approved to any scale of development and debt any councilmen might come up with. The encouragement of the people who give them the most attention,  developers and land owners hoping to profit is bound to fall in line with the wishes of locals no doubt fed up of living in a rural market town.

The fact that the Regeneration officer was Cllr Matt Deegan who has absolutely no personal interest negotiating very big profitable deals with wealthy individuals (as a personal wealth adviser) and the project did not grow outside anything most 'Market Town' voters could dream of from the initial consultation letter.

We are all in 80% in favour of the proposals.

Manipulative data survey has prooven it.

If you would like to see how manipulative survey data works here is a very good example.

Q1 - Do you think the scheme responds effectively to Wokingham's character as a market town with small retail units and well-managed public realm

Q2 - Peach Place - What elements of the scheme do you support?

Q3 - Peach Place - What elements of the scheme do you think could be improved?

Q4 - Elms Field - What elements of the scheme do you support?

Q5 Elms Field - What elements of the scheme do you think could be improved?

Q6 - What level of diversity would you like to see in the streetscene? A = breaking up buildings into different parts. B = Number of slightly different blocks using a variety of materials. C = Splitting the street into a number of blocks, same design

Q7 - The proposals for the park include a number of spaces; open grass, events space, play area, fountains, orchard/meadow area.  Do you agree with these? Q8 - Do you think we've missed any spaces?

Q9 - What do you think should be included in the play area?

Q10 - What type of seating would like to see in the park and where?

Q11 - Do you have any other suggestions for how public art could be included in the park?

Q12 - Our analysis of Wokingham identified key features that make-up the town's heritage feel - do you think we have missed any key characteristics?

What is lacking from this set of questions?

How about list of things you do not like? You are never invited to disprove. Only suggest improvements.

The key things the bulk of the town do not support. Loss of open space, hotel, Super food store, the are contentious and strangely absent from the survery.

Here is the data from the survey with loaded questions. Just download it and have a quick scan. Do not take my word for it. Remember it was filled in by people chosen by and paid by those backing the scheme.

And here are the conclusions. Which are all petty and accessible to read and was publicized, unlike the consultation itself, but seems to bare no relation to the data.

Now. If you were the kind of person that they present themselves as at your door come voting time. Would you conduct a consultation that way?

Quick interview in town on a Friday Midday quickly shows a significant difference between public sentiment and the results interpreted by vested interests conclusions from the survey.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

38Degrees Police privatisation answers lead to one BIG question. sent me an e-mail which included Thames Valley Police Crime Commissioner candidates answers to their questions about privatisation.

Some were surprising. Perhaps there is nothing to fear. Or they are just the right noises like the 'Green' noises made in the run up to the last general election and the scandal that has come to light since.

How can I be sure they won't simply act a different way?

Please do not think I am rude. I think it is simply prudent.

To the Police Crime Commissioner Candidates

Using 'privatisation' as a generic term for out sourcing, private contracts, contracting etc. Do you all consent to the two paragraphs below.

Before allowing a private contract in which a current (now) chain of command, presence or investigative role is outsourced, you will stand down for a bi-election?

Before acting in a way regarding privatisation that 12 professional independent individuals in majority agree is not in keeping with the impression given in your statements to 38degrees below, you will stand down for a bi-election.

Responses in order of response

Barry Cooper

Sure - but only if it is a function that is primarily a police one. I wont stand down if I outsource something non-police.

Not that I am a fan of that either, as my 38 degree reply reflects.
And not if I am logistically unable to put things in place to replace existing contracts as quickly as I would like.


Answers to 38Degrees questions

Tim Starkey (Labour):
I can confirm that I oppose police privatisation; it is an issue that I feel strongly about as I believe that the police should always be working in the public interest. Policing decisions should be motivated by what is best for the public, not by what maximises private sector profits.

Anthony Stansfeld (Conservatives):
No, I am not a supporter of outsourcing, and I have absolutely no interest in any firm involved in outsourcing,

Barry Cooper (UKIP):
I am unreservedly, unequivocally and completely against the privatisation of any function that could be considered one that should be undertaken by police officers or ancillary specialist staff that should be answerable to the police chain of command (such as forensics). At no time should community safety be subject to shareholder interests or concerns about profit margins.

I will go further than this - the contract for private jailors at the Thames Valley custody suites is up for renewal shortly after the PCC takes office. If time permits me to juggle the logistics, I will not be renewing that contract. I consider jailing a primary police function. If circumstances dictate that I have to renew it, I will do so for as short a period as possible and set resources in place to take over at the very earliest opportunity.

Even with non-police functions, I will only outsource if it provides value for money, and extensive examples throughout the public sector shows that it seldom does. I do not anticipate much, if any, outsourcing even when it comes to this sort of service if it is already undertaken more efficiently and cheaply by people employed by Thames Valley Police.

I do not have, nor have I ever had, any sort of relationship with a company that provides private policing services or would be in a position to tender for any sort of contracts originating from the Thames Valley Police.

Geoff Howard (Independent):
1. The scope for privatising parts of the police services in the Thames Valley should be limited in the extreme and should only be introduced if absolutely necessary when all other avenues have been exhausted.

2. I will oppose greater private involvement, especially when incompetent companies like G4S wish to become involved.

3. I have never been personally involved, and neither have any members of my family or friends, with such potential private providers.

John Howson (LibDems):
I have no connection with any company that might bid of any services or contract with the police or any other agency linked to the PCC role. No front-line services not already under contract will be contracted-out although back office functions may be and collaboration with other forces will be considered where cost-effective. If there is a profit to be made, that profit should normally be used for public services and not for shareholders. The third sector already provides a number of services to victims, witnesses and other areas covered by the PCC role. They are generally 'not for loss' organisations.

Patience Tayo Awe (Independent):
I will not privatise Thames Valley police.

Will not allow G4S to get involved in the running of Thames Valley police.

No connections to companies that might be interested in police contracts.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Here it is. Wokingham Regeneration £100m contract. Sorta.

So after an appeal and involving the ICO the information that Cllr Alistair Corrie refused to share with you, even though it is the fair and proper thing to do has been been made available by the disputes team at Wokingham BC.

Or at least some of it.

The strip out list is this.

  • Financial figures – all have been redacted due to commercial sensitivity
  • Other figures (percentages etc)   - all have been redacted as they could lead to a commercial disadvantage to our commercial sector partners if other potential customers/clients have access to such information
  • Timescales - all have been redacted as they could lead to a commercial disadvantage to our commercial sector partners if other potential customers/clients have access to such information
  • Conditions – identification and detail of all conditions have been redacted as they could lead to a commercial disadvantage to our commercial sector partners if other potential customers/clients have access to such information
  • Company names have been retained but personal names have been redacted for Data Protection reasons 
  • Identification of potential suppliers and operators have been redacted due to commercial sensitivity
  • Many of the appendicies have been redacted in full as they contain detailed financial information which is deemed commercially sensitive 

Wokingham Regeneration £100m Contract Download

I will be continuing with the ICO compaint. I've not read this mountainous document yet but I'm confident that this level of redacted 'competitive' information also limits us from having any idea if we are getting a good deal. A bad public contract is normally benefits both deal makers at the expense of the public and create a drive towards developing over green spaces.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Public Wokingham Regeneration £100m Contract with Wilson Bowden Developments still secret. Sorry. Still trying.

Yesterday I submitted a complaint to the ICO about Wokingham Borough Council refusing to share public interest information on the terms of the £100m contract between the now dormant Wokingham Enterprises Ltd and Wilson Bowden Developments.

The process of trying to get details of the contract via the Freedom of Information Act started on 1st of August.

Full rejection, not even limited information as required, August 18th

Appeal started that same day.

A 26th of October date was given by Corporate Counsel and Deputy Monitoring Officer for update. They accepted that I have the right to a version with commercially sensitive information stripped out.

Deadline was missed. No communication offered.

October 31st I said that I would hold out on a compliant to the ICO if I could expect the info soon and and I was given a new update day of Friday 2nd. Deadline missed. Message sent to ICO on Sunday night.

So. It's now down to the ICO. It is a first time for me. Very interested to see what 'Freedom of Information' means when public contract valued at £100m is able to be withheld.


I'm not sure if this is the result of the disputes team or ICO but I received redracted contract on 09 Nov 2012. Link below.

Historic shot of Wokingham

Council are selling some of Elms field today. Did you know?

A sad day indeed. underhanded Tories can not deny that if you asked 10 random people in Wokingham town centre if they know about this you would have 9-10 'No' answers.

If they asked if they 'could' with an informed opposer having an equal say they would also have 9-10 'No' answers.

There argument that they have to sell it to carry out the Wokingham Regeneration plan is flawed in that the plan should never have depended on it?

LibDems leader did not publicise either and were well aware. They were my hope for ridding Wokingham of politics funded by business. There were only 6 official objections. I would have had I known. I keep abreast of these things better than 95% of the population can hope to.

Is it a coalition here too? Right public noises just too late. No call to arms. 

If only six people officially objected  is it evidence of agreement or  making 'have your say' impossibly hard. Or is it just defeatism from a population who have no suitable public representatives who are fit for purpose. 

We are busy enough choosing which private energy company to use every few months. Let alone which local (walking distance) community resource to oppose selling off or to ask why a two story science block on owned land cost £5m instead of £2m

I leave you with an image to remember. I have fond memories of summer picnics there with a fairly full play area, and the few basket ball games we intended to have more of but, thanks to political capitalism, never found the time. And now never will.

I urge you to stop voting for parties and start voting for people.

TVPCC elections coming up on 15th

I'm voting for the people who are firmest against privatisation, are not funded by hopeful private contractors and are responsive.

1st Starkey because of his legal background 
2nd Cooper

Stanfield will not give any commitments on privatisation. His party is backed by them so I guess his best strategy has to be to keep quiet.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Will the Thames Valley Police Crime Commissioner sell careers to investors?

Unlike many I am behind the concept of having someone outside the force decide if a policeman has committed a criminal act or not and the issue followed up.

In the right hands I applaud having someone outside the existing purchasing system overseeing expenditure, budgets and priorities. Hopefully this will result in two way scrutiny where both commissioner and existing team are ensuring the deals offer value and are not a get rich quick scheme for individuals employing cheap labour.

I am concerned that that the eventual winner will have a degree of financial control, the power to hire, fire and privatise, that might attract those with personal interests to the role

Political funding does not yet have proper limits, and there are just two years grace for a public servant to go and work for those they award a contract to.  Wealth is largely impossible to trace anyway. There is great scope for self or party interest in the position.

Investors will have backed their men. Who will their men back in return. Us?

I've asked that all of our potential Police Crime Commissioners to offer some closure on these adjuncts to democracy that are as yet not part of ours.

A commitment to not privatising any police services or what levels they would consider.

Asked directly if they or their party were funded by those who are likely to gain privatised police contracts.

I suspect most of the applicants believe in themselves and want to do the best job they can. But we if we are going to stop getting the wrong people in politics we are going to have to ask direct questions and demand straight answers for our votes.

Candidate relevant quotes in order of receipt or discovery

Tim Starkey: Labour: From PCC website

"Cutting police funding by 20% is criminal. By 2015 over 15000 police officers will have been cut, meaning fewer officers to respond to 999 calls and investigate crime. I will protect frontline policing and work to restore total police officer numbers in the Thames Valley to their 2010 levels.
Stop the Privatisation of The Police
West Midlands and Surrey police forces have recently issued a joint call for bids for private firms to deliver services including investigating offences, patrolling the streets and detaining suspects. This is a privatisation too far. As Yvette Cooper said: “Victims need to be confident that decisions on whether to investigate crimes or pursue particular criminals are made in the public interest, not in the private interest of a company.” I also believe that it is vital that the job of patrolling is not contracted out so that officers remain in touch with, and trusted by the communities they serve.

Responded "No" to any hopeful private contractor funding.


John Howson: Lib Dem: Response to direct e-mail
"In a service where the majority of costs are staff costs I would need to be clear that any privatisation improved the level of service at a lower cost. I would also need to be clear why the profit element could not be better used at improving service levels rather than paying a profit. However, there are many third sector organisations that effectively operate on a 'not for loss' basis that work in fields such as victim support. As another example, the use of private door supervisors in licensed premises undoubtedly saves money in dealing with nighttime economy issues, but the new nighttime levy will pay for police officers. Whether it would have been better to encourage licensed premises to take greater responsibility or pay for the police to do so is an interesting issue.

However, my general rule of thumb is that a public service should be delivered by public servants. The other drawback is that private sector contractors often aren't required to adhere to the same standards as the police. Any procurement should consider the same 'no strike' requirement that is placed upon the police by law. 

As to your second point, the electorate can decide whether I have performed to a level that they are satisfied with at the next election.


Barry Cooper: UKIP: Response to direct e-mail
"Anything that is primarily a police function should not be undertaken by a private company. As someone with libertarian leanings, I believe that the primary (those further along the libertarian scale than I would say "only") purpose of the state is the protection of persons and property from external and internal dangers. Such basic functions should never be subject to shareholder interests or profit margins. This is not only a police issue in the criminal justice system - the situation with the creeping privatisation of prison service is inexcusable and indefensible.

I include custody suites in that belief, which is the only primary police function even partially privatised in the Thames Valley at the moment. If logistically possible, I will not be renewing the contract for this provision when it expires shortly after taking office. I will certainly make sure that provisions are in place to make it possible to not renew it in the future even if forced to do so this time around.

I am a firm believer that the police are also members of the PCC's constituency and are not some sort of abstract demographic to be ignored or neglected, or indeed lambasted to score cheap political points. The police are against privatisation, and I stand firmly with them on this issue. Given the low morale issues resulting from Coalition government cuts and the Winsor reforms, outsourcing the execution of their duties is hardly something any rational person wants to see.

I commit to never succumbing to back-handers or any other form of influence from private law enforcement providers. As PCC my role is to be the democratic conduit of the public's will in how policing is shaped in the Thames Valley; I am not in it to be wined, dined, feted and made rich.

As to a resignation and bi-election should I be forced to engage in some level of privatisation, well, no. It is my intention to not privatise anything according to my own principles and beliefs as well as act on what the public want me to do (and they don't want privatisation), but a PCC is also subject to Home Office decisions and it is entirely conceivable that something will be centrally decided or implemented over which I will not be able to exercise influence or control. If the electorate judge me to have violated my principles and promises, they can vote me out in 2016.

Responded 'No' to any hopeful private contractor funding.


I have had no responses from Tayo Awe or Stansfiled and have not worked out how to contact Howard. So they are on my not fit for purpose list.

The main site is here TVPPC site is here.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Who pays the hand out in the long run.

In anticipation of selling their site The Guide Dogs for the Blind have applied for planning permission for 66 dwellings to maximise their sale value.

Word on the street is that the council has asked them to submit a new application for even more dwellings.

The good news for me is that this evidences the that the Tory council have actually decided to cram houses in the centre of Wokingham, it's not just cash for the developers who may be influencing them.

Regardless of motive. The giving of planning permission, the way it is presently financed, is printing money.  Literally multiplying land values, which is why lobbying is a worth while investment. As a charity this is less disturbing than the usual situation. We like giving to charity. But who will be giving them the money in the long run and how much?

If land suitable for 6 of three bed terraces is an additional £50k for each of those dwellings permitted then that's £50k that will eventually be passed on to each purchasing household. Unless it is the actual developer who received the planning permission, in which case it could subsidize their costs. But that would only result in a price reduction if there was no free market in which properties do sell at multiples of build costs even for investment buyers.

Then there is often then a Section 106 for each property to build infrastructure, which the present party will spend on something nice and publicize as an great achievement, lets say £16k per dwelling. We now have a £250k dwelling with £66k worth of added expense that will be passed on to the new occupants.

If the development is large enough then they may be required to build affordable housing. Worst case scenario for the developer is that they are required to sell the affordable housing at about 60% sale value to the housing association. But taking into account that they may not have been given the planning permission hand out, this makes the perhaps 40% affordable housing sold nearer to cost to HA require buffed up margins on the other 60%.

At the moment this is a mute point. Property prices are too high and can not be sold for less since sellers can not sell at negative equity. There is plenty of Margin. But the planning mark up, section 106's and affordable housing means that profits can be squeezed down to reasonable levels at current sale prices.

But the problem is that the solution lies in sorting out property / salary ratio's. Doing a massive construction blitz now relies on the young taking on debt and will increase the  ratio of rented against privately owned.  So what are we about to achieve?

This is personal debt. The very cause of penny pinching, the cause of both parents having to work and, given the lack of free time and spare cash plus the internet stores competitiveness through lack of overhead we are witnessing the death of the high street.

Also the family generations without privately owned homes to form the bulk of an inheritance miss out on the starting influx of capital that only appreciated property assets can bring.

So my Tory council. I accept that you do not make the rules. But you are aggressively following a path that enhances inequality and debt. Hear Hear.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The recession is over and the solution is projects like Wokingham Regeneration...?

We have just seen seen some growth figures.

We have had the Olympics and policy of massive construction on local government who must find the funding solutions.

When the construction has ended, will we have we solved the route causes?

Route causes.
We use resources faster than they reproduce. Our economy driven by need to repay debt and aspirational speculative trading. We have a political framework in which profiteers are allowed to bank roll political leaders.

If our poor economy is a bad cough then our solution is is a boiled sweet imbued with an immune system inhibitor.

We are doing it up and down the country. Just Google '£100m town regeneration project'.

UK press release 2025. Just change the word 'Spanish' to 'English'.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Why do some councillors insist Wokingham Regeneration consultation was appropriately and inclusive since 2010?

Wokingham Borough Council January 2012 

ITEM NO: 61.00 TITLE Audit Commission Annual Plan 2011/12 

"Has concluded that there is Risks with the mismanagement and potential  misreporting by the use of council owned companies."

"The town centre redevelopment is being funded by the Council at a time of economic uncertainty. There is a risk that failure to deliver the anticipated returns will have an impact on your financial resilience"

"At present the progress of the Transformation Programme does not take place in a public meeting. There is a risk that existing reporting lines do not enable effective scrutiny of progress by members outside of executive and other interested stakeholders."

Add to this that the public are in uproar. They are not stupid. Distracted, over worked yes stupid no.

To send campaign letters that include £5m secured for a science block but include  no heads up one what inexcusably low / dwelling section 106s are going to pay for it, or why it cost twice what one should expect, is either disonest . . or a crime. No picture, no housing numbers, no mention of partial development of Elms field. This letter, which 80% of people asked have no recollection of, did not engage the public as to the intent. I do not believe we were consulted and neither does the National Audit Office.

Even a backer with integrity would include these details and use some justification to sway the public view. We were given a cursory nod and now told it is too late.

Would, after consulting on this, the public say. 'Hey whack in 100+ homes above elms'?

It's time for the councillors who have forsaken those they claim to represent to be upfront and honest about were Wokingham is headed. 'Business Hub' '18 hour economy' a mini Reading if you were. Stop pretending to consult the community who chose to live in a market town and are just in your way.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

My post to the Wokingham Regeneration youtube video

Wokingham is a small town that people call home. Not a business hub. To enter a town trade war with our neighbours will bring increased pace and aggression to our streets. It is unfortunate that  public finances are split like this. We are taking on debt at a time when debt is the problem, and we are subsidising our costs with reliance on selling homes at prices that are still too many more times the average wage to leave a respectable disposable income to spend in the expanded town. Congestion.

Interested to see how open they will go on posts.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Answer to the Question. Public scrutiny. Wokingham Regeneration

If you do not know the question I sent then it is here. It relates to the Wokingham Regeneration contract with Wilson Bowden Developments made through Wokingham Enterprises Ltd. 

As a forward to this long list. I would like to point out none of it address the issue.

The entire scrutiny process is in the hands of people or companies who will not be selected paid unless chosen by those being scrutinised. It is #Libor all over again.Thus the need for public scrutiny, as was the concern from the National Audit Office.

They may as well add 40 other friends non-spouse family to the list who may or may not have access to the actual contracts and give them special titles.

They also reduced the question to open loop holes.

The last line is hopeful at best since in 'normal operations' you or I are allowed to request all the details of the contract and then get other quotes and make sure we got a good deal. Can not get better than that other than us appointing someone to do it.

Question (their version)
Highlighted by the National Audit Office report Jan 2012 that Wokingham Borough Council
owned companies could be used to avoid scrutiny. What measures have we taken?


I understand that the question relates to the potential to avoid scrutiny rather than that
WBC has been referred to in this specific way. Which we haven’t been, of course.

There are many formal measures in place that enable the Council to scrutinise our
Companies. These include;

Under the Constitution surrounding our Companies, our Councillors and Officers sit on the
Company Boards

The Council can attend the AGM of each Company and indeed call an EGM as its
shareholder, when it sees fit

Our Companies report to TESC on a quarterly basis, which is open for Public Scrutiny and

The Companies must appoint Auditors that must be acceptable to the Council (as
shareholder) and provide information as requested by the Council in the formulation of our
consolidated accounts.

These formal measures are supplemented by numerous informal measures to ensure
there is effective scrutiny in place. This includes;

Monthly meetings between the Finance Directors of the Companies and the Council’s
Chief Finance Officer, together with the Council’s Lead Member for Finance (Anthony
And Service related meetings to ensure the Companies are performing in the way we want
them to, for example; the Strategic Director for Health and Well-being together with the
Lead Member for Community Care (JMS) meet regularly with chair and MD of Optalis.

I hope this satisfies you that we take the scrutiny and oversight of our companies very
seriously, to both protect the interests of our residents and make sure they deliver on their
ambition; ambitions that will significantly impact on the financial well-being of the Council
and the delivery of vital infrastructure for our community.

Answer which was provided in Mr Lokuciewski’s absence
This is certainly not the case and in fact if anything it enhances the scrutiny role because
Scrutiny is quite entitled to look at the service being provided by any of our suppliers.

There are many formal measures in place that enable the Council to scrutinise our
Companies. These include the section of the Constitution covering our Companies; our
Councillors and Officers sit on the Company Boards; the Council can attend the AGM of
each Company and indeed call an Extraordinary General Meeting as its shareholder, when
it sees fit.

All our Companies report to a sub-group of this Committee, TESC, on a quarterly basis
which is open for public scrutiny and questions. The Companies must appoint Auditors that
must be acceptable to the Council and provide information as requested by the Council in
the formulation of our consolidated accounts.

These formal measures are supplemented by numerous informal measures to ensure
there is effective scrutiny in place. This includes monthly meetings between the Finance
Directors of the Companies and the Council’s Chief Finance Officer, together with my
Lead Member for Finance, Anthony Pollock, and service related meetings to ensure
the Companies are performing in the way we want them to. For example the Strategic
Director for Health and Wellbeing together with the Lead Member for Community Care,
Julian McGhee-Sumner meet regularly with the Chair and Managing Director of Optalis.

The scrutiny is actually even more rigorous than for the normal operations we have.

Kaz Solution.
Auditors and scrutiny panel  to be selected and agreed by 10 random adult voters. Not those being scrutinised.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Being asked today at the Executive meeting I hope

Dear Mr Chair.

I recently was denied a Freedom of Information request regarding the £100m Wilson Bowmen contract on commercially sensitive grounds.

In July 2012 in the previous meeting the minutes state

Panel noted the four principles of good scrutiny as identified by the Centre for
Public Scrutiny. With regards to the principle 'to reflect the voice and concerns of the
public and its communities', Members questioned how the public could be involved in scrutiny. they were informed that they could attend pubic scrutiny meetings,
ask questions at meetings, suggest topics for review or could pass their concerns on
to their local councillor. Agendas for public meetings were also sent to the local media.

Audit Commission Annual Plan 2011/12 also notes the dangers of the partnerships

"The risk of error and misstatement appearing in the financial statements will increase if weaknesses continue in your arrangements for the valuation of assets."

"At present the progress of the Transformation Programme does not take place in a public meeting. There is a risk that existing reporting lines do not enable effective scrutiny of progress by members outside of executive and other interested stakeholders."

Do you accept that a £100m council funded contract where there was little consultation and land and asset valuations have not met the auditors expectations and controlled by a select few people who are from the same organization presents a risks to mismanagement of funds and public value for money.

Also your current purchasing decisions state that 80% service and 20% price as determining factors. This again maintains opportunities for 'relationships' and I feel there should be a scale. If one company charges twice and much and is a 99% 'trusted' supplier and another company is locally trusted but does not have a relationship a member of the council council they may get a trusted score of 50% and could never get the work even if they were to offer it at half the price.

I feel the 80% 20% does not represent the purchasing style of the people you represent and would wish for tenders to be more openly scrutinized and higher quotes justified with an independent other.

Update. The answer

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Was there a true consultation on Wokingham Regeneration

According to Wokingham Enterprises Limited and their development partner Wilson Bowden, you were consulted on how you would like to achieve a regeneration of Wokingham town centre.

The consultation apparently started in 2009. I heard nothing, then a letter sent out in June 2011  to homes across the borough. This letter.

2011 Consultation letter circular version

2011 Consultation letter postal version

They both boil down to the same thing.
  1. We are looking at regenerating the town centre. We will make sure it looks nice and in keeping and provides jobs.
  2. If you want to have look at the proposals there are three days in a row in the middle of the school holidays.
From my limited survey it would appear about one in 10 people have any recollection of receiving this letter. although I suspect that even if the letters were actually delivered it suggests a face lift or re-build of the 1960's buildings. Locals working 80 hours / week would not feel the need to juggle things to make the specific Saturday they could attend.

In June 2012 there was a proper public disclosure in the Wokingham Times that there was going to be an exhibition at the end of July 2012. We were shown in an illustration that they would like to build 100+ dwellings on the car park near Shute End, more houses along one edge of the playground half of Elms field, an underground multi-story car park, and loose the other half of Elms field to another supermarket, an underground multi story car park and courtyard shopping square.

Over all 160 more infill dwellings on community resources This to pay for landscaping for the remaining field, making a through road to Shute End and a face lift to the 1960's buildings.

There is also a lot more in the 2010 master plan but this has never been promoted to the general public for consideration.

Not at all what one would have expected from the 2011 document and disturbing given the hardship that many have faced of late trying to get a local school places or even siblings into the same school.

With many new flats on Molly Millars lane as yet to be occupied and the cricket and tennis club property development opposite Elms Field still ongoing. Every patch of land. Where does it end?

At what point is the 'Historic Market Town sign taken down.

My thoughts now are that, if a councillor who went door to door claiming to wish to represent they would have at least included a mention of residential development supermarket and loss of open space openly into the initial public letter. Wilson Bowen or Wokingham Enterprises Ltd did not.

This would not be a problem if we could think of the exhibition at the end of July as the start of the consultation. But we can not. Tory Cllr Allistair Corrie (A tax advisor from Risley signed the £100m contract that was penned by Tory Cllr Matt Deegan (A tax advisor) between Wokingham Enterprises Ltd and Wilson Bowden Developments before the event opened.

It is important that the contract was between Wokingham Enterprises Ltd, a Wokingham Borough Council owned company and Wilson Bowden Developments. Ordinarily such a contract would be open to public scrutiny but by using the sub company. The denied freedom of information request is currently facing an internal review.

A post exhibition survey was conducted by @WokinghamRegneration but this simply asked questions about, assuming we do this what trees would you like and should the buildings be all the same in a row. I had to ask them specifically where state negative comments, they said we can put it anywhere. Many people did. But it was not obvious. It did not ask directly for people to approve or reject the key areas of dispute, apply a financial value to them. The results were absolutely fascicle. As you looked down the stats between about 120 and 220 they seemed to have been filled in in batches of four by supporters who could not be bothered to even pretend to be someone else. Also the survey drew on every one of the many lovely features they ask us if we liked. Which we did. Like a nice painting that I'm your willing to buy. The Summary used very odd measurements based on how many features we liked. The whole survey was a list of likeable features and nothing about choices about the things we don't.

My conclusion (Which matches that of the National Audit Office) is that there was no appropriate pre-consultation.

If you do not feel that there was an appropriate consultation and think there should be one then please sign the petition calling for there to be one.

Open interview. Real views.

Why I stopped voting Conservative

I am a conservative in that I believe that government runs business inefficientlyI also believe that business in competition is necessarily selfish and cruel.

I believe it is the role of government to create an environment in which business can provide momentum and drive, but not at the cost of quality of life. 

The benchmark is to create an environment in which all who are willing to work an honest week until their mid 60s can raise a family at a timely age if they so choose, with a good provision for security, health and education.

More and more people become disenfranchised with the Conservative leadership. Not with what Conservative means but what the Conservative party has become. Business interests dictating policy and government directly running businesses or quangos. Both cruel and inefficient.

What is the solution. How about get involved! Join the Conservative party and change it from the inside yes? ... NO.

There are just too many self interested business men involved and they will join the rest at the top, not you. Some have gained economic respect due to their wealth and party contributions regardless of its source. Inherited wealth, successfully reducing costs for large companies simply by reducing front line wages to below a local living wage or helping them avoid tax and drive tax paying competitors out of business, being ahead of the curve on the financial markets,  personal tax avoidance and land ownership and hoarding.

Not only are these non-'wealth creators'  allowed to influence policy in their own best interests. But they represent the aspect of business that provides nothing of value increasing the burden on those who do. Individually costing you more than the worst of lifestyle benefit families.

By joining them as a hard working local with an ideology for change your support adds in-touch credibility to a leadership that deservedly has none.

So I stood as a Green councillor last year. Why. Business men are going to get involved in that too and cycle will start again.

I agree. Until a minister is forced to sign away future revenue streams for the privilege of serving his country the cycle will continue. But, as of yet, I believe the Green party, currently at least, is led by a democratic majority of people who are thinking about everyone and the long term.

For me the cut off point has been reached. When someone of average intellect is willing to work a 40 hour week can not support a family by their late twenties or early thirties,m when once they would have, society has failed. This is not growth, this is not efficiency, this is not progress and I believe it was avoidable.

Evendons East Parish Councillor Election 2012

If you live the centre of Wokingham but despair at the relentless infill development and its affect on our school places, water, roads, drainage and flooding. Or perhaps you feel that you home is becoming too urban, then please research before you vote in the Evendons East Parish Councillor Election. And do vote.

Click here to see why I switched.

Many people vote for the party rather than the councillor? And those who do... vote. But a councillor has no influence over national policy.

A councillor is supposed to be your voice in council. They do not have voting rights on planning applications. That is reserved for 9 councillors selected by the leader of the leading party to be on the planning committee.

Your parish councillor will have three minutes at the beginning of some meetings to raise your concerns.

The planned Wokingham Regeneration is for a large food store, multistory underground car park, courtyard plaza and some face lifts and includes 160 dwellings. Yet more cramming on our community resources at a time where some siblings are going to different schools.The contract is for £100m and has been made using a sub-company which allows the contract o avoid public scrutiny. We are not being allowed to know what we are spending on what. Why?

You have two men standing to be your Evendons East Parish Councillor.  

I asked them both three questions.

John Bray
Are you unreservedly in favour of the #wokingham regenration proposal?
No. Although I am very much in favour of a regeneration of Wokingham Town Centre I believe that too much recreational space is being sacrificed with the current scheme.
If not, what would you like to change?
Less of Elms Fields being built on, ideally Elms Fileds being untouched.
Not so much money being borrowed by the council. Could the businesses who will prosper by this regeneration not be coerced into coughing up more sponsorship?

 Was there a sufficient consultation?
Absolutely not! Presentation after the decision has been made is not consultation!
The Town Centre Forum is not truly representative and the Council has not consulted widely with the electorate before embarking on this scheme. 

Mark Ashwell
Are you unreservedly in favour of the #wokingham regenration proposal? 
If not, what would you like to change? 
Plenty to hone as an active member of the Town Centre Regeneration Forum
Was there a sufficient consultation? 

Please do vote, spread the word and GET ACTIVE.

A councillor can not fix this secrecy over large public borrowing alone. 

In local government a petition with1500 signatures must be taken seriously and there are perhaps 6000 of us who are local enough to care. This means we have to be proactive.

If your are a resident of the Wokingham Borough and feel that the entire consultation and contract process should start again then please use this link to sign the petition and share.

If you feel that the Wokingham borough council owned companies should have the same level of transparency when spending your money as if the contract was with the council itself then please sign this petition and share.