Wokingham Borough Council (WoBC)
What’s in a name?
After May’s council elections, control of WoBC reverted from Conservative control to no overall control with the subsequent formation of a Liberal Democrat led coalition.
At the first meeting of the new Council on 19 May it was announced that Cllr Paul Fishwick will become the new Executive member for ‘Active Travel, Highways and Transport’. He will replace the outgoing ‘Highways and Transport’ executive member Cllr Pauline Jorgensen.
I’d like to thank the outgoing executive member, Cllr Jorgensen. To her credit she gave up time to attend cycle meetings and was accessible via email and visible at local events. However, despite some limited Active Travel steps forward (as well as some back) there were clearly major issues with the transport strategy of the previous Council.
Their vision and impressive plan to improve walking and cycling and reduce congestion and air pollution was not matched by any concrete policy and the figures for what they hoped to achieve by the actions they put in place.
There was no visible progress on a delayed Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and the poor design of the recently opened sections of the Northern Distributor has already drawn a lot of criticism from local people for having few and poorly designed crossings, seen as a particular risk to the large number of school children who attempt to make this journey by bike and foot.
There were the huge, missed opportunities to make as yet unbuilt infrastructure (South Distributor Road and Southern Gateway Roundabout to name a few) LTN 1/20 compliant.
In fact, the new roundabout layout has been criticised as being far more dangerous for cyclists than the old design and this was repeatedly raised to the previous administration before being voted through by the previous Council members.
There was the farcical issue with the Woodley cycle scheme that was poorly designed and consulted on, to the point where so many people found fault in it that it was rejected by Woodley Town Council at a late stage of implementation.
Hopefully this can be looked at again and the design and consultations done in a proper way, so something benefiting the whole community can be implemented after proper consultation.
Whether any of the above fiascos can be re-visited and either redesigned in the case of the Woodley Cycle scheme and the SDR and roundabout, or changed in the case of the NDR, is unclear, but is clearly something that should be looked at.
Fingers crossed the change in executive will bring more than a name change and Cllr Fishwick and his Council will be judged, as his predecessor were, on how much they can achieve and not just how many positive statements can be made.
Welcome Paul and good luck; cyclists and walkers in the Borough will be watching with anticipation.
WoBC Campaigner for RCC