Lib Dems represent this area on both Wokingham Borough Council and Earley Town Council. We have 21 councillors on Earley Town Council. We have 5 councillors on Wokingham Borough Council representing Hawkedon, Hillside and Maiden Erlegh wards. Find out more about our councillors by clicking here.
Earley Lib Dem Councillors have helped to get more than 40 faulty street and bollard lights repaired in the last 18 months. Hawkedon Cllr. Clive Jones is “… particularly pleased that our lobbying led ASDA to repair lights that they are responsible for in Chalfont Close. They had not been working for years and some significant technical challenges were discovered.” If you see a street lamp that needs to be repaired please report it at Report problems with street lights and lit bollards - Wokingham Borough Council , or contact any of your Lib Dem Borough Councillors who will try to get it fixed as quickly as possible.
Hillside Councillor Caroline Smith and Wes Budd, candidate for Hillside Ward in the May 2021 borough elections say, “Our green spaces are precious for so many reasons and must never be taken for granted. But, they are frequently threatened with ‘development’. Liberal Democrats stopped Conservative plans to build on Chalfont Woods but we now want Chalfont Woods protected forever, along with nearby Swallows Meadow.”
Parts of Earley regularly flood, causing damage to homes and traffic chaos. Earley Town Councillor and candidate for Maiden Erlegh in the May 2021 borough elections says, “All the predictions are for more extreme weather events. Some work has been done retrospectively, most recently at the end of Egremont Drive. However, more proactive work is needed to create permanent, resilient and environmentally friendly solutions across the Borough. We must try to stop development on flood plains and ensure that any necessary new roads do not exacerbate the problem.”
‘Walks Around Earley’, recently launched by Earley Town Council with the help of Loddon Valley Ramblers Association, is proving immensely popular. Comprehensive details for each of the 14 accessible walks are available on the Earley Town Council website, and can be printed or used on smartphones or tablets.
Earley station bridge - urgent action required
Mike Smith, Earley Liberal Democrat Town Councillor and candidate for Maiden Erlegh Ward in the May 2021 elections says, “It can be very difficult if you are physically disabled or use a pushchair with young children and want to travel by train to London from Earley. We must sort this out.”
One resident recently wrote on Facebook, “My late husband was wheel-chair bound for the last three years of his life – to get to London we had to get on the train to Reading and then wait 30 minutes on the stationary train to go to London Waterloo (via Earley)!”
Mike Smith added, “A year ago I asked the Department of Transport their plans for ramp access to the London bound platform. They passed me to Network Rail, who referred me to Wokingham Borough Council.”
“The existing WBC - owned foot bridge could be modified, but is in a very poor state.” Another resident has said on Facebook, ‘… as someone that’s been building and repairing bridges on motorways and major trunk roads for the last 30 years, that’s the worst one I’ve seen.’
Mike says, “At WBC Council meetings in June and again last week, I asked what WBC was doing on these issues. Council Leader Cllr. John Halsall replied that a bridge replacement is in detailed design stage and that Network Rail had ‘no interest in a collaboration at this time’ to provide disabled access. A replacement timescale was not indicated. These answers are not acceptable, so I will continue to lobby for improvements that will provide safe access to this platform for all users.”
Swallows Meadow is part of the vital green corridor stretching from Showcase roundabout to Pearmans Copse designated by Wokingham Borough Council as countryside. Many hundreds of residents share our view that Swallows Meadow should never be built on.
Much of the land was cleared in November to prepare for ‘development’. It was rich in plant and animal life. Badgers, deer and muntjac are amongst the wildlife still seen on the now badly damaged landscape. The proposed development is unique as the first in Earley to split a major green/wildlife corridor in two.
Besides the wanton destruction that had already taken place, residents have significant and legitimate concerns regarding impacts on traffic and road safety, noise and light pollution, flooding … and so much more.
A planning application may be imminent
Plans to build a supermarket and 42 houses here have now been revealed. Some of the drawings are available on www.lowerearleyplans.co.uk . A planning application may be lodged as soon as April / May.
The developer’s public consultation
You may have attended the ‘virtual’ public consultation by the developers on the 28th January. Many residents have expressed concerns regarding the conduct of that meeting. These have been summarized. We will ensure that they are made known to the WBC Planning Committee when, as part of a planning application, it considers the Statement of Community Involvment.
What you can do
Many grounds have already been identified for challenging a planning application, and we believe there is a realistic possibility that Swallows Meadow can still be protected.
Once a planning application has been submitted you will be able to log your concerns on the Wokingham Borough Council online planning portal and have these considered as part of the planning process. We will encourage everyone to do this.
Also, please sign our petition at www.wokinghamlibdems.org.uk/meadow