From The Chamber - Ian Shenton

19 Oct 2023

 I have made no secret of the fact that I regard this Conservative government as the most dishonest, corrupt and incompetent in the history of our country. To that I must now add the most damaging, following the cancellation of the most useful part of HS2 and the immediate fire sale of the land previously and expensively acquired to build it. It’s a scorched earth policy designed to stop any other government from finishing the job.

This rubs salt in the wounds of those such as myself who mourned the loss of, or damage to, over 100 irreplaceable nature reserves, ancient woodlands and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, now sacrificed on the altar of a white elephant. None of that would have been necessary in the first place had they accepted a lower speed, because the faster a train goes, the straighter the track needs to be. But no, it had to be the fastest, despite the need always having been for capacity rather than speed.

And the HS2 cancellation follows hard on the heels of the postponement of the implementation of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain to accompany housing developments, at least attempting to reverse some of the damage done to our biodiversity in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. That’s also something I care about, and we at Wokingham Borough Council were ready. Even developers were ready, having priced it into their cost base, but this incompetent government wasn’t. Next year, they say, but I believe that as much as I believe the promises of 40 new hospitals and 6,000 extra doctors.

Not content with environmental damage, they are continuing to damage air quality too, with the postponement of the end date for selling new fossil fuel cars. Poor air quality is literally killing people, and that's also something I care about, but what does that matter when there might be a few votes to be gleaned from it.

So, what has this got to do with local politics? A lot, because it is visible members of local Tory parties such as Wokingham that facilitate this abysmal government by continuing to support it, promote it, replicate its policies locally and, above all, to fill the party’s coffers with their subscriptions and donations. From their silence we can deduce that they stand full square behind a government that has no moral compass, and so we must accord them with the same characteristics.

Ian Shenton

Executive Member for Environment, Sport & Leisure