Over the past few weeks, each of the Wokingham Borough Council political party leaders have written to this paper about a range of topics, but mostly about what each party would do differently from each other.
One thing that all the political parties can be relied on is to consistently vote along party lines.
A fine example of this, if fine is the right term, was at the recent September full council meeting where, two unfortunate Conservative councillors voted the ‘wrong way’.
The subsequent confusion and mayhem resulted in the vote being retaken but this time on strict party lines.
The delay resulted in council business not being concluded.
There are many enthusiastic, well-informed, knowledgeable and sincere councillors across all parties.
Many are truly passionate about their communities.
However, there are those who appear totally silent and are in the main subservient to their leadership.
If you look at the make up of all the WBC committees, they are chaired by a Conservative and they hold a Conservative majority.
This in itself would not be an issue if all the committee members were able to exercise independence and represent what they truly believe is right for the Wokingham borough residents.
Unfortunately, some councillors are constrained by their political allegiance and their party whips.
There have been and are some excellent debates across WBC, where ideas, challenges and potential actions are being made. Things that could really make a difference for all Wokingham borough residents.
However, when it comes to a vote, you can safely predict the exact numbers of votes for and against.
More worryingly it’s the outcome, as the Conservatives hold the majority the result is a forgone political conclusion.
It doesn’t need to be like that.
There are more than 20,000 local councillors in England and Wales, each representing their local community and all with their own reason for doing so.
Approximately 2,000 of these councillors are Independent or from small local residents’ groups.
In order to be truly democratic, councils need to be representative of their community.
To make the best decisions, they need to draw on a wide range of skills, experience and knowledge of what their local community wants and needs.
Councils need local people who can bring their own perspective on what is needed in their neighbourhood and the wider community.
As we move towards next May and the local elections each of the political parties will put forward party candidates.
Some candidates will not live in or have any affiliation with the nominated ward. They will be there simply to keep up the party numbers, these are know as paper candidates. We don’t believe this is right.
So, when it comes to next May we ask residents to look at each candidate’s record of achievement and what they really aspire to do for their community.
If you care strongly about your community and cannot see a candidate or party that matches your aspirations then why not consider standing as an Independent candidate.
It may well be that come May you might find yourself holding the balance of power in a coalition administration.
If you are interested contact any of the Independent councillors via the Wokingham Borough Website – Find Your Councillor page.
We will be delighted to speak to you about how you too can make a difference. After all, we are proud of our campaign record on local issues and of our considered voting on matters that concern you.
Cllr Richard Dolinski, Cllr Gary Cowan & Cllr Jim Frewin are independent borough councillors at Wokingham Borough Council