Peppard Ward Conservative Surgeries
This Saturday 9 June between 1030am and 1200 noon Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale and I will be holding the first of our monthly fixed site surgeries in the Readibus at Budgen’s Precinct. We have compared diaries and booked dates which are mutually convenient for the rest of the year. This marks a sharp change of approach from previous Peppard Conservative surgeries when Cllr Ralph would just book the surgeries without any reference to me or consideration of my availability. This sometimes made it difficult for me to attend the dates chosen by Cllr Ralph.
Since I am discussing surgeries it is worth nailing a few of the lies which have been spread by the now Independent Councillor for Peppard ward. Throughout the election campaign a lot of mud was thrown by the Independents, most of which was untrue and to which I agreed not to respond at the time. Now I am under no such constraints and readers will gain more insights in due course.
To assist readers I will quote from the Independent Councillor’s most recent statement in the June edition of ‘Village Voice’ magazine published across Caversham Park Village. He says: “Having organised monthly surgeries on a Readibus at the Budgens Precinct every month since my first election in 2004, I regret that the last one in April was cancelled at short notice. It seems that Cllr Willis, who had not attended our surgery at Budgens for nine months, had laid claim that the booking was for a ‘Conservative’ surgery – and Jamie and I had become ‘Independent’.”
The second sentence is untrue in every respect. I did not attend the monthly surgeries at the Readibus from September 2011 onwards. This was the time when the relationship between the two Cllrs who were to become Independents and the rest of the local party broke down following them making a series of untrue accusations in the local press and other public forums. I agreed not to attend monthly surgeries with them in order to avoid any confrontation which might enflame the situation. Instead I conducted weekly walking surgeries around the ward during which time I delivered Council-produced surgery fliers and picked up issues from residents I spoke to. Anyone who can count (clearly not Cllr Ralph) will also note that during that time prior to April 2012 I did not attend SEVEN monthly Readibus surgeries. I can be so certain of the dates etc because Cllr Ralph missed the July surgery, leaving Cllr Chowdhary and I to cover it, as he was abroad. Both Cllrs Chowdhary and Ralph then did not show up at the August Readibus surgery, which I therefore covered on my own! Cllr Ralph may wish to try to make some sort of political point but it would be better if he told the truth to residents.
The second point above is around the booking of the April Readibus. This was booked as a Conservative Councillor surgery by Cllr Ralph and the Council produced fliers and posters for it featuring all three Conservative Councillors and placed the information that a ‘Conservative’ ward surgery was to take place into the local press. After Cllrs Ralph and Chowdhary decided to resign from the Conservative Party Cllr Ralph approached the Council to ask them to produce a second set of fliers and posters for an ‘Independent’ surgery on the same date. The Council officers were rightly concerned at this request to usurp a booked Conservative surgery and the request for a second set of printing and therefore rang both me and Cllr Ralph to express their concern. However, as Cllr Ralph was out of the country they couldn’t speak to him. It was put to me that this was booked as a Conservative surgery and was now being claimed by the Independents. Since Cllr Ralph had caused this confusion I was quite happy to agree to the Readibus being cancelled and each of us making our own arrangements for our surgeries.
It is important that the record is put straight but I am pleased that this silliness is now behind us and am greatly enjoying working with Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale in the best interests of the residents of Emmer Green, Caversham Park Village and Micklands.
For those who live in the ward you might like to note that we have booked Conservative ward surgeries at Budgens Precinct car park in the Readibus on the following dates from 1030am-1200 noon: Sat 9 June, Sat 7 July, Sat 4 August, Sat 1 September, Sat 6 October, Sat 3 November and Sat 1 December. Please come along and see us.
In addition we plan to conduct periodic walking surgeries to keep up the high level of contact with local residents which I have achieved since September last year.