CHANGES in the council’s leadership and political teams means a council plan outlining the top priorities in Wokingham borough has been delayed.

The Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) Council Plan was due for publication in September but this has been put back to October because of the differences.

And one councillor claimed the authority’s intent to challenge housing numbers had “disappeared” after the changes.

A vastly-different executive team approved a consultation on the Council Plan in August 2018, and results from this survey showed 70 per cent of people agreed more needs to be done to tackle congestion, challenge overdevelopment, create affordable houses and ensure there are clean, green spaces in the borough.

Officers came up with 10 overall priorities from the survey’s results.

In response to updates from Chief Executive Susan Parsonage and WBC officer Laura Callan, independent councillor Richard Dolinski challenged the authority’s approach to housing developments.

He said: “The previous leader of the council (Julian McGhee-Sumner) did say he was going to give a voice to residents around housing numbers.

“It was a strong message he was giving out.

“But it seems to me that statement, that intent, has disappeared. That’s the feeling I’m getting.”

At a tense meeting on Wednesday, May 29, councillors also disagreed about whether to include a ‘climate emergency’ priority in the Plan after this was suggested by Conservative Pauline Helliar-Symons.

Cllr Dolinski hit back, saying: “To drop in on these points might not be a good message.

“I would hate to see one of these issues dropped because we are now looking at emergency climate.

“If we had a huge wishlist we could have a plan so big nobody can deliver on it.”

Liberal Democrat Ian Pittock suggested it might be necessary to consult the public again if more ideas were added to the Plan.

“We should take another look at the document and maybe go back to consult”, he said, “A step backwards before we go forwards again is what is required.”

WBC Chief Executive Susan Parsonage and Laura Callan, strategy and commissioning support manager, updated councillors on the status of the plans.

Laura Callan said: “The draft at the moment is very much a working draft where we are collating all this information together.

“We have a few sessions coming up with the leadership team and the political team.

“We need to make sure we use these next few months really wisely.”

The meeting was marred by confusion and confrontation as councillors could not agree on a member to chair the meeting.

Conservative Pauline Helliar-Symons was eventually designated chair but a number of rows between councillors broke out during the discussions.