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Liberal Democrats Win Control
in Windsor and Maidenhead

Previously 'no overall control'

May 1st 2003

Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council is a Unitary Authority

Although the national trend was away from Labour and towards the Conservatives, at least in England, the Liberal Democrats are overall very pleased with the results of the May 1st local elections of 2003. Although losing control of some councils, this was balanced by gaining control of others, including Windsor and Maidenhead. The Conservatives lost 15 seats and the Liberal Democrats picked up 13 with five seats won by independents giving them a majority on the council of 11.
  For this election, boundaries in Windsor had been changed such that the town centre formed a new, three member, ward called Castle Without. Park and Trinity wards were combined, reduced to two members and renamed Clewer East. Clewer South now includes The Broom Farm Estate but remains a two member ward.
  The results in the elction were:

  Political Party Now Previous Change
  Liberal Democrats 34 21 +13
Conservatives 15 29 ­14
Independent 5 0 +5
Residents Association 2 7 ­5
  Labour 1 1 0

Boundary changes have reduced the number of seats by 1.
In 1997 and 2000, both councils were NOC.

Previously the council was 'hung' with no overall control (NOC) by any one party although the Conservatives were the single largest party by eight seats.
  In the run up to polling day, the Liberal Democrats had denied Conservative claims that their plans would not increase Council Tax, merely that their priorities were different and that money would not be wasted on such schemes as the unpopular redevelopment of Maidenhead Town Hall. The Lib Dems claimed that the cost of this plan was £608,000. They also attacked the substantial cost of glossy brochures - thinly disguised party political manifesto costing some £50,000, the Lib Dems claim - that was sent to every household in the Borough. Money would be directed towards such priorities as reducing home care charges. The Maidenhead Advertiser had reported that the redevelopment plan of the Civic Centre in St Ives Road was opposed by some 93% of residents polled.  
  Recently local residents had received their Council Tax bills for 2003-04 which had been increased overall by 9.3% with a massive 45% increase in the element funding the police in the area.
  The Liberal Democrats also claimed in their leaflets, distributed a few days before the poll, that the independent Audit Commission inspectors graded the Tory run council as 'weak' and in the bottom 20% of the country. Just three years ago, when the council was previously run by the Liberal Democrats, Windsor and Maidenhead was named as the best unitary council in the south-east. Whilst these comparisons deserve closer inspection, there was obviously much disquiet in the borough concerning the policies that the Conservatives had adopted.
  In Conservative literature, claims were made for improved roads and parking with car park availability and capacity signs, increases in education resources such that results from Windsor were amongst the best in the country, reduction in crime through CCTV and evening security patrols, plus a voucher system for respite care. Cleaner streets and greater public involvement in planning decisions were also claimed. In the future the Conservatives pledged to provide free state education for all 4 year olds, accelerate spending on schools, provide affordable rented housing fro teachers on under-utilised school sites, adopt a zero tolerance policy towards graffiti plus a cheap removal service on private property, uniformed Community Wardens and more CCTV cameras, 'after school' clubs for parents who work, along with other schemes to assist or improve services for cares, transport, additional; parking at Alexandra Gardens, as well as Park and Ride based at junction 6 of the M4.

What should our new Council do?

There are many elements of local government that both major parties would do their best to support and enhance, policing, education and care for the elderly being just three examples and we assume that the new Lib Dem council will do just that.
  As far as Windsor residents are concerned, a local council's responsibility also includes local ward matters and the Lib Dems must demonstrate an awareness and take action accordingly. This will not always be in accordance with national strategies, but Windsor is a very special case and needs treating as such. The proposed multi-storey car park at Alexandra Gardens/Alma Road is unpopular and we hear that the Liberal Democrats will scrap the plans, focussing instead on the Park and Ride Scheme from junction 6 where there is space aplenty and that does not seriously erode the amenity of Windsor riverside. One assumes that the rail link right into the heart of Windsor will play a substantial part in bringing in visitors and those working in the borough. Although the car park should be scrapped, the council must now act fast to put the terraced housing, including Sir Sydney Camm's house, back into the housing stock. To leave these houses empty any longer would be thoroughly irresponsible.
  The Liberal Democrat council would do well to hasten the provision of a Windsor Museum too which has been talked of for too long - some 50 years or more!! Residents would also like to see some sensible arrangements regarding the Vansittart Road Skate Park which remains a thorn in the side of those living nearby!! The Conservatives made much play of the CCTV camera and fencing [See Skate Park] which was extremely costly at some £30,000, yet is rapidly disappearing as it is broken down, and anyway doesn't stop late night, noisy activity on the ramps on hot summer nights. As a leisure facility the Conservatives should have ensured its relocation to the Leisure Centre when they had a chance but no, they left it it in a remote corner at the end of a lane yet within earshot of dozens of private houses! Local residents have reported to us that the CCTV camera hardly ever moves, and when it does it fails to detect or deter vandalism and is normally pointing the wrong way. (See the condition of the fencing in May 2003). The campaign against graffiti that was so loudly trumpeted in January (See Graffiti Campaign 2003) has made little or no difference as far as residents can see, and as for zero tolerance, what did that mean anyway, given that prosecutions were out of the question. There is much that our new council must take on board and we wish them luck and, of colurse, success.

We would welcome comments from Windsor residents as to what our council should concentrate on.
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