TONY JOHNSON: A wry look back at what made the news in Wokingham during 2019

Looking back over the past 12 months' worth of Wokingham Paper stories

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January

Vandalism was to prove to be one of the defining factors throughout 2019 as the new season started with the Wokingham town centre Christmas tree being wrecked, car windscreens in Norreys being smashed and paint being thrown on windows.

Wokingham’s long serving MP was knighted in the New Year honours list, while Helen Power, elected as Evendons borough councillor in May 2018, was forced to quit due to a rare cancer.

Civil parking enforcement officers (aka traffic wardens in old money) really got to work as parking fines were handed out to a blue badge holder, a mourner, and a number of people at Dinton Pastures who’d been misled by official advice about parking being free on Bank Holidays (it isn’t).

Bad behaviour continued as youths poured face cream on a town centre shopper and others flung poo at dog walkers.

A consultation was started by Wokingham’s Post Office on their plans to shut the crown post office on Broad Street and open a franchise in a marketplace newsagent.

Controversial plans to build a bus lane and bridge were buried by Reading Borough Council after they’d been rejected twice by WBC’s planning committee the previous year. But the planning victories were short-lived as WBC lost a High Court appeal case against Hare Hatch Sheeplands.

And in a move that was to presage further upsets later in the year, Shinfield residents walked out of a WBC council debate on housing saying “enough is enough”.

February

The month opened with news that a Conservative town councillor in Woodley had received a 12-month suspended sentence for GBH. Wokingham’s MP and its councillors were uniformly scathing in the criticism of retailer WH Smith’s starting recruitment for post office staff before the Post Office’s consultation had ended.

There were more parking woes at Dinton and the first of the Two Certainties pieces was published the day this commentary writer went into RBH to have a kidney removed.

In a welcome sporting surprise, Sumas returned to their Lowther Road home ground. But there was more vandalism of cars and shop windows. Angry residents protested outside Wokingham’s crown post office regarding its threatened closure.

Meanwhile, Maidenhead MP Theresa May was grilled by Reading Blue Coat school pupils and was both impressive and impressed in a surprise Prime Minister’s question time. As we now know, this was going to change.

Another of the green spaces between Wokingham and Finchampstead was threatened and a campaign was launched to save Woodcray Meadows from development. 

Wokingham Conservatives party members expressed fears about misuse of their personal data, with allegations of a GDPR breach by a local Accountancy company boss.

March

The local Accountancy boss was elected chairman of Wokingham Conservative Association.

A new Berkshire Film Office was set up to provide a one-stop shop for film companies looking for a variety of locations from woodlands to period properties.

Supporters of Hare Hatch Sheeplands were pushing for WBC to set up an independent review of the high court verdict and the way planning enforcement matters were handled by the Council.

Housing development rumblings continued over in Shinfield as the developer demolished trees, shrubs and hedges before applying for planning permission to build hundreds of homes on the land.

A Hurst based mother of three was landed with a £15,000 bill from Scottish Power and was threatened with having her electricity supply cut off – despite never having been a customer. Hurst’s Borough councillor Wayne Smith called on PM and local MP Theresa May, calling for her support which she duly gave. However, it appeared that the electricity giant only woke up as The Wokingham Paper was going to press and they were going to be front page news … for all the wrong reasons. So they apologised for hounding the lady and claimed they were “ready to leap into action”. Which they did a week later.

Red faces at Shute End followed from Dawnus Construction, WBC’s lavishly praised Peach Place builder, going into bankruptcy and promptly ceasing trading. WBC’s Exec Member for Regeneration claimed that a “tranche” of retailers would open in April, but he didn’t say which April.

In relation to Conservative’s secret plans in 2016 to put 15,000 homes into Grazeley, Council leader, Julian McGee Sumner said that “nothing has been agreed or accepted”. This was despite the Government’s housing minister awarding £750k to WBC to enable fast track planning of the new town. Perhaps the council turned the money down then? Labour Councillor Andy Croy described suggestions of a pre-election housing consultation as a gimmick.

There was better news from Finchampstead as Siren Craft Brew announced that they’re re-inventing beer as we know it. This was very welcome as tensions were clearly rising at Shute End.

After having been discussed in Reading since 2016, food waste collections finally got underway throughout the borough.

April

The mood in April was sombre as news broke of Honorary Alderman and long-serving councillor Bob Wyatt having passed away. Tributes to Bob came from far and wide as did the people who attended his funeral service a couple of weeks later. 

A children’s soft play centre in Winnersh closed its doors while over in Wokingham a man was stabbed near Wokingham Station late one Monday evening.

Meanwhile in Parliament, the “Botched It” commentary outlined the seemingly never ending Brexit discussions and the PM was said to be in talks with the leader of the opposition to try to work out some way of getting to consensus. In other parliamentary matters, news broke over in Bracknell of a pressure group campaigning to force their MP out and Reading East’s Labour MP called for a Brexit alternative – to put Brexit back to the people in a second referendum.

Another five incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported in a single night, while Post Office employees were informed mid-month that Wokingham’s Broad Street Post Office would close in June,

Health bosses apologised after a shortage of doctors meant that patients were unable to book appointments at Woodley’s Loddon Vale GP practice.

And while “The Other Certainty” was published and included an Xmas 2019 health target, you may duly howl with laughter now as I confess that I’m not even anywhere close to achieving it. Clearly I’ve learned something from the former regeneration boss – announcing targets then missing them by a country mile.

In a Lib Dem-Labour spat over who failed to keep the Post Office open and what exactly happened to the petition that Labour activists had been putting together, local Conservatives could only stand clear. Despite party differences, there was agreement on the sham consulation that the Post Office had carried out.

With local elections only days away, political advertising was being published in the paper. Lib Dems had few words and lots of pictures while Conservatives had lots of words and no pictures. A duplicate postal vote blunder in Emmbrook was cleared up and WBC apologised for the mistake.

May

Our May 2nd edition was published on polling day for the Local Elections. ’Stuff’ all happened, but little of it was political in nature except that the Woodcray Meadows planning application was rejected again.

It all changed the following week when we published the local election results. “[Council] Leader [voted] out as Tories lose 10 seats” was the front page headline above a photo of a jubilant group of newly elected Lib Dem councillors. Other surprises included an Independent councillor being elected in Shinfield, after campaigning on housing that “enough is enough”.

Cllrs Rachel Burgess and Andy Croy delivered the 6,000 signature Post Office petition to Sir John Redwood’s office in Rose Street in preparation for his talks with the minister.

Shock news the following week as it emerged that one in six children in Wokingham Borough are living in poverty, and the numbers are rising in our otherwise affluent Borough. It also emerged that WBC had just been given a ‘poor’ rating by Ofsted for its care of special needs children as the Ofsted investigation revealed ‘significant concerns’ with weak leadership, poor communication and a lack of a joined up approach in order to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability).

A Shinfield man was jailed for murder after stabbing his wife 59 times in their newly-built home in Shinfield, just south of Church Lane.

And at last, WBC’s Mayor John Kaiser got to cut an opening ribbon at the first of the new businesses to actually open on Peach Place itself. Under the circumstances, even a month late was better than some had feared.

A week after delivering the Post Office petition to Rose Street, Labour Councillors Rachel Burgess and Andy Croy delivered it to Number 10 Downing Street. Although closure had been set back by a month, it was due to a delayed installation of a data line in the new premises.

Vandalism continued as practice nets were damaged at Twyford and Ruscombe cricket club, however a new soft play centre opened at Loddon Leisure Centre, which was attended by Borough Cllrs Bill Soane (Mayor) and Parry Batth (Exec – Leisure).

With parliament having rejected her Withdrawal Agreement several times, local MP Theresa May announced her intention to stand down as Prime Minister, but to continue as Maidenhead’s MP.

More vandalism was reported for a war memorial bench that had previously been in the centre of Wokingham.

And the Borough Council’s new leader spoke out, pledging action on Climate change among other things.

June

The month started with two tales of war – one shooting and one political. In the first, a vicar’s secret diary written from the frontline following the D-Day landings has just been published for the first time – 75 years after they were written. In the second, Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee has pledged to carry on standing up for his constituents, despite losing a vote of no confidence in him.

A disabled pensioner now has to carry a first aid kit when he leaves home, after being hit by cyclists or bumping into illegally parked vehicles after he was injured on Wokingham’s blocked pavements. Caught between a borough and a police force who have no powers to take legal action, Peter Ashcroft has called for more awareness on our narrow and often blocked pavements.

After an epic bike ride, Wokingham stalwart Stan Hetherington cycled 960 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats, raising £6,000 for brain injury charity, Headway

New Council Leader John Halsall vowed to fight housing numbers, suggesting that every resident in the borough needs to do their duty and respond to the council’s forthcoming housing consultation. At the same time, Cllr Gregor Murray, the new Executive Member for Climate Emergency and recently elected Conservative member Norreys, urged residents to take part saying “We need to be the change we want to see in others so that means doing something ourselves and showing others change is possible.”

Amid the news of more openings in Peach Place, Wokingham’s branch of Argos joined the Post Office and Marks & Spencer in the flight from town centre retail. The Twyford beer festival drew record crowds and Cllr Keith Baker was awarded an MBE in the birthday honours list.

Readers’ responses to the pavement parking problems made it clear that selfish motorists and cyclists on pavements are a serious danger to the public.

And if we thought that the Borough Council’s difficulties with children and education were bad, the news that a private Academy Trust was citing the funding crisis as the reason for pulling out of running the troubled Northern House School – leaving pupils in limbo. Already branded “Inadequate” by Ofsted, the trust said that “The funding system, over which we as a Trust have no control, does not provide enough funding and it is not reliable. It just doesn’t work for a small Trust like ourselves whose schools are dedicated to pupils with special needs”. Taken with other quotes from the academy, it typifies all that’s wrong with the Academy system of education – which isn’t under Council control until it’s time for the Council to pick up the pieces when a ‘Trust’ can’t make enough money to deliver on their obligations.

The very same week, an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had provisionally found that four companies – Richard Worth, Prospect, Michael Hardy, and Romans – broke competition law by taking part in a price-fixing cartel.

Over in Twyford it turned out that plans to beat air pollution had been scuppered by faulty traffic lights after resurfacing works were completed and the traffic sensors weren’t reconnected.

Arborfield was affected by vandalism as the Arborfield Aces pavilion had its doors smashed again, just hours after children and parents had attended the annual awards night. It’s thought to have been the tenth attack on the youth football club in the past year.

While the housing consultation was launched by Cllr John Halsall the Borough Council’s new leader, a row broke out in Wokingham’s Town Council as Liberal Democrats were discovering the final cost of Market Place regeneration works.

July

As Wokingham Conservatives called for a change in planning law to prevent repeated appeals by developers, there was surprise for readers on learning that the costs for WBC to defend planning appeals ran into millions each year.

WBC’s Executive took a decision to reverse part of a previous Conservative administration’s setting up of Optalis by transferring staff back in-house, in order for WBC to deliver statutory brokerage and support services.

The Conservatives flagship housing consultation was described as a flawed exercise by Labour’s Andy Croy as he commented “They have met with the Prime Minister four times on the issue – and she still lives in the borough. She doesn’t need £50,000 spent on this to know what people in Wokingham think about housing. As an MP she should know what people think.

Having delivered a petition from Wokingham’s fed-up motorists to the Council in 2018, after which a public working group was set up, local resident Clive Chafer criticised the borough’s dereliction on traffic planning, observing that “the council still seems to be in denial about the effect [the South Wokingham SDL] development will have on traffic on Finchampstead Road.” He went on to write that “The new road is classed as a “distributor road”. When I asked if it was a bypass for the town centre, I was quickly slapped down. It is NOT intended as a bypass, I was sternly informed”.

In a big shake-up for GPs, NHS bosses in the local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) announced plans for four super-surgeries to reform the Primary Care Network in the borough. With claims that “It’ll be so much easier for people to see a number of health and social care professionals on their doorstep, rather than having to trek into hospital for consultations and appointments,” She added “The knock on effect of all this is that GPs can concentrate on dealing with patients who have more urgent and complicated care needs.” 

Older residents will remember the shake up in NHS dentists being announced and this his has all the same hallmarks. Wokingham and Woodley residents who have difficulty in getting  appointments and going along to their existing surgeries won’t be best pleased if the new ones have even worse communications, parking or performance. Unless it’s a plan to deliver four MORE big surgeries to take the pressure off the beleaguered RBH, this plan sounds like a right stinker.

WBC had taken planning enforcement action and has ordered a Barkham man to convert an accommodation block back into stables. The ruling Conservative group on Wokingham Borough Council confirmed its pledge for a new Emmbrook primary by 2021 saying that the new primary school and community centre at Matthewsgreen will still go-ahead, despite the original developer going into liquidation. An Emmbrook Lib Dem councillor observed that “there is currently no shortage of primary school places in Wokingham”.

Bracknell MP, Dr Phillip Lee praised the new-look Broadmoor when he visited the Crowthorne secure hospital for the day. Over in Wokingham, there were rumours that one of the town’s Denmark Street car parks would close and be turned into a housing development.

Olympic rugby player Daniel Bibby cut the ribbon to declare the Elms Field Aldi store open for business.

A Bracknell woman and a homeless man were jailed for 7 and 17 years respectively after they were found guilty of stabbing Zelous Smythe to death on Nine Mile Ride in Crowthorne last year. Following the sentencing, the family of Zelous Smythe issued a tribute via Thames Valley Police.

Cllr Gregor Murray, the executive member for Climate Emergency, made a pledge at a meeting of Wokingham Borough Council that solar power will be installed on the borough’s schools, leisure centres, libraries and suitable council-owned properties with the work starting from the new school year.

In Winnersh, a firm working on the joint Persimmon-Bovis Hatchwood Mill development was fined £8,000 for illegally tapping into the water supplies.

Crime in the Thames Valley has risen almost 10% in the space of a year – more than the national average, while in WBC’s council chamber there was a clash over an anti-semitism motion which ended with the Mayor presiding over the meeting having to ask Cllr Croy (Labour) to stop talking. After an expression of concern, a detail review as well as a timed transcript revealed that Cllr Baker’s speech had been interrupted 18 times as it over-ran the already extended 11pm finish time for the meeting and it hadn’t been him speaking at the time the Mayor required one of the Councillors to shut up. I promised to apologise at the first opportunity and this is it – I mis-recalled who’d actually been talking at the time and apologise unreservedly for my error.

August

The front page headline called out to “Save our Tony” and fortunately the sub-head clarified that it was down to thousands of commuters who’d signed a petition in support of the poetry-loving stationmaster.

We proudly announced our ‘big name signing’ as Mark Ashwell, of TradeMark Windows and Conservatories, teamed up with The Wokingham Paper to become the official sponsor of your favourite weekly sports section.

A letter from ACER, the Whitegates Residents Association pointed out that “attention to the council rules and policies was seemingly lacking at the last WBC Planning meeting on 10th July, due to a series of decisions which will have a negative impact on our environment and opens the door for further uncontrolled development which will give short term financial gain to property developers, at the expense of long term damage to the green and pleasant suburbs valued by the established residents”. Re-reading this letter brought back memories of the disastrous decisions made on that hot summer evening in August. More on this another day perhaps.

The Arborfield Cross Relief road currently being built was been given a boost with a £24 million injection of Government funding. The ACRR is one of a number of major infrastructure projects planned by the council as it seeks to accommodate the large number of houses coming to the borough by 2036. It will provide welcome relief from extra traffic from the huge Arborfield Garrison development nearby and will be delivered before the bulk of the homes are occupied.

Vandalism in Wokingham’s town centre again as shrub pots were overturned and windows smashed.

 A new Conservative parliamentary candidate was announced for Reading East, backing Brexit in this Remain leaning constituency, criticising the incumbent Labour MP and putting forward proposals to solve some of Reading’s transport woes, parts of which include a third Thames bridge for the much-jammed town.

As Quarry protesters gathered in Arborfield, they learned of the effect that reduced air quality would have at a nearby primary school within 200m of the proposed site, something which would affect the children’s health for years to come.

Cllr John Halsall, Wokingham Borough Council’s leader vowed action on traffic jams and was challenging officers to come up with solutions that would tackle one of the biggest bugbears of residents once and for all. “We need an electronic version of the Battle of Britain control room,” Cllr Halsall told The Wokingham Paper. “We’re building it now.

In the same week, Council taxpayers learned that WBC had spent £15M on buying a Twyford supermarket’s land and buildings. But a communications gaffe meant that local Councillors first learned of this purchase from social media rather than from Shute End.

To the surprise of almost nobody, readers learned that WBC’s Housing Survey results revealed that 95% of us felt that housing build numbers were too high.

Arcadia-owned ladies fashion shop Wallis announced plans to close the doors of its Bush Walk store. The group said that it was focusing on its online offerings by increasing their brands’ digital presence. “Our click and collect service across the brands is also proving a successful way of helping our customers collect their purchases at a location most convenient to them.

Over in Emmbrook, a former town Councillor criticised WBC for ignoring Emmbrook residents’ complaints over the building and operation of a 3G artificial grass sports pitch. While in Shinfield, the planning application for the quarry was turned down under the watchful eyes of Council Leader John Halsall who’d been in the audience that night.

September

The Wokingham Paper

“Phillip Lee quits Tories over Brexit” was the headline as the Bracknell MP crossed the floor in the middle of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first address to the house of commons.

There was more vandalism as a cafe just off Molly Millars Lane was broken into while in the town centre there was a protest over the new PM’s proposals to prorogue (shut) parliament for 5 weeks to stifle debate on Brexit. In the end, the proroguing went ahead, was overturned by the UK’s supreme court and MPs got to spend more time in the debating chamber trying to work out what they wanted (or could agree on). It didn’t work.

A Finchampstead family who were devastated by their son’s death are appealing for justice and for new knife crime legislation. The family of Gee Smith, who died in November 2017 after being stabbed six times, have been campaigning for a retrial for almost two years.

After the Government was ordered to reveal Yellowhammer Brexit preparation documents, WBC declined to reveal its  preparations for the UK leaving the EU. However, WBC have revealed that its previous support for Heathrow’s third runway is under review and that the Council is poised to change its stance.

Revised plans for a Denmark Street car park to become new homes were released by developers. They were contrasted with a bench in Peach Place which has been labelled as a large wooden slug which has cost WBC around £30k. Peach Place expenditure is set to continue as a new water fountain was announced, along with a new toilet block to follow.

October

The Wokingham Paper

Princess Anne visited Wokingham Citizen’s Advice and was greeted by Clare Odds, Jackie Jones and Miriam Spires who between them, helped to found and staff the local bureau back in 1977. The Princess praised the work done by Wokingham’s Citizen’s Advice “In your 42 years of operation, it has shown to be absolutely necessary, and its relevance is every bit as important as today.

A proposal to build 500 homes between Blagrove Lane and Doles Lane in Wokingham’s Evendons ward was leaked to The Wokingham Paper. Despite the phrasing in the leaked document, WBC denied having been in discussions with the developer.

Dr Phillip Lee’s appointment as Lib Dem candidate for Wokingham was announced by the national party’s deputy leader, Sir Ed Davey, at a special Liberal Democrat conference for the Wokingham party.

Parents at one of the borough’s newest primary schools are pushing for improvements to safety before a serious accident occurs. The Floreat Montague Park School was opened in 2016 and there is concern that blocked access paths and unsafe crossings are putting children’s lives at risk.

Meanwhile, TWP’s letters pages were getting a good exercising as former and current Town and Borough councillors started an informal but highly energetic political letter writing contest which was to continue for some weeks. Amidst all the rhetoric, readers learned of disquieting matters as to the way in which the Town Council has been working.

With some very glitzy artist’s impressions, the new Carnival Pool regeneration plans were launched, however there was no information published as to the costs. “Overspent and late” have been applied to previous WBC regeneration plans, so it will be interesting to see how this new one turns out.

Over in Twyford, the lights were turned down in the formerly much used cop shop as officers were moved across to the Loddon Valley centre in Lower Earley. Senior officers pledged that the police presence in Twyford and Remenham would not be reduced as a result.

In the second surprising football news of 2019, Reading bosses sacked manager Jose Gomes after a string of rotten results.

Wokingham’s beleaguered Medical practice was reported to be failing patients as the call system to book appointments was panned by residents. A special investigation by the Wokingham Paper catalogued a trail of concerns on access to the surgery, as local residents told of their experiences. Local NHS health bosses claimed that they were working with the new much-vaunted Primary Care Networks as well as Wokingham Borough Council to consider what else can be done to improve access for local residents. Fewer houses or more surgeries come to mind, but that’s just a pipe-dream.

A Wokingham secondary school had a new headteacher – but he didn’t need to learn the ropes as he’s a familiar face to pupils and staff alike, having joined The Emmbrook School 14 years ago as he’d stepped up from the role of deputy headteacher in the summer. The Wokingham Paper was happy to publish the new head’s vision for the future.

Political allegiances were forgotten for one Sunday as people from Reading and beyond came together for one of the biggest hugs the town has ever seen. An estimated 700 plus people surrounded Reading Gaol as organiser Linda Saul expressed delight that so many had joined to demonstrate support for a new arts centre at this empty and unused town centre venue.

Back in the Borough, WBC had promised a crack down on fly tipping and in unrelated news, nearly 3,000 people are on Universal Credit, underscoring the reports of child poverty back in May.

Campaigners for a second referendum marched to Reading station on their way to Westminster to call for a new vote on Brexit as Parliament deliberated. And deliberated. And deliberated.

Confusion over check-in parking at WBC’s soviet bloc block saw parking fines soaring as motorists failed to understand the new system. And in a spectacular front page picture, a Wokingham teenager showed clearly why she’d made her debut on the GB kayak team.

WBC’s Executive approved £630k of additional spending to fight planning appeals against housing developers while the storm in a crock pot continued via the letters page.

November

The mich-vandalised Wokingham Town finally submitted planning applications to WBC for the installation of CCTV cameras on its grade 2* listed building. 

Over in Winnersh, Dinton Pastures was stacking up as WBC’s proposed activity centre was presented with ‘green’ chimneys amid much concern for its appearance. “A big cheap shed with ugly red chimneys on top – beautiful it ain’t” was one resident’s opinion. 

Tempers in Winnersh weren’t helped by WBC Highways’ failure to reconnect the traffic sensors after King Street Lane had been resurfaced. You’d have thought they’d learned from the Twyford fiasco earlier in the year however the reconnection was alleged to have been forgotten on the project plan.

Woes at Wokingham Medical Centre continued as it was accused of losing patients prescriptions while down at Shute End, WBC officers have overspent on Children’s Services for the second year running.

Ever watchful opposition councillors challenged WBC on its having kept information secret that should have been made public under a provision of the 1972 Local Government Act. This breach of the law was later corrected as WBC apologised for their oversight.

Another stabbing during a break-in saw a North Wokingham man taken to hospital in a serious but stable condition. Over in the centre of town, Nando’s made a dog’s dinner over refusing admission to an assistance dog and they later apologised for their mistake.

A lane on the A329(M) was closed to tackle a fly-tipping incident and the Borough’s Xmas Giving Trees for 2019 were launched. 

Although the calling of the General Election meant that technically there were no MPs at the time, prominent local figures continued the tradition of respecting the sacrifices made by the country’s military forces over the past 100+ years as the Borough took time to remember Remembrance Sunday.

A ram-raid at the Emmbrook Post Office was defeated by the shopkeeper switching on the lights and coming downstairs to investigate the noise. The raiders ran off. Further along Emmbrook road, new publicans  Danny and Shelley Mountain have taken over at the Emmbrook Inn.

A new-build gated community at Mulberry House came under fire for alleged construction woes and mis-selling, while in other news, WBC’s planning committee granted planning permission for the former Ritz Cinema building to be demolished.

In the middle of the election campaign, Wokingham Paper readers were astonished to discover that one resident had taken out a full page advert as an open letter to say “Why John Redwood must go” as elsewhere in the paper we published a full list of candidates for all four constituencies in the Borough.

As the campaigns got under way, the battle for Wokingham (constituency) commenced as we published interviews with the candidates and Sir John Redwood responded to the open letter from the previous week.

December

December 2019

“Who shot JR” didn’t feature, although Sir John was criticised for not taking part on the hustings organised by Churches Together, although he did join the equally under-attended radio hustings a week later.

Meanwhile, the Wokingham Medical Centre appeared to be in more trouble as it was discovered that medicines were being stored in fridges with fluctuating temperatures.

Nationally, Tories pledged that a new Conservative government would provide a 30% discount for first-time buyers while on the letters page, Clive chafed over Sir John’s response and Joe Orton’s alter ego made a spirited enquiry as to Sir John’s 2016 claim about getting out of the EU being quick and easy, despite Joe’s physical body having been buried over 50 years ago.

Once again, The Wokingham Paper had the privilege of being published on Election day, December 12th. Our election ‘special’ made it plainly evident that we were taking a very strict role of being non-partisan and not much political was going on. However, the many and varied costumes of the motor cyclists made for lots of great photographs as the Toy Run made its way to Barnardo’s in Wokingham’s Wiltshire Road.

And in the final edition of 2019, the CMA published its decision that four Wokingham-based Estate Agents – Richard Worth, Prospect, Romans, and Michael Hardy – had been found guilty of operating a price fixing cartel for almost seven years and had been fined. The last three apologised while the property company that owns the first one put out a statement.

Recycling in Wokingham has proved to be a success. Not only are participants recycling 100 tonnes of food waste, they’re extending the process as far as possible. Sir John Redwood was re-elected in separate news about the General Election.

The Last Word

And finally. Throughout the year, your Wokingham Paper has been making its way around the world this year – reaching a rice boat in Kerala, southern India; going 11,300 feet up into the Rockies at the Berthoud Pass in Colorado, USA. It’s been seen in Lanzarote and has even reached Taipei’s Main Station before finally making its stage debut this year.

So that’s it. All of 2019’s ‘political news’ which your Wokingham Paper reported throughout another turbulent and sometimes fractious year, holding ‘authority’ as well as ourselves to account, keeping you informed of how things run, walk, or totter round here.

It only remains to wish you the reader a happy and prosperous new year for 2020.

caveat.lector@icloud.com

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