The new leader of the opposition at Wokingham Borough Council has vowed to put equality at the heart of everything he does.

Councillor Clive Jones has become the leader of the opposition following an announcement on Friday, October 8.

Cllr Jones is a Liberal Democrat representative for the Hawkedon ward on Wokingham Borough Council.

Because the Liberal Democrats are the biggest opposition party at the council, whoever leads them becomes leader of the opposition.

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In an interview to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Jones said: “I have many priorities, but my guiding priority is that we have to have liberal values at the heart of everything we do, which means fairness, equality and supporting the vulnerable.

“I think that’s a huge difference between us and the Conservatives, and there’s no way they are committed to fairness with Boris Johnson as their leader.

“I think they need to change their attitude – all too many times they don’t do final impact assessments. They are doing better supporting the more vulnerable, but we still have a long way to go, and a Government that decides to take £20 away from people who get the least amount of money is bloody uncaring.

“We are going to support officers and the ruling group in their efforts when appropriate, in their efforts to tackle Covid for example.

“We will be constructive when good things are being done.”

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However, Cllr Jones said he would take the Conservatives to task on equalities and highlighted some of the successes the opposition has achieved in recent years.

Cllr Jones explained: “My overriding objective is for us to put equalities at the heart of everything the council does.

“We have put the council budget through overview and scrutiny. That is the third year of doing that.

“I’ve suggested that equalities and impact assessments are done  – that was rejected three years ago but it’s been accepted this year.

Our pressure to put equalities at the heart of everything the borough council does is beginning to work.

“We also have to make sure that all parts of the borough are treated equally.”

Bracknell News: Clive Jones in the Wokingham Borough Council chamberClive Jones in the Wokingham Borough Council chamber

He also elaborated on how the culture of the council should change.

Cllr Jones said: “What we want to see is a massive change of culture so that people who work at the council are more customer focused and the council becomes more user friendly – this all too often is not the case.

“Senior leadership of the council is now wanting the same thing. We want to have a change in culture where the resident is listened to, the resident is taken notice of, responded to and replied to in as positive and as timely a fashion as possible.”

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Wokingham Borough Council is controlled by the Conservative party and lead by Cllr John Halsall (Conservative, Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe) since 2019.

Cllr Jones takes over from Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Liberal Democrat, Twyford), who remains a councillor but has retired from the leadership.

Cllr Ferris aged 69, retained his seat in the Local Elections earlier this year. Cllr Jones said his Cllr Ferris “wanted to take things a bit more easier” and that the Liberal Democrats tried to persuade him to stay on after five years of being the leader.

Cllr Jones earlier referred to the end of the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift which was phased out by the Government on October 6.