A landmark commitment to plant 250,000 trees has been agreed in Wokingham, a whole YEAR after it was proposed.

But the Conservative councillor who proposed the decision has been accused of hypocrisy.

The pledge to plant 250,000 trees was brought forward in a motion by Conservative councillor Gregor Murray (Norreys), the executive member for emissions.

Cllr Murray first proposed the motion back in November 2020, but it only got voted on at a full council meeting on November 18 this year.

The motion also involves the borough council seeking ‘Tree Cities of the World’ accreditation, holding an annual celebration of the borough’s trees, and planting a Covid-19 memorial wood in honour of more than 300 residents who have lost their lives due to the pandemic.

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In a vote, cllr Murray’s motion passed with 43 councillors supporting it. Only cllr Jenny Cheng (Conservative, South Lake) opposed it, with borough mayor cllr Keith Baker (Conservative, Coronation) abstaining.

When it finally came to the vote, cllr Murray said he was ‘very proudly’ voting for his motion, a year after he proposed it.

But the Conservatives have been slammed for the delay and having a hypocritical attitude to motions, which can be proposed by any councillor and voted on as long as it is seconded by a colleague.

Cllr Clive Jones (Liberal Democrats, Hawkedon), the leader of the opposition at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We’ve had it on the agenda for the last 12 months but never got to it, and we never got to it because the Conservatives never allow it, and that’s totally undemocratic.

“Look at what happened with cllr Shirley Boyt’s dual use bin motion.”

Cllr Boyt (Labour, Bulmershe & Whitegates) introduced a motion to replace all litter bins with dual use waste and recycling bins in September, but it was rejected by Conservative councillors.

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Cllr Jones continued: “Cllr Murray used intemperate language and launched into a bad tempered speech about her motion not being costed.

“Yet his motion to plant 250,000 trees had little mention of costings in it, and there should be.

“He made such a huge fuss about lack of costings at previous council meetings.

“There seems to be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everybody else. It’s massively hypocritical.”

However, cllr Jones did concede that him and his fellow Liberal Democrats supported the ‘Tree Cities of the World’ motion.

Cllr Jones added: “I was happy to vote for it, I understand we don’t always know where all the money is going to come from, but they could’ve provided more detail.

“But in principle we are in favour of it. And maybe they can be more ambitious and plant 300,000 trees should be planted as well.”

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Reacting to the accusation of hypocrisy, Cllr Murray said: “We haven’t reached the motion at council meetings because the opposition have continually delayed getting to most motions due to asking endless pointless questions that waste time – and then criticise Conservative councillors when they dare to ask their own questions.

“Indeed, since the motion first appeared on the agenda, Lib Dem, Labour and Independent councillors have submitted almost three-quarters of all the questions, even though they have less than half the number of councillors.

“This is despite the fact that the Conservative group have been open about holding back on questions at full council, and instead putting them at one of the many committee meetings the council holds, in order to free up time.

“The Tree Cities of the World motion actually had £300,000 in funding from the Woodland Trust – but if they believed it was uncosted, why did they support it, and why did Cllr Jones offer to second it?

“As I identified at the time, replacing all the bins in the Borough as Cllr Boyt called for would have cost the council millions of pounds.

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“Unlike the Tree Cities of the World Motion, Cllr Boyt’s motion had no other source of funding behind it.

“And it was rejected based on the cost, while pointing out that the opposition didn’t check with officers how much taxpayers would have to pay for a political stunt by Labour and the Lib Dems.

“It’s just not responsible, and shows why the Lib Dems and Labour can’t be trusted with running the council.”

Places that have already received Tree Cities of the World status include Madrid, San Francisco, New York, Paris and Milan.