The biggest election for years at Wokingham Borough Council is set to take place this week. The results will confirm whether the Liberal Democrats will take full control – or whether their rival Conservatives will push them back.

The Liberal Democrats have led the council for the past two years, after ousting the once dominant Conservative Party in 2021. Although, despite being the largest party on the council, they don’t have a majority.

There’s a chance that could change, as every seat on the council is up for grabs in this year’s 2024 election on May 2. The Liberal Democrats currently have 26 councillors and need just two more to get a majority.

Wokingham Borough Council leader Stephen Conway told the News he is optimistic – although he isn’t ‘taking things for granted.'

He said: “We’ve been fighting for every vote that we can get and trying to win as many seats as we can.” He added that the ‘very great unpopularity of the Conservative government’ could help the Liberal Democrats win in Wokingham.

Councillor Conway said: “Some people feel very disillusioned. They feel that the government has let them down including some long-time Conservative voters.”

But he said that many people in the borough ‘feel positive’ about how the Liberal Democrats have run the council.

He said that – with councils across the country struggling financially – people would understand some of the decisions the Liberal Democrats have made.

He said: “I think there’s a lot of people who know that we are trying to do the right thing. We’re not just going for short term advantage – we’re in it for the long run and trying to change things for the better.”

But leader of the Conservatives in Wokingham councillor Pauline Jorgensen said some of the council’s decisions – such as increasing parking charges and collecting general waste and recycling on alternating weeks – could prove to be unpopular.

She told the News: “These issues are definitely chiming with people. Increased parking charges, the bin collections – they’re things people care about.”

Councillor Jorgensen argued that increasing parking charges could reduce the council’s income if it means fewer people use council car parks. She said government funding for Wokingham Borough council had gone up faster this year than the last two years.

She said: “This year the increase was seven per cent while inflation was three per cent. We’ve had additional funding from the government on roads, on special educational needs.

“And the Liberal Democrats have put money into their revenue reserves this year. That isn’t the action of a council that is running out of money.”

Councillor Jorgensen said the result of this week’s election would come down to ‘who turns out to vote on the day'.

She said: “To my mind there is a compelling argument to voting Conservative on Thursday. Regardless of the government the local council can have a massive impact on life. The key thing is to vote for the people who you think will run services best.”