Wraysbury parish council has ‘no confidence’ in two ward councillors
– Windsor Observer 22/6/2021
By James Bagley Local Democracy Reporter
(From left) Cllrs Gary Muir and David Cannon
AN ANGRY parish council have said they have ‘no confidence’ in their two ward councillors after they “failed” to support a petition on an essential flood defence scheme.
Wraysbury Parish Council (WPC)have passed a motion in no confidence in Datchet, Horton, and Wraysbury councillors David Cannon (Con), lead member for public safety and parking, and Gary Muir (Con), who is also deputy mayor.
The motion made yesterday, June 21, read they “failed” to support their constituents by abstaining from their River Thames Scheme (RTS) petition at a full Royal Borough council meeting in April.
The borough was kicked out of the £640 million flood defence scheme, which would’ve protected properties from Datchet to Teddington, by the sponsoring group last July after failing to fund its part of the scheme, channel one, via a flood levy.
The Royal Borough was asked to contribute around £52 million for channel one but only committed to £10 million.
Wraysbury, along with Datchet, Horton, and Old Windsor parish councils, demanded the council to re-join RTS via a petition, which nearly got 1,600 signatures.
However, lead councillors and officers said at the April meeting the council cannot support the scheme as it is ‘unaffordable’ and would cost £1.3 million per year for 50 years to repay the borrowing.
When it came to the vote, Cllrs Cannon and Muir abstained.
Below: Map of River Thames Scheme showing Flood Channel Section 1
At the WPC meeting, parish councillors vented their anger at the two ward councillors for “not supporting” their petition when it came to the vote – despite signing it.
Cllr Cannon said he told the parish council “repeatedly” that channel one was no longer in existence after the council was kicked out with no option to re-introduce it.
The Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury representative added the funding was always subject to a flood levy being imposed since the council committed to RTS in 2017 but, despite lobbying, the government did not allow this.
Cllr Cannon also defended the way he voted, saying the wording of the proposal was to note the council cannot fund the scheme without ‘flexible’ council tax or external funding – not to re-join RTS.
However, he added the Royal Borough is liaising with the Environment Agency to find alternative solutions.
This didn’t slide with the Wraysbury parish councillors, calling it “naïve” of the borough to rely on government with no plan B while promising that their part of the scheme would happen.
They also criticised the Royal Borough for injecting millions of pounds into other projects, such as the newly built Braywick Leisure Centre, rather than prioritising the RTS.
Wraysbury parish councillor Lora Andrew said: “If they [the council] didn’t have that money in addition to everything else they wanted to spend on, then everything else should’ve gone by the wayside.
“That money should’ve come first because it is lives, not a fancy pool, not a nice car park – this is people’s homes and livelihoods.
“This should’ve been a bigger thing a long time ago and why weren’t questions asked about what do we do if we don’t get government funding? Where is this money going to come from if we can’t get it from a flood levy?
“Those questions weren’t asked, and they should’ve been asked at the time when we were spending frivolous amounts of money on leisure centres and car parks that we, as Wraysbury, and the east of the borough will get zero use of or very little use.
“And whoever was in there at that time should hang their head in shame for not querying it.”
Parish councillors unanimously voted in favour of the motion of no confidence, which was put forward by fellow ward councillor Ewan Larcombe.
After the vote, the chair of WPC, Cllr Margret Lenton said: “I think you need to appreciate, councillors, how deep the discontent – actually I would put it higher than that – in Wraysbury.
“If you looked at my email box, there’s a feeling they are on their own. We know how near we came to fatalities at the floods last time.”
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