Fears Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative could be 'divided and politicised' if outsiders are allowedBy Jon Nurse
January 28, 2013
Fears have been raised that the town centre management team could become divided and politicised if it is opened to those from outside Woodley.
Members of Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative (TCMI) will be confronted with their first vote after town Councillor Coling Lawley submitted a motion to change the group’s constitution.
The former town mayor wants the initiative to be open to all ‘local’ residents and traders, rather than just those from Woodley, a change of phrasing town and borough Councillor Keith Baker warns could spoil its successes.
Cllr Baker said: “What benefit to the operation of the TCMI can be gained by allowing residents of Earley, Hurst, Charvil, Sonning, Twyford, even Reading, to participate in our meetings? We have to be consistent and if we allow one person from outside Woodley on the basis of them being local you have to allow anyone to come and have their say.
“If we go along this route we will encourage non-Woodley residents to potentially turn the TCMI meetings into vehicles for other gripes and will almost certainly bring politics back into the proceedings, something I and others have spent five years striving to remove.”
The initiative was launched in 1995 to promote the town centre, in a partnership between Woodley Town Council, Wokingham Borough Council and the Woodley traders.
The change to the constitution was suggested by Cllr Lawley last year but was discarded by the initiative’s executive by three votes to one in October. Now he has lodged a formal motion to be raised at the group’s meeting next Wednesday. Cllr Lawley said: “In order to continue to provide residents and traders with a thriving shopping centre, recent events have highlighted we need to amend the current constitution.
“As a past trader in the centre, I realise that to be successful as a shopping centre it is essential we attract not only Woodley residents but also those living nearby.
“My amendment seeks to do this by increasing the involvement of all who have the wellbeing of the centre at heart. If they have a contribution to make to our success we would be foolish to turn them away.”
TCMI member John Baker, of Chapter One bookshop, said: “If someone lives outside Woodley but has the interests of the town at heart then we should consider allowing them to come to meetings.”