Help to heat across the borough

New scheme to help households improve energy efficiency

Wokingham Borough Council’s executive has approved the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and local ECO Flex ‘Help to Heat’ scheme. 

This new green initiative aims to help eligible residents improve the energy efficiency of low performing homes with a range of works such as loft or cavity wall insulation.

And the best part is that the improvements are usually either free or heavily subsidised as they are funded through a national levy on major energy suppliers such as British Gas, EDF Energy, EON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE. 

“Currently almost 1800 homes in Wokingham Borough are believed to have the worst energy performance rating of E, F or G, with almost half of this figure made up of council homes and social housing stock. This low rating means these homes are performing very inefficiently with occupiers paying much higher heating bills than they should.  

“We already know that fuel poverty, caused by continually increasing energy costs, is affecting 1 in 10 households across the UK, and is having a massive impact on some of the eldest, most vulnerable and most at risk residents of the borough. We don’t believe anybody should be forced to decide between ‘heating and eating’ which is why initiatives like the ECO scheme, and the new Green Homes Grant, are so important for our local residents. By improving the energy efficiency of local homes we can help occupiers reduce their bills and enjoy warmer, more comfortable homes. 

“Improving the energy efficiency of local homes will also help tackle the wider climate emergency by lowering carbon emissions across the borough.” 

In addition to helping local home owners access the scheme the council intends to use ECO funding to improve low performing council homes to help benefit local tenants as well. 

To qualify for support resident’s will need to meet certain eligibility criteria and have their homes current energy performance surveyed by the council’s ECO scheme partner, Insta Group Ltd, to assess whether improvements can be made in line with the scheme requirements. 

National ECO eligibility criteria includes those in receipt of a range of benefits such as Universal Credit or the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). However, by adopting the local ECO Flex ‘Help to Heat’ element alongside this, the council will also be able to increase eligibility criteria to include a wider range of residents. 

Details of the wider eligibility criteria, the types of improvements available and how to apply for support, will be shared when the council ECO Help to Heat scheme launches later in October. 

You can find out more about the ECO scheme on the Ofgem website at:

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Help stop bonfires

A plague of illegal bonfires is blighting parts of the borough – with a quarter of all nuisance complaints received since the beginning of September linked to 18 locations – but the council is taking immediate action to put the problem out.

Acrid smoke from sites burning what is believed to be commercial waste is polluting homes and gardens in various parts of the borough and WBC enforcement officers are out hunting the culprits to put a stop to the problem.

Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment said: “I am declaring war on the culprits who are burning commercial waste late in the evenings and weekend. The foul smells created are blighting the lives of many residents – and could cause health problems in particular those with respiratory conditions. We have the powers to catch and punish those responsible – and we won’t hesitate to do so.”

The council’s Public Protection (PPP) Team has followed up complaints and on witnessing nuisance issued Abatement Notices at locations in the south of the borough where they found evidence of illegal burning. To date there have not been further incidents at these locations, but, if there are infringements there are a range of options open to the Council including prosecution and all options are on the table.  They are also using other powers such to deal with dark smoke when appropriate.

The PPP team has also carried out day and night time inspections at these and other potential trouble spots to try to catch the perpetrators in action.

Cllr Batth added: “Wokingham Borough has zero tolerance to illegal burning of commercial waste. Our teams are out looking to catch those responsible. But we do need the public’s help because it is obviously essential to get evidence, and the best evidence is to catch them red-handed. If you are aware of illegal burning of commercial waste, please contact us on the appropriate channel – just posting something on social media will never help us take action, but reporting the incidents can do.”

Any residents witnessing illegal fires should contact the PPP via the website or if it’s happening in real time a call to the EH number on (01635) 503 242. Reports should include information on times, locations and if possible photographs of the fire and smoke. 

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woodley town council

Community grants

Woodley Town Council approved Community Grants

woodley town council

The following Community Grants were approved by the Strategy and Resources Committee on 15 September 2020:

2nd Woodley Scout Group                          

£250 – to purchase camping equipment and activity equipment.

Berkshire Vision                              

£250 – towards the cost of providing services and a range of events and activities to enhance the lives of the visually impaired.

Home-Start Wokingham District

£250 – towards the cost of running a training course for new volunteers and mentoring current volunteers.

Kick Twist Cheerleading

£250 – towards the cost of 4 training sessions at the Bulmershe Gymnastics Club.

Me2 Club                               

£250 – towards the cost of recruiting and screening 5 new volunteers within Woodley.

Woodley Festival of Music and Arts

£250 – to help towards the cost of providing the Festival of Music and Arts.

Woodley United FC                                                             

£250 – towards the cost of enabling 4 volunteers to obtain the FA Level 1 Football Coaching qualification.

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stop more houses

Help stop more houses being built

Wokingham Borough Council urges residents to help stop more houses being built in the borough

Wokingham Borough Council is asking residents to imagine what the borough would be like if the Government’s proposal to double the number of homes built in the borough each year goes ahead. The council is extremely concerned about the impact of 1600 new homes every year would have on the borough’s infrastructure.

“If the Government go ahead with their proposal to double our housing numbers, our system of planning for new homes strategically just wouldn’t be able to cope,” said leader of the council, John Halsall. “We would be playing catch up with the infrastructure for years to come. 

“Just imagine what would happen to our roads – the Reading Road would be at a standstill, the Finchampstead Road going out of Wokingham towards the Tesco’s would be backed up at all hours, junction 11 would be like a carpark and the A4 would be chock-a-block all day. If you think the roads are bad now, just image what would happen if we suddenly have to start building double the number of houses every year. 

“I have created a parliamentary petition asking the Government to re-think this proposal. You can find it on the parliamentary petition website by searching for ‘housing target’ or by visiting “We’ve had 10,000 new homes in the borough in the last 10 years,” added executive member for planning and enforcement Cllr Wayne Smith. “While that seems like a lot, in reality these houses were well planned and do have the infrastructure they need.

“We have seven new primary schools in the borough either already open, under construction or on the way, and a new secondary school open – the first in 50 years – at Bohunt in Arborfield. We have five major new roads, the Shinfield Eastern Relief Road already open, the Arborfield Cross Relief Road opening in October, the North Wokingham Distributor and Winnersh Relief Roads mostly open and nearing completion and the South Wokingham Distributor Road coming in the next couple of years.  

“We are investing £170million in new public open space, play areas and parks and £45million in new sports facilities. We have five new community centres coming and £420million worth of affordable housing. How anyone can say we aren’t building the infrastructure is just beyond me. But, that is all about how we have been building in the past, based on our last local plan, which gave us a roadmap of how to develop the borough responsibly, planning new communities in four strategic locations across the borough all with the infrastructure to support them.”

Wokingham Borough Council is urging residents to respond to the Government’s proposal that would see the number of houses built each year in Wokingham Borough more than double. The consultation, which closes 1 October, on the Government’s proposal would see over 1600 new homes a year imposed on Wokingham Borough. This is more than double the current figure. See the parliamentary petition by visiting or visiting the parliamentary petitions webpage and searching for ‘housing target’.

Leader of the council John Halsall said: “What the government is proposing is absolutely outrageous – we have been playing according to the rules for years, building thousands of new homes in Wokingham Borough. We’ve had 10,000 new homes in the borough in the last 10 years and now the government want us to more than double that – they want us to build 25,000 new homes in the next 15 years. That would be like building two new towns the size of Wokingham every 15 years!

“I have spoken directly to the secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick about the disastrous impact this would have on Wokingham. To get him to really listen to us, we need our residents to contact their MP and Robert Jenrick himself, before 1 October when the consultation ends.”

To respond to the consultation:

See the parliamentary petition

Contact your local MP

Email your MP and copy us in at  

Contact the Secretary of State

Contact the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick using the online form and let us know by emailing

Respond to the Government consultation online

Take part in the government consultation online

For more information visit the council’s website at

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waterproof recycling bags

New waterproof recycling bags coming to Wokingham Borough

waterproof recycling bags

Proposals to replace the existing black recycling boxes with waterproof recycling bags in Wokingham Borough was given the go ahead at last week’s special meeting of the council’s Executive committee (11 September). 

Changes in the world market for recycled material have meant that wet paper and card is no longer being accepted by recycling plants – which is hurting the borough’s recycling rates and causing significant environmental and financial cost. 

The switch to waterproof recycling bags will help the council maximise its recycling rate, with an aim to achieve a 70 per cent recycling rate as part of a drive to make Wokingham a carbon neutral borough by 2030. 

No other changes for residents are planned, with weekly collections alongside blue bag and food waste recycling continuing. 

The waterproof recycling bags will amount to a £400,000 cost saving per year, and allow an increased capacity for every household of 20 litres per week. The council anticipates this would lead to an increase in total amount recycled in the borough by more than 1,000 tonnes.

Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment, said: “We know how important recycling is to our residents – we know you want to recycle because it’s the right thing to do for the environment. 

“We’ve been working on a solution to the wet paper and card problem since the issue first emerged at the end of last year. We hired independent consultants to look at all the options available to us to ensure we made the right decision for our residents. 

“We are an ambitious council – we want to get to a 70% recycling rate by 2030, something no other council in the country has done yet. Solving the wet paper problem is an important piece of that puzzle. We can’t reach our target without first getting over this hurdle.

“The waterproof recycling bags have the benefit of solving the wet paper problem and having a minimal impact on our residents, allowing them to keep the great recycling and waste collection services they expect.”  

The waterproof recycling bags will be ordered following the call in period.

For more information about recycling, visit our website at search recycling.

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Woodley car boot sale

Woodley car boot sale

Following the cancellation of the Car Boot Sale on Sunday 20th September 2020, here are the revised dates for the remainder of 2020.

All markets are open from 08.00-13.00.

  • Sun 27th Sept 2020
  • Sun 11th Oct 2020
  • Sun 25th Oct 2020
  • Sun 8th Nov 2020
  • Sun 22nd Nov 2020
  • Sun 13th Dec 2020

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Green grants for homes in Wokingham Borough

Wokingham Borough Council is encouraging homeowners and landlords to apply for a government green homes grant towards the cost of installing  energy efficient and low-carbon heating improvements which could help save up to £600 a year on energy bills.

The government will provide vouchers worth up to £5,000 to help cover two-thirds of the cost of energy efficiency home improvements, such as home insulation or low carbon heating.

The council declared a climate emergency last year and committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. In July of this year, the council set out its roadmap on how it will achieve that. 

The council recognises the level of commitment that is required by all sectors and partners. The achievement of this ambitious objective relies on the engagement and support of our residents, communities, local towns and parish councils, and local businesses.

“We have committed £50million over the next three years to assist in the reduction of the borough’s carbon footprint but we cannot reach carbon neutrality alone,” said Cllr Gregor Murray, executive member for climate emergency.

“The green homes grant is a fantastic opportunity for our residents to save money on a home improvement which will then save them money year on year. And, they’ll be helping to reduce residential carbon emissions across the borough and get the council closer to our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.

“Domestic carbon emissions account for 45% of the total carbon emissions for the borough, so we need to improve the energy efficiency of our homes if we’re going to get to carbon neutrality.

“The application process is simple – I’ve just applied for a grant and it only took a couple of minutes. If my grant application is approved, I stand to save 25% on my annual heating costs while helping the council reach their carbon neutral goal and most importantly it’s good for the environment.” 

A higher level of subsidy may also be available if a homeowner or a member of the household receives one of the qualifying means-tested benefits, which could result in 100% of the cost of the improvements being covered up to £10,000. More information on the qualifying benefits is available on the Simple Energy Advice website.

The council has applied to be part of the government’s Green Homes Grant: Local Authority Delivery, which would provide additional support for low income households across the borough. 

If you are a home owner why not visit the Simple Energy Advice website to find out what green improvements could be made to your house and how to apply for a grant. Visit and search green homes grant.

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woodley town council

Woodley Town Council accounts 2019-2020

To inspect the accounts please read the information below including contact details.

You can download the 2019-2020 accounts documents from this link;

Financial Information

Local authority accounts – residents’ rights

Please note that this summary applies to all relevant smaller authorities, including local councils, internal drainage boards and ‘other’ smaller authorities.

The basic position

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act) governs the work of auditors appointed to smaller authorities. This summary explains the provisions contained in Sections 26 and 27 of the Act. The Act, the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 and the Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 also cover the duties, responsibilities and rights of smaller authorities, other organisations and the public concerning the accounts being audited. 

As a local elector, or an interested person, you have certain legal rights in respect of the accounting records of smaller authorities. As an interested person you can inspect accounting records and related documents. If you are a local government elector for the area to which the accounts relate you can also ask questions about the accounts and object to them. You do not have to pay directly for exercising your rights. However, any resulting costs incurred by the smaller authority form part of its running costs. Therefore, indirectly, local residents pay for the cost of you exercising your rights through their council tax.

The right to inspect the accounting records

Any interested person can inspect the accounting records, which includes but is not limited to local electors. You can inspect the accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating to those records. You can copy all, or part, of these records or documents. Your inspection must be about the accounts, or relate to an item in the accounts. You cannot, for example, inspect or copy documents unrelated to the accounts, or that include personal information (Section 26 (6) – (10) of the Act explains what is meant by personal information). You cannot inspect information which is protected by commercial confidentiality. This is information which would prejudice commercial confidentiality if it was released to the public and there is not, set against this, a very strong reason in the public interest why it should nevertheless be disclosed. 

When smaller authorities have finished preparing accounts for the financial year and approved them, they must publish them (including on a website). There must be a 30 working day period, called the ‘period for the exercise of public rights’, during which you can exercise your statutory right to inspect the accounting records. Smaller authorities must tell the public, including advertising this on their website, that the accounting records and related documents are available to inspect. By arrangement you will then have 30 working days to inspect and make copies of the accounting records. You may have to pay a copying charge. Legislative changes have been made as a result of the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus for the 2019/20 reporting year which mean that there is no requirement for a common period for public rights.  The period for the exercise of public rights must however commence on or before 1 September 2020. The advertisement must set out the dates of the period for the exercise of public rights, how you can communicate to the smaller authority that you wish to inspect the accounting records and related documents, the name and address of the auditor, and the relevant legislation that governs the inspection of accounts and objections. 

The right to ask the auditor questions about the accounting records

You should first ask your smaller authority about the accounting records, since they hold all the details. If you are a local elector, your right to ask questions of the external auditor is enshrined in law. However, while the auditor will answer your questions where possible, they are not always obliged to do so. For example, the question might be better answered by another organisation, require investigation beyond the auditor’s remit, or involve disproportionate cost (which is borne by the local taxpayer). Give your smaller authority the opportunity first to explain anything in the accounting records that you are unsure about. If you are not satisfied with their explanation, you can question the external auditor about the accounting records. 

The law limits the time available for you formally to ask questions. This must be done in the period for the exercise of public rights, so let the external auditor know your concern as soon as possible. The advertisement or notice that tells you the accounting records are available to inspect will also give the period for the exercise of public rights during which you may ask the auditor questions, which here means formally asking questions under the Act. You can ask someone to represent you when asking the external auditor questions. 

Before you ask the external auditor any questions, inspect the accounting records fully, so you know what they contain. Please remember that you cannot formally ask questions, under the Act, after the end of the period for the exercise of public rights. You may ask your smaller authority other questions about their accounts for any year, at any time. But these are not questions under the Act. 

You can ask the external auditor questions about an item in the accounting records for the financial year being audited. However, your right to ask the external auditor questions is limited. The external auditor can only answer ‘what’ questions, not ‘why’ questions. The external auditor cannot answer questions about policies, finances, procedures or anything else unless it is directly relevant to an item in the accounting records. Remember that your questions must always be about facts, not opinions. To avoid misunderstanding, we recommend that you always put your questions in writing. 

The right to make objections at audit

You have inspected the accounting records and asked your questions of the smaller authority. Now you may wish to object to the accounts on the basis that an item in them is in your view unlawful or there are matters of wider concern arising from the smaller authority’s finances. A local government elector can ask the external auditor to apply to the High Court for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful, or to issue a report on matters which are in the public interest. You must tell the external auditor which specific item in the accounts you object to and why you think the item is unlawful, or why you think that a public interest report should be made about it. You must provide the external auditor with the evidence you have to support your objection. Disagreeing with income or spending does not make it unlawful. To object to the accounts you must write to the external auditor stating you want to make an objection, including the information and evidence below and you must send a copy to the smaller authority. The notice must include:

  • confirmation that you are an elector in the smaller authority’s area;
  • why you are objecting to the accounts and the facts on which you rely;
  • details of any item in the accounts that you think is unlawful; and
  • details of any matter about which you think the external auditor should make a public interest report.

Other than it must be in writing, there is no set format for objecting. You can only ask the external auditor to act within the powers available under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014

A final word

You may not use this ‘right to object’ to make a personal complaint or claim against your smaller authority.  You should take such complaints to your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau, local Law Centre or to your solicitor. Smaller authorities, and so local taxpayers, meet the costs of dealing with questions and objections.  In deciding whether to take your objection forward, one of a series of factors the auditor must take into account is the cost that will be involved, they will only continue with the objection if it is in the public interest to do so. They may also decide not to consider an objection if they think that it is frivolous or vexatious, or if it repeats an objection already considered. If you appeal to the courts against an auditor’s decision not to apply to the courts for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful, you will have to pay for the action yourself.

For more detailed guidance on public rights and the special powers of auditors, copies of the publication Local authority accounts: A guide to your rights are available from the NAO website. If you wish to contact your authority’s appointed external auditor please write to the address in paragraph 4 of the Notice of Public Rights and Publication of Unaudited Annual Governance & Accountability Return

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UK Government proposal for more housing in Wokingham Borough

The latest Government proposals would impose over 1,600 new homes a year on Wokingham Borough. That’s more than double the current number that 47,000 Wokingham Borough residents objected to last year.

Wokingham Borough Council is outraged by the proposed increase and, as well as objecting to the Government’s plans itself, is asking residents to make their feelings known as well. Wokingham Borough Council is asking borough residents to speak up now, as if the proposed new formula is adopted it would have a dramatic impact on the special character of Wokingham Borough. The government consultation is open to all and runs until 1 October.

Leader of the council John Halsall said: “This has come completely out of the blue and is horribly unfair to Wokingham Borough.

“We have put up with Government imposed housing targets for too long. I have gone to Westminster, as have previous council leaders, to ask for a fairer allocation on housing and got nothing back. Last year we asked our residents if they thought the then Government imposed housing target of 800 new homes per year was too many and had an overwhelming response – 47,000 residents told us 800 was too many. We thought that would strengthen our hand, but now the Government is proposing to more than double that!”

John Halsall continued: “We need our residents to step up and tell the Government that they need to rethink this. Adding a new town the size of Woodley and Earley combined into the borough every 15 years is just incomprehensible. We have created a petition to sign and are asking everyone to write to their MPs and to the Secretary of State. We all need to speak up to make our voices heard.”

In 2017, the Government committed itself to ensuring a housing market that would build 300,000 new homes per year across England. After falling short of this last year, the Government is now proposing a new formula to calculate housing need that will pick up the shortfall.

When the Government proposed this new formula, it knew there would be some outliers. The council believes Wokingham Borough to be an outlier and will be formally objecting to the proposed formula in the consultation, which runs until 1 October. 

Since 2006, nearly 10,000 new homes have been built in Wokingham Borough, an average of 700 new homes each year. The council believes it is building the homes and infrastructure local people need, by building the right homes in the right places. 

“I am outraged at how the Government are trying to pull the wool over our eyes,” added Cllr Wayne Smith, executive member for planning. “They are launching two consultations at the same time, but giving much greater coverage to the consultation that doesn’t include housing numbers. Under the umbrella of a major reform to an out of date planning system, they have slipped an attempt at some short term ‘wins’ under the radar – which will have a massive, detrimental impact on Wokingham Borough, as well as many other areas around the country.” 

The petition on, created by leader of the council John Halsall but with cross party support, had over 1400 signatures as of 1 September. The council is also hoping to get 100,000 signatures on a parliamentary petition, which would trigger a debate in parliament on the proposed changes to the housing numbers formula.

For more information and to learn more about how to respond,

What can you do?

1.      Contact your MP:

·         Theresa May MP

·         John Redwood MP

·         Matt Rodda MP

·         James Sunderland MP

2.      Contact the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick using the online form at

3.      Visit the council’s website at for more information and a copy of the Council’s draft response (when available). More information and an online petition is available at

4.      Take part in the Government consultation at:

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waterproof recycling bags

Recycling bags in Wokingham Borough

Proposals to replace black boxes with waterproof bags for recycling in Wokingham Borough have taken the next step. The council’s overview and scrutiny committee upheld the decision of the executive made on 30 July to set aside funding for the proposed sealable, weighted bags last night (26 August) – which if implemented will help the council to achieve its 70 per cent recycling target by 2030.

The council’s executive committee will meet next month to consider the next steps for the proposed option in more detail to keep residents paper and card dry. The executive will be presented with how these could create a £400,000 cost saving in a full year, potential timelines for rollout and agree the costs, if the proposals are agreed. The waterproof bags, if implemented, would allow an increased capacity for every household by 20 litres per week and the council anticipates this would lead to an increased in total amount recycled in the borough by more than 1,000 tonnes.

Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment, said: “We’re pleased the committee agreed with the executive’s decision to set aside funding for a solution to wet paper and card in Wokingham Borough. We know our residents want us to enable them to recycle as much as possible and we believe this small change will allow this to happen.

“The council’s executive will be presented with more details on the proposals next month, including cost savings and the environmental benefits, before a final agreement on the bags is made. We will continue to inform residents on how these will be introduced going forward if an agreement is reached.”

More information on the outcome of the executive meeting will be announced following the meeting on 24 September.

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