WOKING Conservative group have accused the Liberal Democrats, and in particular Cllr Will Forster, the deputy leader of Woking Borough Council, of hypocrisy and presenting a misleading petition.

The petition, reported in last week’s News & Mail, urges residents to “hold accountable those responsible for Woking’s financial mess”, Cllr Forster pointing the finger squarely at the previous Conservative-led council.

However, the Conservative group has hit back in a strongly-worded response, arguing that a Lib Dem press release and leaflets directing people towards their website have been exposed “as a data-gathering exercise”.  

The leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Kevin Davis, said: “In last week’s News & Mail, Lib Dem Will Forster, who voted for much of the current Woking Borough Council debt and even seconded the proposal for the Victoria Square development, was featured promoting a petition asking for all those responsible for the council’s debt to be ‘held to account’.

“But the link was not to a petitions website or to the council’s own petitions process but to a Lib Dem page where email addresses, names and personal details are required to sign up and are then kept by the Lib Dems for electioneering purposes.

“This so-called petition is not petitioning anyone and nor can it be used by a local authority to consider future actions. 

“This is purely a party-political data-gathering exercise. 

“It is shameful that the Liberal Democrats are misleading residents and capitalising on worry about Woking’s finances for their own political gain.

“I hope Woking residents will see through this when they click through to the Liberal Democrat website. The council administration’s focus should be on delivering what they promised the electorate and on reducing Woking’s debt.”  

Deputy leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Josh Brown, added: “Cllr Forster talks of holding ‘them’ to account whilst conveniently ignoring that he and the Lib Dem group voted for the debt.

“I am a councillor who didn’t vote for the projects that have led to Woking’s huge debt and I’d suggest that if Cllr Forster wants to hold those responsible to account, in the interests of transparency he begins with himself.

“These projects were undertaken on an overtly cross-party basis and former chief executive Ray Morgan always made it clear that they would only go ahead if they had the support of the Lib Dem group. 

“Given that Cllr Forster supported the projects and the debt, he is guilty, with this petition, of hypocrisy of breathtaking proportions.”