Thursday, 28 May 2009

Art in the town centre

Thanks to Suzanne for this:

Changing Reading for the Day: Town Centre Day Friday 29 May 11am - 4pm; Exhibition from 4-5.30pm.

jelly, with the help of Reading artists, will be helping anyone and everyone who wants to become an Artist for the day.

To celebrate 20 years of the Children's Festival jelly wants to create a town full of artists and artists in the making for the day - it is a hugely ambitious project, with many artists already signed up to help you take part creating something special. We will provide materials, the expertise and you will have the opportunity to be creative. The event is free and will take place in Town Hall Square, we are looking to recreate the Freeze exhibition of 1988 and create our own stars of the future, culminating in a mass art exhibition and changing the face of Reading for the day.

The exhibition of works created on the day will take place using the railings around Town Hall Square and the John Soane monument and through the Bristol and West Arcade complemented by window exhibitions of works by some of the artists who are helping us.

These works that are housed in 27/28 Market Place (pop-up jelly 27/28) are by artists, Karen Jackson and Ingrid Jensen. 173 Friar Street (pop-up jelly 173) is home to the works by f inc.Exhibiting in (173 Friar Street, Reading) are Anne-Marie Carroll, Marje Doyle, Maria Hofstadler, Anne Proctor, Julia Rogers and Mike Taylor.

The displays will be up until Friday 5 June. For more details visit
All this has been made possible by the generous help and support of Reading artists, Reading people and businesses, including picnic, Cream Design, Reading CIC, Reading Borough Council Voluntary Sector Support Unit, Sainsbury' s, Haslams, Fryer Holt, Brook Henderson, MUSE Developments and Hicks Development Ltd.

Parking in Park

There have been a couple of parking related developments in Park Ward and Reading recently. First of all the Council is consulting on its plans for Parking Standards and Design. See here for the blurb.

The second item is following on from a number of requests from residents through the Green Party for yellow lines to be added on corners (Melrose Avenue, Brackendale Way, Haywood Court) in the Ward to improve road safety consultation notices are up in the relevant areas. There are also notices up to inform people of the Council's plans to tidy up yellow lines in Newtown and create more parking spaces. Comments on these plans need to be in by tomorrow.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Tales of a Euro elections canvasser

I have been out with the team canvassing for the Green Party and Caroline Lucas over the last few weeks. Up until the recent revelations, support in Reading seemed to be holding and up a bit. Following on from all of the press coverage over MPs abuse of expenses support for the three main parties has fallen off a cliff. With the Green Party's reputation for straight talking and Caroline's work to make the European Parliament more transparent and accountable -- resulting in her being named the most ethical MEP by the Observer -- we are now picking up a lot more support on the doorstep in the Reading area. This poll from the Independent on Sunday confirms that this is the case across the country.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Indian Community Association senior citizens club -- lunch club tour

I went along to the senior citizens day club at the Indian Community Association yesterday -- Wednesday. Following the theme so far I had a vegetarian Indian meal -- rice, bread, curry, salad and lentils -- and chatted to some of my fellow diners afterwards. The ICA senior citizens day club isn't just for eating "we meet, we play, we talk, and we have fun, and take care of our health as well". As I was under 50 the cost was £3 if you are over 50 this drops to £2.

Food is served at 12:30 p.m. On Monday and Wednesday it is vegetarian and on Thursday and Friday there is vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

South East Plan update

Thanks to John from Friends of the Earth for this:

Final version of South East Plan was published last Wednesday 6th May. I have not has time to read much of it so this mail is mainly to let you know it's out there, and to share a few highlights ... or whatever the right word is for the opposite of highlights.

The Plan applies for the period 2006 to 2026

See introduction on

Plan may be downloaded from

Introduction is in Section A
General Policies are in Section B
Policies for our sub-region - 'Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley' are in Section C on page 239.

Sadiq Khan, the Communities Minister, said an increase in single person households, immigration and the ageing population made it essential to increase housing stock in the area.

The housing total for the region has been reduced from 662,500 in the draft to 654,000 but the numbers for our sub-region - 'Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley' - remain at 102,100.

Annual rates for Berkshire authorities (all unchanged since the last draft) are:
Reading 611
Bracknell 639
Wokingham 623
Slough 315
Windsor and Maidenhead 346
West Berkshire 525

Wokingham's total 'includes some 2,500 related to the expansion of Reading.'

The Plan no longer contains a Region-Specific Policy on Strategic Gaps because the Secretary of State thinks that national policy document PP7 Para 24-25 is sufficient.

The Vision is:

A socially and economically strong, healthy and just South East that respects the limits of the global environment. Achieving this will require the active involvement of all individuals to deliver a society where everyone, including the most deprived, benefits from and contributes to a better quality of life. At the same time the impact of current high levels of resource use will be reduced and the quality of the environment will be maintained and enhanced.

Turn the page and the second Objective is for economic growth at 3% p.a. between 2006 and 2006.


Official Sustainability Appraisal says likely situation under the Final South East Plan is:

(selected quotations - all graded 'negative' or 'significant negative' see the whole starting page 96 in document "bSupporting_Document.pdf")

Air Quality and Causes of Climate Change: Increased air pollution from traffic associated with population and household growth, although policies on air quality and others seek to counter these effects. Up to 2.1MT CO2 emissions per year from new homes, plus 1.85MT embodied energy in the homes; plus CO2 from traffic associated with new homes. It would be impossible for the RSS not to have such impacts, given that its remit is to set a context for development (notably of housing) but does not allow it to control the developments’ air pollution and climate change impacts.

Biodiversity: .... However biodiversity is still likely to be affected by land take, increased disturbance, impacts on water levels etc.

Transport : ... Overall, however, provision of 32,700 new dwellings per year plus employment development and associated infrastructure will increase traffic levels and congestion in the region.

Water Resources: The RSS for the South East will lead to increased water use because of its proposal for more housing and employment. It supports water efficiency (although this support could in our view be stronger) and it also supports the provision of water infrastructure. Although per capita water use is likely to decrease, total water use in the region is likely to increase. Both demand management and resource provision are subject to uncertainties, and it is possible that water resources will be a constraint to development within the lifetime of the RSS.


654,00 seems to be an important number - as well the the number of new houses required - don't know if this is a mis-print but Sustainability Appraisal says 'likely situation without the plan':
"Employment in the region would increase by 654,000 jobs to 2026, thus requiring an increase in the labour supply of 654,000 assuming no change in the level of net out-commuting. There would continue to be no discernable reduction in levels of deprivation across the region and this deprivation would remain largely concentrated along the coast and in the larger urban areas."


More later!


The future of Palmer Park

My source informs me that the Council's current plans for Palmer Park are shot to pieces as in the current financial climate they don't have a partner to build the new swimming pool. As a lot of the other planning stemmed from this big project, without it the plans are no good. Therefore, the Council is going to be consulting again on new plans for Palmer Park which are being drawn up as we blog. High up on my shopping list of projects for the park is a new fence along the Wokingham Road side of the park to improve safety, taking down the high ERAPA fence to make the site look better and improving the gardens in the centre of the park.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Big Lunch

The Big Lunch was mentioned at the Newtown NAG last night as a positive community building project that is happening. The idea is that lots of people organise a food event in their area on the same day across the country. The website allows people to see where the events are and so hopefully it gets people talking. Looking at the map for Reading -- which you can do on the website -- there is an event near me on Radstock Road and a few events north of the river.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Energy meters update

Following on from the Green Party campaign to get the Council to stock energy meters in their libraries and loan them out, a council officer has informed me that the meters are currently on order and there is a meeting in mid May to decide how they should be loaned out. So hopefully they should be available in libraries sometime in June.