Wednesday, 28 April 2010

A month in the life of a Green Party campaigner -- March

Sorry about the delay in posting my March update but the last few weeks have been a bit of a blur! March was a mix of busy electioneering and tidying up of casework loose ends -- and seems a distant memory now.

Council meetings -- 0
Community meetings and events -- 15
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 23


-- campaigned with Power 2010 to revive our democracy.

-- lobbied for universal free school meals in Reading.


-- celebrated better lighting on Kennet Side.

-- worked with other groups to clear up Kennet Mouth.

-- helped relaunch East Reading Adventure Playground Association following on from getting the Council to take the high fence down.

-- got fly tipping cleared from Cholmeley Place.

-- helped residents with bulky waste collection queries.

-- worked with the police to tackle drug dealing on Cumberland Road and near St John's School.

Green Party on education

I am a school governor at Alfred Sutton School and so have a good working knowledge of education in Reading. A particular problem in the area is the over subscription of some schools. We think every child should be able to attend a good local school and the fact that some children have to travel a long distance to get to school is wrong. In line with this, we would remove the charitable status of all public and grammar schools and offer state funding to them so they will be accessible to all children in the local area. We would also fast track extra places at "under pressure" primary schools and support further investigation into a new secondary school for east Reading.

Nationally, we would work towards smaller class sizes, abolishing SATs and a more flexible national curriculum.

The Green Party opposes City Academies and Trust Schools as we believe that schools should be governed in the interests of children and their parents, not through private individuals or businesses.

Finally, we would abolish tuition and top-up fees, which are currently crippling graduates with tens of thousands of pounds of debt. The Green Party supports grants not loans, providing a basic income sufficient for needs while in full time education. Fair is worth fighting for!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Cup of tea with Unison

I met with two representatives from Unison's Reading Borough Council branch today for a cup of tea. We talked about Unison campaigns -- including the current Million Voices for Public Services campaign which I have signed up to -- the Green Party and possibilities for working together. I also discovered that they have a website which also links to a local blog.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Two elections, two counties, on the same day

I assumed that my Labour opponent in Park Ward Richard McKenzie was no longer standing in Henley after his poor performance at the recent by-election there -- if my memory serves me correctly fifth place behind the Green Party. But according to the Oxford Mail he is still a candidate there for the general election on May 6. This means he will be fighting two different elections in two different counties on the same day! Nothing like a bit of ambition ;)

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sun, canvassing and delivering

We had a good number of people out on both Saturday and Sunday last weekend to enjoy the sunshine and get some canvassing and delivering done. We delivered thousands of newsletters and knocked on hundreds of doors.

Despite being squeezed out of the national media by the three grey parties, the response on the doorstep is still a good. People are glad to have a candidate who is out working hard all year round not just at election time. And we have plenty of successes to talk about -- helping get the Jolly Anglers reopened, saving playing fields, libraries now lending out energy use smart meters not to mention the countless new litter bins, pram crossings and fly tipping that we have got cleared up.

If anyone reading this blog wants to get involved with our campaign to elect Greens to the Council and parliament please get in contact.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Create a personalised Green Party election broadcast

Here is Green Party leader Caroline Lucas talking about our pioneering work on creating a personalised election broadcast:

Follow this link to have a go yourself.

Any friends, family members or work colleagues who like the Green Party message about creating jobs, protecting and improving the NHS and opposing cuts and who live in Reading East can join my Facebook supporters group.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nepalese New Year celebrations

Last night I attended the Nepalese new year celebrations at the Warehouse. I didn't get there particularly early as I was canvassing -- as I was arriving I saw Conservative candidate John Walker leaving with his car facing the wrong way in Cumberland Rd, I pointed to indicate the correct direction of travel, he performed a 20 point turn and drove the correct way down the road. I caught the last 30 seconds of Martin Salter's speech and was informed that I had missed the other political speakers -- sometimes you get lucky. Before I knew it and totally unexpectedly I was whisked up onto the stage to say a few words which I did. I then enjoyed a wonderful evening of entertainment, food and dancing. I have attended this event for the last two or three years now and every time I have enjoyed it. The Nepalese community is a real credit to the area!

The event was organised by the Greater Reading Nepalese Community Association.

Labservative Democrats

The Lib Dems have launched a fictional political party called the Labservatives. The idea behind this new party is that Labour and the Conservatives are so similar in so many areas they are in fact one party. One of their slogans is "Scandal. Recession. War. There is no substitute for experience. Labservative, for more of the same." However, sometimes it is also hard to put a cigarette paper between the Lib Dems, Conservatives and Labour all on the centre-right of politics promoting free trade, privatisation, anti-trade union policies. Maybe the Labservatives would consider merging with the Liberal Democrats -- like the SDP and Liberals did before -- giving us the Labservative Democrats. I'm sure someone with a better grasp of Photoshop than me can do a good logo?

Park Ward election update

We are well into the election period now. As usual, this means that everyone is upping their game. In some cases from a very low level.

Liberal Democrats -- putting out leaflets mainly promoting their parliamentary candidate Gareth Epps. They have also been doing a limited amount of doorknocking and a resident told me that when pressed Gareth -- with their local candidate standing next to him -- acknowledged that Rob White had been working hard locally saying that he "works harder than some of the Labour councillors". When the resident suggested that he would "vote Rob White at the locals and Gareth Epps at the general" Gareth said that he understood.

Conservatives -- putting out David Cameron and Rob Wilson leaflets -- some on my road left hanging right out of letterboxes which is guaranteed to annoy residents! They have also been doing some canvassing and I saw a mob of them out on Friday night heading into Newtown.

Labour -- putting out the first Park Voice since April 2008 -- I was beginning to think Park had lost its voice. They have also been out canvassing. I also saw a classic glossy Dodds leaflet advising residents to "Call 000 0000 today!" To "Keep Labour working for you in Reading East." Oh dear! Someone obviously forgot to check that before sending it to the printers.

Green -- we put out our Green Reading newsletter at the end of March. Since then we have been mainly canvassing -- the photo is of our canvassing team earlier in the week -- and support from the last few years seems to be holding up well. We are also picking up disillusioned Labour supporters who like the fact that the Green Party is on the centre-left politics -- rather than that crowded bit of land on the centre-right occupied by the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour. They also respect the fact we have been active all year-round and were so close -- just 20 votes -- last time. We are also gaining support from the Lib Dems and Conservatives who are positive about the fact that we have been working hard all year-round and are backing us because their party doesn't stand much of a chance in the locals in Park Ward (2008 local elections: Labour 1014, Green 994, Conservative 704, LibDem 286). This weekend more canvassing and posters.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Green Party full slate at the local elections in Reading (just)

After a bit of last-minute running round due to a Labour attempt to sabotage one of our candidate's local elections nominations -- or an innocent mixup depending on how cynical you are -- we have got all of our nomination papers in and will be standing another full slate of Green Party candidates in Reading at the local elections.

Reading University area April neighbourhood police update

And here is the one from the Reading University area.

April Police neighbourhood update

The Newtown PCSOs have published the April neighbourhood update.

"The latest crime figures available through the Thames Valley Police website show that there has been a slight in crease in crime in the area. Between December 2008 and February 2009 we average 68.3 crimes per month and a year later that average has increased to 73.3. However, anti social behaviour in the neighbourhood has fallen by 16.8 per cent during the same period."

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Green Party posters

If you live in Park Ward in Reading and have already asked for a poster we will be dropping them round this week -- local elections, vote Rob White Green Party, "20 votes to go". If you live in the area and we haven't spoke to you, get in contact ( and I will add you to our list.

If you live in the wider Reading area you can download a Vote Green Party poster here.

My David Cameron

It has taking me a little while to get round to looking at this Tory campaigning site , but it is great!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

General election starting gun fired

The starting gun has now been fired for a general election on Thursday, May 6. I am looking forward to a clean campaign and talking to more people about the Green priorities of: creating jobs, opposing cuts and fighting to protect and improve the NHS. Fair is worth fighting for!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Vote for policies not people -- 30% of people support the Green Party

A friend drew my attention to the Vote for Policies website. You select the policies you agree with and it matches you with the political party that the policies belong to. So far of the 30,000 people who have taken part 30% of them have been matched with the Green Party.

I have always thought that the Green Party manifesto contains loads of effective, fair policies in all policy areas -- this year our priorities are creating jobs, protecting the NHS and opposing cuts. It is the communication side of things -- being a smaller party -- where we suffer. Tools like this would seem to be a great way to communicate our policies. Why don't you have a go.
And if you come out Green Party become a supporter on my Rob for East Facebook page.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Eastern Avenue Story Published

I got this from my friend Philip Vaughan:

"Investigations into the story of an East Reading community have now been published in a fascinating new memoir, "The Avenue Story", subtitled "Eastern Avenue and its People through Two Centuries".

The book tells the history of the Avenue, starting with its original rural state in the 1800s, through the decades of Victorian house-building and on through the 20th Century. Along the way there are biographies of numerous inhabitants, highlighting the curious or notable events of their lives. Comprising also maps, photographs and indices, "The Avenue Story" will be of great interest and value to lovers of old Reading and local historians alike.

Following their policy of engagement with local communities whenever practicable, the University of Reading took responsibility for the design and printing of the book. After researching and writing had been completed in October 2009, the text and illustrations passed to the University's renowned Department of Typography and Graphic Communications. Two second-year undergraduates, Charan Aujla and George Bevan, took on the project (under the supervision of tutor Dr Rob Banham). It will comprise a major element of the course-work for their BA degree in July 2010. The book's striking cover design was contributed by Martin Andrews, senior lecturer at the Department.

The author of "The Avenue Story", Philip Vaughan, is a graduate in Modern History who has been resident in Eastern Avenue since 2006. The book now available consists of 100 pages with colour illustrations in A4 format, and is priced at £10. Revenue from sales will be remitted by the author to Reading Local History Trust, which has funded the publication. Copies can be obtained direct from Philip Vaughan via email: philvn1@btinternet or telephone: 0118 966 2207."