Friday, 30 July 2010

Palmer Park Bowling Club centenary

Last weekend I attended the centenary celebrations of Palmer Park Bowling Club. I was pleased to see lots of people making use of this facility, but disappointed that our new mayor didn't get a "toucher" with his first bowl as one of his predecessors did!

The club have plans to get more young people using it. They have already purchased some junior woods and shoes. All they need now are more young club members. One of their committee informed me that they have open coaching sessions on a Saturday morning for anyone interested in taking up the sport.

Below is some of the history of the club which they sent me:

In April 1908 the ‘Reading Standard’ reported that the first “municipal bowling green” was laid in Palmer Park, an area of land given in trust to the local community by Lord George Palmer, Mayor of Reading in 1875. Apparently members of the local council pressed ahead with the project despite strong opposition about the cost involved. The ‘Reading Standard – April 1908’ reported that “.. by the happy combination of the Parks and Pleasure Committee and the Mayor’s Distress Committee a handsome green has been provided on a strictly economical plan. The former supplied the ground, the turf was taken from the Thames Promenade and the labour (unemployed personnel) was provided by the Distress Committee.” On Whit Monday in June 1908 the green was officially opened by the Mayor of Reading, Councillor W. Colebrook. A match was played between Borough Officials and a team of Reading bowlers that included members from the ‘Suttons’ and ‘Biscuit Factory’ Clubs. It was noted that the Mayor’s opening shot scored a ‘toucher’ – a good sign for the future of the green. Bowling in the Park thrived, although little can be found about the first two seasons apart from occasional reports of matches between a Park team and the ‘Suttons’, and Biscuit Factory’ Bowling Clubs. A small wooden pavilion provided shelter for players with basic ‘facilities’ being shared with the local community in a building across the park.

In 1910 Palmer Park Bowling Club was formed officially, and affiliated to the B.C.B.A. The Club Honours Boards reflect the successes over the early years, with a fair share of County Honours being won at Club level as well as by individual members.

When reporting the 1908 Opening Ceremony, the Reading Standard noted that, “..a fair proportion of ladies..” showed an interest in the game, although the Mayor, and his Deputy, both emphasised that bowls was essentially a game for men – a sign of the times. This proved to be the case, as it took until 1964 before the Palmer Park Ladies’ Section was formed, and Ladies were given official recognition within the Club. Minutes from a Club Management Committee meeting of June 1964, recorded member’s good wishes for the success of the Ladies Section. Today the Ladies are fully integrated members sharing equally in all Club activities. This is reflected in Palmer Park being one of the first Clubs to have a Lady Club Secretary and a Lady President.

The difficulties of space, brought about by success and an increasing Club membership, has always proved to be a major problem. The original wooden style pavilion has long since been replaced as, over the decades, enthusiastic groups of members have gained planning permission from Reading Council, raised funds and set about constructing major alterations to the Clubhouse building. Records show that this occurred in the 1960’s, during 1994 – 1995, and more recently over the period 2003 – 2006 when a large scale extension to the existing Clubhouse was constructed and all existing facilities in the older building were renovated. The site resounded to the sound of digging, hammering and sawing, as members set about their self-build project. 2005 saw the new main room opened by Councillor John Howarth from Reading Borough Council and in May 2006 the whole building was opened by Ken Blackhall (Senior Deputy President R.C.B.B.A.) and Kath Seymour (President B.C.W.B.A.) It was a fantastic day for all our Palmer Park members – one which we remember with great pride.

Palmer Park Bowling Club is now a well established, mixed Club. We have a strong reputation for being a friendly and sociable Club. We welcome all bowlers, from beginners to those who are more experienced. This year, in particular, we have been looking for ways to attract junior bowlers to the Club. We play both friendly games and many matches with a keen ‘competitive edge’. Whilst the Club maintains a good record of success in local Leagues, we continue to record individual successes at County level.

In 2010 Palmer Park Bowling Club will be celebrating its centenary year along, with the R.C.B.B.A.. Congratulations to everyone. We look forward to sharing in our joint celebrations when you visit us during what will be a very special season for us all.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Come dine with me

Earlier in the week a few friends and I had a go at a Come Dine With Me style dinner party. We cheated a bit and split into teams of two. It was my partner Sam and I who cooked first. I did bruschetta with tomato and basil for the starter, Sam did a savoury strudel and roasted vegetables for the main and I did a chocolate and brandy truffle torte for desert. No major disasters and so I think we put in a credible performance and will score okay. The return match is at the weekend and so we shall find out who wins then.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The spirit level -- why equality is better for everyone

I just finished reading The Spirit Level -- why equality is better for everyone -- by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. To sum it up in a few sentences, it is a very informative and enjoyable read about how inequality is a very significant factor in areas such as: community breakdown, poor health, low educational achievement, teenage pregnancy, violence. Even the Economist -- not known for its left-leaning views -- says "The evidence is hard to dispute". The thread running through the book is that a more equal society would be better for everyone. Definitely worth a read.

The Equality Trust has been launched following on from the book.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New music

I always enjoy discovering new music, especially if it has a Reading link, yesterday a friend who is involved with the Disablists and lives in the area pointed me to this. What new music have you discovered recently?

Monday, 26 July 2010

Reading Borough Council union cuts meeting

I went to a joint union group meeting at Reading Borough Council on Thursday last week. The GMB, Unite and Unison were represented and the current serious in year cuts -- £1.6 million -- as well as the devastating -- 25 to 40% -- future cuts were discussed.

The Directorate of Education & Children's Services (DECS) are being hit the hardest in Reading at present by the in year cuts. This is already having a massive impact with school expansion plans being knocked on the head, at St John's for example. This will mean that fewer children will have access to a good local school.

Employees across the Council -- under the Performance Improvement Programme (PIP) -- have received letters offering them a package to leave or reduce hours. This is bad news and will result in a reduction in quantity and quality of public services, but will hopefully mean that we avoid compulsory redundancies.

The government's spending review will take place in October and Local Authorities will then know a bit more about how dire situation is!

One carer talked passionately about some of the impacts that council cost-cutting is having, such as with the move from using council carers to private care agencies. She said that this had been deeply upsetting for older people who had been used to a regular carer, and now got a different one each week.

There was general agreement that action needs to be taken to protect our public services and the following was agreed:

Weekly demos outside the Civic Centre, everyWednesday - 12 - 2pm.

A march and rally in late September is also being planned by the unions.

If you're free on a Wednesday lunchtime, I'm sure that any support would be appreciated.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Litter recycling bin for Cemetery Junction

A resident recently enquired about a litter recycling bin for cemetery junction, I made a few enquiries with the Council asking for one outside of the Co-op, and now we have one!

Friday, 23 July 2010

More expansion at AWE

The Ministry of Defence has this week submitted a planning application to West Berkshire Council for development of a new hydrodynamics research facility (Project Hydrus) at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston.

The new facility will be designed to undertake research into materials used in the manufacture of nuclear warheads and will play a key role in ensuring that Trident warheads retain their destructive power as they age. It will also undertake research necessary for the design of a successor to the Trident warhead, should the government decide to develop one.

The application was previously scheduled to be submitted in March 2010, but has been delayed as a result of the general election and the need to obtain ministerial approval for the development.

West Berkshire Council is aiming to make a decision on the planning application within 13 weeks and has set a target date of 15 October 2010 for determining the application. Full details of the application can be found at on West Berkshire's planning application website ( and you can send an email objection to the application in just a few clicks of a mouse by visiting the CND website (

Keep an eye on the Nuclear Information Service website ( for more details and a full briefing about Project Hydrus which will be published soon.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A month in the life of a Green Party councillor – June/July

I have finished all of my initial councillor training now, and am starting to get into the swing of things. I have now done most of the major things I will have to do over the coming four years at least once. The councillor services team are proving very useful in terms of helping me with my case work, but as you might imagine the full council meeting is quite lonely -- there are 45 other councillors.

Council meetings and briefings – 4
Surgeries – 3
Governor meetings – 1
Community meetings and events – 15
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents – 50


Organised a demonstration against cuts to public services in Reading
Welcomed a new Sure Start Centre to Park Ward
Thanked people for voting Green at the recent elections
Campaigned against academy schools
Campaigned for a safer Cemetery Junction
Supported carers' week in Reading
Supported at the launch of East Reading Children's Centre


Got fly tipping cleared, missing signage installed, measures taken against noise problems, and answered questions on Council tree felling to name just a few of the many successes we have had this month.


None claimed.


I got the following from Stop the War:

"7pm, Monday, 26th July
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London, WC1R 4RL

Joe Glenton, jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, speaks out against the war alongside another ex-soldier.
With Caroline Lucas and other MP's.
More speakers TBA.

The war in Afghanistan is in crisis. The strategy is crumbling, with Obama's sacking of General McChrystal and an increasingly corrupt Karzai government. The violence is intensifying with No clear goals and even fewer results. Thousands of Afghan civilians are dying every year and very little rebuilding is being done.

Despite the 77% of people being opposed to Britain's involvement in Afghanistan, this government continues to send troops to kill and die in a war that is being lost.

This war is wrong, this war has failed and it's Time To Go."

Monday, 12 July 2010

Newtown, Redlands and University July police neighbourhood updates

The Newtown, Redlands and University neighbourhood updates are now on the Thames Valley Police website.

There is information on the shooting at Grange Avenue and the fatal collision involving a pedestrian at Cemetery Junction, amongst other things.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

First "proper" full Council meeting

I attended my first proper meeting of the full council last week -- after the mostly ceremonial mayor making meeting. On the agenda were items ranging from the Coalition Agreement, to the Tree Strategy, to the "Regulation of Sexual Entertainment Venues".

Unfortunately, as I expected there was a lot of hot air and Punch and Judy politics at the meeting! The groups all started referring to each other as "you lot" which just seemed rude, no one had had the courtesy to build support for any of their amendments by showing them to me before the meeting and to top it all, the Lib Dems were labelled as Nazi collaborators by Labour.

As I said before the meeting, I would vote on an issue by issue basis, which is what I did. This meant sometimes I voted with Labour -- for example against cuts to care -- sometimes with the Con-Dem Coalition -- against favouring recycling over reducing the total amount of waste -- and sometimes I abstained -- when the Coalition wanted to move to a vote but Labour wanted to keep the debate going.

You can view agendas of upcoming meetings on the Council website. If you feel strongly on an issue please contact me in advance to discuss it further.

The meeting finished just before 11 p.m. I congratulated the Mayor on chairing the meeting and then jumped on my bike and cycled home.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Crescent under 5s launch new outdoor play area

Apologies for getting behind in my blogging! But a few weeks ago, I attended the launch of the revamped outside play area at Crescent Under 5s playgroup based at Alfred Sutton school -- who got an OUTSTANDING from OFSTED. They now have a new soft outside surface, more planting and shading amongst other things. I also had a tour of the building, a bit of picnic food, and then the toughest decision so far in my role as a councillor, judging the children's art competition! Which one would you choose?