Wednesday, 22 September 2010

New Reading Film Theatre programme out

The new programme is out from Reading Film Theatre. I am particularly looking forward to Made in Dagenham -- about the struggle for employment equality of the female workers at the Ford factory.

20's plenty! Moves forwards

Recently at the Traffic Management Advisory Panel following on from a Green initiative 20 mph speed limits are back on the agenda. Unfortunately though the Council is starting from the position of assuming people don't want them and asking people to opt in rather than the other way round.

I think we need a campaign to get the Council to agree to introduce 20 mph speed limits in all residential areas of Reading. If people in an area want to campaign against the introduction of 20 mph speed limits then this should be considered by the council. It is by taking this approach that Portsmouth Council introduced 20 mph speed limits in all residential areas across the city.

Greens have already successfully got 20 mph speed limits introduced in a number of places across the country: York, Norwich and Lewisham to name a few.

Here is an informative video which I was sent:

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A month in the life of a Green Party councillor -- August

The council has been reasonably quiet over the summer, with fewer meetings than usual -- I even had a chance to go on holiday to Henley. We have continued to work hard on the doorstep helping people with issues of concern. I also attended a Pakistan flood fundraiser and a Ramadan Iftar meal. Lately I have also been helping parents fight against unfair changes to the Maiden Erlegh catchment area.

Council meetings and briefings -- 3
Surgeries -- 1 stationery and 2 walkabout
School governor meetings -- 0
Community meetings and events -- 4
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 79

Some of our action:
· continued to campaign against unfair charges faced by tenants
· fought against sleaze within the Council
· campaigned against cuts which will affect school places in Newtown.

Some of our results:
· pressured the Council into looking at more 20 mph speed limits for Reading
· as usual I got countless instances of fly tipping cleared, trolleys collected, graffiti cleaned, pram crossings installed and residents' questions answered.

· None claimed.

Gifts to declare -- over the value of £25:
· None.

My interests are published on Reading Borough Council's website.

Monthly councillor allowance (pay) before deductions: £685.08

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Warehouse 10th anniversary and interesting past

The Warehouse -- now an excellent community centre run by Wycliffe Church -- on Cumberland Road recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Here is a short video showing what it used to look like when it was a derelict papermill. Before then was a warehouse, and before then apparently a slaughterhouse!

Parents fight to halt school catchment injustice

Parents in east Reading with children aged 10 or younger are worried about Wokingham Borough Council's controversial proposals to change the catchment areas for its secondary schools. A group of concerned parents who plan to send their children to their local school, Maiden Erlegh, has begun a co-ordinated campaign to fight the changes.

Their concerns are based on the following issues:

· The proposed new catchment area for Maiden Erlegh would exclude children living in Reading. Children living in the area facing exclusion would therefore be shut out of their local school – an act that amounts to unfair discrimination simply because they live on the wrong side of the border between Wokingham and Reading boroughs drawn up in 1998 when Berkshire County Council was disbanded.

· Every family in the area Wokingham is looking to exclude lives within one mile of Maiden Erlegh, which has been the secondary school serving this community for many years.

· The close proximity to Maiden Erlegh of all the children in east Reading who would be affected is unquestionable; and this means that walking and cycling to school from the area is a simple, safe 15-minute trip which provides all the benefits of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle – a mandatory core priority for any local authority when drawing up catchment areas, according to Point 2.36 of the Department for Education's Schools Admission Code. The Bulmershe School, the alternative proposed by Wokingham, would be about 40 minutes away, compared with 15 to Maiden Erlegh, and getting there would involve crossing over or under the Wokingham-Reading rail line, the A329(M) and several minor roads. Public transport to Bulmershe is not a realistic option and school-run traffic to both schools would be increased along already congested routes if these proposals were to be forced through.

Chris Harding, a resident of Talfourd Avenue and a parent of two children aged 5 and 4, said: “We welcome the opportunity to engage with Wokingham Borough Council and persuade them to rethink their proposals. We are too close to be excluded from Maiden Erlegh and are being denied the opportunity to send our kids to our local school.

“We invite all parents and neighbours to an open drop-in session on Friday 24th September at Park Church on the corner of Palmer Park Avenue and Wokingham Road between 6pm and 9pm. Run by parents for parents, this will be a great opportunity to learn more about what is proposed and discuss the implications for our families.”

Notes to editors

Park Church address – corner of Palmer Park Avenue and Wokingham Road and the parent drop in for more information is on Friday 24th September 6pm-9pm

Parents Campaign website

Save our services

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Maiden Erlegh campaign moves forward

Things are moving forwards with the campaign against Wokingham's plan to remove Reading families from the Maiden Erlegh catchment area in the south Park Ward area. I organised a small meeting of interested parents and people last week, and it now looks like we will have a parent led -- non party political -- campaign against the changes.

As far as succeeding goes it appears as though the Greens, Labour and the Conservatives will all be opposing these changes to the catchment area. I've not heard back from the Lib Dems yet but my guess is that they will be against the changes too. Hopefully we will be able to work together on this... I think that this is essential to standing a reasonable chance of winning the campaign, as without a united front -- or at least a majority of Reading councillors -- we won't be able to bring the full weight and resources of Reading Council behind the campaign.

This does put the Reading Conservatives at loggerheads with the Wokingham Conservatives which I'm sure will make for some interesting debates!

Whilst a similar campaign has been won in the past, and I think we stand a reasonable chance of winning this time, we really do need a new secondary school in east Reading... But that is the campaign for another day.

I have set up a Facebook group called No to Maiden Erlegh Catchment Area Changes to bring people together to fight these changes:

If you aren't on Facebook and want to be kept updated please get in contact.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Wokingham secondary school admissions report

Here is the report on secondary school admissions in Wokingham which sets out the case for changes to -- amongst other things -- changes to the Maiden Erlegh catchment area.