Thursday, 29 December 2011

How busy has your councillor been?

Here is the latest Reading councillor activity information. Front Office is the system that councillor services uses to log requests from councillors – on a whole range of issues from a broken lampposts, to housing issues to education questions.

As others have pointed out this information should be taken with a pinch of salt but I still think it is useful and that the Council should publish it itself, but it doesn't.

So that it displays correctly on my blog I have hidden the columns for the months May to October leaving just the total from May to November and the November column. If anyone is particularly interested let me know and I can send you the whole spreadsheet.

Councillor Ward No of enquiries Nov
AYUB, Mohammed ABBEY 10 0
EASTWOOD, Melanie PARK 24 11
EDEN, Rachel WHITLEY 59 3
JONES, Peter  NORCOT 6 0
MASKELL, Chris BATTLE    15 3
PAGE, Tony  ABBEY 88 12
RYE, Rebecca KATESGROVE 30 0
SKEATS, Jeanette THAMES 1 0
WHITE, Rob PARK 289 27
WILLIS, Richard PEPPARD 29 4
TOTAL 1594 184

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New Town Primary School Solar Schools Project

A few weeks ago I visited the Newtown primary school Christmas fair. As well as enjoying a number of tasty snacks, I was delighted to find out that they are taking part in the 10:10 solar panel project. See below for more information. I have a book of tickets if you want to buy one in person.

"New Town Primary is engaging in an ambitious fund-raising project over the next few months. We are trying to raise £15,000 to pay for the installation of solar panels on the roof of the school.

This will save us in energy costs, will provide us with some much-needed extra income through the ‘feed-in tariff’, and will help to raise awareness of energy and environmental issues within the school and the local community. The scheme is a pilot being tested by the 10:10 charity which has led a national campaign to get people to reduce their carbon emissions.

The aim of the fund-raising is for people to buy virtual tiles or panels on a virtual school roof – the money then being used to pay for the actual installation of solar panels. Each tile costs £5. Each panel costs £100. The equivalent to sponsoring an individual who was running the London Marathon at £1 a mile could raise £25 or 5 tiles.

The cause is a worthy one. The kids are great. The school is raising money itself, and within the local community. However, New Town is not a wealthy area. We help ourselves, but we need the help of the wider community as well.

If you wish further information, for example about sponsoring tiles or a panel, please use the web link to the Solar Schools site below, or contact the lead governor, Susan Rippon or myself, at:

If you are able to support the project, the easy way to make a donation is via Pay Pal.

Do this via the web site:

The site gives further information on the scheme. If you wish, you can track the progress of the project and customise your tile(s) or panel.

If you don’t like to use Pay Pal you can send a cheque, payable to New Town Primary School, to the Bursar at the school.

Solar School Project,

New Town Primary School,

School Terrace,

Reading, RG1 3LS.

Thank you in anticipation for your help and support. It is very much appreciated by everyone connected with the school.

Malcolm Morrison

Malcolm F. Morrison

Chair of Governors"

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

With massive cuts to public services, rioting and a general strike over pensions, this year has been a tough year for many. And depending on which economists you have faith in we could be going backwards further still to either the 1970s, 1930s or fifth century (fall of the Roman Empire)!

It hasn't all been bad, locally we have been continuing to work with the community to improve the area and have had some success on school places, the perennial issue of parking and with our living wage campaign. And things could always be worse – being a LibDem for example ; )

Christmas is nearly here though. I don't do Christmas cards, presents etc. For me Christmas is about people. Over the last few weeks I have been making an effort to catch up with friends and tomorrow I will be heading off to see my parents in Congleton, Cheshire.

With all of the pressure to have a good time at Christmas, on top of other problems unfortunately it can be a rubbish time of year for many. We can't work miracles, but as always are happy to try and help.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Bins on pavements

In Park Ward one of the worst areas for people leaving their bins on the pavement and blocking it is the Pitcroft/Grange Avenue block. This both creates problems for people getting down the pavement and makes the area look a mess. We have been lobbying officers for the last few years to take action on this issue.

I was pleased to find out recently that officers have been using the approach, piloted in Katesgrove, of writing to persistent offenders. I went for a walk around the area a few weeks ago and the situation was much improved. I hope this can be sustained, but I know it will be a challenge with a high turnover of the population in the area...


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

October & November update – schools, parking and carols

Christmas is almost upon us so I have been getting along to school and community Christmas fairs with Park candidate Jamie Whitham and Melanie.

December also means Christmas carols. I am a rubbish singer, but the various carols services give me the opportunity to sing my little heart out without anyone noticing how bad I am. In between singing and eating I have been keeping busy in the Ward and in Council meetings – see below.

As always, if you want to be kept updated on local issues please sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Update in numbers:

Council meetings – 4
Surgeries – 2
School governor meetings – 3
Community meetings and events – 25
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- unfortunately I can't get this information at the moment.

Some of our action:

- Greens say "fair pensions are worth fighting for"
- Greens call on Council to mark Arthur Hill Baths centenary by giving them a make-over
- Crescent Road free school moves forwards...a bit
- Reading Borough Council's home insulation rate lags behind national average
- Join the Green campaign for tighter controls on houses of multiple occupation
- Residents' parking in the east of Newtown
- St John's primary school expansion Q&A

Some of our results:

- Greens have living wage success just in time
- Help clear the Kennet Side as part of Reading RESCUE
- Litter picking in Palmer Park this Saturday
- we have continued to work on the bread and butter of local politics getting a fly tipping cleared, street lights fixed and graffiti removed.


None claimed.

Gifts to declare -- over the value of £25:


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

Basic monthly councillor allowance (pay) including my Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for being group leader before deductions: £864

Friday, 9 December 2011

Formal residents' parking consultation launched for east Newtown

Following on from my previous posts on resolving parking problems in Newtown, the formal consultation has been launched. I have appended the text of the letter to residents below.

Also, follow these links for a plan view of option A, option B and option C. As mentioned in the letter below large-scale versions of these are available in Palmer Park library.

The explanation for residents' parking rules can be found here.

In addition to the letter Newtown Residents' Group/Kennet and Brunel Community Association have organised a public meeting with speakers on this issue on Thursday December 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Warehouse, Cumberland Road.

"Dear Resident,


We have received many requests for a residents’ parking scheme in individual streets and areas where competition for parking spaces between residents and commuters/shoppers is high.

You may be aware that this issue has been looked at before in your area with the previous consultation being inconclusive. However, your Local Ward Councillors have requested further work to develop three options for residents’ parking in your area.

Following discussions with your Local Councillors, Coventry Road, Filey Road, Freshwater Road, Liverpool Road, Manchester Road, Norton Road and Radstock Road could become part of the residents permit scheme that already exists in Cholmeley Road and beyond.

We have prepared this consultation based on three different residents parking scheme options and it includes possible changes to how Liverpool Road currently operates and changes to some of the existing one-way streets.

Option 1 (Approx 627 Spaces) – One way Liverpool Road eastbound (apart from between London Road and Radstock Road), retain existing one way restrictions in surrounding roads, all junctions protected with parking restrictions.

Option 2 (Approx 627 Spaces) – One way Liverpool Road westbound (apart from between London Road and Radstock Road), reverse existing one way restrictions in surrounding roads, all junctions protected with parking restrictions.

Option 3 (Approx 600 Spaces) – Liverpool Road Two-Way with footway parking areas and restricted areas for traffic passing points, retain existing one way restrictions in surrounding roads, all junctions protected with parking restrictions.

The attached plans show the proposals and they include how many formal parking spaces can be achieved for each option. All of the options shown on the plans will be shared-use between 10am and 4pm Monday to Sunday allowing 2 hours parking for daytime visitors without the use of a permit.

A summary of the rules for a residents’ parking scheme is attached for information.

Please note we are consulting on whether residents want a permit scheme introduced at this stage so please do not apply for a permit.

As the study area is quite large we have reduced the scale to fit on an A4 page which has reduced the clarity of some text. In view of this, large scale plans will be available for inspection at the Library in St Bartholomews Road during normal opening hours. In addition, officers will be available at the Library on 15th December 2011 between 3pm and 7pm to answer any questions you may have.

The next stage will be to analyse the results of this consultation and report back to your Local Ward Councillors on the results. This will follow with a formal report to the Traffic Management Advisory Panel in January 2012.

Your views are really important to help the Council make the right decision on parking in your area so please return the attached questionnaire in the enclosed pre-paid envelope by 23 December 2011.


Monday, 5 December 2011

East Reading after school club threatened with closure

Due to government cuts the Council is considering shutting the East Reading after-school club if the number of children attending cannot be raised. Following pressure from me a parents' consultation meeting was held this evening.

The club is based at Newtown school. The average daily attendance at the club over the last year is approximately nine children. The council says that for the club to break even it needs over 32 children.

The total cost of the whole club is £49,300. Fee income for the whole year is £12,920. The overall predicted cost to the Council for the coming year is £36,380.

Because of the cuts imposed by the Conservative led government the Council has to make millions of pounds worth of savings again this year and closing the club has been identified as a way to save money.

The Council have tried a number of new initiatives to raise numbers including street dance and drama.

Following a constituent alerting me to the fact that the club was in danger I asked for a meeting so that parents could ask questions and the basis for saving the club could be established.

The meeting was well attended and parents spoke passionately about what the club means to them and their children and why it is so important to keep it running.

At the meeting parents were frustrated that the Council hadn't marketed the club more effectively. Going forwards, the Council and parents will be looking at what can be done to promote the club to increase numbers to a more sustainable level. This will undoubtedly be a challenge, but the fact that parents used up a precious evening to come to the meeting gives me hope that together we can win this one.

If there are any parents in the East Reading area that need an after-school club I would recommend giving East Reading after-school club a call on 0118 9015686 to find out more.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

End of Movember

After a late start on my Movember moustache growing I settled for one of the handlebar variety. I think the combination of not getting off the blocks as quickly as others, combined with my light hair hasn't made for a true master mo. But I have definitely enjoyed the experience and will be putting in some serious training for a better showing next year!


Monday, 28 November 2011

Residents' parking in the east of Newtown

For a number of years now we have been working on tackling parking problems in the east of Newtown.

We have had a few successes such as getting non-essential yellow lines trimmed but this has only created a few spaces rather than fundamentally addressing the problem.

Following our sustained campaign – over five years – the Council will now be consulting residents on this issue – as they have already lost two Labour councillors and are in fear of losing another in 2012. People in Liverpool, Freshwater, Coventry, Norton, Filey, Manchester, Radstock and London roads will receive a consultation letter shortly after November 30.

The consultation includes three variations on residents' parking in the area. As well as the consultation letter there will be a display in Palmer Park library and the Kennet and Brunel Community Association are looking at organising a public meeting on this issue.

Earlier in the year we conducted an informal consultation on this issue. Approximately 60% of people were in favour of residents' parking, 10% against and the rest undecided.

Any scheme like this will have a knock-on effect and we will definitely be mindful of roads such as St Bartholomew's which may be impacted.

When the consultation goes public I will post more information here.

True Food Co-op wins BBC award

True Food won the award for 'Best Retail Initiative' at the BBC Food & Farming awards.

From their website:

"It was a very exciting day rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sheila Dillon, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall and Rick Stein. Our category was almost the last to be announced so we were nervous wrecks by the time it got to us. It seemed to take for ever to watch the short film about the three finalists and wait for Stefan Gates to open the envelope. When he announced our name we all went up (Chris and Helens Wright and Warren). Winners don't have to make a speech, or thank their mothers, but Sheila Dillon did ask Chris about where the idea for the markets came from.
Afterwards there was a chance to have a drink and sample some of the food produced by some of the finalists.

Everyone was very impressed by True Food and we should all feel very proud to be part of this great organisation that now has national recognition."

A special programme on the awards be found here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

New Labour candidate in Park Ward?

I hear on the grapevine that Labour are about to go public that Councillor Jon Hartley will not be standing in Park Ward at the 2012 local elections and that Labour activist Rachael Chrisp will be the candidate.

She is listed on the Reading Labour Party website as the women's officer.

Has anyone met Rachael?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

St John's primary school expansion Q&A

Last night I attended a consultation meeting on expanding St John's primary school in Newtown. Whilst there are pros and cons to developing this site I absolutely support providing enough school places locally for Reading children. Here is some more information. In the next few weeks the plans will be going up on the St John's website.
Here is the Q&A:

"Question: Why do we need more primary school places in the East of Reading?

There are not enough primary school places in the East of Reading to meet the needs of the local community and for the last three years it has been necessary to send reception age children as far as Katesgrove School to enable them to have a school place.

Question: Why is St.John’s primary taking more children and not Alfred Sutton or Newtown Primary?

When the problem initially came to light an in depth analysis was done on which school to expand taking into account parental preference and the likelihood of maintaining the number of children going into the school.

Whilst it might appear to be easier to expand Alfred Sutton than St John’s the location of Alfred Sutton, right on the border with Wokingham, is a challenge because there tends to be an outflow into Earley St Peter’s meaning that the school regularly takes children from beyond its designated area. New Town Primary School has a site which is more challenging to develop than St John’s due to its listed buildings and limited play space.

It is much more sensible to spend public money on expanding a school where there is a continuing demand from the local community and where it is physically feasible to do so.

Question: Who agreed for the school to expand?

The Local Authority asked the school, the governing body and church if a temporary classroom could be put in place whilst plans for a permanent expansion could be developed and consulted upon.

The local community will be invited to participate in a statutory consultation process regarding the proposed expansion of the school.

Question: When will the statutory consultation on permanent expansion take place?

The Statutory process to permanently expand the school will be run by the Local Education Authority (Reading Borough Council) in the New Year when parents and the local community will be asked for their views on the proposed permanent expansion of the school places to 420. The consultation will last six weeks during term time and the proposals arising from that consultation, after taking into account any feedback, will be the subject of a statutory proposal published in the local press. A formal period for comment takes place for a second period of six weeks. A formal decision will be taken by Reading Borough Council after taking into account the feedback from proposal stage following the end of the statutory proposal period.

Question: What will the school look like when it’s finished?

The proposal is to build a two storey building in the centre of the site which will contain eight classrooms, the ICT suite, the school office, some of the Senior Leadership Team offices and associated facilities.

The main, existing building will remain the same but will receive a significant refurbishment to bring the classrooms up to a better standard for teaching.

The playground will be improved to make use of the change in levels on site and will include marked out areas for netball and basketball. The synthetic turf pitch will be re orientated and upgraded to bring it up to current regulations.

Question: Will the children still be able to use the playing field?

The playing field will still be useable but will have areas which will be out of bounds at times when specific works take place on them or very close to them.

Question: When will work start?

Providing all approvals are in place we would like to carry out some enabling works at Easter time 2012. This will involve moving a gas main which currently runs across the site where we would like to build and moving it further onto to the playing field.

The work for the two storey extension would start in the summer next year should all be agreed.

Question: How will it be done?

The work will be undertaken in a phased approach. There would be enabling works initially, currently pencilled in for Easter 2012, the building works for the two storey extension would begin in the summer holidays with the refurbishment following it in Spring 2013.

Question: When will the work finish?

The work will be finished in the autumn of 2013."

Monday, 21 November 2011

November's Cabinet

There are a number of interesting items on the November Cabinet agenda including: solar panels, fees and charges, bulky waste collection, shopping trolleys, reimagining the high street etc etc.

The link above takes you to the agenda and the reports are linked to from the agenda items.

Friday, 18 November 2011


I think Movember – growing some facial hair in the month of November – is a great idea for raising money to improve men's health and to tackle prostate cancer.

I first learnt about this last year and noticed Gareth Epps sporting a rather jaunty goatee. I meant to get involved this year but only just realised that it is on.

Today is my first day of growing some facial hair for a while. Any suggestions as to what look I should go for? Here are a few ideas.

Please give generously.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

An orchard for Palmer Park?

Those nice people at Transition Town Reading asked me to circulate this. It sounds like a really positive project building community, helping create a more sustainable Reading and providing delicious local fruit – let me know if you want to be put in contact with Rich:

Hi there,

I'm writing on behalf of Transition Town Reading which, as you may know, is a Reading-based group devoted to taking practical action locally to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to build community links. You can find some information about us here...

One of our projects is to plant fruit and nut trees on public land in the Reading area. We see it as a chance to provide tasty, free, healthy, local, organic food for local residents, while sequestering a little carbon, creating a pleasant atmosphere and promoting local community.

We've got permission in principle from Reading Borough Council to carry out edible tree planting projects at a number of park sites in the area, and we've just met with them to look at the first project - a large area behind the stadium in Palmer Park, where we're looking at putting in a community orchard. I've attached an aerial photo where I've marked the site we're discussing.

The next step is for us to pick the kinds of trees that we'd like to plant and to plan out the space. We thought that this would be a good time to reach out to local groups to get your input and to see if you'd like to help us carry out the project.

If you'd like to have your say as to the design of the site, FYI the council's requirements are that the site is open enough to have good visibility so as to discourage "anti-social behaviour". I know they'd also like design of the orchard to be attractive and to draw people in to that part of the park

Further down the line we could use some help with fundraising and sourcing the trees, bringing the project through the Council's consultation process, and finally planting and maintaining the orchard (not to mention with picking and eating ;oD ).

We think this can be a fun, positive and rewarding project which can help build community in Reading and we were wondering if your organisation and its members would like to be involved?

If so, please let us know and I'll add you to our project mailing list.

Many thanks for your time,

Rich Waring

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Hospital and University traffic and parking consultation meeting

"Reading Borough Council is conducting a study of traffic and parking in the area around the Royal Berkshire Hospital and University. This is to take account of the pressure on the roads in this area caused by the large numbers of people who work in or need to visit the area as well as the legitimate needs of residents.

The primary area under consideration is the set of roads between Eastern Avenue and Kendrick Road, bounded by London Road and Christchurch Road. This just touches on Park Ward, but there will obviously be a knock-on effect into Hamilton and Bulmershe roads.

If you live in the area you will of already had a survey leaflet. The drop-in session and workshops will consider a range of options to address the issues raised in the survey. For example, in which streets would you like to see residents' parking? Where would you put additional pedestrian crossings? Where would you put a cycle route through the area?

The drop-in session will run from 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM on Wednesday, November 30 at St Luke's Hall, Erleigh Road."

Thanks to the Redlands and University NAG for most of the text above.

Following Green pressure the next study to commence will be the Eastern Area Access Study looking at Cemetery Junction and the roads leading up to it. Hopefully this will have started by the New Year.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Labour worried that town will turn Green

Apparently, our hard work in Reading on local bread-and-butter issues combined with our effectiveness in Council meetings has Reading Labour worried of a Green takeover.

My Labour contact says they have enlisted the help of Labour MP John Spellar who specialises in telling the "truth" about the Green Party. I suspect this means that Labour will be trying to smear us more regularly than usual rather than doing anything positive. I wish them more luck than the Conservatives. Their recent attempt failed on two counts. Firstly people don't like negative campaigning. Second, their message was confused and helped us win support from disillusioned Labour voters.

Something "new" in Park Ward was confirmed to me a few weeks ago when a prominent Labour candidate said that they were going to be throwing a lot of resource into Park Ward this year. Interestingly when I pointed out that Labour hadn't done much so far he agreed.

So watch this space. And as always let me know if you come across Labour attempting to smear us either on the doorstep or in print.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

August to October update – a Reading living wage, school places and transport issues

It was supposed to quieten down a bit over the summer but this never seemed to happen.

We have been continuing to work hard in the ward with our year-round doorknocking going well and the second ward newsletter since the election going out. Holding the balance of power has also enabled us to achieve more through the council bureaucracy.

Last, but by no means least Jamie Whitham has been selected as the Park Ward 2012 candidate.

As always, if you want to be kept updated on local issues please sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Update in numbers:

Council meetings -- 5

Surgeries -- 3

School governor meetings -- 1

Community meetings and events -- 9 including the Playcafe launch, Reading Pride and the town meal

Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 116 in August and September. No figures for October yet

Some of our action:

Some of our results:

  • First hundred days
  • we have continued to work on the bread and butter of local politics getting a fly tipping cleared, street lights fixed and graffiti removed.


  • None claimed.

Gifts to declare -- over the value of £25:

  • None.

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

Basic monthly councillor allowance (pay) including my Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for being group leader before deductions: £864

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Ending corporate tax avoidance

You may remember that, back in March, Green MP Caroline Lucas tabled a Tax and Financial Transparency Bill aimed at tackling corporate tax evasion and avoidance.

She has now launched a related e-petition to galvanise public support for the proposed measures - we are also hoping that this will help to put pressure on the Government to make time available for the second reading of the Bill on 25 November and raise awareness of the issue more generally. Over 1,800 people have already signed since 11 Oct.

The petition is here. Obviously the more signatures the better, so please feel free to circulate far and wide!

UK Uncut are supporting and have posted a nice piece with video footage of Caroline here.

Another Kennet Side closure

Just got this from council officers:

"On Monday 28th November 2011 work will begin work to replace a section of the Kennetside Retaining Wall between Kings Bridge and Wearside Court. This work is the first phase of a longer term programme to replace the retaining wall between Kings Bridge and the River Thames. The guard rail between Kings Bridge and Blakes Lock will also be replaced.
The work will be carried out by Grenson Construction Limited, supervised by Jacobs Engineering UK and is expected to last approximately four months. The working hours will be 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. No work will take place at weekends or on public holidays.
For safety reasons it will be necessary to close the path between Patriots Place and Weirside Court for the duration of the work and a signed diversion will be in operation. Where residents are only able to enter their properties from Kennetside their access will be maintained.
In order to carry out the work it will be necessary for machinery to be operated from a platform on the River Kennet itself and we have been liaising with the Environmental Agency to ensure that our work does not adversely affect the waterway.
Due to the nature of the works a certain amount of noise and dust is unavoidable. However every effort will be made to keep this to a minimum. We will also be carrying out condition surveys of the properties fronting the area of wall affected both before and after the work takes place.
Letters are being delivered to residents between King’s Bridge and Wearside Court today to let them know that the work is taking place. Copies of the letter and distribution area are attached."

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Green surgery – how can we help you?

We will be holding the following residents' advice surgeries. No appointment necessary.

– Saturday, October 29 at the Playcafe in Palmer Park from 11 AM to 12 noon
– Monday, November 21 outside Newtown school, School Terrace 2:45 PM to 3:30 PM
– Saturday, December 10, outside the post office on the Wokingham Road from 11 AM to 12 noon

If you are unable to come along to the surgeries, but have issues you would like to raise, please get in contact.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Living wage motion success

Our Living wage motion was eventually voted through at the full council meeting earlier in the week. It was fairly heavily amended by the Labour group but I believe that their amendment strengthened the motion and furthered its aims rather than the traditional wrecking type amendment usually moved by another party.

Changing council policy is almost the easy part of the campaign though. I suspect we will have an uphill battle with the private sector in Reading. But at least things are moving now.

Feel free to support our Living wage Facebook group here.

Below is the text of the motion.

"This Council notes:

  • That one in five Reading children live in poverty;
  • The commitment to greater equality contained within Reading's Sustainable Community Strategy;
  • That the minimum wage (£6.08 per hour as of October 1, 2011) has been a step forwards but that at its current level it is a poverty wage;
  • The cross-party support which there has been for a London living wage (2011 rate is £8.30 per hour).

This Council notes that Reading Borough Council has had an anti-low pay policy for Council staff since the late 1980s and the current minimum wage under that policy is £7.64p per hour, which is 44 pence more than the amount suggested as a Living wage outside London. This Council therefore reaffirms this long-standing commitment to paying a living wage to council employees.

This Council resolves:

1. To continue to increment the Living Wage paid to Council staff in line with national pay increases.

2. To review the extent to which the Council’s Living wage policy can be applied to currently contracted-out services or as each contract comes up for renewal.

3. To include a commitment to a Living Wage for new contracts.

4. To call upon other employers in Reading to adopt a similar anti-low pay policy for their staff.

5. To work with advice agencies, trade unions and the Health & Safety Executive to identify and pursue employers that are failing to pay the statutory minimum wage.

6. To review the ratio between the lowest and the higher paid council officers.

7. To ensure that cabinet receives reports on progress towards the above at least annually, but initially by January 2012."

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Is it possible to tackle dog poo in Reading?

My morning walk took an interesting turn this morning when I spotted a woman – approximately 65 years old, grey hair, average build – not clear up after one of her two small terrier type dogs which I saw foul the pavement in Newtown – if you know who this is let me know.

I pointed this out to her but she just verbally attacked me. Plan B was to phone the police and the council to get someone to come out and issue her with a £1000 fine. Unfortunately the police informed me it was a council issue and the council informed me that although they do have the power to fine people, they don't have the power to demand someone's name and address – which is obviously needed to fine someone. But they said that the police have all the powers necessary. Doh!

By this point I had been following the culprit for 10 min. She had noticed that I was following her, was walking in a circle and was trying to make out that I was some sort of dodgy character – maybe I shouldn't have challenged her and then it would have been easier to work out where she lived.

Because of the confusion between the police and council on this issue I gave up on trying to get them involved and had another go at talking to the woman. In the end she relented, a resident provided her with a plastic bag and she cleared up the dog poo.

My experience has shown me that we have a way to go before we are positioned to tackle dog poo on the pavements in Reading. I have taken the confusion up with council officers which hopefully will move us forwards.

To round off my morning in what I can only describe as an act of animal solidarity,  at the end of the saga a pigeon dropped its load on me. Fortunately although a direct hit was scored my hat took the brunt of it.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Crescent Road free school application approved

I just saw on the BBC website that the free school application for a new secondary school on Crescent Road has been approved.

However, the article talks about a technical college for 14-19-year-olds which isn't what I thought had been applied for.

Unfortunately poor engagement with the community and a lack of information have been hallmarks of this application. I will ask officers for more information.

UPDATE: I have now spoken to officers who have informed me that the bid was for 11-19-year-olds but the government has only approved funding for 14-19-year-olds so far. There is still room for negotiation on this though and officers have assured me that they will be pressing the need for places, from age 11 onwards.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Help clear the Kennet Side as part of Reading RESCUE

Following hot on the heels of last weekend's litter pick in Palmer Park Reading RESCUE is happening this weekend coming.

The Kennet and Brunel Community Association have organised a litter pick of a section of the Kennet Side. We will be meeting at 1:30 PM Saturday, October 15 in the community garden at Sun Street and setting off at approximately 2 PM to tidy up the area.

The Council is providing litter pickers, gloves and bags etc. But if you have your own feel free to bring them.

If you want to be kept updated of future events in Newtown or Park Ward please get in contact –

Below is a picture of the Palmer Park picked last weekend.

Litter pick in Palmer Park