Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Success on Maiden Erlegh's catchment area

Great news that the Secretary of State has rubberstamped the adjudicator's recommendation that radial distance should be used for the tie-breaker. This is wonderful news for people in Reading who live close to the school who were being discriminated against and unfairly excluded by Wokingham Council.

Well done to everyone from the Parents' Campaign and the wider community who has worked so hard to make this happen.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Maiden Erlegh -- no decision yet

Just got this update from the Parents' Campaign:

"Just to let you know that while there has been no news on the campaign front since the Adjudicator held the meeting back in July we haven’t let them rest on their laurels.

Please be reassured that we have been pushing the YPLA (Young People’s Learning Agency) and the OSA (Office for the School Adjudicator) for an answer to the Maiden Erlegh objections we submitted in response to the decision WBC made to change the catchment area.

We were under the impression that once the OSA’s report (with
recommendations) has gone through to the Secretary of State (via the YPLA) that it would be a rubber stamping exercise and we should hear on or around the 8th August.

Since then colleagues in the campaign group have called and emailed both the YPLA and OSA to say that those children going into Year6 are very anxious about the decision however we have had the same response that we need to be patient and that they hope to come back to us soon.

Unfortunately it has been indicated that the decision may still not be made for another few weeks.

We have asked the OSA for a copy of the report and recommendations sent to the YPLA/Secretary of State for Education under a Freedom of Information request. We plan to ask more questions under FOI should this request be rejected.

Once we have this, or better still any news of a decision, we will of course send this out through this email address and via our facebook page and website"

Sunday, 21 August 2011

British society is not "sick"

Earlier this month, a spate of terrifying violence and disorder erupted onto our streets. Communities were terrorised, individuals attacked and city centres trashed. Horrendous images on our TV screens of burning buildings and mindless looting created a climate of fear in which people were scared to leave their homes - and in which public trust in the capacity of our police force to respond effectively was shaken.

The Green Party unequivocally condemns the violence and vandalism which has left indelible scars on families, businesses and urban environments across England. We express sincere condolences for those who lost loved ones in the chaos. And we feel admiration for those who took part in the peaceful defence of their neighbourhoods, as well as those came out onto the streets for the clean-up effort.

In the weeks since, the sheer number of column inches devoted to attempts to understand why the riots and looting took place - and how we might be able to prevent such devastation in future - illustrates the huge complexity of this issue. The honest truth is that there are no easy answers.

As a political party, we believe it is crucially important for the fabric of UK society that the Government and the police strike a balance between keeping our streets safe - protecting people from harm and defending communities against destruction - and upholding the hard won civil liberties of our citizens. And we want to keep things in perspective. We do not believe, as Mr Cameron does, that British society is ‘sick'.

Underpinning any analysis should be a recognition of the deep inequality which lies at the heart of British society. So too should we understand the consequences of a consumer culture which promotes endless material accumulation, an aggressive sense of entitlement and a demoralising level of status anxiety.

The Coalition Government's reckless austerity agenda, combined with rising youth unemployment and economic stagnation, is contributing in no small way towards a sense of hopelessness - with huge cuts in public funding for young people's clubs and services, and the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance already having an impact. It's clear that many people feel disempowered and that some have become disengaged from their own communities, to the extent that they are willing to attack them without fear of consequence.

An extract from the full story here.

Councillor Hartley jumping ship?

There has been some speculation as to whether Councillor Hartley will stand and fight in Park Ward at the 2012 elections or would he jump ship and stand in a different ward where Labour have a better chance of winning.

Interestingly as of Sunday, August 21 6 p.m. on the Reading Labour Party website Councillor Hartley's Park Ward page has the title "Katesgrove Ward". A mistake, or a rebranding of his page ahead of him jumping ship?

The Green Party has selected local campaigner Jamie Whitham to contest Park Ward.

UPDATE: Reading Labour Party have informed me that their website has been hacked.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sexual assault in Palmer Park

I am a both distressed and upset to hear that there was a sexual assault in Palmer Park recently. Details from the police below in case you may have any information which might be of help:

A 17 year old girl has reported the assault in Palmer Park, off London Road, between 12.30am and 2am on Wednesday (3/8).

The offender is described as black and of a big build. He was wearing a black hooded top, black or blue jeans, white Adidas trainers with a blue or black pattern on it.

Det Sgt Ashley Hannibal said: “It is crucial that anyone who recognises the description of the offender or who has information about the incident, contact us as soon as possible.”

A message that can be passed to the community would be - If you can help, please call Det Sgt Hannibal via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre on 0845 8 505 505. If you don’t want to speak to police or leave your name, call the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Palmer Park flood alleviation works

As you may have seen, Palmer Park along the Wokingham Road looks like a building site at the moment. Below is some detail on what is going on. I have queried exactly which tree is going to be lost and am waiting for a response.

"Thames Water Utilities Ltd has begun flood alleviation works along the Wokingham Road. In order to facilitate these works they have erected a compound within Palmer Park (as attached plan).

The works are to take place in two phases, as follows:

Phase 1) Highway works.
Excavation of an area of Wokingham Road and the laying of required pipe work.
Works are being monitored by Highways (James Penman).

Phase 2) Palmer Park works.
6th September onwards:
Installation of flood alleviation storage pipes to open grass area within the children’s play area (as shown on attached plan).
Once works have been completed the grass surface of the park will be fully reinstated by Thames Water, with only a manhole cover being visible to park users.
The work has been timed to avoid peak use of the children’s play area over the summer holidays and will conclude on 4th December.

The work will require the removal of a semi-mature lime tree on the boundary of Palmer Parks play area, as it is directly in the line of the pipe to be installed. Thames Water has agreed to plant two new trees on site to compensate for this loss. One of these will be planted as close as possible to the tree to be removed and the second tree will be planted to the east of the main driveway to Palmer Park in order to complete an established avenue of trees.

Thames Water will have staff on site 24 hours a day to ensure the security of the site and will erect suitable fencing to ensure public safety around all areas of work.

The site compound will remain until the completion of the works in December. Thames Water has entered into an agreement with the Council’s Valuation Team for the use of the land. A photographic survey was conducted prior to the use of the land and Thames Water will be required to reinstate any damage at the end of the works to the satisfaction of the Parks Manager.

Public consultation:
Thames Water wrote to all neighbouring properties and invited residents to an open afternoon/evening on the 19th July at Palmer Park library. At this meeting detailed plans were discussed with the residents."

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Bring back "lost" pedestrian crossings

A few months ago I lobbied the new Lead Councillor for Transport over the loss of a number of pedestrian crossings -- by the hospital, station and Jackson's Corner -- under the previous Conservative/LibDem administration. This was following on from a number of residents bringing to my attention the new difficulties and dangers of crossing at these locations.

At the time he wasn't even aware that we had lost the one near the hospital, but I was pleased that he was looking into what could be done to improve the facilities in these areas for pedestrians. From my conversations with him I understood that we would get an update on what is going to be done at the Traffic Management Advisory Panel in September.

Even though I believe that these problems are being addressed -- and so therefore am not sure about the value of a petition on this issue -- happy to support it.