Friday, 31 August 2012

Video from Readifood – Reading's food bank #rdg

ReadiFood Video from Malcolm Peirce on Vimeo.

UTC Reading – planning exhibition

I got this from UTC Reading. I shall be going along to find out more and asking them to cut their grass!

"Dear Stakeholder,
We are delighted to announce that UTC Reading (previously known as Reading Technical Academy) has gained Funding Agreement approval from the Schools Minister, Lord Hill.  This is another milestone towards the opening of UTC Reading in September 2013.  
Having procured the site for the UTC at Crescent Rd in East Reading, we are now pushing ahead with the refurbishment of the facilities.  In advance of our planning submission we are holding an exhibition on 5th September to share the design scheme being proposed and to gain feedback from the community and other stakeholders.  The planning exhibition will be held at Reading College on Wednesday 5th September between 6pm and 8pm.  Please see attached for a flyer with further details.
For information:
What is a UTC?
A University Technical College (UTC) is an innovative school that provides education for students aged 14 to 19 and offers specialist programmes alongside traditional subjects. It is supported by a University and high profile academic and industry partners who are involved in every aspect of the UTC, including the development of the curriculum.
About UTC Reading
UTC Reading will specialise in computer science and software engineering, taught alongside the national curriculum. This means that students get the benefit of practical study of the specialist subjects whilst still taking the GCSE’s and A-levels that they would take at a regular school; getting the best of both worlds. The specialist curriculum proposed by the UTC will appeal to secondary school-aged pupils interested in computer science and/or engineering who are keen on pursuing and developing their talents.
UTC Reading will accommodate 600 students when at full capacity. The location at Crescent Road is in a central position to serve the proposed wide catchment area, which includes young people within a 15 mile radius of postcode RG1 5RQ in East Reading, extending to Newbury, Slough, Basingstoke and Farnborough. UTC Reading’s site offers extensive playing fields for sport and recreational activities, to ensure that the 14 to 19 year olds starting in September 2013 have all of the facilities for the planned programme of extra-curricular activities.  The recruitment drive to appoint a new principal for UTC Reading is also underway and the sponsors plan to have the chosen candidate in post on January 2013, to be in place to spearhead the launch. Other teaching and support staff will be recruited soon after.
Making all of this happen is a committed partnership made up of sponsors and partners. These include the Lead Sponsor, Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, as well as Reading College, Reading School, the University of Reading, Microsoft, Cisco, Network Rail and Peter Brett Associates. Together the sponsor and partners believe they can help create a new kind of facility for 14 to 19 year olds, that brings together the combination of education and industry to give them the best possible start in their professional life.
UTC Reading Team
For general queries contact us at:
For admissions queries contact us at:"

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Reading RESCUE ideas? #rdg

Reading RESCUE – Rivers and Environmental Spaces Cleanup Event – is now twice a year – spring and autumn. Has anyone got any ideas for a project in the Newtown will Wokingham road area? In the past we have done litter picks by the Thames, cleared fly tipping in alleys and even a swap shop. See below for more details from the council:

"The date for Autumn RESCUE has been set as Friday 12th and Saturday 13th October.  We have extended the theme this Autumn to include woodlands as well as waterways.  This was in response to the popularity of the event last October and feedback from participants that woodlands in Reading need more attention during RESCUE events.
Thank you to those of you who have already shown interest in taking part. 
If you are an individual who would like to take part, please email back telling me where and when you would like to work (Friday / Saturday morning or afternoon).  However, if you want to enter a group, please complete the online registration form:
The deadline for group registrations is Monday 24th September.
We will be having a committee meeting on Monday 17th September at 6pm at Novotel Hotel, Friar St, Reading.  Please let me know if you would like to attend to discuss plans for this upcoming RESCUE, as well as the main event in March."

Cemetery Junction cemetery, improving tree cover meeting #rdg

The consultation meeting yesterday on improving tree cover at Cemetery Junction cemetery went well. We had approximately 40 people turn up – and I am not including speakers to inflate the numbers!

At the meeting we heard about the history of the cemetery and plans for the future.

There is a tree walk planned in September. See the link below:

A new tree will be planted in Cemetery Junction near to the public toilets where there is currently a cracked old planter. Approximately 8 new trees will be going in the cemetery – succession planting for some of the old specimens approaching the end of their lives and continuing the avenue of lime trees towards the arch. There will also be some native hedging going in at the arch end.

In the autumn there will be some clearance of self seeded saplings growing out of and damaging graves and the same goes for ivy. This was the most controversial part of the meeting, but I think a way forward can be found that balances wildlife habitat, health and safety and the wishes of relatives of those buried there.

The initial work will be done with a tidy up day in November and a planting day in February – volunteers welcome.

It was stressed that this is just the start of things. Hopefully we will manage to form a resident led friends of type group which will continue to improve the cemetery – seating, interpretation boards, more wildlife habitat etc.

The next step is a smaller meeting to go through the plans in detail. If you'd like to be kept updated, please get in contact –

Monday, 27 August 2012

Atos games, #rdg #atosgames

Atos games from 11:30 AM on Tuesday, August 28 outside the Atos assessment centre Eaton Place – 2 min walk from the Broad Street Mall. See here for a helpful map:

Join us there for solidarity, songs and fun, fun, fun.

Brought to you by Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts. More information here:

Monday, 20 August 2012

Reading initial census information #rdg

Here is the Census briefing which the Council sent out recently. Hopefully this information will enable us to better understand our residents and meet their needs, for example by providing enough local school places.

"Total Population - Reading

The 2011 Census estimates the population of Reading at 155,700. This a 9% increase on the 2001 census figure of 143,096 and a 2% bigger change than the one between 1991 and 2001 when there was 7.1% increase in the Reading population.

1,300 additional people were identified as born outside the UK staying or intending to stay in the UK for a period of three months or more but less than twelve months.

What has caused the increase in population?

There are a number of reasons why the population has increased:

1. The Census coverage is better this time and picked up more people. In Reading the response rate increased from 93% in 2001 to 95% in 2011.

2. The Office of National Statistics has used a better method for calculating the estimate.

3. More children are being born evidenced by the increase in the Reading 0-14 age group.

4. Mortality rates have decreased

5. People have into moved to the area.

We will understand more about this when the more detailed data is released later in the year.

How does the 2011 Census estimate compare to other estimates?

Below is a comparisons between the 2011 Census population estimates, the 2010 mid-year estimates (the latest release prior to the Census) and the 2012 Sub National Population Projections (SNPP) used in the 2012/13 Settlement.

It must be noted that the 2011 Census figure is derived from a count on a single day (27th March 2011), the 2010 data is a mid-year resident population estimate based on the 2001 Census figure and the 2012 data is a projection with its starting point as 2008 mid-year data (also based on the 2001 census figure).

2011 Census

2010 Mid Year Estimate

2012 Sub-National Population Projection




The Reading Census estimate is 0.3% lower than the 2012 SNPP. Many other local authorities have seen considerably bigger changes which may impact on future settlements.

Population by Age


Reading 2011

Reading 2001

Reading % change 2001 - 2011

Reading % change 1991- 2002

All Ages



































There have been significant increases in the 0-19 age groups, particularly the 0-14s. The 30-59 age group whilst increasing shows a slower rate of change than that over the previous 10 years. The 60-74 age group has increased by 8% compared to a decrease of 8% in 2001. There has been a slight decrease in the 75+ age group.

In broad terms Reading has a higher than England (and the South East) average of its population in the 0-4, 20-39 year age bands and lower than average in the 10-14 and 45+ age bands.


The total Households is estimated at 62,900, an 8% increase since 2001.

Is the Census estimate a good one?

As a result of criticism of the 2001 Census coverage, the 2011 Census methodology was improved to improve response rates and the quality of the estimation process.

The 2011 Census achieved its overall target response rate of 94 per cent of the usually resident population of England and Wales, and over 80 per cent in all local and unitary authorities. The population estimate for England and Wales is estimated with 95 per cent confidence to be accurate to within +/- 85,000 (0.15 per cent). There was a 95% response rate for Reading.

Following Census Day itself a programme of measures to assess coverage and make adjustments was undertaken and all the census population estimates were quality assured.

Our plans for rolling out the results

We have a Census 2011 page on the website giving the link to the ONS Census page. We will keep this updated with new information. 2011 Census Statistics | Reading Borough Council

The Borough and Ward data will be released from February 2013 to June 2013 after which we will produce Borough and Ward profiles and supplementary reports.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Berkshire Disabled People against Cuts in #rdg #dpac

Yesterday I went to a meeting of Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts. We were a small but determined group. What we need at the moment is more people to get involved and help in whatever small way they can. There is a Facebook group here that you can join.

A bit of background from the DPAC website:

DPAC is about disabled people and their allies. DPAC is UK based but we know that disabled people in other countries are suffering from austerity cuts and a lack of fundamental rights. We welcome all to join us in fighting for justice and human rights for all disabled people.

Disabled people should not be the scapegoats for the financial mistakes of governments, should not be constantly told that there is no money to support them by millionaire politicians. We will not tolerate further erosion of our living conditions or our human rights, nor will we sit quietly while they try to take our rights away.

A bit of Green Party background in this area:

Last autumn conference Green Party members called on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to stop using IT firm ATOS as its assessor of benefit claimants.

Concerns have been raised over the company's suitability to conduct assessments, ranging from the lack of disabled access at their assessment centres to the shocking fact that 40% of their decisions have been found to be wrong on appeal.

ATOS's computer-led assessment is far too blunt an instrument to assess a benefit that is vital for so many. For example, the box-ticking exercise is close to useless for assessing a condition such as autism. Not only that, but the number of decisions that have been reversed means that an awful lot of taxpayers' money has been wasted.

Disabled people should be afforded the dignity they deserve throughout any assessment process, and should not be presumed guilty or treated like they're avoiding work. ATOS has no place in such a sensitive area, and we urge the government to sever all ties with the company.

Join the Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts Facebook group here.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Tree warden events in east Reading #rdg including Cemetery Junction cemetery

Public Meeting - Walk at Reading Old Cemetery - Tree Planting - Forthcoming Events

Public Meeting - The Trees in Reading Old Cemetery

Tuesday 28th August, 6pm, The WareHouse, 1a Cumberland Road, RG1 3LB

Come along, have your say and get involved in activities at Reading Old Cemetery. Reading Borough Council working with the Reading Tree Warden Network, Trees for Cities and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) are proposing a number of events to take place during the Autumn and Winter 2012/2013.

For more details - Call Richard Stimpson on 0118 937 2441 or Email:

Historic Tree Walk Reading Old Cemetery

Saturday 8th September 2012, 10.30am

As part of Heritage Open Days join Reading Tree Wardens on a walk around Reading Old Cemetery known for its historic gatehouse at what is now called Cemetery Junction where King's Road meets Wokingham Road. It was one of many cemeteries built by the Victorians in response to rapid population increase. Built on farm land outside the existing borough boundaries at a site called Hattons Platt the cemetery has many trees including a weeping beech voted Reading's Favourite Tree in 2011.

Registration 10.15 - Cemetery Gate , Reading Old Cemetery, Cemetery Junction, Reading

Check out other Heritage Open Day events happening in Reading

To book your place on the walk email

Events being planned for later in the year;-


Official opening of Olympic Way Avenue of Trees , Prospect Park - date to be confirmed


Workday at Old Reading Cemetery - date to be confirmed

Tree Walk at Burham Beeches, Burnham, Buckinghamshire, a largely beech woodland which has been regularly pollared, with many trees now several hundred years old. Their age, and the amount of deadwood in and around them, means that the woodland is rich in wildlife - date to be confirmed

Tree Week Event

Trees, Roots and Buildings Talk by: Ian Richardson – owner of the Reading based “Richardson’s Botanical Identifications”

28th November 6.30pm - Committee Room 1, Civic Centre

Ian will be talking about how trees and shrubs can cause damage to buildings, using graphs and illustrations from the past 35 years of doing this work, plus how the business is strongly influenced by building type, weather, soil, etc. Other issues and problems that can be caused by large vegetation in towns – and the options available once an “offending” tree has been found. The talk will be followed by an opportunity for questions.

As co-author of “Tree Roots & Buildings” plus other publications, Ian worked at Kew Gardens before starting the business in Reading back in 1979. Richardson's Botanical Identifications are a leading company in this type of work and receive samples daily by post – sometimes from as far afield as Europe, Australia, Florida, Hawaii….!

To book for 'Trees, Roots and Bildings' or for information about forthcoming events email

Thanks for your continued support, hope to see you at some of the events over the next few months.

Reading Tree Warden Network - Management Committee

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Reading Green News -- healthcare, small businesses and fuel poverty #rdg

Here's our latest e-mail newsletter. E-mail me – – if you would like to be added to our list:

Hello all,

It may be the summer holidays but we are working hard all year round.

Here is a brief update on what we've been up to recently:

Money should not be a barrier to healthcare

Council promises action on east Reading football parking problems

Greens help small local businesses subcontract

Dog wardens ready to clear town of messy business

New efforts to meet insulation targets demanded by Green councillor

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

Best wishes

Rob White

Reading Green councillor

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lessons of history support Greens’ economic vision, says leading Green

Another piece from one of the national Green Party leadership candidates:

Green Party policies show Britain how to “escape austerity and prepare for sustainability”, leading Green Party campaigner Peter Cranie said today.

In a comment article in online current affairs magazine The Economic Voice, Peter Cranie accuses Labour as well as the Coalition parties of being in thrall to the banks, which he says “continue to show themselves unworthy of public trust”, and of “running things in the interests of the One Per Cent.”

Peter Cranie says history shows that “austerity measures have never worked”. He cites top economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman’s recent advice on “the urgent necessity of massive government spending to get us out of the recession” – which Peter says accords entirely with the Green Party’s policy on the Green New Deal.

In his article, Peter Cranie argues that the austerity policies followed by the Coalition government – and which Labour has pledged to continue if it wins the next general election – are “devastating Britain’s public services and wrecking our economy” as well as standing in the way of a serious effort to tackle “the immense threat posed to the world’s economy and its inhabitants by climate change”.

Peter Cranie argues that the Green Party’s track record on economics is good – he cites instances ranging from the party’s opposition to the financial deregulation that facilitated the recent global crisis, to the Green Party’s warning that austerity measures would trigger a double-dip recession. And he says that Greens can therefore feel confident in pushing the party’s economic policies in order to reach a wider sector of the electorate than ever before:

“Consider all those people opposed to the austerity agenda who will have no established party other than the Greens to vote for; all those who want a Robin Hood Tax, redistributive taxation, a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion; those who want to protect the NHS and post offices. Those who want an end to huge bonuses in the publicly-owned banks, and a windfall tax on private bankers’ bonuses; those who want a government that would pay not one penny more to the private banks in bailouts, but which would establish a not-for-profit People’s Bank as a safe place for people to keep their money.”

Monday, 6 August 2012

Briefing on turning street lights off #rdg

Following a resident's enquiry about turning street lights off I got the following briefing back:

"A number of trials are being carried out across the country which involves switching off street lights completely or in some cases overnight in residential areas. Switching street lights off overnight has only been carried out after consultation with the local residents and local community police and there has been clear support.
Many residents have concerns about switching off street lights in residential streets overnight particularly in respect of increases in crime and the impact on people’s safety. In view of this many local authorities are looking at dimming and more use of energy efficient lamps e.g. LEDs rather than switching off.
As this is relatively new technology, much of the street lighting equipment in the Borough is operated using photo cells and older technology which doesn’t permit dimming or switching off part time. When street lighting is upgraded we are installing equipment that allows dimming and also remote monitoring to adjust lighting levels to reduce energy costs and CO2. We are also installing LED lamps which operate on reduced energy and lower CO2 emissions e.g. Kennetside.
As part of the East Reading Study we are looking at the potential to upgrade street lighting which would allow dimming etc and is likely to be more acceptable to residents than switching off lights.
I will also forward your e mail and my response to the Project Officer dealing with this Study so he can take the comments into consideration.
Regards et"

We produce a monthly e-mail newsletter keeping people informed on local issues. E-mail me – – if you would like to be added to our list.

My first go at Ramadan fasting

Last year a friend suggested that I have a go at fasting for Ramadan. Jumping forward one year I decided to have a go at it today as I was already planning on going to the fast breaking meal – which was being run by Cage Prisoners and local bookshop As-sabeel.

My hastily researched fast started off badly this morning as I had planned my last meal before what the BBC weather website suggested was sunrise – 5:30 AM – however I missed a subtle difference here as everyone else was having their last meal at around 3 AM.

Anyway, I got up at 5 AM and had my usual breakfast – toast with peanut butter and banana, and a bowl of muesli – with a couple of glasses of water instead of tea. Then I went back to bed, so far so good.

I got up at about 9 AM and the rest of the morning went fine, although I was worrying about not being able to drink any water and losing my voice or getting a sore throat this didn't happen. Even when Sam made lunch – she had decided not to fast – I didn't find it particularly hard.

I took it easy in the afternoon doing a bit of work on my computer, running a few errands and watching a bit of the Olympics. Then I set off to the evening event at around 5 PM. By this time I was starting to get a headache which was probably distracting me from my thirst and hunger.

The Cage Prisoners event was very interesting – they campaign for people to be given their rights e.g. a fair trial for people in Guatanamo – and the HHUGS talk – they provide the welfare/support side of things – was particularly moving. One of the attendees remarked on Green MP Caroline Lucas' good work in this area which was positive.

Just before 9 PM bowls of dates and water started to appear. You don't value something until it is taken away. And I can safely say that when we broke the fast that was the nicest date and glass of water that I have ever had. A short time later we tucked into a proper meal which was also very tasty.

As I write this blog at the end of the day I still have a bit of a headache, but it is on the way out, and the whole experience has definitely made me appreciate simple things a lot more!