Thursday, 29 November 2012

Reading Green News – employment, affordable housing and Green leader visit

Hello all,

We are excited to have Natalie Bennett – the new leader of the Green Party visiting Reading in December – see below for more information. This will be a great opportunity to find out more about Natalie's vision for a fair and sustainable society and ask any questions you might have. It would be great to see you at this public meeting.

Here is a brief update on what Reading Green Party has up to recently:

Natalie Bennett to visit Reading

Find Out More About Your Housing Options at Free Information Day

The Council must keep up the pressure on affordable housing

MEP visits Reading’s ‘Solar School’

Greens challenge council on council tax benefit

Council Aims to Boost Employment

Consultation on a Climate Change Strategy

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

Green Party councillor

PS I have updated the web address of my blog. It is now here:

Thames Valley Police alerts – are you signed up?

I got this from the police about signing up to their messaging service. They use it to circulate security advice and information about crime in your area.

"We live in a world of mass communication, being fed information which is usually neither relevant to us nor wanted. With Thames Valley Alerts this couldn’t be further from the truth. Thames Valley Police not only promote a flow of localised information between the police and community; we actively encourage it.

That is why we want to build our Alerts system into something which is not only an integral part of living in the Thames Valley Area but a functioning tool to keep our communities safe and informed. We are constantly trying to enhance and develop the messages we send to you.

With only 62,000 members subscribed to our service we know there are more people who could benefit from receiving Thames Valley Alerts.

Are your neighbours and friends signed up?

Would a relative benefit from signing up?

Every member of our community will gain from the knowledge that our Alerts system provides. So as one of the 2.2% of Thames Valley’s population who is already signed up please help spread the word and remember this service is available to everyone.

Please help us to increase sign up by encouraging people to visit:
and sign up to receive text, phone or email alerts .

If you know of anyone who would prefer to sign up over the phone please reply to this email with their contact information and telephone number. One of our administrators will be happy to go through the sign-up procedure with them.

Thank you for your continued support,

Thames Valley Police"

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Flooding at Kennet mouth #rdg

Just got back – 4:30 PM – from my trip from Newtown to Kings Meadow via Kennet mouth. As you can see from my pictures below Kennet mouth is flooded, but you can still just about get over the Horseshoe bridge. I wouldn't recommend this in the dark though!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Reading's Olympic legacy

One of my constituents asked a few weeks ago about what Reading's Olympic legacy was. A little bit of research later and here goes:

– following the successful bid to get the torch to Reading many residents will have priceless memories
– talks are going on about keeping the Olympic year events website running
– a local fundraising dinner raised enough money to employ a sports youth worker for the next four years
– many trees were planted including I am informed "Olympic Avenue" in prospect Park
– a new exhibition was created at the museum on Reading's sporting past which brought new items into the museum's collection and will hopefully spawn a book

Sports clubs in Reading have also seen a surge in membership.

I am sure that I have missed stuff so apologies in advance. I am sure that you will let me know.

Not bad for a volunteer committee with a £0 budget. Well done to everyone on the Reading 2012 partnership and involved in many, many other ways.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Come along to prayer for Gaza demo in the Reading #rdg

On Saturday there will be a demonstration about the conflict in Gaza – organised when the fighting was more intense – but still going ahead to remember the dead. Also because the current ceasefire is little more than a small plaster over a gaping wound which will simply just burst open again if we don't get a fair political solution to the situation.

The issue of peace is close to my heart. I first got active in politics during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, marching with 1 million other people against this illegal war.

The situation in the occupied territories is consistently depressing. There is the occupation, the severe restrictions on movement of people and the illegal settlements. And ultimately the impact of this on human life.

With the current escalation the latest statistics on the death toll which I just heard on the radio are 160 Palestinian deaths against five Israeli deaths. I obviously condemn the violence against civilians from both sides.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has been lobbying the government on this issue to back the ceasefire and take a stronger stance with Israel.

Green MEP for Reading Keith Taylor has been active on the subject of the trade relationship between Europe and Israel.

Please join the Facebook group and come along to remember the dead and press for a political solution to this situation.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christmas fairs in the Park Ward area #rdg

There are lots of Christmas fairs going on in Park Ward area, so I thought I would summarise them here. Let me know if I have missed anything.

Christmas Bazaar – Saturday, Nov. 24th, from 2.00 p.m to 5.00 p.m., The ERAPA Centre, Palmer Park, RG1 3PA

NEW: Earley St Peter's Christmas fair – Saturday, December 1, 3 PM to 5 PM, Earley St Peter's school, Church road

NEW: Community Christmas Craft Fair – Wednesday, December 5, 6:30 PM to 9 PM, Wycliffe church, lower back hall, Kings road

Crescent Under 5’s Pre-School’s Mini Christmas Fayre – Thursday, Dec. 6th, from 10.30 a.m., Community Hall, Alfred Sutton School, 148 Wokingham Road, RG6 1JR

Newtown Christmas Fair – Friday, December 7, 3:30 PM to 5 PM, Newtown school, School Terrace

St. John’s Primary School Christmas Market – Friday, Dec. 7th, from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m., St. John’s Primary School, Orts Road, RG1 3JN

Alfred Sutton Primary School Christmas Fair – Sat. Dec. 8th. From 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m., Alfred Sutton School, 148 Wokingham Road, RG6 1JR

Christmas Coffee Morning – Monday, Dec. 10th, from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., Palmer Park Library, St Bartholomew’s Road, RG1 3QB

Monday, 19 November 2012

Movember and men's health

I'm supporting Movember again this year.

"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer."

I have been a bit slow off the mark with sponsorship as I have been focusing on cultivating my Mo. If anyone wants to sponsor me – anything from a pound upwards would be great – follow this link.

Movember Rob

Friday, 16 November 2012

Ash Die Back: Chalara fraxinea fungus and Highways Ash trees in Reading #rdg

I got the following briefing through on Ash dieback from the Council and where the trees are – on council Highways land only. For some Green Party comment see here.

There are 173 Ash trees on highway land in Reading as shown in the following table:


Number of Ash trees

































Sudden Ash dieback ( Fraxinus species) is caused by the Chalara fungus which has been featured heavily in the media over recent days and as of the 5th November has been found in 82 sites in Britain.

A visual survey of all 173 highway Ash trees is being carried out by Phil Cowpland, the RBC Tree Officer but the results are unlikely to be conclusive at this time of year during natural leaf fall. Conclusive evidence of the active disease may not be available until the leaf buds break next spring, but we have not received any conclusive reports over the summer months of sudden leaf death.

We will monitor all the trees over the winter and at leaf bud break next spring and inform you of any remedial action that is necessary. The disease cannot be cured once contracted by the tree, but death is not inevitable as some trees will have a natural resistance to the fungus, and more mature trees will have more chance of surviving an infection. We have no plans to instigate full scale felling of trees to prevent infection or to prescribe wholesale felling of trees which are suspected of being infected unless encouraged to do so by the Forestry Commission.

If you receive any queries or reports of affected trees from residents please refer them to myself, Phil Cowpland or Richard Stimpson.

Further information can be found on the Forestry Commission website:

and suspected outbreaks can be reported on the following e mail addresses:,

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Palmer Park chalk mines deemed stable so more park events to follow #rdg

Survey plan May 12-page-001Those with good memories will remember that I blogged a while ago about testing in Palmer Park, east Reading, to ascertain if work to stabilise old chalk mines had been successful. I followed this up recently and was delighted to hear that the problematic mines have been secured meaning we have the go-ahead for funfairs, car boot sales etc on the park again.

See below for the full response from the Parks team:

"Thank you for the below enquiry regarding the testing of ground at Palmer Park and the outcome of this.

I am pleased to advise that the testing returned positive results in terms of stability, with no significant underground voids detected.
It is our intention to now look to re-introduce to this area of the park a programme of annual event activity.

Our aim is to encourage a diverse range of recreational / leisure activities that meet the demands and expectations of local residents. We have for many years, following the discovery of the chalk mines and the ceasing of event activity on site, received calls from members of the public asking when events such as Fun Fair’s, Circus’s and Car Boot sales would return. Until now we have only been able to advise residents of other parks and areas of the town where these services can be accessed and unfortunately these have been some distance from Palmer Park / the east of Reading.
The area of the park tested was as the attached plan and this was carefully selected to ensure minimal disturbance to residents as a result of any future event activity.  The area is in the centre of the park backing on to the rail tracks and is visually screened from all surrounding residential properties in St. Bartholomew’s Road, Palmer Park Avenue, London Road & Wokingham Road.
Significant interest has been received from potential event partners and the opportunities provided by the site are extremely exciting.  The encouraging of commercial events activity within the park will also generate much needed income for the local authority and will assist in meeting budget savings targets.
We will ensure that ward councillors are fully appraised of all proposals as they take shape."

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Reading UTC going to planning committee on Wednesday #rdg

Reading UTC – Crescent road – will be going to the planning applications committee on Wednesday. It is item 15 on the agenda.

I still think that this will not meet the local education need and is a wasted opportunity, meaning that this part of the site can no longer be used for primary or secondary aged children from the local area.

However, as the report makes abundantly clear, no change of use is required and the school could go ahead in the existing buildings anyway. Planning permission is only needed for the small bits of demolition, the extensions and the changes to parking. I have been through the application a number of times and looking at these bits of the application they meet our policies. So officers are recommending approval.

What do people think?

Monday, 12 November 2012

How can we help you? Residents' advice surgeries in #parkward #rdg

Your Park Ward Green Party councillors – Jamie Whitham, Melanie Eastwood and Rob White – will be holding the following residents' advice surgeries. No appointment necessary.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 – outside the post office, 75 Wokingham road, 11 AM to 12 noon

Saturday, December 8, 2012 – outside the Co-op, cemetery junction, 11 AM to 12 noon

Friday, January 11, 2013 – Alfred Sutton school, Wokingham road, 3 PM to 3:30 PM

Friday, 9 November 2012

Improved lighting in Palmer Park #rdg

A number of residents have raised the issue of lighting in Palmer Park with us. For a number of years we have been lobbying on this. Progress has been slow, but we are now close to getting some more lighting installed. This is great news for park users and local businesses.

Let me know what you think.

For more information see the briefing and map below.

Palmer Park lighting plan 1_2000 green phase revised-page-001

"Following numerous enquiries about lighting in Palmer Park, in August 2011 we obtained from SSE Contracting quotations to install lighting. Because resources are limited, we requested that quotations be supplied for three phases of work as shown on the attached plan:
Green: from the car park to the library/Wokingham Road/St Bartholomew’s Road, with a spur through the play area to the main driveway (this is the pedestrian route used most often on winter evenings and about which most enquiries have been received)
Blue: from the car park to the Wokingham Road/Palmer Park Avenue corner (also frequently used)
Red: from the car park to the London Road
The quotations were as follows:
Green: £8,956.74 or £13,106.34 (depending on the type of lamp used)
Blue: £6,6060.96 or £8,268.21
Red: £19,940.00 or £22,740.00
These quotations were for standard fittings (rather than heritage fittings to match the originals).
Having approval from Cabinet to spend capital in Palmer Park, and on the understanding that most queries about lighting have been about the ‘green’ route, we negotiated with SSE the installation of lighting along this route, and placed an order in September for heritage fittings to match the existing (which will look better in this area). The order includes full Mayflower CMS to allow for more energy and Co2 saving if required. The value of the order is £12,500. On 3 October, I was informed that SSE does not have in stock the lantern for which they quoted, and they are looking for a substitutes."

Monday, 5 November 2012

Works on the railway and noise in #Newtown #rdg

As a Newtown resident, a few weeks ago I got the letter below on the subject of works on the railway over the Christmas period -- piling to create foundations for overhead power lines for the trains. Looking at the bigger picture, this is part of improving the station they should be welcome. However, the possible noise was of concern to me and I can imagine others in Newtown. I followed it up with the Council, and got the response below. According to the plan the work should have already started. I haven't heard of any problems so far, but please get in contact if you experience any. You can also contact Network Rail on their 24 hour helpline 08457 114141.


Council response: "The contractors have applied to the Council for consent for the piling works under section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The consent has been given with a number of conditions attached including: requiring Network Rail to undertake communication with residents; preventing work on consecutive nights outside of particular residential areas; and no noisy work to take place at Christmas (24th-27th December). These measures will reduce the impact, but unfortunately some level of noise disturbance is inevitable."