Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Cycle Parking at Reading Station maps #rdguk

Rob White at Reading Station bike parking overload lqFollowing the Green Party's campaigning on a cycle parking at Reading station I have now received some maps giving us the council's latest ideas on how this is going to work. I have asked them to confirm the  latest number of cycle stands and how this compares to previous peak to provision. Unfortunately still no definitive timescale.

Southside map: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6pooTstnZWxeElMdnpMQUhBV28/view?usp=sharing

South West side map: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6pooTstnZWxeGpBQTBwUVc2d1k/view?usp=sharing

Friday, 26 December 2014

Progress on hazardous puddles at Cemetery Junction #rdguk

Small Rob White calls for action on puddlesFollowing pressure on the council and Thames Water regarding the ongoing problems with large hazardous puddles at Cemetery Junction, where they were both blaming each other, we've had a bit more progress. From the council:

"I met with a Thames Water engineer on site last week and jetted the gully in question, the blockage in the gully connection appears to be under the second lane of the Kings Road just before the Thames Water sewer. This means that it is within our sewer connection and we will look to resolve the problem with pooling water. Due to the location of the blockage we would need a full east bound closure of the King’s Road to repair the connection and would likely be both heavy cost and severe inconvenience to the public.
 
We are looking at alternative solutions to the drainage issue and are carrying out a levels survey in the New Year. This will allow us to explore other options that would require less disruption than having a full closure on the east bound carriageways."

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Don't lose your vote this year in Reading #rdguk

COPY May 2014 elections countGuest post by Josh Williams: Some residents in Reading have been asked to re-register on the electoral roll this year. You can do so here - www.gov.uk/register-to-vote - and when you've registered (or re-registered) you should get a letter from Reading Borough Council confirming you've been added to the roll.

Some residents have reported to us that they haven't received that letter - don't panic!

If you want to confirm you are on the electoral roll you can email elections@reading.gov.uk or telephone Electoral Services on: 0118 937 3717. We've confirmed with them that they will be happy to help.

And if you want to you can even go into reception at the new Civic Offices and look at the newly published register yourself!

If you think you might be away (or know someone who will be) at election time next year (already set by the coalition Government for May 7th) contact us and we can let you have the forms for a postal or proxy vote.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Enforcement of box junctions in Reading #rdguk

Box junction at Cholmeley RoadPeriodically someone raises the enforcement of box junctions with me. These are often blocked by parked cars sometimes creating a hazard for pedestrians crossing, sometimes making it hard for people to get out from a side road onto the main road. Unfortunately, outside of London, this is a police power and I have been unable to get the police to act on this road safety issue. At some undefined point in the future the council may obtain the ability to take over enforcement. See below for the latest update. Feel free to raise this with the police directly and let me know how you get on. We will keep looking for opportunities to make our roads safer.

"Reference your query regarding concerns from residents over the Road Traffic legislation contraventions of the box junction, I have consulted with my Council colleagues and our Roads Policing Department. The markings of the box junction are clear and should be visible to all drivers.
 
The council are not authorised to take any enforcement action against drivers ignoring the restrictions. I have asked that they review the signage at this location to see if any improvements need to, or can be made. Mr Beasley has informed me that he will look into this.
 
As you will appreciate this is a very busy location at peak hours, which is when the problem is at its peak. Due to the absence of a safe and suitable location to pull offending drivers over and the likely knock on effect of actually adding to the congestions and traffic issues in this busy stretch of road, a police operation is unsuitable. Our Roads Policing Dept will only target locations where there is a raised level of collisions, which is not the case, thankfully, at this site.
 
Both the Roads Policing Dept and the Neighbourhood Police Team are aware of the issue and will take the opportunity for educating drivers or enforcement whenever they observe such contraventions on their daily patrols. Additionally I have asked that this location be paid passing attention at peak hours, when possible, so there is a visible police presence to deter drivers stopping on the boxed junction."

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Help with housing problems in the private rented sector #rdguk

Josh and Kizzi campaigning on housing issues in RedlandsWe've been  out talking  (left: Josh and Kizzi) to residents about housing issues in the local area, like lack of security measures, mould and poor heating and insulation.

Residents may be able to get help with housing problems from the following organisations.

* Housing charity shelter http://www.shelter.org.uk/

* Reading University Students’ Union: http://www.rusu.co.uk/advice/housing_advice

* Reading Borough Council’s environmental health team: http://www.reading.gov.uk/council/top-tasks-links/contact-council/

If you need any additional help let us know.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Help turn the Green surge into votes in Reading

COPY May 2014 elections countThe Green Party stands for a fairer, healthier and more affordable society, and support for these values is surging. To make a difference for everyone in Reading, we need votes. To win votes we need to get our message of a brighter, greener, future out there. To do that costs money.

You can help by donating here www.reading.greenparty.org.uk/get-involved/donate1.html and thanks to the many people who have already donated.

We know that more and more people are thinking about voting Green for the common good. If we can get our policies and successes – such as a living wage to tackle poverty and more renewables to reduce our carbon emissions – out there, we will increase our vote in May 2015.

There is currently a gap of about £2000 between what we need to spend and what we have in the bank. If you could donate £5, £10 or more towards our printing costs that would help us meet our target and get our message out to more and more people.

Donate here and we will turn your money into real change for Reading www.reading.greenparty.org.uk/get-involved/donate1.html

Best wishes,

Rob White and Miriam Kennet

Green Party Parliamentary Candidates

Reading East and Reading West

PS you can donate instantly through PayPal here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=6M3V9LRA4ZGXY

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Arthur Hill maintenance update #rdguk

COPY Rob White (left), Priya, Beata, John Josh Williams (right) and children outside Arthur HillI met up with people from the council to discuss some of the maintenance issues at Arthur Hill. I pushed for more investment in this ageing building. Hopefully we will see some more major progress next year. In the meantime below is an update on some of the ongoing issues:

"Thank you for taking the time to meet with both Ben and I on Friday at Arthur Hills Pool. I hope you found it useful to walk around the site and discuss some of the issues that had been brought to your attention.
 
I thought I should send a follow up email to raise what we discussed, and act as an answer to some of your enquiry worksheets. Each query is listed below.
 
Bike racks in the car park – RSL will continue to work with transport planning to ensure that customer bikes are easily accessible.
 
Brambles at the back of the building -   There had been an issue with brambles overgrowing, but they have since been cut down. There are still some of the cut bramble in the corner of the car park which needs to be removed. Site staff are in the process of doing this.
 
Boarded window in toilet – The window has been boarded for customer safety. Corporate maintenance are currently investigating this issue.
 
Swimming Lessons – We have posters made up to promote the new swimming lessons, and we are advertising it on our website. I will also arrange for some flyers to be handed out."

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

£20,000 confiscated from drug dealer on Grange Avenue #rdguk

The war on drugs isn't working, but I thought people might be interested in this information from the police.

"A man convicted of a number of drugs offences in Reading has been told he must pay back nearly £20,000.

Mark Robinson, aged 39, of Grange Avenue in Reading, pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court on 26 June to:

Possession with intent to supply a class A drug (heroin)
Possession with intent to supply a class A drug (cocaine)
Possession with intent to supply a class C drug (other)
Possession of a class B drug (cannabis)
Possession of a class A drug (cocaine)

On 26 May 2013, officers executed a warrant at Robinson’s home and found him trying to push a sofa up against the door. When they searched the property, they found a number of drugs at the property, along with digital scales, 17 mobile phones and a large amount of cash.

He was jailed for a total of 32 months on 25 July this year.

Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings were instigated and on Friday (28/11), a confiscation order was granted for £19,706.08.

Investigator Jenny Bailey from Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit said: “At the confiscation hearing, Robinson conceded that he had obtained benefit from his criminal conduct.

“The Proceeds of Crime Act enables us to deprive criminals of what has been obtained from their crimes on top of any period of imprisonment imposed."

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Donate to send a message to Labour not to gag the Greens #nogreengag

Rob White not in our name Iraq demoThe local paper has writen up an article below entitled "Reading councillors gag Green member at meeting about openness". Donate to show your opposition to Labour's action. 

http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/reading-councillors-gag-green-member-8176277

Donate now, even £1 would be appreciated, to send a message to Labour (because we will tell them how much people donating because of their actions raised) to behave democratically and not gag the Greens. So far we have raised £20. You can donate instantly using PayPal  by following the link below:

http://reading.greenparty.org.uk/get-involved/donate1.html

After donating please spread the word.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Is democracy dead in Reading? #rdguk

Jamie Melanie Rob victoryI used to think that whilst Labour councillors would not always agree with what I said at least they would allow me to speak. No more.

Tonight at the Strategic Transport, Environment and Planning (SEPT) committee I went along as Councillor Whitham, the only Green councillor on the committee had been called away to work in Belgium at short notice.

It has been my experience previously, and the council constitution allows, any councillor to give notice that they would like to speak at a meeting and it is then at the discretion of the chair. I don't ever remember the chair ever saying no to a councillor before. So tonight I asked to speak on four items.

However on the first real item on the agenda, Bet Tickner the Labour councillor chairing this committee broke with this convention and would not allow me to represent my constituents and speak. She did not give a reason in the meeting, but before the meeting had talked about a "full agenda".

I spoke out against this injustice, but failed to get anywhere.

Surprisingly on the next agenda item despite one of the members of the public speaking and using up their allocated time Bet was happy, despite the "full agenda" to find time for another member of the public, from the same organisation, to speak.

Finally, to add insult to injury when I tried to get back into the Civic Centre to check my councillor emails at 9 PM, fully expecting the meeting which started at 6:30 PM to still be going because of its "full agenda", it was locked up as the meeting had finished early.

Full agenda or Labour being antidemocratic?

Do you believe in a functioning democracy locally? If so why not get involved with the Green Party to make this a reality: http://reading.greenparty.org.uk/get-involved/

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Planning advice on turning St Bartholomew's Church into a performance venue

UPDATE: for clarity no plans to stop religious services, it will just have more performances.

In the papers a little while ago there was a piece on plans to turn St Bartholomew's Church on London Road into a performance venue. Most people I spoke to thought this was positive, but some people in the immediate local area were interested on the impact that this might have on issues like parking. I asked for a briefing from planning and got the following:

"You had queried the proposal to convert St Bartholomew’s Church on London Road to a performance venue. In response to your questions:

- The church have not submitted any request for pre-applications discussions regarding planning to the Council’s Planning Section.

- The use of the church for occasional events/performances would not require planning permission. A church is a D1 (non-residential institution) use under the Use Classes Order 1995 (as amended). A church hall is also a D1 use, so the normal activities that would take place within a church hall would not require permission if they were to take place within the church. To fully convert the church from a D1 use to a music/concert hall (a D2 assembly and leisure use) would require planning permission.

- There isn’t an adopted planning policy regarding changes of use from D1 to D2. Were an application required, it is likely that impact upon the amenity of neighbouring residential properties and parking would be the main considerations."




Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Palmer Park velodrome update #rdguk

Following concerns raised with me about the state of the Palmer Park velodrome I got the following update on improvement works from the council:

"Thank you for contacting me in regards to the cycle clubs concerns about the cycle track.
 
We have regular conversations with the club and they have periodically expressed concerns about the track surface. Early this summer we arranged for a contractor to quote for repair work and their view was this was not necessary. We do periodically get the areas of the track repaired as with any surface this deteriorates. We have arranged for the contractors to revisit.
 
We have also been in discussion with them about the track surround. We are expecting repairs to be undertaken to the track surround in the next few weeks. This includes replacement of most damaged boards, re-securing any loose ones and repairing the aluminium tops.
 
A programme of works are also being arranged to better control the vegetation around the track. This will ensure the track is appropriately maintained, it is however inevitable there will be some deterioration just from weather, time and the nature of the banking.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information."

Back to top of article

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Two burglaries in East Reading #rdguk

Message sent to neighbourhood watch coordinators:

Over the past few days there has been two burglaries in the East Reading Neighbourhood :

On Saturday 15th November between 14.00 -22.23 in Cumberland Road:

Unknown offender has gained entry to room via insecure window stole laptop and wallet.

Between Saturday 15th November and Sunday 16th November 20.45 -01.00 in St Edwards Road:

Unknown offender has gained entry to property via unknown means stole laptops, DS and tablet.

Please remind your NHW members about not leaving windows or doors insecure and report any suspicious incidents, sightings or any information to The Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101

If you would like to receive these ‘alerts’ about where you live,  please register at www.thamesvalleyalert.co.uk

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Granby windows update #rdguk

A few people have asked what is happening with the planning enforcement case regarding the inappropriate replacement of windows at the Granby. See below for an update:

"I wrote to the developer in April requiring them to remove the unauthorised aluminium windows or face further enforcement action. I received no formal response to this letter but the developer did engage a local planning agent who entered into negotiations with planners over a solution to the issue. Those negotiations now seem to have broken down and no further action has been taken but an application for an alternative scheme is still expected.
 
The unauthorised development has not caused any irreparable harm to the facade of the building in that all the window openings remain as original and the windows can be easily replaced with something more suitable once the necessary permissions have been granted. This still gives us some leeway to achieve a negotiated settlement but, if no progress can be made, it is likely that formal enforcement action may be necessary."

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Improving Arthur Hill baths #rdguk

Some progress on a few other bits of casework at Arthur Hill swimming pool in East Reading. I received it a while ago so it is slightly out of date. We are also trying to secure meeting to talk about investment in this important swimming pool:

"Thank you for your recent enquiries regarding issues at Arthur Hills Swimming Pool. I have answered each enquiry individually below:
 
There are boards over a number of the windows – toilets were closed but the boards were never taken off - is this intentional? – The boards were erected for security reasons while the pool was closed. There were further security concerns once the work had been carried out, and it was felt that the boards would offer protection. I have now placed an order with our maintenance team to remove all boarding, and ensure that the windows are repaired.

The shower has been out of action for about three weeks – Our maintenance team have been out to asses the works required in order to carry out a complete repair. In the meantime, we are going to lay some non slip matting so that we can allow customers to re use the shower.

The car park at the back is overgrown. – Site staff have placed an order for a team to come out and cut this all back.

There are new bike racks, but due to the tightness for the car park people are parking so close to the bike racks that they are impossible to use, can we look into putting down some white lines to guide drivers? – Yes, I am currently working with our transport planner to place a protection box around the racks in order to stop this happening. While doing this we will also ensure that there is still enough space for 6 unmarked car parking spaces."

Saturday, 1 November 2014

More information on new swimming lessons at Arthur Hill #rdguk #greensuccess

small Rob White (left), Priya, Beata, John Josh Williams (right) and children outside Arthur HillWorking with residents we have got swimming lessons back at Arthur Hill. More details below:

"Lessons will be returning to Arthur Hills in the New Year programme (starting in January 2015) on Wednesdays from 4.00pm – 6.30pm. Previous sessions delivered at Arthur Hills demonstrated that stages 1 - 3 were the most popular / required. Stages 1 – 3 will be catered for initially in these new sessions and we will be monitoring feedback to establish public demand for further stages / sessions to be added.
 
We will be finalising the timetable and marketing these classes in the upcoming weeks. Ongoing recruitment and training of swim teachers will be continued."

.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Police appeal for witnesses after East Reading rape #rdguk

UPDATE: the police are no longer investigating this: http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/police-no-longer-investigating-alleged-7995986

From the police:

"Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses following a report of a rape in Reading.

A 19-year old woman reported she was raped between 12am and 12.15am today (22/10) in the area of Whiteknights Road.

The victim was walking near the junction of Whiteknights Road and Upper Redlands Road close to a university campus entrance. A small group of men approached her and raped her in a small wooded area nearby. She then walked away from the area.

A scene watch is currently in place and officers are carrying out enquiries to try to establish the circumstances of the incident.

Det Insp Stuart Bosley, from Berkshire Force CID, said: “I am appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area or who may have information which could assist the investigation to speak to police.

“If you saw anything please call the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101, quoting URN 30 22/10.

“Patrols are taking place in the area and officers will be in the area tonight. Anyone with any concerns can approach and speak to an officer.”

If you don’t want to speak directly to the police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Join us on Thames Valley Alert (opens new window) to receive local crime and safety messages."

Friday, 17 October 2014

Getting our message across, social care crisis, protecting the NHS all in Reading Green News

You may have heard that UKIP have been invited to the general election leaders debate but the Green Party have not. Frustrating!

We cannot rely on national TV and newspapers to give us fair coverage, but we can rely on ourselves to fund, print and deliver newsletters to get our message out there. Can you chip in?

In East Reading where we have three councillors we put out quarterly newsletters and we are looking at expanding this work into neighbouring Redlands Ward and beyond. We are also hoping to get more General Election leaflets out across the wider Reading area.

Our newsletters cost about £30 per thousand. If you could donate £5, £10 or more towards our printing costs that would help us get our message of a fairer, healthier and more affordable society out to more people.

You can donate here: http://reading.greenparty.org.uk/get-involved/donate1.html

Below is a brief update on what Reading and Wokingham Green Party has up to recently:

What does social care mean to you?

Greens support strike to save the NHS

Older residents the focus of benefits take up campaign in Reading

Green Party calls for action on station cycle parking

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:

http://reading.greenparty.org.uk

Best wishes
Rob White, Josh Williams and Jamie Whitham
Green Party councillors

PS the Green Party is a democratic membership led organisation. The more members we have the more we can get done. Please consider joining:

http://join.greenparty.org.uk

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Internal solid wall insulation fitted through the Green Deal

We took the plunge recently and through the Green Deal have got some internal solid wall insulation fitted (at the front of the house) and are going to get external solid wall insulation (at the back of the house). This should mean we have to use the heating less and save us some money. Pictures below.

Unfortunately, it has been a pain navigating the Green Deal system, and I gave up once. However, I was motivated to give it another go when I heard about the grant available for hard to treat properties – with solid walls rather than cavity walls for example. I'm not sure what the current state of play with this grant is, but I know it was made less attractive recently.

UPDATE: this grant is no longer available. But I'm sure there will be others in the future.

I would encourage people to look into the Green Deal, but what I fear will probably happen is that people will be put off because it is complicated and takes a fair bit of time. What we really need from central government is a change of mindset and funding to get all homes up to a decent standard of insulation on a street by street basis.

The first picture is me with some insulation board, which has also been fitted to the wall.

Rob with insulation board

The second picture is a better shot of the board mounted to the wall.There are a few bits of spare board on the ground.

insulation board and window detail

The final picture is the wall after it has been skimmed with plaster. The skirting board has been remounted.
insulation board and window detail finished

Monday, 6 October 2014

Campaigning for swimming lessons at Arthur Hill #rdguk

Ever since swimming lessons at Arthur Hill stopped we have been lobbying the council to do what it can to get them going as soon as possible.

Many residents have contacted me saying that it just doesn't make sense and quite often is very difficult for them to access swimming lessons elsewhere in Reading.

The council is in the process of changing its pay policy, this should allow the council to attract the coaches, which should in turn mean that we can get the sessions going again. More information below:

"Unfortunately we have been unable to re-instate the Aqua Academy Swimming lessons at Arthur Hill pool due to the lack of Swimming Coaches. Since January this year we have been advertising the sessions to our internal coaching staff. We also have an ongoing external recruitment for coaches but again no coaches have come forward.
 
We are currently going through market supplement changes for our coaching rates. It is hoped that the Swimming Coach rate will increase to become in line with other providers. Following on from the market supplement changes we hope to recruit more swimming coaches.
 
We are very keen to reinstate the lessons at Arthur Hill and will keep you informed of any further progress."

Thursday, 2 October 2014

October newsletter: Council housing, Maiden Erlegh School, and School meals, all in Reading Green News

Below is our latest monthly email newsletter. Sign up here: http://greenparty.org.uk/signup

*

Hello all,

Thanks to everyone who supported Green Parliamentary candidate for Reading East Rob White’s sleepout for homelessness charity Launchpad. He raised over £400.

A date for your diaries, Reading RESCUE (the community tidy-up event) is coming up on Saturday October 11th from 10am to 12 noon. If you’re interested in getting involved and helping tidy-up the Thames side, let us know.

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

And the event(s) which is/are coming up: 
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, Josh Williams and Jamie Whitham

Green Party councillors

PS the Green Party is a democratic membership led organisation. The more members we have the more we can get done. Please consider joining: 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Public consultation on opening a new secondary school in East Reading #rdguk

I recently got the email below consulting people on plans to open a new secondary school on the Crescent Road site in East Reading (Maiden Erlegh 2). We have been campaigning to plug the gap in school places, so it is good to see this moving forwards:

Dear Stakeholder
 
Public consultation on proposal to open a new school in East Reading
 
The public consultation on the proposal to establish a new secondary school in East Reading- Maiden Erlegh School in Reading- to open in September 2015 is now open and will run until Monday 24 November 2014.
 
Our vision is to create another centre of excellence like the Maiden Erlegh School in the Borough of Wokingham. We will do this by:
Providing a stimulating and challenging environment
Ensuring all students make exceptional levels of progress and attain excellent outcomes
Working in close partnerships with families, providing a hub that responds to the needs of the community
Offering a secure and caring community
Our brochure provides detail of our plans - click link to view Maiden Erlegh School in Reading Brochure
 
Our Admissions policy can be found at the following link, together with the supplementary information form. Admissions Policy 2015-16          Supplementary Information Sheet
 
Our school policies will be based on the Maiden Erlegh School policies which can be seen at the following link. http://maidenerleghschool.co.uk/information/key-policies/
 
Further information about the new school can be found on our website:
http://maidenerleghschool.co.uk/newschool/
 
We wish to continue to seek the views of local stakeholders and invite you to participate in our consultation in one of three ways:
 
1.  Public consultation meetings
 
There will be an opportunity to meet the Headteacher and the proposer group and to hear more about the school. Details of these meetings are as follows:
 
Thursday 2 October          8.00-9.00pm               Alfred Sutton Primary School,
                                                                            148   Wokingham Road, Reading, RG6 1JR
 
Saturday 11 October        10.30-11.30am           Maiden Erlegh School, Silverdale Road,
                                                                            Earley, Reading, RG6 7HS
 
2.  Completing our consultation questionnaire
 
Our consultation survey is available via this website: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MESiR
 
3. Contacting us directly
 
If you would prefer, please contact us directly by email - newschool@maidenerleghschool.co.uk or by post to Maiden Erlegh School- Consultation, Silverdale Road, Earley, Reading, RG6 7HS
 
Once the consultation is complete, the Trust will consider all the responses. We will provide a formal report on the consultation to the Department for Education.
 
We believe that the establishing of Maiden Erlegh School in Reading will provide an increased choice for parents of East Reading and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Huw Jones
Chair of The Maiden Erlegh Trust

Friday, 19 September 2014

Questions frequently asked by #rdguk residents

We have developed this frequently asked questions blog post as we thought it might be useful to residents and also save us a bit of time. Let us know what you think and if anything is missing or incorrect.

I would always suggest talking to your neighbours, advice organisations and the council about a problem first and if you are struggling to get anywhere then raise it with your councillors. This means we can work for you most effectively and concentrate on things people are unable to resolve themselves. Also, quite often you will get a quicker response by going directly to the council.

Please remember that most councillors have other jobs as well and that the Green Party is a volunteer organisation. The more people who get involved the more we can get done.

Q. Practically what does a councillor do? Q. How do I contact the council and my Green Party councillors?
Q. Where can I get independent advice in Reading?
Q.Where can I find out more about a planning application in my area?
Q. Where can I find out about an ongoing transport consultation?
Q. What can I do about speeding in my road?
Q. What can I do about cars parking on and blocking the pavement?
Q. I’m generating more waste than will fit in my bin what can I do?
Q. I’m fed up with litter and fly tipping in my area what can I do?
Q. There are so many cars in our road that we are struggling to park. What can we do?
Q. I have noisy neighbours what can I do?
Q. What can I do about weeds and hedges blocking the pavement?
Q. The streetlight outside my house is broken, what can I do?
Q. What can be done about someone parking blocking the dropped kerb in front of my drive and blocking me in?




Reading councillors are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the council. Councillors represent residents views at council meetings when developing strategies and policies. Councillors also work with their constituents tackling smaller problems impacting on a road or individual. Councillors can help with anything from education to the economy to care.

Q. How do I contact the council and my Green Party councillors?

This page has the contact details for the council:
http://beta.reading.gov.uk/contactus

You can find contact information for your Green Party councillors here.
http://reading.greenparty.org.uk/people.html

Q. Where can I get independent advice in Reading?

In East Reading there is Communicare: http://www.communicare.org.uk/
In the town centre there is the Citizens Advice Bureau: http://rcab.org.uk/
In West Reading there is the Welfare Rights Unit: http://www.readingcommunitywelfarerightsunit.co.uk/
The national housing charity Shelter provides excellent housing advice: http://england.shelter.org.uk/

Q.Where can I find out more about a planning application in my area?

You can look up details of planning applications on Reading Borough Council’s planning portal which is here: http://planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/welcome.asp

If you have a query you can contact the duty planning officer via the Council call centre.

Q. Where can I find out about an ongoing transport consultation?

You can look up details of current transport consultations here: http://www.reading-travelinfo.co.uk/traffic-orders/advertised-traffic-orders.aspx

Q. What can I do about speeding in my road?

You should report this to the police: http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/yournh/yournh-tvp-pol-area/yournh-tvp-pol-area-n468
Also let your councillors and the council know. Following a Green Party campaign the council has some speed monitoring equipment which it can deploy in your road to find out what speed people are travelling at. The appropriate action can then be taken.

Q. What can I do about cars parking on and blocking the pavement?

We think that it is important to keep pavements clear so that people can walk down them safely and are not forced out into the road. However sometimes this can be a balance and sometimes two wheels on the pavement does not cause any problems. You can get hold of a leaflet on the issue to use as you see fit here. Alternatively sometimes restrictions such as double yellow lines can be used on one side of a road, for example, to tackle this problem.

Q. I’m generating more waste than will fit in my bin what can I do?

If there are over five adults living at a property then you can be issued with extra bins. Contact the council to ask about this and if you don’t get anywhere with them please contact your local councillors.

Q. I’m fed up with litter and fly tipping in my area what can I do?

Let us know if you have any information about who is fly tipping or dropping litter. You can download an app for your smart phone to report litter and fly tipping more easily.
http://loveclean.reading.gov.uk/reports
You might also be interested in organising a cleanup in your area as part of Reading RESCUE.
http://readingrescue.org.uk/

Q. There are so many cars in our road that we are struggling to park. What can we do?

There are more cars in the area than it was ever designed for. The Green Party has been promoting alternatives to the car, but without action from the government progress is slow. Residents’ parking is one thing that might make a difference because it limits the number of cars per household to two. The council usually wants to see support from over 50% of the residents in a road. You could collect signatures to demonstrate this. Get in contact and we can provide more advice.

Q. I have noisy neighbours what can I do?

You should contact the council and the Environmental Health Team may be able to help. If you believe the noise is coming from a student household you should contact the University. Let us know and we can supply you with the correct contact details.

Q. What can I do about weeds and hedges blocking the pavement?

The council is responsible for the public highway, so the council is probably responsible for weeds and hedges blocking it. The council tackles weeds once a year and will contact householders whose hedges are encroaching on the pavement to get them to cut them back. I would suggest contacting the council directly on this with specifics such as house numbers.

Q. The streetlight outside my house is broken, what can I do?

Every streetlight has a number on it. Contact the council with this number and telling them what the problem with the streetlight is – no light, blinking, on in the daytime. It usually takes the council’s contractor about a month to fix them.




The police are responsible for taking action when someone has blocked a dropped kerb in front of your drive – if you are blocked in. If you are blocked out then they will not take any action. You can get the council to paint an advisory white line (access protection marking) on the road by your dropped kerb. It should be noted that these are only advisory and so people parking on these cannot be ticketed. There is also a charge. Contact the council for more information on this.

If you have contacted the council on anything and not been able to get anywhere then please let us know and we can chase it up.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Oppose the rush to war in the Middle East #rdguk

Rob at Reading Gaza DemoReading Peace Group have organised the demo below to oppose the rush to war in the Middle East. See the email below:

Dear friends,

Peace vigil this Friday: 19 September
6 - 7 pm, Queen Victoria Statue, Friar Street (outside old Town Hall)

Over recent days the drift towards yet another war in the Middle East has accelerated. Barack Obama has committed the USA to air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, and has not ruled out the deployment of military forces on the ground. David Cameron is itching to join in and has ruled nothing out - regardless of the vote in
Parliament last year which refused to allow the government to take military action in Syria.

For the next few weeks Reading Peace Group will be undertaking a regularly Peace Vigil in Reading town centre to clearly demonstrate that we will not allow the government to get away with waging another war in Iraq. Please join us this Friday between 6 and 7 pm at the Queen Victoria Statue in Friar Street (by the old Town Hall) to show your opposition to the war. You don't have to stay for the whole hour – just come along for as long or short a time as you can manage.

We will be conducting vigils over the following few Fridays as well depending on how the situation develops and will keep you informed by email.

I hope to see you on Friday.

Thanks and best wishes,
Peter

.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Update on #CemeteryJunctionworks in Reading #rdguk

Jamie highlighting raised roadAnyone that lives near or passes through Cemetery Junction will have seen the ongoing improvement works at the junction and along London Road (picture above of Jamie Whitham by new raised crossing). This should benefit all road users, pedestrians, cyclists and bus users especially.

The Green Party got the council to start the transport study which led onto these works when we held the balance of power back in 2011.

Residents have been asking a few questions which we have answered below.

Q. When will this scheme be finished?
A. It should be finished by the end of September. Some of the things left to do are: pavement resurfacing, reinstalling bike parking, planting trees and shrubs, removing old traffic lights.

Q. Why is the crossing by the Abbot Cook moving?
A. A camera survey was done of the junction and the new position of the crossing by the public toilets was found to be the most desired route. This route has been safety audited independently.

Q. What has happened to the bike parking (railings) outside the Co-op?
A. All railings are going as part of the decluttering initiative. This creates wider pavements and the evidence is that it improves road safety. People don't jump over them and fall for example. Bike parking is to be reintroduced in the form of angled stands outside the Co-op and Mr Cod.

Q. How do I get from the Arch to the central island?
A. There will be a white island painted on the road and the dropped kerb will be extended to make this route easier.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Live near a grot spot? Alley needs clearing? Reading RESCUE could help #rdguk

Reading RESCUE is a community tidy up event. Why not organise one in your area?
Jamie Samurai sword, mop RESCUE lq
In the past we have organised clear ups along the Kennet and Thames, we have done alleys – above is Green councillor Jamie Whitham with the rubbish he cleared from an alley on Manchester Road –  Newtown and parks.

Do you have a bit of land nearby that could benefit from a clear up? Why not get together with a group of friends and family and organise a RESCUE clear up. The advantage of doing this is that you can get some equipment from the council and that they will take away the rubbish afterwards.

Alternatively, Reading RESCUE publishes a list of groups and where they are working closer to the weekend so you can join a group running an existing event instead.

The next Reading RESCUE weekend is Thurs 9th to Sat 11th October 2014. The following one will be in the spring.

More information on Reading RESCUE including the online registration form can be found here.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Discounted compost bins and water butts success #rdguk

Following a resident pointing out to me that the discounted compost bin offer on the council's website had expired we have got the council to sort out a new deal. Details below:

"Thank you for your enquiry regarding discounted compost bins.

The re3 waste Partnership has joined up with Getcompostiing.com to provide reduced priced green products such as home compost bins and water butts. Residents can order them through the web http://www.re3.getcomposting.com/ orwww.getcomposting.com Alternatively, they can call 0844 571 4444 quoting GEN02L.

If you would like to discuss this mater further, please don’t hesitate to contact me."

Monday, 18 August 2014

Cemetery Junction area road resurfacing #rdguk

I have just been notified of more detail on the Cemetery Junction area road resurfacing. Hopefully this won't cause too much disruption and will give all road users an improved surface. More information below:

"As part of the above contract, I write to inform you of the forthcoming road resurfacing programme at Cemetery Junction. Due to the sensitive location and to reduce the impact on the road network, the resurfacing works are programmed to take place at night between 20.00 and 05.00. The work will be completed in three phases with temporary diversions and traffic management in place during each phase. The works are due to commence after the Bank Holiday weekend on Tuesday 26th August running until Friday 5th September (apart from Sunday 31st August).
 
I will hand deliver a letter advising of the works to the residents and businesses of the local area this Friday and advance warning signs are due to be placed on all approaches early next week. All bus companies, taxi operators and emergency services will be briefed to ensure they are also fully aware of the works."

Monday, 4 August 2014

Repairs at Arthur Hill and Palmer Park gym #rdguk

Topical with the recent Commonwealth Games. I've had a few bits of casework about Arthur Hill and Palmer Park gym recently. See below for an update on some of the improvements which have been made recently.

Let me know what you think and if anything else needs attention.

"Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the facilities at Arthur Hills and Palmer Park.  I have answered each enquiry individually below:
 
Arthur Hills
Ongoing problem with condensation dripping from the gym – This was an issue in the colder months due to condensation in the piping above the ceiling. An order was subsequently placed to cover the pipes with lagging to ensure that this issue could be rectified.
Poorly performing air conditioning – Upon inspection it was noticed that the air conditioning filters were clogged with dust. This meant that the unit was not working as efficiently as it should have been. Site staff have since cleaned the filters, and have amended their weekly job lists to ensure that this does not happen again. I am pleased to say that since doing this, the air conditioning has preformed to a better standard.
Poorly performing extractor fans – The extractor fans are all currently working, and are checked as part of the site’s maintenance programme. 
 
Palmer Park
Studio Flooring - The current studio flooring is a basic laminate.  Whilst it is safe to use, we acknowledge that it does require a more specialist surface. We have identified this as an area in need of investment and are awaiting quotes in the hope that when funding becomes available, we will be in a position to replace the flooring.  This will however, be based upon an assessment of other health and safety needs across the other Reading Sport and Leisure sites.  I am therefore, unable to give you a time scale for this at present.
Slippery floor caused by condensation in the studio – Unfortunately, our studio went through a short period without air conditioning.  During this time, condensation dripped onto the floor and made the area slippery. We have recently installed a new air conditioning unit which pulls all the moisture out of the air reducing the amount of condensation. After discussion with coaches using the studio, they are reporting that since the installation of the unit there is no longer a problem with condensation in the room.
 
I trust this answers the points raised below by your constituent."

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

East Reading park-and-ride and link road hotting up (unfortunately) #rdguk

Things had started to quieten down with the East Reading park-and-ride and link road scheme (map here) but in the last month or so a few significant things have happened.

Firstly the government has made a funding announcement. Fortunately East Reading park-and-ride and the link road were not included in the immediate funding. However funding has been promised from 2016/17 onwards.

This funding will be dependent on a successful planning application and a business case which stacks up. In a separate funding bid to the government, Wokingham Council have unfortunately secured some money to do the planning application work.

This is bad news for the Thames Side area and will represent a wasted opportunity of being able to spend this money on sustainable transport solutions.

So what next?

I have asked for an update from Reading’s transport planners on the things mentioned above.

I think it is time to have another small meeting of interested residents to plan the next steps of the campaign to defend the Thames Side and tackle congestion in a sustainable way.

What do others think?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Burglaries in East Reading, remember to double lock your front door #rdguk

I got this from the police:

Over the past few days there has been two burglaries in East Reading where entry has been gained via UPVC front door.

Thursday 24th-Friday 25th July 23..30-07.28 Overnight in Melrose Avenue:

Unknown offender has gained entry via front door and various property stolen including a vehicle.

Monday 28th July 13.10-17.15 in Hamilton Road :

Unknown offender has gained entry via UPVC door via the letterbox and stole Asian Gold jewellery.

Please remind your NHW members about double locking their UPVC front doors and please report any suspicious incidents, sightings or any information to The Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101 quoting URN1157 28/7/14.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Appeal for witnesses, Wokingham Road cyclist/car collision #rdguk

Don't know what happened, but there is a lot going on at this point on the Wokingham Road. We will definitely keep pushing for safer roads for walking and cycling. If you saw anything please contact the police:

Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses after a road traffic collision in Reading yesterday (27/7).

The collision happened at around 8.45pm on Wokingham Road at the junction with College Road.

A car was in collision with a cyclist and the car involved did not stop at the scene.

The cyclist, a woman in her twenties, sustained serious injuries and was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital for treatment.

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Alastair Nicholls from the Roads Policing Department via the Thames Valley Police enquiry number 101.

If you don't want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org (opens new window). No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Big Lunch community building workshop in Reading in October #rdguk @thebiglunch

COPY Josh Williams at Big Lunch eventWe have been trying to get more community events going in Reading.

With the help of local campaigners we've got the Council to offer free road closures for Big Lunch events (street parties) and Play Streets (where roads are closed for a few hours so children can play out).

The national Big Lunch organisers have been offering some training called Big Lunch Extras and they are putting on a session in Reading. More information here:

http://www.biglunchextras.com/events/reading-roadshow-october-2014

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Wokingham road double parking update #rdguk

Following our petition to tackle problematic double parking on the Wokingham Road near to the shops and Alfred Sutton school, handed in by Green councillor Josh Williams, a report came back to the Traffic Committee recently – item 7 on the linked to agenda webpage.

There was both some positive and negative in there. In summary even though the double parking is dangerous in most cases it is not illegal.

However the Council has committed to conducting a review of the parking restrictions in the area starting in September.

We will keep working to improve road safety and create a more pleasant environment for walkers and cyclists.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Palmer Park five aside fencing and tree work #rdguk

The five aside fencing in Palmer Park is to be replaced. We are going to lose a few self seeded trees as part of this. I have asked if we can get some new ones planted to compensate. More information below:

“Dear Councillors

I am pleased to inform you that the fencing around the 5 aside courts at Palmer Park is going to be replaced during the school summer holidays.  In order to carry out this work, it is necessary to remove some of the branches from the trees surrounding the courts.  In addition, two small elders and an elm tree are being removed.  The elders are self sown and if left, will grow in and through the fencing.  The elm tree is also self seeded and very small and if not attended will impact on the courts in the future.

We will, as a matter of course, ensure that before any work is carried out to the trees, there are no nesting birds present.

The work to the trees will be starting on Wednesday 30th July and will take 2-3 days.

Work to replace the fencing will start mid August (date still to be confirmed), and will be completed before the end of August.”

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Police appeal for witnesses to London Road collision #rdguk

Unfortunately, another accident on London Road.

“Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses following a collision in Reading last Wednesday (9/7).
At about midday, a white Citroen Berlingo van and a black Yamaha motorbike were in collision on the A4 London Road, near Fatherson Road.
The motorcyclist was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital with a broken finger and other bruising and grazes. The driver of the van was uninjured.
The road was closed while investigations were carried out at the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Sally Barden from Three Mile Cross on 101, quoting URN 578 of 9/7”

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Play equipment piece being replaced in Palmer Park #rdguk

In case anyone is wondering what is happening with the play equipment in Palmer Park which should be fenced off by now:

“Following my previous correspondence of June 11th regarding the replacement climbing rope to the unit at Palmer Park, I am delighted to advise you that work will commence Monday 7th July 2014.
 
The rope unit will be fenced off for an estimated period of five working days and will not impact on the rest of the play area which will remain open for use.
 
If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Kind regards”

Fed up with fly tipping in #rdguk?

Below are some top tips from a leaflet we produced a while ago about tackling fly tipping and litter:

· Illegally dumped waste should be cleared in the weekly cycle; if it hasn’t been, let us know

· Don’t throw it away – Freegle it away! Visit www.ilovefreegle.org for info

· Love Clean Reading have an app for smartphones to report fly-tipping: loveclean.reading.gov.uk

· Five or more adults in a house should result in a larger bin for that household; get in touch if you haven’t gotten one

· If you see someone fly-tipping, let us know or report it to the council

· For information on the bulky waste collection service, visit www.reading.gov.uk/bulkywastecollections (we are lobbying for a free collection to be reinstated)

· The Reading RESCUE community led litter pick happens twice a year, let us know if you are interested, or look out for posters in the spring and autumn. rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Co-wheels car club revs up in #rdguk

9 Councillor Jamie Whitham with the Co-wheels car club carDo you want the convenience of a car without the cost of car ownership? Co-wheels are a social enterprise car club operating in over 45 locations in the UK. They have 2 cars available to rent by the hour in East Reading (Cemetery Junction and Redland Court) from as little as £3.75ph, or £17.50 for 24hrs. They also have 4 cars near the town centre—look for nearby cars at Co-wheels.org.uk.

Join today and use Promo code ‘ReadingGreen’ to earn yourself £20 free driving credits!

Green councillor Jamie Whitham, pictured above at the car club stall at East Reading Festival, said, ‘We desperately need to reduce traffic and CO2 emissions, and sharing a car is one great step towards that.’

Social Enterprise Awards named Co-wheels as Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year 2013.

For more information see: Co-wheels.org.uk

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bridges Hall Redevelopment – information for residents #rdguk

I know some residents have concerns about Bridges Hall reopening. Information on a meeting organised by the University below.

Bridges Hall Redevelopment – Project Completion – Information for nearby residents

We are pleased to confirm that the construction of the new Bridges Hall is now complete, two months ahead of schedule. We would like to thank neighbours for their patience and tolerance whilst the redevelopment works have been completed. The new hall provides excellent modern accommodation for our students and sits well within the campus setting. Enclosed with this update is an invitation to view the new hall and to meet key staff.

Over the summer vacation period we will be accommodating international students. The hall will then be made ready to welcome new students, a range of undergraduate and postgraduate students, for the main academic year in September.

We appreciate that many of our neighbours have a number of questions about the impact of the new hall. The evening on the 16th July is a great opportunity to come and discuss these in person, however we realise that not everyone will be able to come. We have also prepared therefore a summary of some of the main concerns we are aware of and tried to address these, as follows:

Bridges Hall Redevelopment Invitation to the Local Community

The University of Reading and UPP (University Partnerships Programmes) are pleased to invite local residents to visit our new hall on

Wednesday 16th July, 6.30pm to 8pm

Meet key members of the Bridges Hall staff team including the Hall Warden, Operational Managers and Security staff

View the new student rooms and facilities

Find out about our plans to manage the impact on nearby residential areas

Please RSVP to Laura Edwards: 0118 378 8426, laura.edwards@upp-ltd.com

We are concerned that hall residents will park on our street

We make it clear via a range of communications to all prospective residents that they cannot bring a car to University if they wish to live in halls (unless they meet specific criteria which would qualify them to have a campus parking permit e.g. disability). Furthermore, the Student Residence Agreement prohibits any student living in halls from parking within a 1 mile radius of the campus.

Our experience of other redeveloped halls tells us that students who live in those halls do not bring cars. Whilst it is difficult to distinguish between students and staff who make daily journeys to campus from elsewhere and park locally, and those living in halls, where it has been identified that a student in halls has a car, this has been robustly dealt with.

We proactively promote walking, cycling and use of public transport to both staff and students. Bridges Hall has outstanding cycle storage facilities and shower facilities for staff. Reading Buses are also increasing the frequency of the No. 19 bus route which serves Whiteknights Road.

We are concerned about increased noise and anti-social behaviour

The Hall Warden Dr Sam Boateng is aware of local residents’ concerns. During the welcome period he will be meeting with the students and alongside the JCR (hall social committee) raising their awareness of the need to be responsible and considerate to neighbours. These messages will be reiterated when necessary. The majority of our students will behave responsibly and many will be keen to take part in community life, taking up various volunteering and other community activities.

Once again those who can be identified as causing a problem will be dealt with through our disciplinary processes. There will be a permanent manned security presence out of office hours at the hall. Our security control room can also be contacted with any specific concerns at any time on 0118 378 7799.

When will the main moving in period be? What are the arrangements?

The University’s main ‘Welcome Weekend’ will be from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st September 2014. Students moving in to Bridges and Wessex Halls are booked to arrive across all three days, with timed arrival slots to avoid traffic queues. Cars will drop off at the respective hall and then be directed to park at the Earley Gate campus car parks. The area will be fully staffed to manage traffic flows.

Who are the key staff on site?

Bridges Hall Reception can be reached on 0118 378 5730. The key contacts are:

Catherine Mewes, UPP Group Residence Manager

Dr Sam Boateng, Hall Warden.

The University’s Community Relations Manager, Ann Westgarth is also contactable for community related enquiries on 0118 378 4479.

We hope the above information is helpful to you. We would be delighted to see you on 16th July.

Please RSVP to the invitation.

Friday, 27 June 2014

East Reading Academy rejected by government #rdguk

Unfortunately East Reading Academy – one of the proposals for a new secondary school in East Reading – have been notified that they are not going through to the next round in the free school process.

I don't know any more than that, but I know lots of local people have put a lot of effort into this. Well done to them for all of their hard work and commiserations.

The other bid which was accepted by the government a little while ago is the Maiden Erlegh one. This is up to the point where the government will secure some land for this secondary school. Still no announcement on this from the government.

Has anyone else heard anything?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

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

If you have any issues of concern your Park Ward Green Party councillors – Jamie Whitham, Josh Williams and Rob White – will be holding the following residents' advice surgeries. No appointment necessary.

Friday 27th June  At the Junction of Church Road and St Peters Road between 3-3:30pm.

Saturday 26th of July Outside the Co-Op at Cemetery Junction between 10-10:30am.


Saturday 23rd of August Outside the Playcafe in Palmer Park between 11-11:30am.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Let's talk waste meeting #rdguk

One of Reading Green Party manifesto priorities is dealing with waste, fly tipping and litter. Our key policy in this area was to see more home composting and a food waste collection for those unable to compost themselves. To this end we are looking to set up a community composting network across Reading.

We want people to come along to June’s business meeting where we will be discussing how we can make this happen.

What – Waste discussion
When – 8pm on Thursday June 26
Where – upstairs at RISC

Composting is important because every year the UK throws away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes. The waste food is estimated to cost £5 billion a year and wastes resources, harms the environment and costs the country £23 billion a year.

If we can turn food waste from a problem (land fill) into a commodity (compost) there are many benefits.
If you have ideas or questions, are interested in local food production or saving waste you are welcome to come along.

The discussion will take place after the Green Party business meeting at 8pm on Thursday June 26 upstairs in RISC.

If you don’t know about community composting the link below contains a lot of interesting information.


Best wishes
Rob White
Green Councillor


Friday, 20 June 2014

Improve grass verge management for wildlife in #rdguk

At the Greater Reading Environmental Network hustings before the local elections one of the subjects which came up was improving grass verge management for wildlife.

I just submitted the following Council policy amendment on this to be debated at the upcoming Council meeting.

If anyone has any feedback, or wants to help write a speech on this or has any ideas about what should be included in a speech please post a comment below.

Council motion – improve grass verge management for wildlife

This Council notes:

· Plantlife and Alan Titchmarsh are running a campaign to get councils to change the management of grass verges to improve them for wildlife and help councils save money: http://www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign

· Verges are the life-giving arteries of the town, linking habitats and acting as vital corridors for wildlife to thrive on.

· Verges can be genuine community reserves, people form close relationships with them and there is an army of volunteers who with training can act as the guardians for them.

· When managed correctly verges can support remarkable, diverse collections of species. The good news is that good management often involves simply doing less, allowing the verge to develop and plants to set seed before cutting takes place.

This Council resolves:

· To investigate signing up to Plantlife's Guide to Good Road Merge Management and bring a report back to the appropriate committee on this later in the year.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Sewer collapse on London Road – delays expected

Just saw the following e-mail:

"Dear Councillors,

I am writing to inform you that Thames Water have to attend to an urgent sewer collapse outside No.53 London Road starting from 0930hrs today.

Following a camera survey carried out by Thames Water yesterday, it has uncovered a broken section of the sewer which has also damaged the carriageway and poses a risk to the road structure.

To carry out these works safely, Thames Waters contractor (Cappagh) will need to close lane 1 (south side) on London Road from its junction with Denmark Road to outside No. 53. Works will be carried out from the carriageway and footway but it is not anticipated that the footway will be closed. It is estimated these works will be in place until 30th June, during which time Thames Water will be working extended hours and 7 days a week.

We have arranged for our Variable Message Sign (VMS) near to Cemetery Junction to state about the works and warn drivers of the lane ahead being closed.

Should you require any further informations or comments regarding this, please feel free to contact me."

Friday, 13 June 2014

Tesco planning applications have gone in for Cemetery Junction #rdguk

Four planning applications have gone in from Tesco for their proposed Cemetery Junction shop.

Whilst it is good that empty shops will be filled again, I am still concerned about the impact that Tesco will have on the local area and the sheer number of stores that they will have in Reading and would rather those empty shops be filled with something else. Unfortunately, having spoken to Council planners it seems that there is little that can be objected to through the planning system.

However, I have asked for these planning applications to be called in, so they go before the planning applications committee rather than being decided by officers.

More detail in the e-mail below. Objections can be sent into Justin Turvey (Justin.Turvey@reading.gov.uk).

Councillor White,

Just to keep you updated on Tesco’s at Crown Colonnade, we have now received the following applications:

140729 (FUL)

-      Installation of ATM within new shopfront.

-      Application Valid. Consultations due to go out shortly.

140730 (FUL)

-      New shopfront including removal of shop front canopies and replacement roller shutters and security bollards

-      Application Valid. Consultations due to go out shortly.

140731 (ADV)

- Installation of 4 x illuminated fascia signs and 2 x non-illuminated illuminated projecting signs.

-      Application Valid. Consultations due to go out shortly.

140733 (FUL)

-      Installation of new plant to rear of retail unit comprising 1 x condenser and 3 x air conditioning units.

-       Application currently invalid.

Public consultation letters on the valid applications will be sent out early next week.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Adviza youth clubs in East Reading, use it, improve it, or lose it #rdguk

adviza_youth_club_flyer[1]-page-001

One of the Youth Clubs in East Reading is poorly attended, use it, improve it or lose it. Parents/young people tell us what you think?

Click the image for the full flier with times.

A little while ago the Council decided that due to budget cuts it was going to contract out youth clubs. The Council still does targeted work with young people itself but Adviza (used to be Connexions Thames Valley) now runs the youth clubs which anyone can turn up to.

At the time we had concerns about this and thought, and still think, this may be the slippery slope to the Council ending the funding for youth clubs. Surprisingly and worryingly councils have no legal duty to fund youth clubs! And many other local authorities now don't fund any in their area at all.

In East Reading, in Newtown there are currently two youth clubs run by Adviza. One on a Monday night taking young people from age 10 up to age 13 (it says 11 on the flier but they have dropped the age to attract more people), which unfortunately is poorly attended. And one on Wednesday for young people from 13 up to 19 which is well attended. Both youth clubs are at Sun Street Youth and Community Centre, both are free and both offer a mixture of activities.

We are concerned that if the Monday session (ages 10 up to 13) continues to be poorly attended this youth club will be ended.

Parents/young people – what do you think of these youth clubs? Why don't people go to the Monday one? How could it be improved?

There is more information and a link to the flyer on the Council's website.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

What's happening with 20 mph in East Reading?

Those of you who have been following the Green Party's campaign for more 20 mph speed limits across Reading, and our success at getting a large East Reading zone might be confused having seen the recent maps and consultation notices.

20_mph_area_220514___a4l[1]-page-001

Initially the Council produced a number of very small 20 mph zones. We lobbied and they agreed to progress a large zone in East Reading. This proposed zone would join up the smaller zones in Park Ward and also include some of Redlands.

The Council had always said that main roads would be excluded from the zone – London Road, Wokingham Road and Kings Road. We disagreed with this as we thought it important to address accident blackspots like Cemetery Junction and Kings Road, but we failed to win that part of the campaign.

So when the recent consultation notices and maps were released  by the Council only showing a zone taking in some of Redlands and half of Park Ward we were very disappointed as this goes against what we had been told was happening.

However I have now heard back from the Network Manager and he has assured me that they are promoting two phases of Traffic Regulation Order (the legal documentation which sits behind all lining and signing of our roads). The first which is currently out taking in part of Redlands and half for Park Ward. The second which will be out later in the year takes in the rest of Park Ward and a few other odds and ends like Granby Gardens. Although consulted on separately both phases will be implemented at the same time later in the year.

We will keep working for 20 mph where people live, work, walk and cycle across the whole of Reading.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Exhibition on the planned changes at Alfred Sutton #rdguk

Below is the letter promoting the expansion exhibition at Alfred Sutton:

Dear Parents, Carers and Local Residents,

EXHIBITION OF PLANNED CHANGES AT ALFRED SUTTON PRIMARY SCHOOL

From September 2014, Alfred Sutton Primary School will expand from a two form entry school to a three form entry school. In September 2012 and September 2013, an additional class of 30 children has been admitted into the Reception (FS2) year group and this pattern will continue until the school reaches its full capacity in September 2018. In order to accommodate the additional children, the school will undergo a considerable amount of building work over the next two years.

I appreciate that many of you will have questions or concerns about the expansion of the school. We therefore agreed that it would be helpful to hold an open afternoon at Alfred Sutton Primary School from 3.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m. on Tuesday 3 June 2014, where there will be a planning exhibition for the proposed new buildings. School staff and Officers from Reading Borough Council will be on hand throughout this period to discuss the proposal with you. We intend the afternoon to be an informal drop in session where parents and local residents are invited to view the plans and discuss details and the background reason for the proposal.

We look forward to seeing as many of you who can attend as possible.