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:

· 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 (

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


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.


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,


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.

End of University term tidy program #rdguk

Below is the briefing I recently received on the end of University term tidy up programme – to try and keep the area clean and tidy as students move out. As always, let me know how it goes in your road.

University Clearance Programme 2014

Refuse and recycling collections

The university summer term ends Friday 4th July 2014

Domestic waste (extra bags) will be collected –

W/commencing th June 2014

W/commencing 23rd June 2014

Recycling waste (extra in clear bags or cardboard boxes) will be collected

W/commencing 16th June 2014

W/commencing 30th June 2014

  • Crews will collect approximately 2 extra domestic or recycling in clear bags or cardboard boxes adjacent to bins throughout a build up period on the relevant week, in the lead up to a single Saturday collection by three rcv’s.
  • It is anticipated that the majority of bagged domestic waste not collected during the preceding weeks will be presented in front gardens for collection on Saturday 5th July. Therefore, Waste operations staff will collect all bagged waste from the area on this extra date.
  • Any complaints or councillor enquiries received by Streetcare Admin will be resolved using the normal complaints / enquiry procedure.
  • As in previous years, no bulky waste collections will be made by Waste Operation staff. These are available to residents and landlords on request at a cost. Streetcare Environment Team to deliver Bulky Waste leaflets once students have vacated properties in known student areas.
  • Environmental Wardens will have previously visited various areas and have written to occupiers regarding items found in front gardens.
  • Environmental Wardens will be tasked to knock on known student properties if possible to ensure as much household waste is presented in good time ahead of scheduled refuse collection each week.
  • Streetcare Environment Team to monitor properties after students move out to ensure landlords remove and dispose of appropriately bulky items and waste from gardens.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

MERL village fete in Reading #rdguk

Now that the elections are behind us it is far easier to get out to community events like the Museum of English Rural Life village fete.

I had an enjoyable time at the village fete, the sun shone, lots of people and lots to see and do. I particularly enjoyed the bee friendly garden and seeing the bees in a beehive especially as these important creatures are in decline and we need to be doing what we can to reverse this.

Below is a picture of Jenny, Josh and I milking a goat at the fete.

Rob White, Josh Williams and Jenny Hicks milking a goat