Friday, 13 January 2017

Urgent: consultation on Reading Council first parking permit charges

At the Policy Committee on Monday, January 16 councillors will be voting on changes to the parking scheme in Reading including a charge for the first permit. I want to know what people think and so have set out the key arguments in support of a charge below and have created a short online survey for people to let me know what they think.

Apologies for the short notice, but the recommendation from the Traffic Committee was only made yesterday!

Key facts
The council is proposing introducing a charge of £30 for the first permit per year (an increase from 0) and leaving the 2nd permit at £120.

The parking permit scheme (permit administration and enforcement) currently runs at a loss meaning all council taxpayers, including those without cars, are subsidising it. Given government cuts, and the dire financial situation of the council, this is not sustainable into the future.

Introducing a charge for the first permit would mean in some years there is a surplus and any loss will be smaller. This uncertainty is because the cost of the enforcement contract depends on the number of tickets issued.

Any surplus from the scheme will be ring fenced for transport and used as follows:

  • to introduce new schemes (currently because of a shortage of money there is a backlog of schemes which is not moving)
  • to improve the online permit administration system making it easier for residents to use
  • an upgrade to the CCTV camera car which will improve enforcement of existing schemes
  • more traffic wardens
  • more flexible visitor permits, eventually allowing us to move away from the a.m./p.m. permits to custom permits that fit better with the hours a visitor wants
  • an upgrade to the Love Clean Reading smart phone app so residents can report cars which are breaking the rules

The short survey can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/eJdQdSJPeOcXBhJH2

Financial notes
  • Administration of parking permits is cost neutral.
  • In the last 3 years the amount the enforcement contract has been subsidised by ranges from £300,000-£157,000. It is dependent on how many parking tickets are issued.
  • Maintenance of parking scheme signs and lines across Reading ranges from £30,000 per year to £50,000 per year
  • Introducing a charge of £30 for a first permit brings in £226,080.
  • Approximately £30,000 will be brought in by charging £30 for discretionary permits which are currently free.


So if we look at the best case after introducing a £30 charge for the first permit and discretionary permits the income/costs would be as follows:

Income: £256,080
Best case costs: £187,000
Surplus to pay for new schemes and improvements per year: £69,080

It should be noted that if the number of parking tickets issued is low then there will be no surplus and the scheme will make a loss.

The short survey can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/eJdQdSJPeOcXBhJH2


The full council committee report can be found here: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/6593/item06/pdf/item06.pdf 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

What next for Arthur Hill swimming pool?

Sadly, Arthur Hill swimming pool is now closed. But there is still hope.

We have managed to get it listed as an asset of community value. This means the council can't just sell it off, but they have to hold fire for 6 months to give the community time to put in an offer.

Also, the crowdfunding campaign to raise money for things like a robust business plan has raised £10,000!

If you haven't donated yet there is still time as we have set a stretch target of £12,000. The more we raise, the more we can do.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/arthur-hill

Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas carol services in Reading

Reading Minster Church of St. Mary the Virgin
15th December 6.30pm
Civic Carol Service
https://www.readingminster.org.uk/whats-on/

Reading Minster Church of St. Mary the Virgin
St. Mary's Gate
Chain Street
Reading RG1 2XH

A traditional service of lesson and carols, retelling the story of the Nativity

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Park United Reformed Church
Sunday 18th December at 6.00pm
Candlelit Service
http://www.parkurc.org.uk/2/candlelit-service

Park United Reformed Church
Palmer Park Avenue
Reading, RG6 1DN

One of the special services during Advent at Park United Reformed Church, is the Festival of Lessons and Carols by candlelight, accompanied by our Festival Choir. In 2016 this service will be on Sunday 18th December at 6.00pm. Everyone is welcome to join us for this special service.


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Christ Church
Sunday 18 December 6pm
Nine Lessons and Carols
http://www.christchurchreading.org.uk/services_and_activities.html

Christ Church
Christchurch Rd
Reading RG2 7AG

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St Luke's Church
Sunday 18 December 6:30pm
Carols by Candlelight
http://www.lukeandbart.org.uk/christmas2016.htm

St Luke's Church
Erleigh Road,
Reading, RG1 5LH

The sight of candles flickering in the windows, the sound of carols being sung with a choir and pipe organ, the smell of mulled cider and mince pies: can you imagine a better way to start the week leading up to Christmas Day? Come and sing all of the festive favourites, listen to the readings and choir, and know that Christmas is nearly here.

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Wycliffe Baptist Church
24 December 2016 6.00pm
Family Carol Service
https://www.wycliffe.church/events_items/family-carol-service/

Wycliffe Baptist Church
233 Kings Rd
Reading RG1 4LS

Come and celebrate Christmas Eve with the whole family as we enjoy traditional carols

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A longer list of services in the Reading area (which includes many of those above) can be found here. Feel free to add other services in the comments - thank you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Demonstration against East Reading park-and-ride tonight



Guest blog post:

Tonight (Wednesday November 9) the Wokingham Borough Council planning committee will decide on plans to build a destructive new park-and-ride carpark near to the River Thames near the Wokingham waterside centre. A demonstration will be taking place before the meeting protesting against the park-and-ride – details below.

Over 2000 Reading residents have signed a petition stating “No park-and-ride on the Thameside”. The signatures reflect the concerns over the impact the park-and-ride will have on the surrounding areas.

The proposed park-and-ride will be floodlit in the evening. This will have an impact on the nearby river environment. Campaigners are also concerned about the loss of green space and that this scheme won’t tackle congestion and air pollution problems on London Road. At the council meeting alternatives to the new park-and-ride will be raised by campaigners, such as building a second level on the existing Winnersh triangle park-and-ride.

The demonstration against the park-and-ride will take place at 6:30 PM outside Wokingham Borough Council’s offices ahead of the planning meeting which starts at 7 PM. Join the Don't Trash The Thames Protest Facebook group to find out more.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Whiteknights Road single lane closure

The council has informed us that due to the works on Whiteknights Dam, there will be a single lane closure along Whiteknights Road, in the vicinity of the dam, managed by temporary traffic signals, from approximately the 4th November until the 20th December 2016.

During peak travel times there will be some delays. Please let us know how this goes and we can feed this back to the council.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Palmer Park library to close temporarily



See below for an update from the council about Palmer Park library closing temporarily so repair works can be done. When I get more information I will post it here.

"Palmer Park Library will temporarily close in November for five weeks for essential maintenance work following a routine inspection from the Council’s property services team. An issue has been identified with plaster coming away from the walls in several areas around the library, necessitating its removal and replacement.  Affected areas inside the library have been cordoned off since July whilst the nature of the problem was assessed.

It is expected that the library will close at 4pm on November 12th and re open at 9am on Monday 19th December 2016 – we will confirm this by Thursday 20 October. The work is expected to take approximately 5 weeks during which time the library will not be available for use by the public. The site will need to be emptied of books due to the nature of the works and the likely dust created by plaster being stripped back from an unstable position. Staff will be redeployed elsewhere in the service for the closure period. Property Services colleagues are aware of the imperative to complete works to the agreed timescales and to re-open as published.

To keep customers informed we will clearly publicise the reasons for the temporary closure and the anticipated timescales for reopening.  Please note that:

*We will extend return dates on borrowed items so that none are due back during the period of the works - this will commence from 3 weeks in advance of the works so public awareness will be raised (fairly soon).
*Books can be returned to any of the other Reading libraries as at all times.
*We are looking to see if any local venues are able to host our popular Rhymetime sessions whilst the library is unavailable.
*Dates at present are still subject to confirmation, however, if there is further delay it is likely to happen in 2017, due to the Christmas period.

We are still working with Reading College on a partnership model for the provision of library services from Palmer Park from the spring, as per the Policy Committee report which was approved on 18 July."

Bad news on Arthur Hill but the fight goes on



Disappointing news, at the council meeting on Tuesday all Labour councillors voted for closing Arthur Hill swimming pool in December. However, all is not lost...

Labour councillors also voted down the Green amendment, to keep the pool open until the end of the financial year so a rescue plan could be developed – the amendment was supported by the Lib Dems and Conservatives.

Well done to everyone who has been part of the campaign and especially those that Labour made wait a very long time at the meeting until the debate on Arthur Hill swimming pool started. It was a shame Labour ignored my request to move it up the agenda.

The swimming pool isn’t closed yet though. We have put the council on notice about a legal challenge. Our asset of community value application is in, as is the community right to challenge form.

As Peter Burt said at the meeting “this isn’t over. You will be hearing from us again.”

Best wishes
Rob and the Friends’ of Arthur Hill