Friday, 12 August 2016

Crescent Road emergency closure

Crescent Road will be closed tomorrow (Saturday) so a void underneath the road can be investigated and repaired. See below for more information from the council.

"A void has been discovered under the carriageway in Crescent Road near the junction with Wokingham Road. A metal plate has been placed over the defect to make it safe. In order for the repair to be completed the road will have to be closed. A Temporary Traffic Regulation Order has been sent to the emergency services effective from today. The Council will be closing the road from tomorrow morning when an investigation will be carried out. Our expectation is that the work will be completed early next week and the road re-opened as soon as it is safe to do so."

We will do what we can to make sure the road is reopened as soon as it is safe to do so.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Progress on a Real Living Wage for Reading school cooks

Following Green councillors getting Reading Council to sign up to paying a Living Wage we have been continuing to keep up the pressure on this issue. As well as people who work directly for the council the policy also applies to people working on contracts with the council. The school meals contract is one of the larger contracts and following our continued lobbying on this issue the council has committed to doing the groundwork necessary to move us towards getting a Living Wage for all cooks.

We will keep working for a fairer, more caring town.

Briefing below:

The Council is an accredited living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) and seeks to ensure that all Council staff are paid a living wage currently set at £8.25 per hour as opposed to the lesser National Living Wage currently set at £7.20 per hour.

In April, Chartwells increased all of their employee’s wages to match this National Living Wage. They also increased the rate of pay for other members of staff to match the increment as before. So now the average rate of pay of cooks is £8.53 per hour and Assistant Cooks is £7.30 per hour.
The current school meals contract with Chartwells was originally entered into in 2012, prior to the council agreeing to being accredited as a living wage employer, currently operating on the basis of the National Living wage as a minimum payment to staff. This does not impact on the council’s accreditation with the LWF as the employees are not directly employed by the Council but by Chartwells.

The Chartwells contract is to be extended by 2 years in September 2016, and there is an option to extend for a further 2 years in 2018, subject to the continued support of schools buying in. During the next several months the school meals team will be engaging with Chartwells to explore the implications of a potential alignment of pay with the LWF rate. Chartwells have previously indicated their willingness to engage in discussion. The most obvious concern for schools and parents would be the impact of wage inflation on the cost of a meal currently being held by Chartwells at £2.10 for the duration of the extension period.

Following these exploratory discussions officers will report back on options and implications. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Purple flower at large in Newtown...

Another guest post from Debbie cousins about local wildlife:

Many Newtown gardens are currently bursting into life in a purple haze, thanks to this common garden plant. It is a type of Campanula or Bellflower and although it isn’t a native plant, bees and other insects love it. Recently I was tidying up my front garden and two people stopped to remark on this plant: one said how lovely the purple plant was, while a neighbour asked if it was a weed or whether it was meant to be there? There are a number of definitions for what a weed is, but the most popular is probably ‘A wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants’. So it’s not a ‘weed’ as it isn’t a wild plant, but rather it is a cultivated plant that can get a bit rampant!

Due to its open flower structure, it is popular with pollinating insects such as bees and I recently photographed a female red-tailed bumblebee busy collecting pollen from the flowers. She seemed to be weighed down by the pollen baskets on her hind legs that she uses to collect the pollen.

So while this Bellflower might need keeping under control so that it doesn’t swamp all of your other plants, please retain some of the cheerful blooms for people and wildlife to enjoy!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Areawide permit parking for Park Ward and Crescent Road safety?

Above: map showing current residents’ parking situation in the south of Park Ward. A bigger version can be found at the end of the council report linked to below.

Following a number of petitions from residents in Park Ward asking the council to look into permit parking, the council is proposing developing and consulting on an areawide scheme. These petitions (and the survey for Holmes Road down to Green Road which isn't indicated on the map) have been prompted by existing parking problems, the general creep of residents’ parking and the prospect of a large residents’ parking scheme in the Redlands area.

More information can be found in the council report here:

As the report says there are a number of schemes ahead of this one in the queue, so unfortunately I suspect it will be a while until the scheme is developed, and consulted upon but we will keep up the pressure.

We don’t believe residents’ parking on its own will solve our parking congestion problems. We will keep up the pressure for better walking and cycling facilities, cheaper public transport and car sharing schemes.

The same report splits out Crescent Road safety measures into a separate stream of work which will hopefully get going as soon as possible. As there are now three large schools on this stretch of road, usage has increased and so have issues.

We will keep working to improve the area. We will also keep you informed (email me if you want to get updates on schemes in your road: Let us know what you think.

Tackling Palmer Park puddles

This was from a while ago, but we have made a bit of progress tackling some of the puddles in Palmer Park. Still some way to go though. Where is the worst puddle at the moment?

Dear Cllr Williams

Thank you for your enquiry about the drainage problems in Palmer Park. I can advise the following in relation to the actions we discussed:

The drain on the corner of the footpath outside the football courts (D1 on your original plan) has now been cleaned and connected into the nearby soakaway (SA). The adjacent footpath (F3) has also been re-profiled to prevent puddling. This work was completed a week ago and we expect to see a significant benefit when it next rains.

The drain on the main driveway that was blocked (D3) has been cleaned. I will now put all of these drains onto the twice annual cleaning programme.

I have not yet received quotations for installing soakaways at the two other areas of footpath that flood (F1 and F2). I will arrange for these and let you know the likely costs as soon as possible.

Please let me now if you have any further questions about this matter.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Redlands parking meeting June 2016...progress

Kizzi and I attended the Redlands parking scheme meeting. I had to leave the meeting early to help put James to bed, but just before I left, after a bumpy start, things were looking promising for putting the scheme on pause – as we have been asking for.

One of the Labour councillors backing the scheme said that if there was lots of opposition to the scheme, as there was at the meeting, through the public consultation which finishes on Friday then the scheme could be put on hold.

So please respond to the consultation. We are also delivering a letter updating residents. If you have time to deliver a road let us know (

Together we can make a difference and pause the scheme so a better one can be developed with residents, hospital staff and visitors to the hospital.

Finally, well done to John for organising the meeting and well done everyone for turning up.