Thursday, 29 September 2016

Community meeting to save Arthur Hill pool

Well done again to Peter for presenting the petition to the council, Kizzi for asking a question and everyone for coming to the demo and signing the petition. We now have a public meeting to discuss how we can save Arthur Hill swimming pool.

Customers and friends of Arthur Hill Pool are invited to a Community Meeting to discuss the future of Arthur Hill Swimming Pool and Reading Borough Council plans to close the pool.

7.30 – 9.30 pm, Thursday 6th October
The Warehouse Centre, 1A Cumberland Road, Reading, RG1 3LB

Come along and have your say.

Bring your ideas to keep the pool open!

All welcome – admission free

Best wishes
Rob White and the Friends’ of Arthur Hill

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Palmer Park Astroturf court closures

I got the following update from the council about works to the Palmer Park Astroturf lights meaning that the Astroturf pitches will be closed for 3 weeks at the start of October. See below for more detail:

"Following a safety inspection of the lighting at Palmer Park we need to replace the power supply and columns around the Astro-turf at Palmer Park.    This does NOT relate to concerns over lamp column structures but degradation of electrical supply. This was identified during regular routine inspection of electrical services. We are taking the opportunity to re-site the columns and replace the lamp fittings with a much more efficient arrangement. This will provide energy savings in comparison to the existing lamps and will also allow one court at a time to be illuminated rather than an all or nothing arrangement as present.

The work includes laying new power cables from the stadium building. Since the original lighting was installed trees have been planted over the cable runs or immediately adjacent to the columns.  Three trees will therefore need to be felled as part of this process. The trees are planted mainly as screening around the courts, and we are aware that if we encounter similar problems again in the future we may need to repeat the process if we replant trees in similar positions. On balance we feel it is worth maintaining this vegetative screen even if this means the trees have a limited period they can be grown before potential replacement. One tree to be felled is a large ornamental tree called a Catalpa. We will be planting 4 replacement trees this autumn.

This electrical work is scheduled to be undertaken from 3rd October and will mean the courts will be closed for 3 weeks. The tree works will precede this."

Thursday, 22 September 2016

4 ways to save Arthur Hill baths

Thanks for signing the petition to save Arthur Hill swimming pool ( As I write this email 873 people have currently signed it online and we have another 200 signatures on paper! If we can get to 1500 petition signatures (online and paper combined) this will force a debate on the issue at Council and buy us some time.

Here are 4 ways we can reach this target:

1. Promote the online petition using social media such as Facebook and Twitter (share from this Facebook page
2. Collect signatures on paper from family members, at schools and at work. Print out a petition sheet here:
3. Put up a poster promoting the petition and upcoming council meeting:
4. Come to the demo before the council meeting on Monday, September 26, 6 PM outside the new Civic Centre on Bridge Street. Just turn up or bring a sign

Thanks everyone in advance. Together we can make a difference on this.

Best wishes
Rob White

And the Friends of Arthur Hill Baths team

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

NEW Redlands parking proposals published, what do you think?

Part of the Redlands parking proposals, see the appendices in the report linked to below for the full plans (you will need to zoom in!)

The Traffic Committee agenda is out and it contains Labour’s new parking proposals for Old Redlands. Green campaigner Kizzi Murtagh and the team have been working with residents to tackle parking problems in Redlands for the last few years. This proposal is better than the last few. Email us letting us know what you think:

The report and plans can be found by following the link below.

A few quick observations:

– apart from the comments below the residents' parking and pay-and-display proposals around the hospital to the west of Alexandra Road remain unchanged:
– all side roads in the block to the east of Alexandra Road between Lydford Road and London Road are proposed to have permit holders only beyond this point signs. This means no marked out parking bays and no loss of spaces. However also no visitors' hours (where people without a permit can park for free between certain hours)
– yellow lines proposed for Lancaster, Whitby and Avebury but no residents' parking. As these roads are on the edge of a large zone this will worsen parking problems in these roads
– do De Beauvoir, Carnarvon and Granby Gardens want to change to this form of residents’ parking which may tackle some of the parking problems in their roads?
– if this scheme goes ahead then it will worsen parking problems at its edges and the Park Ward consultation and scheme will be needed as soon as possible. But unfortunately the council has yet to commit to a timescale for this
– this scheme doesn't improve the situation for staff and visitors at the hospital

What do you think? Better or worse?

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.