Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Greens will keep up the pressure for the university to be a better neighbour

University sign cropped s

The University and students are an important part of the town. Below are Reading University's engagement plans for the coming year. We will keep up the pressure for the University to be a better neighbour and bring down the number of community complaints – which have risen sharply recently.

University of Reading Autumn Term: community engagement plans

Dates for Autumn Term

· First year students are arriving into hall accommodation this weekend (21-23 September).

· Freshers’ Fortnight is held on 24 September – 5 October

· Autumn Term starts on 1 October and ends on 14 December

Partnership working

The University is working with several partners over the year ahead, including local police and council teams. The Students’ Union (RUSU) has also put plans in place to ensure students are safe when socialising, and to minimise impact on local neighbours.

Freshers’ Activity (24/9 – 5/10)

· Local police teams will be putting on additional vehicle patrols throughout the Freshers’ fortnight, both in residential areas and in the town centre. Their aims are to support students who may be vulnerable and to manage any community issues.

· The Street Support Team (street wardens) will be working every night for the first week of Freshers’ when the majority of students will be out socialising. The wardens will be managing noise issues in residential streets and at bus stops.

· RUSU and Reading Buses will transport students from the centre of campus into town. Each hall social committee will escort their students to the centre of campus to go into town. These buses will only run throughout Freshers’ Fortnight, but may encourage students to use the 21/21a bus from campus into town.

· RUSU’s Safety Bus will be based on Friar Street, for students to get back to campus for free, after their night out.

· Training for social committees has been provided by RUSU and the University to ensure the hall-based committees keep students safe and minimise impact to neighbours when organising social events. The committees also received guidance from the police, street pastors and street wardens.

· Guidance provided to first year students. Throughout next week new students in halls will receive talks from the University and RUSU to welcome them to halls. These talks include advice on being a considerate neighbour when living and socialising in Reading.

Street Support Team during Autumn Term

· After the first week of Freshers’, the Street Support Team (street wardens) will revert to working Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the key student nights.

· The street wardens will work in pairs between 2200 and 0400 hours a night.

· They will focus on residential streets in the Whiteknights Road, Erleigh Road and Christchurch Road areas. This will include bus stops on Wokingham Road and Christchurch Road.

· Feedback can be sent to community@reading.ac.uk or you can talk to the wardens when they are on duty (they wear hi-vis and University branded jackets).

Hello Neighbour campaign

· The University and RUSU will be delivering packs of information to all student households in local neighbourhoods throughout October.

· This will include advice on waste and recycling, parking, and will encourage students to get to know their neighbours.

· The information will also be communicated to RUSU’s sports societies and clubs, as many committee members are second year students living in local neighbourhoods.

· We will hold a welcome event for students and local residents to give them an opportunity to meet (location and date to be confirmed).


Recycling campaign

· The University is working with Reading Council to improve recycling by students living in local neighbourhoods. One of the frequent complaints received by the University is students not recycling their empty glass bottles. Reading Council are also keen to reduce the amount of contaminated recycling across the borough.

· The University will pilot new schemes to encourage students to recycle their glass bottles, including a reward scheme and some information delivered directly to the student households where issues occur.

Additional resource to manage complaints

· This year the Community Relations Team will be made up of one manager (Sarah Gardner) and four student community assistants. The assistants will each focus on residential streets where there are high concentrations of student households.

· The assistants will start in mid-October and begin to meet students and local residents in these defined areas. They will also help to resolve any issues between neighbours.

· If you have a complaint about a student household please email community@reading.ac.uk or call 0118 378 6764 and one of the team will help.

Other new activity

· RUSU has created a Safe Taxi Scheme, which means that students who haven’t got any money to get home after a night out, can use the RUSU safe taxi scheme. Yell Cars (based on campus) are providing the taxis and all drivers are DPS checked.

· The bars on campus are trialling a new live bus tracker. Park Bar will display live bus times, which will hopefully encourage students to stay in the bar until their bus is due. This might alleviate some of the noise issues at bus stops, as it may mean groups of students are spending less time waiting for a bus.

Community Forum in January
The University ran a Community Forum in May, which was well-attended by local residents. We had hoped to hold the next event in November, but given the departure of Sir David Bell as the Vice-Chancellor, we will hold the next event in January when the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort will be settled in post. Date and time will be circulated in due course.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Stopping HMOs from taking over

Letting agent boards in Newtown s

Green Councillors have been concerned for some time about the rise in the number of ‘HMOs’ across Reading, especially in densely populated areas like Redlands. (An HMO is a house or flat occupied by three or more tenants, who form two or more households and share space like bathrooms and kitchens.) It’s not that a single HMO can affect an area – it’s the build-up of a number of these that changes the balance of a street causing problems with waste and bins for example.

On Planning Committee, we’ve argued against more HMOs in streets like Hamilton Road and Upper Redlands Road because it’s the mix that’s important, but sadly Labour councillors give these permission every time.

However, there is a change in licensing laws coming - currently, houses with three or more storeys and five or more occupants need to have an HMO licence.  However, from 1st October all HMOs with five or more occupants will need to have an HMO licence. Hopefully this will mean proper regulation of poor landlords and deter anyone just wanting to make a quick financial return at the neighbourhood’s expense.

We care about the area and we want a mix of different types of accommodation in a road to create strong, balanced communities. We will continue to work hard, with residents, all year round on issues like these.

For more details, go to the Council website www.reading.gov.uk/hmo

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Has Reading Council missed your bin collection?

Black bin landscape s
A number of people have contacted us recently with the council missing their bin collection. This is what we would advise you to do if it happens to you.

1. Contact the council as soon as possible. The council say to do it either on the day the collection is missed (after 4 PM) or by 5 PM the next day. If you miss 5 PM the next day then still contact them and say that your bin collection has been missed. This page has details on how to contact the council: http://cllrrobwhite.blogspot.com/p/q_13.html

2. The council should give you a reason why the bin wasn't collected – recycling bin not put out in the right place for collection for example.

UPDATE: following our campaigning if the council says your bin wasn't put in the right place you should get a letter from them telling you where to put your bin – on the pavement or if the pavement is narrow at/near the boundary of your property. They should still take your bin but will tell you that it won't be taken in future.

3. If you aren't satisfied with the response – the council says the bin wasn't put in the right place (presented properly). Then say that you would like to complain. The collection vehicle has a camera on it so you could ask for the footage showing that the bin isn't presented properly. You could also ask for the footage 2 weeks before which might show them collecting the bin from the same place – which in my opinion is good grounds for them coming out and collecting your bin.

4. If at the end of this process still feel that the council has unfairly not let your bin then let me know: rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk

We are lobbying the Council to improve its bin collection service and to do a better job of keeping people informed. We care about the area and will keep working to improve it.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

South Park Ward concept drawings for permit parking scheme

Residents' parking sign s

Green councillors have been working with residents for a number of years to improve road safety and tackle parking problems in the South Park Ward area (bounded by Eastern Avenue, Whiteknights Road, Church Road and Wykeham Road).

Following the council consultation on the idea of permit parking for the area (which showed a majority in favour of investigating permit parking), council transport planners have produced some concept drawings for consultation showing what a permit parking scheme could look like.

We have input into the concept drawings following the meetings we had with residents. Transport planners have taken some of our contributions on board but unfortunately not all of them.

Have a look at your road and the plans for the area and let us know what you think. The plans are in alphabetical order by road name.

The roads on the west of the Wokingham Road all have fairly standard permit parking with shared use (meaning that visitors can come between 8 AM and 8 PM for up to 2 hours without needing a permit).

Many of the roads between Grange Avenue and Wykeham road have a different sort of permit parking (permit parking beyond this point). With this type of permit parking there are no marked bays and you can park on both sides of the road. However you can’t have shared use (where visitors can come at certain times without needing a permit) with this type of permit parking. Therefore all visitors need a visitors’ permit – you get 2 free books but then have to buy more.

The reason for permit parking beyond this point in many of the roads to the east of the Wokingham Road is council transport planners say the roads are too narrow to have bays on both sides and shared use (free visitor parking at certain times of the day). We disagree with this. If you live in the area you may wish to respond to the consultation saying that you want permit parking bays on both sides with shared use.

The council will be running a consultation on the concept drawings to find out what residents think so the scheme can be updated. I will update this blog post with details when I have them.

As we have said before, if a road is opposed to permit parking we will not impose it against the wishes of residents.

We have also produced a short guide on how permit parking works: http://cllrrobwhite.blogspot.com/p/frequently-asked-questions-about.html

Green councillors care about the area and we will keep working with you to improve road safety and tackle parking problems.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Working to tackle queues at the Three Tuns traffic lights

Rob and Brenda canvassing outside the three tuns s
A number of people have contacted me about problems at the 3 Tuns traffic lights creating unnecessary queues of traffic. I have lobbied Wokingham Council on this issue and they are taking some action to improve things.

What do you think? Have things improved at the traffic lights? Full response below.

"Dear Councillor White,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the traffic lights at the Three Tuns Crossroads in Earley, which has been passed to me for reply.

I have spoken to our traffic signals engineer regarding the timings.  He is aware of issues with these lights and has been working with Siemens to resolve them.  I understand that there are problems with the detectors and that the controller needs upgrading.

Following discussions with Siemens, I understand that the detectors will be replaced on the 5th of June.  In addition to this, the controller will be upgraded on the 6th of June.  It is intended to have the controller run MOVA (Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation), which should help improve the responsiveness of the lights to queues.

It should be noted, however, that while this will significantly improve the situation, it will not eliminate queues entirely.

I hope this helps to answer your query.  However, if you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,".

Monday, 16 April 2018

University launches street support team and forum

University sign s

Students are a welcome and important part of the community. However, complaints about student behaviour have been on the rise this year in Reading. We have been lobbying the University to spend more on community relations. It's great to see new initiatives (Street Support Team and forum) from the University to address people's concerns. Details below.

Also, right at the bottom of the Street Support Team section is the email address for Sarah Gardner, the University's Community Relations Manager. I know she has helped a number of people and I would encourage anyone with concerns to contact her.

Street Support Team

A pilot community support scheme

We’re pleased to announce the launch of the University’s new Street Support Team, from Monday 16 April. The trial scheme is part of the University’s plans to promote positive community relationships between students and non-student neighbours.

The Street Support Team will provide advice to students socialising late at night, encouraging them to be responsible, respectful and safe when travelling through residential areas. The team will also help students feel safe and supported late at night and clean up any bottles/glass left on the streets, as they go.

The highly trained and highly visible team will be working in residential streets around the campus between 10pm and 4am several nights a week. They’ll primarily be based between:

· Redlands Road and London Road, including St George’s Hall.

· Whiteknights Road and Wokingham Road, including Bridges/Wessex Halls and the number 17 bus stop.

· Northcourt Avenue and Christchurch Green, including St Patrick’s/Sherfield Halls and the number 21/21a bus stop.

The University has created this trial based on views from local residents, neighbourhood police teams, Reading Borough Council and other community partners in the town. We are grateful for all the input and support.

The scheme will run as a trial over the summer and autumn terms. We’ll be reviewing the scheme regularly and we’d be very grateful for feedback so we can make sure the team are working in the best way possible. We will also use the feedback to consider long-term delivery.

Please send any questions or feedback to Sarah Gardner, Community Relations Manager at community@reading.ac.uk


University Community Forum – 9 May

I would like to invite you to a Community Forum being held at the University on Wednesday 9 May at 6.30pm.

The forum will provide an opportunity for residents living alongside the University to meet with the Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, and ask questions about the University’s local engagement and impact. We hope that this will be an opportunity for local neighbours to shape and influence our community strategy. A short panel discussion, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, with updates about the Street Support Team (see below) will be followed by a Q&A session. In addition to University colleagues, the panel will include representatives from local police teams.

The event will be taking place at the London Road campus, building 22, room G01. Refreshments will be provided.

As we have limited room space, it would be helpful if you could RSVP if you wish to attend. community@reading.ac.uk

Thursday, 29 March 2018

More action needed on recycling in Reading

Red bin landscape s

The Green party wants to see a better recycling scheme locally which allows you to put more things in your red recycling bin.

Following lobbying from us and others the council has recently increased the range of plastics which you can recycle. More information here: http://www.reading.gov.uk/rubbish

However, the recycling rate in Reading is a very low at 31% – compared to the national rate of 45%. Reading has a recycling target of 50% of household waste by 2020. However recent changes to the scheme are only expected to increase our recycling rate by 1 or 2%. More action is needed and we will keep up the pressure to: eliminate waste at source, get more reuse happening and increase the recycling rate through things like a food waste collection.

The Council needs to be bolder if it is to hit its recycling target.