Thursday, 16 February 2017

Palmer Park #rdg bin reductions

Due to government cuts, the council is looking at removing some of the bins from Palmer Park. More detail on this below. Let us know how this goes, the earlier we identify any problems the better.

The map above shows bins in Palmer Park as red circles. Those with a white cross are going. Click on the map to get a bigger version of it.

From the council: "Palmer Park currently has 72 waste bins, 68 of which are managed by Parks. By contrast, Reading’s largest park, Prospect Park, has 19 bins; other large parks used for dog-walking as well as sports, like Mapledurham, Cintra and Kensington Road have 14 bins each. Most parks have many fewer than this, and litter is no more of a problem where there are fewer bins. The issue at Palmer Park is that many bins are not used, rather than that there are insufficient of them. Clearly, compared with all other parks in Reading, 72 bins is excessive, with attendant costs for both the Council’s budget and the environment.

As mentioned, 68 of the 72 bins are managed by Parks. This means that

·         Every day we replace 68 green bags
·         Over a 7-day week, this totals of 476 green bags
·         As we do this every day of the year except Christmas Day, this total comes to 24,752 green bags
·         Each green bag costs 17p; so the green-bag cost to the Council for this site alone is £4,207.84

In addition, it takes an excessive amount of staff time to visit every bin and change the bag. On a busy weekend, it can take four hours to clear the bins and pick up any litter, meaning that some other parks on the round do not get visited.

If every bin were full every day, there may be some justification for this cost, but it is possible that many bins will have only one item. Some bins in Palmer Park are only a few metres apart. We actually need to rationalise the number, so that there is only one bin on a stretch of path.

From many years of emptying bins, we know which are the most well-used. We propose to take out first the infrequently used bins as well as those that are within 50m of another bin, and then to phase any further rationalisation over the course of the next year or two, when we have monitored changes in use and in litter across the park. Although dog waste can now be put in regular bins, we will leave in place well-used dog bins as a convenience to dog-walkers."

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Palmer Park library #rdg opening hours are changing…

Following the cuts to the libraries budget – which Green councillors opposed – we have had an update on the revised opening hours for Palmer Park library.

Initial proposal
Final proposal

These hours will come into effect in April 2017. More detail in the full briefing below.

Briefing Note : Palmer Park Library/Reading College                        January 2017

A Decision Book report in December sought approval to enter into a partnership with Activate Learning, the group that operates Reading College, to deliver library services from Palmer Park Library.  The contract will commence in April 2017 and covers a period of 15 months and may then be extended by a further two years.

The partnership with Reading College offers work-based placement opportunities for young people with learning difficulties through the College’s supported employment programme, with an on-site tutor supporting learning. This will alslow the Council to reduce to single staffing during term times, thus delivering a saving.  

Palmer Park Library remains part of the Library Service offer and network. The Council will continue to provide the building and infrastructure such as the Library Management System, self-serve kiosks, courier service and book stock, as well as offering professional advice and retaining overall management responsibility. The Council will also continue to support the public access IT offer. The building and contents will  remain RBC assets and a member of RBC staff would be on site during all opening hours.

Current Position
We continue to work with Reading College on the new model of service delivery for Palmer Park Library.

We have a contract and service specification ready to sign, following on from the Decision Book approval in early January – Reading College have signed to approve.

We are proposing that an amendment is made to the initially proposed opening hours for Palmer Park Library and that 3 hours move from Friday to Wednesday. This change allows greater accommodation of the student and tutor model.

The staffing would be 1xRBC staff + 1xCollege tutor + up to 3 students, except a) after 5pm, b) on Saturdays and c) in College holidays. During these times  2xRBC Library staff would be in place.

The original hours have been displayed as ‘subject to change’ on site. The final report on the library service restructure to Plicy Committee in July flagged that ‘as currently, opening hours will continue to be monitored and changes may be made as and when required without further consultation. Books can be ordered, collected from and returned to any service point as currently’.

The impact of this change is the moving of the Friday rhymetime which would seem to fit best on a Wednesday. We would communicate this change well in advance to those attending. The overall total hours open per week do not change.

The new opening hours will be implemeted in line with all library sites from Monday 3 April and, as we are then immediately into a College holiday, the full new model of staffing at Palmer Park Library will start from Monday 24 April.

Changes to library opening hours across all library sites will be more widely highlighted from mid February.

In developing a partnership delivery model with reading College we are working through all relevant policies and procedures to ensure clear training, lines of accountability and a smooth introduction.

We will report on progress as we move closer to the new model of working from April 2017.

Monday, 6 February 2017

More cuts as #rdg Labour Council reveals budget

Reading Labour have now published their budget for the coming year including £24.2 million worth of cuts. The council is in a dire financial situation partly due to Conservative government cuts and partly due to local Labour mismanagement (with a £7.5 million in year overspend on the Council budget this year). Cuts will continue until councils get together and stand up to the government.

The council is currently consulting on closing 9 out of 13 children's centres. Arthur Hill swimming pool in east Reading has been closed. Vulnerable adults have had care packages cut. Members of the public are suffering and understandably concerned as public services are cut at the same time as council tax goes up (Labour are proposing a 5% increase this year).

The budget is going to the Policy committee on Monday, February 13, but isn’t debated and voted on until full Council on Tuesday, February 21.

Budget papers can be found using this link. The report is very long. Pages 1-4 give a summary of the council’s dire financial position.  Individual budget savings can be found in appendices 1A, 1B and 1C from page 31 onwards – most of these have been announced previously.

Green councillors will continue to stand up for public services. Why not get involved?

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Park Ward parking and Crescent Road road safety update

Crescent Road road safety scheme
The new parking scheme in Redlands Ward will clearly create knock on problems for Park Ward. We have been lobbying for the Park Ward parking scheme scheme (bordered by Eastern Avenue, Whiteknights Road, Church Road, Wykeham road) and the Crescent Road road safety scheme to be developed and consulted upon as soon as possible.

When we recently raised this with transport planners they said that they were now in a position to start moving forward with the parking and the Crescent Road road safety schemes. We have asked for a meeting in February and will keep residents updated.

An initial idea for the Crescent Road scheme is here. This went to the Traffic Committee recently:

Let us know what you think as well as your thoughts on parking.

If you are interested in regular updates on both of these schemes we have set up a Google group – link below. If you have a Google email address you can subscribe yourself. If not send me an email to and I will add you.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Redlands Ward permit parking going live dates, zones and applying for permits

Above is a map showing the new residents’ parking zones in Redlands Ward. Alexandra Rd and to the east are in permit zone 13R. Avebury Square, and Upper Redlands Road(no.1-29) is in permit zone 15R. Allcroft Road, Whitby Drive and Lancaster Close are in resident permit zone 10R. Your permits only allow you to park in the zone in which you live.

The new parking scheme will be carried out in separate phases due to the size of the scheme.  The first phase to be introduced will include properties within Whitby Drive, Lancaster Close, Avebury Square and areas east of Alexandra Road (with the exception of Upper Redlands Road), this is due to be implemented by 23rd Jan. If you live in one of these areas you should have received a letter from the council about applying for permits.

The rest of the approved scheme will be the second phase and is proposed to be delivered at the end of March, this is subject to the delivery of pay and display machines. The council hasn't written to people in this area yet about applying for permits.

If you want to get further updates on the rollout of the parking scheme send me an email:

If you live in one of the phase 1 areas and you haven’t applied for a permit for your car or visitors’ permits already you will need to do so quickly. More information on applying for permits below. As well as ordinary residents’ permits there are special permits for other groups such as carers. There are also discretionary permits for people who don’t qualify for other types of permit and some transitional measures. Contact the council for more information on these and if you don’t get anywhere let us know.

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:

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:

The full council committee report can be found here: 

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.