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.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Thames Road Plans–Frequently Asked Questions

Kennet mouth artists impression one bus only

‘MRT’?

Yes, it stands for ‘Mass Rapid Transit’ which in most countries means an overhead or underground railway, but in Reading the plan is for a large road that will start at a new carpark beside the Waterside Centre, then bypass East Reading and run along the Thames riverside, over the Kennetmouth, and end up at Tesco on Napier Road. It will be for buses only, but with space for bikes and walking.

Why are the Council trying to do that?

The Council claims that without it, Reading can’t ‘grow’. They mean that the road will increase the capacity of people to get into Reading town centre from areas outside Reading, like Wokingham.

Aren’t people already coming in from Wokingham?

Yes, there’s the current level of traffic, through Cemetery Junction and other routes into Reading, which will be unaffected by the scheme, and there’s the existing public transport of trains and buses.

What can you do about the scheme?

Whatever your views on the scheme are, you can let the Planning Officer know here: www.bit.ly/eastrdgmrt

If you want more information you can follow the campaign group S.O.A.R. on facebook www.facebook.com/SaveOurAncientRiverside and on twitter @SOARReading

If you are opposed to the scheme going ahead you can sign the petition here: www.bit.ly/soarpetition

And if you live in Reading, you can let your local Councillor know personally – email them!

So, will this scheme help people in East Reading at all?

No. The traffic modelling from the Council shows that the new road will have no effect on congestion, or improve air quality. It will remove the unspoilt riverside from the Thames, and Kennetmouth, that so many people use as green space to walk, run, cycle, picnic and just relax in.

So why is the Council pressing ahead?

The Council says that there will be significant housing developments built in the coming years around Reading and Wokingham, and those thousands of new people will want to get into Reading.

Are they right?

Evidence suggests not. More and more people are working from home, significantly reducing the traffic on the roads. (The greatest recent increase in traffic is from home delivery vans! These won’t be affected by a bus-only bypass. Nor will the ever present and increasing traffic from school-runs.) Traffic on the London Road has been gradually reducing over the years, rather than increasing, so its likely that more buses could plan to use that route, rather than a new road. And there is no saying that people in new housing developments near Wokingham wont just work in Wokingham, or Bracknell, or any other near-by area with high employment in industries like TelComs and IT. The planned advancement of automated, driverless cars in the next few years makes old-fashioned ideas like building more roads to new carparks seem horribly out-dated.

What will it cost?

The current estimate (likely to increase with inflation and the complexity of a road-building scheme in a flood area beside a major waterway) is £24 million. With the associated Park & Ride at Broken Brow (beside the Wokingham Waterside Centre) planned by Wokingham, the cost is £31.5 million.

What’s the cost to the environment?

Just as enormous. Habitat will be lost, green open space will be lost, protected woodland will be destroyed, along with over 100 trees. The Thames riverside, and Kennetmouth, will be devastated.

What does the Environment Agency think about the scheme?

The EA doesn’t comment on the scheme as such, but does comment on the Planning Application. Their first response contained a large list of objections. Some of these may have been mitigated by changes to the Council plans, but the second EA response, containing a full list of updated objections, hasn’t been published by the Council. Other agencies opposing the Planning Application are the Wildlife Trust, the Napier Road flats, Newtown GLOBE, and many others, even including the Council’s own ecologist and Leisure Department.

What do local residents think about the scheme?

Hundreds of local residents have objected to the Planning Application. Thousands have signed petitions against the scheme because of the huge cost to the environment, to the tax-payer, and all for just a few extra buses an hour in the week. The new P&R won’t even be open on the weekends.

Why aren’t the Council doing something else instead?

Who knows! There are plenty of other options, but some have been ruled out and some don’t seem to have been properly considered. Local residents want to know why the Winnersh P&R isn’t being expanded, or a congestion charge brought in, or a proper bus lane considered on the London Road. The lack of any real comparison of alternatives is one objection that has been raised to the scheme.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Progress on letting the building that was the Chalkboard café…

Chalkboard cafe sign s

Things have started to move with the council letting the building that was the Chalkboard Café. Green councillor Brenda McGonigle asked a question on this earlier in the week (question and response below).

If you are interested in getting something going at the building in Palmer Park that was the Chalkboard Café then the documentation can be found below.

Palmer Park Lodge application form
Palmer Park Lodge scoring system
Voluntary sector bidding opportunity – Palmer Park Lodge

As a parent and regular user of the park over the winter I have been sorely missing being able to grab a hot chocolate, warmup and use the toilet. Having no Café has left a hole in the community. I hope it can be opened up as soon as possible!

QUESTION Palmer Park Building

Can we have an update on the building that was the Chalkboard Café in Palmer Park. Are there any plans for its use in the near future?

REPLY by the Lead Councillor for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services (Councillor Hacker):

Thank you for your question Cllr. McGonigle. 

As you may be aware the previous occupier who was running the Chalkboard Café withdrew from the lease agreement because the business was not financially viable.  The Council is therefore looking for a new occupier and will be launching a new community letting process by the end of the current financial year.  This will include all relevant application documents and information relating to rental fees for the site with a view to having a new operator in place ready for the busier trading period from May onwards.  The opportunity will be advertised publicly through both the Council’s and Reading Voluntary Action’s (RVA’s) websites and networks.