Friday, 27 February 2009

AWE Burghfield latest news

Thanks to Peter for this:

Dear Friends,

* Join the demonstration - West Berkshire Council Offices, Newbury. Wednesday 4th March from 5.30 pm.
* Signature collecting in Reading, Saturday 28th February, noon.

We've just heard that the number of letters submitted to West Berkshire Council objecting to development of the new nuclear warhead factory at AWE Burghfield is a record! As well as that, the local media are taking a strong interest in our campaign - check out the following stories:

A planning application for a new nuclear warhead facility creates public outcry

Safety concerns over nuclear plan

The planning application will be heard by West Berkshire Council's Eastern Area Planning Committee next Wednesday (4th March), and we need a big turnout at the meeting to show committee members the strength of feeling against the development. Pro-AWE West Berkshire Council have decided to ignore a request from Reading Borough Council to postpone the meeting until Reading Borough have had the chance to submit their detailed comments - an indication of how desperate they are to rush the
application through without delay. Not surprisingly, the recommendation to the committee is to give permission for the development to go ahead.

Please join us at the West Berkshire Council Offices in Market Road, Newbury, from 5.30 pm next Wednesday (4th March) to demonstrate against the new warhead factory and to attend the planning committee meeting. (As West Berkshire will be making their decision on the application on 4th March there will be no point in attending the Reading Borough council planning meeting on the same evening). Bring banners, flags, and fancy dress to mark the occasion.

Iravel from Reading: 17.04 train to Newbury. Meet near the destination screens at 16.45. The Council Offices are a two minutes walk from Newbury station across the car park. If you can't catch the 17.04 train you are welcome to come down later in the evening - the committee meeting is expected to last until around 19.30.

We need one last push to collect more signed letters of objection to bring the number of objections over the magic 1000 mark! We will be collecting signature this Saturday (28th February) in Reading town centre - meet at 12.00 noon in the upstairs foyer at RISC. If you haven't already logged your own objection you can do so on the West Berkshire planning applications website: click the 'submit comments'
button at:

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has helped with the campaign to date or signed a letter of objection: your effort has really made a difference.

Best wishes,


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Waste PFI stakeholder meeting

Last night I cycled over to the tip for a meeting on Reading's waste PFI contract (re3). After a brief introduction we had a tour around the Materials Recycling Facility. It was interesting to see exactly what happens to the waste from your red recycling bin, how it is processed (people, air jets, magnets and clever optical technology), and the bales of finished product.

It was very noisy even though the plant wasn't operating in the evening. Apparently this was the dust suppression, smell and ventilation system. I asked why this was needed when the plant wasn't in use but no one knew.

Apparently, the strangest thing to have been put into someone's recycling bin and found in the system was a goat! The plastic bag shredder had made a bit of a mess of it by the time it was discovered.

I believe the Council is planning a programme of tours and visits which will really help educate people.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Crossing patrol

I did my second crossing patrol slot today. There were the usual people parked on double yellow lines -- one of which moved when I pointed out that he could use the car park round the corner at the College Arms. The police might have been of assistance with moving the second car on, but they were distracted by children taking the mick out of them -- no arrests as far as I'm aware. When the same group of lads from the college came past surprisingly they enquired about volunteering, so I pointed them towards the Council's Road Safety Officer.

A little speedy yellow car did look as though it wasn't going to stop but one of my trusty police officers jumped out in the road -- an unwise move in my opinion -- and the car did stop -- no one was in danger except the police officer. As there hasn't been an afternoon crossing patrol at the school for a while now it will take a few months for people to get back into good habits I'm sure.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

AWE Burghfield planning application - another chance to have your say

Thanks to Peter drafting this:

Greetings everyone,

I know that many of you have been in touch with West Berkshire Council to register your objection to the planning application for the proposed new nuclear warhead assembly facility at AWE Burghfield. Here's your chance to have another say and add to the pressure on West Berkshire to turn down the application.

Although the planning application is outside the Reading Borough Council area it is quite close to the boundary between West Berkshire and Reading. Reading Borough Council are therefore consulting local residents on the application before making their own submission to West Berkshire.

If we can get Reading to oppose the objection, this is a powerful voice to add to those of the individual citizens who have already registered their concerns. Reading Borough Council sneakily hasn't advertised this consultation process, so the more comments that are made, the better.

Please send a quick email to Julie Williams at Reading Borough Council requesting politely that Reading Borough Council asks for the planning application to be withdrawn, or else considered at a public inquiry.

Points to make include:

- Reading is a major centre of population and the development should not be permitted on public safety grounds.
- The development is in a flood risk area, adding to the concerns.
- If allowed, the development would put constraints on other developments in the South Reading area until the 2050s.
- During the construction phase, there are likely to be significant impacts on the Burghfield Road - an important commuter route into Reading.

Please remember to include your name and address and quote application reference number 09/00163/ADJ (district reference 08/02287/COMIND - West Berkshire). Local residents only (ie Greater Reading area) for this one, I'm afraid!

Thanks as always for all your help - please forward to anyone else who may be interested.

Best wishes,


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

First monthly report

After publishing the Acolaid data -- which shows how many items of work each councillor puts through the system and gives an indication of how active they are -- a number of councillors have started doing monthly or weekly reports -- as reported by Reading List. This is definitely a good thing, making what our councillors do more transparent and strengthening our democracy.

So, for those interested this is what I got up to in January for the Green Party and community:

-- knocked on doors in Park ward asking people about issues of concern

-- presented a petition to full Council asking them to improve the safety of the Alfred Sutton school crossing -- which they are doing

-- attended the Alfred Sutton school PTA meeting

-- launched a campaign for local libraries to loan out energy smart meters

-- replied to many items of casework on issues including parking, speeding, fly tipping etc

-- attended the Traffic Management Advisory Panel with residents concerned about traffic problems stemming from the closing off of Green Road

-- attended the Newtown NAG (Neighbourhood Action Group) meeting and discussed how to build the group

-- met with Reading University's Student Liaison Officer to talk about student parking issues

-- met with Reading Credit Union to talk about publicity

-- attended the Greater Reading Environmental Network AGM

-- attended and spoke at the Gaza Crisis meeting

-- volunteered for the True Food Co-Op in Newtown

-- and started my crossing patrol training -- I will be covering one of the shifts at Alfred Sutton.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Asylum election pledge

I have just signed Liberty's pledge on asylum as the Green Party's Parliamentary candidate for Reading East. After various dodgy election campaigns scapegoating immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees I hope candidates will be signing this. The pledge reads:

“There is no place for racism and xenophobia in modern British politics. Nor is democratic debate advanced by the denigration of the most vulnerable in our country, including children and asylum seekers who do not enjoy the right to participate in elections.

I promise to remember the importance of refugee protection, even in free and wide-ranging debates about immigration policy. I will never play fast and loose with the proud tradition of a nation that must always offer succour to those in genuine fear of persecution.”

You can sign it here.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Free 'green energy' events for homeowners in Reading

This is a good community initiative to get installation and renewables into homes:

Get the most out of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures for
your home: voluntary group Reading Energy Pioneers (REP) are holding
four introductory events in February to inform and inspire homeowners.
Industry experts will be on hand to give a flavour of the options and
REP volunteers will be introducing our free programme, designed to help
you get information and advice on green energy measures, installers,
grants and discounts.

Tues 10th February (6.30-8pm), Coley (All Saints Church Hall, Downshire
Square, Bath Road. With True Food Co-op - enjoy some organic food
shopping before the event).
For further info contact REP, Sunil,

Thurs 12th February (7pm), Whiteknights (Park United Reformed Church,
corner of Wokingham Road/ Palmer Park Avenue).
For further info contact REP, Gabriel,

Wed 18th February (8-9.30pm), Tilehurst (Methodist Church Youth Hall -
opposite the main Co-op store, School Road).
For further info contact REP, Philip,

Thurs 19th February (7pm), Eldon (Warehouse Centre, Cumberland Road, off
Cemetery Junction. With True Food Co-op - enjoy some organic food
shopping before the event).

For further info contact REP, Sabrina,

* Cut fuel bills
* Save carbon emissions
* Invest in your home

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Energy Monitor Loans from Libraries in Lewisham

Here is an officer report on how the smart meter project is going in Lewisham -- hopefully we can get them for Reading's libraries:

The project was launched by Lewisham's Mayor on the 31st October 2008.

Thirty-six energy monitors (or 'smart meters' as they are also called) were initially put in Lewisham's libraries to be loaned out for 3 week periods. Library records since then show an average of 70% of the meters loaned at any one time, and we have now increased the numbers of meters available in libraries to 40.

The launch of the initiative was publicised in local media and posters and leaflets are placed in each library to encourage people to take advantage of the offer. The idea is that people can borrow a smart meter in the same way as they might loan a book, CD or DVD. In addition staff from the Council's Sustainable Resources Group have attended events at libraries and elsewhere to explain about the smart meters and talk more widely about the Council's work on fuel poverty and climate change.

A wide range of ages and backgrounds of people have expressed interest in the loans which suggests a fairly universal appeal so far. Feedback on the meters has been good in the vast majority of cases, with a few residents actually going to buy one at the end of the loan period.

The Council initially purchased 100 meters from Eco-eye at a price of ? 2593.00. The meters were chosen as the most user friendly and cost-effective of those considered, and the company were also able to offer corporate branding.

Alongside the library scheme we have loaned smart meters to Lewisham Council staff (50% of whom also live in the borough) and provided additional support in setting up the meters to a smaller group of residents as a way of getting direct feedback.

This ongoing project will be assessed in more detail after 6 months.

Reading List survey

Better late than never here is my response to the Reading List survey:

A1 - Who are you?

Rob White.

A2 - What is the title of your blog? (Please provide a link or URL)

A3 - When did you write your first post?

September 2008.

A4 - How many posts have you written in total?


B1 - What are your main areas of interest?

Politics and gardening.

B2 - Do you have any political interests you wish to promote? - If yes, please describe:

Green Party in Reading and Park ward -- which covers Newtown and up the Wokingham Road.

B3 - Do you have any commercial interests you wish to promote? - If yes, please describe:

I'm a gardener.

B4 - Do you have any other areas of interest you wish to tell other people about? - If yes, please describe:


C1 - What are you connections with Reading?

I worked here for my University sandwich year, came back after University and have lived here for about eight years now.

C2 - What do you think is the best thing about Reading?

Reading International Solidarity Centre.

C3 - What do you think is the worst thing about Reading?

The Oracle shopping centre.

C4 - How would you like to see Reading change in the future?

An end to those stubborn pockets of deprivation.

Would you be interested in participating in future Reading List Blog Network initiatives?


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Transition Town Reading?

There is an informal meeting about setting up a Transition Town group in Reading. It is next Wednesday 11th of February, at 7 p.m. upstairs at RISC.

I've never been totally convinced by this idea in general as you are basically doing what the Council should be doing but without a mandate or the money. On the other hand, it is a popular idea which is spreading across the UK at a reasonable speed and getting people active and participating -- not to mention getting things done. I will be going along to learn more...