Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas

For me Christmas is about friends and family. I don't do much in the way of cards and presents, but I do make an effort to see or to speak to people that are close to me over the festive period.

Today, assuming the weather is with me I will be catching the train from Reading up to see my parents who live in Congleton, Cheshire. My brother and grandma will also be joining us. If it is anything like other Christmases spent at home it will be a battle against eating too much food, combined with board games, reading and catching up with old friends.

Christmas should also be about peace and justice though. Unfortunately the corporate takeover of this spiritual festival continues relentlessly reducing it to shopping and non-stop television. So this Christmas as always my thoughts will be with the victims of injustice at home and across the world: the one in three children living in poverty in the UK and the 1.1 billion people across the world living on less than one dollar a day; the people killed and displaced by war in Afghanistan and elsewhere: and the people affected by climate change.

I would like to wish everyone in Reading and across the globe a safe and happy Christmas.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Have you fallen on the ice -- NEW POLL

Recently, I've seen many people slip on the ice and heard of people falling over and injuring themselves. We are calling on the council to take a step towards gritting all pavements by at the very least gritting steep slopes.

I have also launched the poll, "Have you fallen on the ice?".

Friday, 18 December 2009

Playing fields -- fisking Richard McKenzie

Richard McKenzie appears to be blogging about me in all but name calling me a liar etc. As his blog isn't interactive I can't post a comment on there so I thought I would do a quick fisk here.

Firstly I have never said that the Alfred Sutton portion of the playing field is under threat, it is the 5.6 ha of Thames Valley University playing fields next to it. It would be good to see what fact he is basing this allegation on?

He says that there is no plan. I would be interested to hear what type of document he thinks the Site Allocations Document is? The playing fields site is SA86 which is on page 155 of part three of appendix three: http://tiny.cc/SRPti

Richard mentions that the site won protection in 1999. Having spoken to Council officers already on this I think he is referring to the Alfred Sutton planning brief, which I have been informed is of questionable value due to the new Local Development Framework. The officers seemed to think it wouldn't hold up under an appeal from a developer.

That is enough now. I look forward to his response.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Thames Valley University playing fields -- Labour newsletter

Labour have just put out a rebuttal to our newsletter which informed people that the Thames Valley University playing fields are being lined up for development in a council planning document -- Site and Detailed Policies Document was called the Site Allocations Document.

On the front of the Labour 'newsletter' there are lots of warm words about not wanting any building on these playing fields. However the letter from Lead Member for Strategic Planning, Tony Page which is reproduced on the back isn't so straightforward. Cutting through the waffle at the start and heading straight to the juicy bits at the end there seem to be a few weaselly 'ifs' appearing. And the last sentence is the icing on the cake "it would not be appropriate nor possible to remove this site from the Site and Detailed Policies Document".

After having talked to officers again they have confirmed to me that actually it is possible to have this site removed from the Site and Detailed Policies Document and so we will continue to work to make this happen.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Effectiveness of blogging/where do you live -- NEW POLL

Recently I was having a conversation with a Green Party colleague about the effectiveness of blogging for politicians. He was saying more posts equals higher readership. I was saying true, but more posts equals more time taken and the audience is global -- but being a politician I am most interested in communicating with people who live within the areas I am seeking to represent, Reading East and Park Ward. So I have put a poll on my blog to find out where my readers live. Please take two seconds to vote and help me determine how effective my blog is.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Political organising training

While trawling the Internet for useful resources on organising (political) I came across this interesting resource from Harvard University. The author Marshall Ganz trained the organisers for the Obama campaign.

Friday, 11 December 2009

What people think of Reading -- survey results

The Council just notified me that the results of the Reading place survey are out. A quick flick through and that these paragraphs caught my attention:

"The level of crime (63%), clean streets (41%), public transport (39%), health services (38%), and parks and open spaces (37%) are the five aspects most frequently cited as important in making somewhere a good place to live. The five aspects considered to be most in need of improvement are; level of traffic (55%); level of crime (49%); activities for teenagers (39%); roads and pavements (38%); and clean streets (33%). Combining the two aspects shows that the high priority areas are the level of crime, level of traffic and clean streets."

"Satisfaction with the Council and the services it provides has generally fallen, with overall satisfaction down 11%, appearing to reflect the wider trend across the country1. Conversely respondents appear to have increased satisfaction with their quality of life in their local area, up 5%."

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Battery recycling at Alfred Sutton school

In recent months, I have been working with GLOBE -- Go Local On a Better Environment -- groups in Reading on battery recycling. Recently, Alfred Sutton -- where I am a governor and do my crossing patrol duty -- agreed to have a battery recycling point in the reception area. A week after it had been put in place I was disappointed to see only a few batteries in the bottom of the container. However when I enquired about this I was told it had already been emptied a number of times! Yesterday I did a brief talk at assembly on battery recycling which went down well, and a quick show of hands informed me that a good percentage of the children had already brought some batteries in.

Well done GLOBE and everyone at the school who helped make this happen especially the school council.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Jolly Anglers pub update -- covenant and licence

For those of you who are not part of the Facebook group to reopen the Jolly Anglers pub here is a copy of the latest update:

Hello all,

Just a quick note to update you on the campaign's progress in recent months. Following on from pressure from us, and negotiations, the new owners have informed us that Enterprise Inns have removed the covenant from the deeds of the property. This means that the building can now be reopened as a pub without fear of legal action for breaching the covenant.

The most recent development -- as anyone who has walked passed the pub will have seen -- is that the new owners have applied for a new premises licence. The campaign will be writing a letter in support of this application. If this is granted the only thing stopping the pub from reopening is having a person or brewery to run it. And as we have seen in the papers recently there is definitely interest out there in taking this on. So with a bit of luck and a fair wind the Jolly Anglers may be open by February.

Well done to everyone for all of your hard work so far. We will keep you posted of future developments and of when action is needed.

Best wishes
Rob White

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Newtown photo exhibition

Thanks to Debbie for this:

"In case you didn't know already, there's a lovely photographic exhibition on at the main library, 2nd floor, at the moment. Most of the photo's are black and white and were commissioned in 1973, specifically to photograph the older part of Newtown before it was pulled down. It's interesting to see that many of the new roads kept the same names as the originals, although of course look completely different now. There are also a few newspaper clips from the time (very sad), some old maps of the area (from when it was all fields!) and a few more up to date photos."

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Join GREN for the WAVE -- climate change

I got this from GREN:

"THE WAVE is the march organised by Stop Climate Chaos in London on 5 December, just before the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen.

Join GREN for the Climate Emergency Rally, midday at Speaker’s Corner, and with campaigners from over 100 other organisations across the UK to march to encircle Parliament for the mass ‘Mexican Wave’!

GREN is encouraging people from Reading to go to the march and rally:

-- By train – meet at the front entrance to Reading a station 10.15 a.m. to catch the 10.33 a.m. train to Paddington from where we will go to Speakers Corner, Hyde Park for the midday rally. From there we will join THE WAVE march which leaves Grosvenor Square at 1 p.m. Please bring banners and other things to brighten up the event! See www.gren.org.uk

-- CAFOD have a few places on their coach which is leaving Reading Station at 8am and Woodley at 8:45am. They will then go to an Ecumenical Service at Westminster Methodist Central Hall at 11am before attending THE WAVE. To book a seat contact Rob White -- bobby.blanc@gmail.com -- and I will put you in touch

For more details, including the route for THE WAVE see www.stopclimatechaos.org

Dress code: Blue! Please bring blue gloves if you have them, or paint your hands blue for the 3pm climax!"

Reading Pride AGM

I went along to the Reading Pride AGM last night. Having been along to the parade and festival since I found out about it, I thought I would go along to the AGM to find out more about the group and their plans for this year coming.

It was a well attended AGM at the Civic Centre with I would guess 20 or 30 people there. Other political types that I saw in attendance were Tory councillors Tim Harris and Andrew Cumpsty. I was pleased to hear that the festival was growing and doing well.

There was a speaker from the Gay Football Supporters Network who was very interesting and spoke very positively about Reading Football Club's positive attitude in wanting to tackle homophobic language on the terraces. Although there is still a long way to go!

It was finished in an hour -- which I think is a good length for an AGM -- and after chatting to a few people I cycled off home. Unfortunately my tyre was almost flat so as well as feeling every single bump, I think I may have a puncture.