Monday, 30 November 2009

A month in the life of a Green Party campaigner -- November

As you can see below, November has been a busy month.

Council meetings -- 0
Community meetings and events -- 11
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 32

Campaigns

-- I wrote a letter to the paper continuing the Green Party campaign to bring our troops home and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan.

-- I got involved with The Big Care Debate on the future of care in the UK.

-- I supported a local commuter to try and improve cycle parking at Paddington Station.

-- I continued the Green Party campaign against tuition fees by writing a letter and taking part in a debate at Reading University.

-- We campaigned against cuts to PCSOs at Reading University and in the surrounding area.

-- I joined the campaign to end inequality resulting in low pay for women.

Results

-- Following on from Green campaigning the Council is making moves to get the old Rupert Square Information Shop back into use.

-- It has taken over a year of pressure but we finally got the landlord who owns a fly tipping hotspot on Norton Road in Newtown to clear and secure the space.

-- Worked with various agencies to clear the Kennet Mouth seating area.

-- Got an extra litter bin for duck feeding litter on the Kennet Side.

-- Worked with the Council to get problem cars for sale removed from the unofficial garage forecourt on the Wokingham Road.

Reading environmental/ethical Christmas fair

This fair is happening at Reading Town Hall on Saturday, December 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Reading is going to have its first massive Christmas environmental fair. There'll be plenty of original ethical Christmas shopping, fun kids activities, two cinemas, as well as scrummy Christmas cookery demos and tastings, plus a big focus on inspiration for health, fair trade and environmental lifestyle ideas. All this all day for only £3, £1 concessions. With delicious healthy meals and cakes to eat in or take away to make the lead up to Christmas easy!"

Friday, 27 November 2009

The People's Charter

It is always good when a movement style initiative gets going and their objectives are in line with most Green Party policy. This is true of The People's Charter which I have just signed up to. Their objectives are:

a fair economy for a fairer Britain
more and better jobs
decent homes for all
save and improve our services
for fairness and justice
a better future stars now.

More detail on their website.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The new Cross Town Route

The Cross Town Route continues to rumble forwards. It is no longer a motorway from the Thames Valley business Park to the Vastern Road roundabout, going via Kennet Mouth. It is now a park and ride scheme following the same route. The same arguments still stand about it being a blight on the area, inducing traffic etc but now it is not just the road, but a large car park as well, somewhere on the green space by the Thames.

Both the Labour Party and the Tories are in favour of the scheme -- although the Tories want a road for cars rather than buses. The Liberal Democrats have not decided if they for or against the scheme yet. Only the Greens and residents are against this development.

This story in Get Reading mentions it towards the end, although it does not call it the new Cross Town Route, it calls it a park and ride on the Reading/Wokingham boundary.

I have created this Facebook group so people can say No to the New Cross Town Route.

Tree planting in Palmer Park

As part of the Tree O'clock project which aims to set a world record for the number of trees planted in a day, there is an event in Palmer Park to plant 2000 trees as well as other events around Reading.

The Palmer Park event is sponsored by Stella -- the beer company -- which I assume means they are stumping up a reasonable amount of cash for the benefit of the community, which is great. However the flipside of this is that the event is being promoted as over 18 only -- rightly so I would say. There are other events in the Reading but some people are not going to want to travel which will impact on the turnout.

I have not managed to get hold of the organisation yet but hopefully some of these trees will be hedging to replace the section we lost earlier in the year!

I am not sure whether I am in Reading on that day but if I am I will be heading down there to help.

UPDATE: The Council say that there will be at least three different planting areas in Palmer Park and children will be welcome to help plant trees by the playing area near the corner of St Bartholomew's Road and Wokingham Road.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tuition fees debate

Just got around to blogging about the tuition fees debate at Reading University. I was on the panel with the other East Reading Parliamentary candidates. We each had five minutes to talk on this subject. I put forward the Green Party argument for good quality, well funded public services, and argued that tuition fees should be scrapped as they are a barrier to higher education.

To summarise the rest of the debate Gareth Epps from the Liberal Democrats also argued against fees but acknowledged he was campaigning against his leader. Annelise Dodds from Labour agreed that the fees should not be increased -- unfortunately this is not the Labour position which is to wait for the conclusion of a review conveniently timed after the general election. Rob Wilson from the Tories managed to fill his five minutes without saying much other than he too would also be waiting for the conclusion of the review.

Everyone apart from Rob Wilson agreed to sign the pledge against any increase in fees and in favour of a fairer alternative.

There was one surreal point towards the end of the debate when Rob Wilson went off on a tangent complaining about constituents asking him to sign Early Day Motions and generally contacting him. I got a good laugh when I pointed out to Rob Wilson that that is democracy. One of the NUS campaigners informed me later in the evening that I scored double marks for this comment because apparently "that's democracy" is one of their often used catchphrases around the office at work.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

What have Park Ward councillors been up to recently?

What have the councillors in Park Ward been up to in recent months? Not much judging by the system -- Front Office -- they use to ask questions of officers and request repairs on behalf of residents. My Freedom of information request reveals the following activity for the three Park Ward councillors from this system between July and October inclusive.

Wazir Hussain (Conservative) -- 16
Shirley Merriot (Labour) -- 0
Jon Hartley (Labour) -- 0

Considering some councillors have submitted around 50 items of work over this period the results for Park Ward especially from Labour are rubbish! Have the Labour councillors both thrown in the towel already? I know Shirley is stepping down but not until the elections in May?

For some statporn see Glenn's blog.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

West Berks Brewery ends negotiations to reopen the Jolly Anglers

It is a real shame that the positive negotiations to get the Jolly Anglers reopened involving West Berks Brewery have come to a premature end. I hope that this will put a stop to the irresponsible press releases from the likes of Rob Wilson!

Despite this setback, the campaign goes on and I think we need a get together to regroup and assess the situation.

Reading Young Greens Society launched

We now have a Reading Young Greens Society at Reading University.

We are currently campaigning to make the campus safer and against tuition fees.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Friday, 6 November 2009

Parking in Newtown -- plans move forward

I thought people would be interested in the developments on the issue of parking in Newtown.

To summarise following on from pressure from residents of eastern Newtown who have real problems parking in the unrestricted roads the Council has been looking into introducing residents' parking across the whole of the Newtown area. The latest report going to the Traffic Management Advisory Panel considers the implications of making Liverpool Road residents' parking -- it would need to be made one-way.

If you want to read the whole report it is item 7 on the agenda for the Traffic Management Advisory Panel.

As the report says we will have to wait for the Reading wide residents' parking scheme review to finish before we get any further with this.

Anyone can attend the meeting if they want but be warned you may have to wait a long time before the relevant item is discussed and you only get speaking rights by contacting the chair in advance.

Jolly Anglers

I have just seen the second irresponsible press release on the reopening of the Jolly Anglers in as many days. Positive negotiations are going on but this sort of publicity jeopardises them. To all journalists out there, please put a lid on this story until the contracts have been signed!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

PCSO petition

We have handed in our petition against the cuts to Police Community Support Officers in the Redlands and University area. Tony Downes from the University would not accept it in person so I handed it in to his PA.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A month in the life of a Green Party campaigner -- October

Council meetings -- 1
Community meetings and events -- 15
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 22

It has been quite a busy few weeks involving Black History Month and Reading International Festival events. Still picking up casework from the door knocking. Went along to the full council meeting to support a colleague asking questions on cycling.