Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Interview with Melanie Eastwood -- Park Ward 2011 Green Candidate

1. Tell me something about yourself outside of the Green Party?

Whenever I get chance, I love to follow the lives of the ducks and geese at Whiteknights lake. I am a bit of a sucker for wildlife and secretly do my bit to help look after some of the permanent residents on the lake, at the moment, some of the birds may be finding it hard to get by in the freezing conditions and I can't help but want to take some bread or grain up there to help them through the exceptionally cold days.

2. How and why did you get involved with the Reading Green Party?

Like most people in Park Ward I got to know the Green Party through the regular door knocking and admired what the Green Party did for the area. I found myself at a crossroads in life when it was right to explore getting involved with different things, and from there I started helping out more and more. I realised that I had a lot to offer the Reading Green Party and local residents. I very much enjoy playing a more active role in the community. I'm someone who fights for things that I believe in, and can't turn a blind eye to things that don't make sense, local politics seems a good way of channelling this energy. I feel that the Green Party can offer a lot to communities, particularly at a local level.

3. What have you achieved so far as a candidate?

Since being selected, and even before, I have been out on the doorstep listening to the concerns of local people and helping get action on everything from bread-and-butter issues like fly tipping, parking problems and broken street lights to bigger issues like Wokingham's plan to exclude Reading children from Maiden Erlegh. I have also been talking to people on the doorstep about the unfair cuts to care which the Council are now consulting on and how it's important to stand up for the weak and vulnerable in society.

Some sections of the community, especially older people, are suffering extreme hardship because they don't understand how the benefits system works. I have been doing my best to make sure people are getting benefits, such as pension credit, which they are entitled to by connecting them with Communicare, behind the Wycliffe Church, for expert advice.

In Palmer Park I have been talking to park users and pushing for improvements such as a clean usable public toilet near the play area in the Wokingham Road/St Bartholomew's Road corner of the Park. Responding to residents' concerns I would also like to see better lighting in some parts of the park which are dark and unfriendly at night-time.

Finally, I feel that it is important for people to get to know others in the community and there is nothing better than to open your home to others in a way that is warm and welcoming. Putting my thoughts into practice, I recently hosted a student Sunday lunch to break down barriers and improve community relations.

4. What is your favourite type of biscuit and why?

As a biscuit lover, I can be pretty lethal if left with a packet of biscuits; my favourite would probably be freshly made chocolate chip cookies.

You can contact Melanie Eastwood at melanie@readinggreenparty.org.uk.

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