Sunday, 31 January 2010

Nuclear Awareness Group meeting

I got this from the Nuclear Awareness Group about their next meeting:

"The next NAG meeting will take place on Thursday 11th February with a special guest speaker, Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radiation and health. Following the theme of NAG's previous meeting with John Harrison of the Health Promotion Agency we will be considering the impacts of low level radiation doses on public health.

The meeting will take place from 7 pm on Thursday 11th February at the RISC Centre, 35-39 London Street, Reading. All are welcome."

Friday, 29 January 2010

Blair and the Chilcott enquiry

Today Blair will be giving evidence to the Chilcott enquiry into the illegal invasion of Iraq. To date no weapons of mass destruction have been found and it is by no means clear-cut whether the lives of the Iraqi people have been improved.

It was the buildup to this illegal war that got me interested in what was going on in the world, and other issues such as trade justice and climate change which ultimately ended up with me getting involved with the Green Party -- I was impressed by their principled stand against the war -- in Reading and local politics.

How will Blair there today? I suspect badly... And then we will have Brown in front of the enquiry before the May elections -- assuming he doesn't call an early general election.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Thames Valley playing fields safe for now

Tonight's meeting of the full council was a great success for the campaign. I'm glad that the Council has listened to us and cut down the size of the proposed Thames Valley University development site to the footprint of the existing buildings -- see section 4.22. The council says that if these buildings are no longer needed for education use, up to 93 houses could be built on this brownfield land.

Following on from this success I asked Councillor Tony Page if the council could allocate all playing fields in Reading as protected land, but unfortunately he failed to answer my question.

As expected Councillor Page attempted to rubbish the campaign at the meeting. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, up until the report tonight the whole of the Thames Valley University playing fields were in the document for development and Labour councillors were sending out mixed and unclear messages about what would happen to them. It basically came down to an issue of trust and with Labour's poor record in this area we pressed ahead with the campaign to ensure that the playing fields were protected.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Snow fall-out, potholes and fixmystreet

The report from the Council following on from all of the snow and knock-on problems is out.

One of the things that now has to be addressed following on from this bad weather is fixing all of the potholes that have been created. Some are quite big, and my picture is of one that is around 10 to 15 cm deep! If you were to hit this while cycling it would be pretty dangerous! One of the things that we can do to help the Council repair these potholes is report to them. The fixmystreet website is good for this.

One thing the council could do to improve its communications -- mentioned in the snow report -- is set up a Twitter account and use it to push out important information. It could also have a Facebook page. And while we're at it the CEO could have a blog. I have set up a Facebook group to pressure the Council on this front.

PS I hope Daisy Benson will get involved as credit where credit is due she has also been calling for the Council to make more use of 'new' media.

Economic growth and hamsters

As has been demonstrated, economic growth means an increase in resource consumption. As our planet is finite this means our economy can only grow so much. This is a nice video demonstrating that point with a hamster!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

All change on the buses

Here is a guest post about bus travel in Reading from a local resident:

"We are so lucky to have the number 17 bus route serving our area - I know of no other service quite as frequent and regular as the 17 anywhere in the South East. However, since I don't have to use the bus daily for work, the one minor irritation is that I have to have the exact amount in coins to use it. If you also find that a deterrent, could I recommend the Smart Card.

You can get one from the Broad Street Mall (Reading Buses kiosk is outside Julian Graves) and put money on it using your credit card. Your balance is then called off each time you ride the bus. Fantastic - no more scrabbling for change - and I gather you can top it up in cash on the bus itself, or at a number of newsagents including Guru newsagents on the Wokingham Road.

I'm a late adopter of this technology and I didn't find the details on the website very clear but the staff are very helpful at the kiosk and it's a great way to fund odd trips to town."

I talked to the bus company and they said that any shop displaying the "PP Paypoint" symbol should be able to top up your card. There is more information here including a way to search for your nearest top up point.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Mark Thomas review

I went to see comedian and political campaigner Mark Thomas last night at South Street. He currently has a show where the audience come up with policy ideas and vote on the best.

Some of the policy ideas from last night's show included:

-- a Michelin star for Sweeney Todd's
-- more capacity in women's' toilets
-- everyone should carry around two salt sachets in case of more snow

Other shows had come up with such gems as:

-- disguising leopards as foxes as a sort of equaliser on foxhunts
-- invading Jersey with the aim of closing it down as a corporate tax dodgers paradise
-- supporters of nuclear power should be responsible for storing the radioactive waste in their gardens

After the voting had finished we settled on the very sensible but lacking in comedy value policy of renationalising the railways.

As always a good show. And I am looking forward to the book!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Mark Thomas coming to Reading -- and he is a Green voter

The excellent comedian Mark Thomas is coming to South Street in Reading this Friday -- only a few tickets left! He is a Green Party supporter as well!

Jolly Anglers premises licence granted

I attended a tense licensing subcommittee last night to discuss granting a new premises licence for the Jolly Anglers pub. I was there with about 10 other people from Jollydarity and I am delighted to report that the Jolly Anglers now has its premises licence back.

The new owners didn't get the late hours they wanted. The pub can serve alcohol until 11 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and until 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. As I understand it the pub also got permission for a jukebox, live music and a whole host of other things.

This is one more barrier broken in getting the Jolly Anglers pub reopened which hopefully will happen in the next couple of months. Well done to the campaign and every one involved!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Palmer Park planning application -- have your say

The planning application following on from the Palmer Park consultation last year has appeared on the Council's planning website. You have up until February 2, 2010 to respond. The Design and Access Statement doesn't appear to open up properly at the moment so I've asked them to look into this.

My first thoughts are yes to the play equipment, tree and planting improvements. I had previous concerns that with the changes to car parking we were going to lose a significant amount of parkland. But having a quick look on Google maps we don't seem to be losing too much in front of the stadium and we will be reclaiming some from the old recycling car park. So at first glance there doesn't appear to be any net loss. I'll have a more detailed look at the weekend.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Jelly art space losing its home in the old Town Hall

This is really sad news! I really like Jelly and have made it along to a number of its events. The peephole exhibition in the old Long Tall Sally shop is a really creative and interesting use of space. Reading has really taken a hit on a cultural level in the last few years -- Womad, countless pub closures, the Town Hall film club and now Jelly! With all of the empty buildings across Reading there must be a suitable space somewhere?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Fallout from the snow

I got this e-mail from the CEO of Reading Borough Council following on from my e-mail about the snow and disruption. Good to hear that there will be a review.

"Dear Rob,

Whilst in the midst of the extreme weather and working to deal with the consequences, I can confirm that the Council's website is being regularly updated with information relating to the current conditions and the action the Council is taking. I am sure you will find it a helpful source of information.

We will undertake a review, in accordance with best practice and the wishes of most Councillors, of the events of the past couple of weeks. While there will undoubtedly be some things that could have been done differently, in the context of the worst and most prolonged period of extreme and cold weather for 30 years, it is doubtful that, despite our best endeavours, we can work to a brief to 'ensure that this problem doesn't happen again'.

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards,


Monday, 11 January 2010

ICM poll puts Brighton Greens in first place for the general election

Good coverage in the Independent today here based on a poll which has Green leader Caroline Lucas well-placed to beat the Tories and become the first Green MP. The poll also indicates that many Lib Dems and Labour voters are likely to switch.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Communicare -- information, advice and support

I received a copy of Communicare's annual review 2008 to 2009 a few weeks ago. Interesting to see the sort of thing they deal with -- benefit claims, benefit information, consumer issues, employment issues, form filling and housing. Also good to see that in every area they seem to be seeing more people every year as word gets around -- although some of this growth will unfortunately be down to the recession.

For the uninitiated Communicare can be found round the back of the Wycliffe church at Cemetery Junction in the Newtown, Reading.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Less than 10 days to object to AWE planning application

Please object to the planning application for a new Enriched Uranium Facility at AWE Aldermaston if you have not already done so, and pass this message onto anyone you know who might also want to object.

Many thanks,
Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign

AWE Aldermaston – Enriched Uranium Facility (Project Pegasus)

How to have your say: Writing to West Berkshire Council about the planning application

Objections to the planning application for the proposed new Enriched Uranium Facility (“Pegasus”) at AWE Aldermaston should be sent to:

Planning Department (Attention Mr Clive Inwards)
West Berkshire Council
Council Offices
Market Street
RG14 5LD

Comments can be sent by email to or you can send your comments via the West Berkshire Council website.

- Please quote the following reference in your letter: 09/02396/COMIND - Enriched Uranium Facility, AWE Aldermaston.
- The closing date for comments is 15th January 2010.
- The Planning Committee will not consider arguments that do not relate to planning issues.

If you live locally or have a local connection, please stress this so that the Committee understands how the development will affect you personally.

Further information on the issues involved is included in a briefing available here .

Support for Carer Watch's campaign...

I am happy to endorse Carer Watch's campaign for the restoration of unconditional benefits to people diagnosed with serious and enduring illness. Details on Carer Watch's website.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

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

Council meetings -- 0
Community meetings and events -- 11
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 15


-- Attended Christmas events at the Pakistani Community Centre, Wycliffe Church, Alfred Sutton school and Newtown school.
-- Attended Thames Valley Positive Support's world AIDS day stall
-- Campaigned against council plans for development on the playing fields behind Thames Valley University on Crescent Road
-- Called for the Council to grit steep slopes to prevent people from injuring themselves in icy weather.


-- worked with the council to get a safety fence next to the children's play area in Palmer Park separating it from the busy Wokingham Road
-- got kerb and crumbling bricks fixed at the Wokingham Road end of Eastern Avenue
-- asked Council for action on the issue of bins on pavements in problem areas off the Wokingham Road
-- got fly tipping cleared from Cumberland Road and Heath Road
-- asked for Council action on the wheelie bins which sometimes obstruct the pelican crossing opposite Alfred Sutton school
-- got fly tipping cleared from the Palmer Park recycling car park
-- got BT to fix the fence in the alley between Culver Road and Crescent Road.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

More snow but a better response from the Council?

Glad to see that all the pressure has resulted in a better response from Reading Council to the snow this time. As of 6 p.m. although busy, Cemetery Junction is moving. There is also detailed information on the Council's website.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Adrian Ramsay -- one of our first Green MPs?

As well as Caroline Lucas in Brighton, Adrian Ramsay in Norwich stands a very good chance of becoming one of the first Green MPs. See his video.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Wokingham Green Party Parliamentary candidate and councillor starts blogging

Marjory Bisset our Green Parish councillor in Shinfield and Parliamentary candidate for Wokingham has just started to blog. Good luck Marjory.

Three New Year's resolutions

I don't normally do much in the way of New Year's resolutions, but this year I've got a few:

1. Socialise more/spend less time on the computer.

2. Get more people involved in helping elect Reading's first Green councillor -- if I've not asked you already and you want to help get in contact. At the last local elections we were just 20 votes short.

3. Help Brighton elect Caroline Lucas as the first Green MP in Westminster -- to complete our set with the existing MEPs, MSPs and AMs. She stands a really good chance!

Admittedly resolution one is possibly contradicted by two and three, but we will see what happens.