Monday, 25 April 2011

Park Ward election campaign update

People keep asking me how the campaign is going in Park Ward to get Melanie Eastwood elected as our second Green councillor so I thought I would do a quick blog update.

Canvassing is going well. Our support from previous years seems to be holding up and we are also finding a reasonable number of new Green voters who like our emphasis on fairness, integrity and the environment or are disillusioned with all of the main parties for one reason or another. Many people have also commented that it is great that they see us all year-round and not just at election time looking for votes. If we haven't managed to catch you in yet but you plan to vote Green please let us know.

Again, we are winning the poster war with more up than any other party -- however it should be noted that in the past we have had more posters up and still lost! If you would like a poster dropping round let me know.

Still plenty to do between now and election day, but the team will keep plugging away and we will see what happens at the count.

Speaking of election day if you fancy helping out, there is plenty to do from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.. If you can spare the whole day or just a few hours please get in contact.

Saturday, 23 April 2011


I think that the Reading International Solidarity Centre does a great job of development education in a whole host of areas -- social, and environmental, economic. And they surely have to be a candidate for making the best use of a building in the UK -- shop and cafe on the ground floor, meeting rooms on the first floor, office and accommodation on the third and fourth floors and a garden on the roof! Unfortunately they are yet another victim the devastating cuts. I got this message from them:

We are writing to you as a friend or user of RISC to tell you of our current financial situation. Our core educational work is threatened because we have lost two substantial government grants from DfID.

Our target is to raise £50,000 during the next financial year in order to avoid further drastic cuts to staff wages and services.

If you value the work and ethos of RISC, you can help us by becoming a REGULAR SUPPORTER:

• just £5 a month pledged by 200 supporters will yield £12,000 a year and will pay for core work such as the public events programme.


• £15 will support a month’s expenses for one of our invaluable volunteers
• £62 will pay for RISC’s glass recycling for one month
• £200 will pay for one month’s administration and maintenance of the Artefacts Loans Service
• £300 will pay for a Global Citizenship training day for a local school.
Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) is a Development Education Centre working with schools and community groups to raise the profile of global issues and promote action for sustainable development, human rights and social justice.

You can donate electronically.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Residents' parking disaster!

The coalition's changes to the way residents' parking works are starting to hit home, and lots of people are unhappy with the new scheme. Problems include massive increases in charges -- discretionary parking permits used to be free for example but now cost £300. Residents are also getting less permits/time for visitors.

I voted to get this decision called in and reconsidered, but unfortunately this fell on deaf ears.

There is a Facebook group here.

There is a petition here.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Park Ward case work statistics

Here is a graph showing how many items of case work -- potholes, education issues, parking problems etc -- each councillor in Park Ward has put through the Front Office system since 2009. It is based on figures taken from this spreadsheet of all councillor Front Office activity.

As I was only elected in May 2010 so my history starts from then. The other two councillors don't seem to have been particularly active up until recently.

In the past commentators have suggested that some councillors choose not to use the Front Office system for their casework and this accounted for their low Front Office statistics. I have never understood this because if you use the system, councillor services will log your case work, keep track of it, chase it up for you and help you write letters back to residents. If you don't use the system then you either fire and forget your communications with officers and don't keep track of them or you have to use your own system to manage casework without the support of councillor services.

It is interesting to note that both of the other councillors in the ward have started to log more items of case work in the run up to this election. But they didn't do this before the 2010 election? My analysis is that in 2010 Labour were complacent and they are now getting worried about a second Green councillor and the Conservative has realised that the electorate are about to kick him out.

What do you think?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Melanie Eastwood a second Green councillor

2011 is going to be an important year for the Green Party in Reading. We’re standing a full slate of candidates in the Borough and hoping to get Melanie Eastwood elected as a second councillor in Park Ward to work alongside myself. This would allow us to get more done in the area on schools, transport and parking. With two Green councillors we’d be more effective on the council, putting fairness, integrity and the environment at the centre of politics in Reading.

Melanie got involved with the Green Party after we knocked on her door, asking if she had any issues of concern. Since being selected as the candidate Melanie has been working closely with me. Together we have raised over 500 cases with the council on a range of issues in the area.

The Green Party has been active in Park Ward all year round since 2004. This has resulted in our vote going up at every election since and us winning by 574 votes in 2010! So we have momentum.

At the forthcoming local election on 5 May, Melanie will be the candidate up for election -- I am elected till 2014. However, we can use the Euro elections in 2009 as a guide. I wasn't standing at these elections, but we still outvoted every other party, winning by 362 votes. This shows we have a solid core of support locally.

There is much to do between now and election day. But I believe that the combination of the team's hard work and results, our solid base of support and our momentum stands us in good stead to elect a second councillor. So please vote Green on Thursday 5 May and help us do more to improve the area and secure a fair deal for local residents.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bridges Hall redevelopment

"The University or Reading and our accommodation partner UPP, would like to invite you to attend an exhibition on proposals for development on the site of Bridges Hall of residence, Whiteknights Road.

The re-development of the Bridges Hall site as replacement student accommodation forms part of the University’s Whiteknights Campus Development Plan 2008-18, on which the University consulted in 2007/8. This proposal, led by UPP, for a new Bridges Hall with integrated self-catering facilities and a separate catering hub, will complete the current Whiteknights accommodation project and is consistent with our sustainable aim of consolidating University accommodation on the Whiteknights campus.

The exhibition will provide detail on the proposals and an opportunity to discuss the plans with members of staff from the University and our partner UPP, who will be submitting the planning application for the site later in the year. UPP will welcome feedback on the proposals as part of their work in shaping the planning of the development.

The exhibition will be held at:-
Wessex Hall, University of Reading, Whiteknights Road, Reading RG6 6BQ
Monday 18 April, 3.00 pm - 6.00 pm
Tuesday 19 April, 5.00 pm - 8.00 pm

If you are unable to visit the exhibition, details of the proposals will also be available online at from 18 April."

Planning applications committee and Park United Reformed Church's solar roof

Planning applications committee is coming up. A positive planning application which is on the agenda is Park United Reformed Church's plan to mount solar panels on their roof. This would be the first such installation on a church in Reading. I have been supporting them through the planning process and hope that planning permission is granted. This would send out a clear message that climate change is serious and we need to work together to tackle it at all levels.

The full agenda can be found here.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Lots of interesting and important stuff on the agenda of the Cabinet last night.

Items particularly relevant to Park Ward are:

item 15 -- transfer of land at Green Road for the mosque
item 17 -- proposal for residual household waste collections in priority areas (back to weekly collection)
item 20 -- education capital programme 2011/12 (this mentions a consultation on permanent expansion of St John's School)

Other interesting items:
item 18 -- grant aid to Reading Council for Racial Equality in 2011/12
item 23 -- Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (listening to what local people have to say about improving the area)

There are reports accessible through the link above on the majority of items on the agenda.

Friday, 8 April 2011

February Councillor report -- defending public services, 20 mph speed limits and RESCUE

Less than five weeks to go to the local elections! Things are obviously getting very busy, but here is a brief report on what I have been up to in February and March -- with support from my colleague Melanie Eastwood.

Briefly, I have continued to support parents fighting for a fair deal over changes to the Maiden Erlegh catchment area. I have worked with Reading Council for Racial Equality opposing their devastating cut. I organised a cleanup event as part of Reading RESCUE to tidy up Kennet Mouth. I also attended the launch event for the Outside Inside Festival.

Council meetings and briefings -- 5
Surgeries -- 3
School governor meetings -- 3
Community meetings and events -- 11
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents -- 45 in February, March figure not available

Some of our action:
• worked to tackle estate agent boards
defended public services at the full council budget meeting

Some of our results:
helped tidy up Kennet Mouth
progress on 20 mph speed limits
got the Council to commit to consulting on opening the Cemetery Junction gate
• as usual we got countless instances of fly tipping cleared, graffiti cleaned, potholes filled and residents' questions answered.

• None claimed.

Gifts to declare -- over the value of £25:
• None.

My interests are published on Reading Borough Council's website.

Monthly councillor allowance (pay) before deductions: £685.08

Monday, 4 April 2011

Local elections fund-raising target of £500

A note from our Treasurer:

"Dear Reading and Wokingham Green Party supporter

I am writing to ask if you will please support our election fund-raising appeal. We hope to raise £500.00 in donations. Our current target is to get a second Green councillor elected in Park Ward in Reading in May this year. Our candidate, selected last September, is Melanie Eastwood. We have been working hard on local bread-and-butter issues and on bigger concerns such as opposing cuts to the care of elderly and vulnerable people. And we have also been working to get Melanie’s name and profile as well known in Park Ward as Rob White’s - quite a challenge. The main way we do this is through print: ward newsletters, election addresses, leaflets, posters etc. We estimate that, worst case, we will spend £710 between now and 5th May, and best case £570. So you can see we need your help. £5.00 will cover half of our telephone costs, £10.00 will pay for 50 posters, £25 will pay for all the vote tomorrow leaflets. Any amount is welcome, large or small. You can donate online via the donate button at the top right of Rob's blog, or you can send a cheque to me at 19 Hyde End Road, Shinfield, Reading RG2 9EP -- payable to Reading Green Party.

Thank you and regards

Marjory Bisset
Hon. Treasurer, Reading and Wokingham Green Party"

Friday, 1 April 2011

Community Speedwatch Results for St Bartholomew's Road

Melanie and myself both helped with the community speed watch event in St Bartholomew's Road following many complaints of speeding. Here are the results:

Session: 2:30pm – 4:00pm
-- 134 cars were recorded, at an average speed of 22.3mph
-- 6 have had letters issued as they were travelling at 32mph or more
-- Maximum speed registered was 36mph (one car)

Session: 7pm – 8:15pm
-- 89 cars were recorded, at an average speed of 21.3 mph
-- 5 have had letters issued as they were travelling at 32mph or more
-- Maximum speed registered was 35mph (one car)

In addition:
-- 2 cannabis cautions were administered to a vehicle travelling under 30mph
-- 1 expired tax disc was seized from a car recorded at 32mph

‘Thank you’ to all volunteers that took part in the Community Speedwatch.

If you have a problem with speeding in your road and want to help organise a similar event please get in contact.