Thursday, 31 May 2012

Changes to the NHS in Reading #rdg

Thanks to South Reading Patient Voice for this article which explains some of the changes to the NHS in our area. For more information or to get involved with Patient Voice please contact:


Next year will see big changes in the way our National Health Service is run and local GPs are at the heart of these changes. The NHS will still be free at the point of use as it has been since it was brought in in 1948. You will still have the rights to treatment outlined in the NHS Constitution. But there will be a much more local focus to the way parts of the service are run.

In South Reading GPs from twenty GP practices have got together as the South Reading Clinical Commissioning Group. Together with hospital and nursing colleagues and some lay persons they will decide on the way money is spent on community and hospital medical treatment. It's a huge responsibility - the budget will be around 140 million pounds for about 123,000 patients - but they will have local support and a professional support organisation to help them do it. They also want to have your input and that is why they have encouraged the formation of South Reading Patient Voice, the patients' input to the commissioning of health services.

South Reading GPs will also be working closely together with similar groups of GPs in Newbury, North and West Reading and in Wokingham to coordinate their relationships with treatment suppliers like the Royal Berks Hospital and to share administrative costs and best practice. Together these four groups will have to take on most of the responsibilities of the Berkshire West Primary Care Trust which will disappear at the end of March 2013. The two Reading groups will be going forward for formal authorisation by the NHS over the summer.

Another change is that Reading Borough Council takes on responsibility for public health. Public health means preventing harm and improving health. So there will be an intense local focus and a lively conversation on health and environment, health inequalities and medical treatment.

The changes will put a spotlight on the integration between GP care, care in the community and hospital care. More treatment will be given out of hospital where that is possible. As new equipment and methods comes in, more conditions will be treatable out of hospital. Commissioning by thePCT has recognised inequalities and differences between areas, but now these will be subject to a greater local focus.

So if this is all decided right here in South Reading how can you get involved? And why should you? South Reading Patient Voice will be a forum for finding out about changes in treatment, about how our health is developing, about the changes that GPs are thinking of bringing in and outcomes that result. By getting involved you can bring about a health service that works better for people like yourself and for everybody else too.

And by the way, you don't need to worry about GPs commissioning themselves - they are not allowed to do that. GP services are commissioned by a National Commissioning Board which will also commission some rare and specialised treatments. But GPs will be able to move some medical tests and procedures into local surgeries for a more integrated local experience."

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

More regulation of HMOs in Reading

Below is an extract from a letter sent out about regulating Houses of Multiple Occupation in the area. More information can be found here:

"Dear Sir/Madam,

Notification of Article 4 Direction for removal of permitted development rights to convert from a dwellinghouse to a small house in multiple occupation.

This letter is to notify you of the removal of certain permitted development rights under the Planning Acts at the above address. The above address is now subject to a Direction that removes permitted development rights to convert from a dwellinghouse to a small house in multiple occupation (HMO). This means that such conversions are no longer automatically permitted and an application for planning permission for any such conversion will need to be submitted to the local planning authority. Permission for a conversion may be refused, or granted unconditionally or subject to conditions.

It is intended that this change will come into force on 16 May 2013.

After informal consultation at the end of 2011 about houses in multiple occupation in Park, Redlands and Katesgrove Wards, and the gathering of other evidence, the Council’s Cabinet resolved that, for a defined area covering parts of Park, Redlands and Katesgrove Wards (see attached map) permitted development rights to convert from a dwellinghouse to a small HMO be removed. Development that can be carried out without the need for an application for planning permission is called ‘permitted development’. The Council can remove these ‘permitted development’ rights though a process known as an ‘Article 4 Direction’.

On 16 May 2012, a non-immediate Article 4 Direction was made for an area which includes the above property. A formal period of notice is required in these cases, and it is intended that the Article 4 Direction will come into force on 16 May 2013, i.e. one year from the date the Direction was made. As from that date, any conversion of a property from a dwellinghouse (C3) to a small house in multiple occupation (C4) will require a planning application to be made, about which neighbouring properties will be advised and consulted, with decisions being made either by planning officers under delegated powers or by the Planning Applications Committee, where objectors have a right of public speaking. If a planning application is not currently required to convert from C3 to C4 use, then this will continue to be the case until 16 May 2013, (unless a planning application is required for any other reason) . A copy of the Notice of the Direction as published in The Reading Chronicle on Friday 18th May is attached below.

Further information, including a copy of the Article 4 Direction, a more detailed map showing the area to which it relates, background evidence and the results of the consulation carried out at the end of 2011 can be found on the council’s website at:

Should you wish to make a representation concerning the Direction please ensure this is made to the local planning authority between Friday 18 May 2012 and 5pm on Wed 13 June 2012.

Representations can be made in writing to:

LDF Planning Team, Planning Department

Civic Centre

Reading, RG1 7AE


Tel: 0118 937 4741 Fax: 0118 937 2435

Once the Direction has been confirmed, further notification will be sent to the properties affected.

Yours faithfully,"

Monday, 28 May 2012

Extra rubbish collections at end of University term #rdg

Pleased to see the Council prioritising this again. If you live in Park Ward let me know how the end of term cleanup works in your road and let me know about any problems. Council press release:

"Extra refuse collections will take place in the university area next month aimed at removing all rubbish from student properties before they leave to return to their homes when summer term ends on 29 June.

Extra bags of domestic waste will be collected the week beginning 11th June, then again the week beginning 25 June and extra recycling waste will be collected the week beginning 18 June.

The refuse crews will work to make sure as much rubbish left by students and landlords is cleared away so it doesn't become a nuisance or health issue for residents in the area. There will also be a special Saturday collection on 30 June to 'mop up' any rubbish not picked up during the extra shifts.

The Waste Operation Management Team will visit and survey the area on a daily basis - Monday to Fridays to identify any properties with excess uncollected bags of waste and make arrangements for these to be taken away.

As in previous years there will be no bulky waste collections. Aut these will be available to landlords on request at a cost of £32.50 for one to five items and £55 for six to ten items.

In the run up to these arrangements Environmental Wardens will be visiting the area and writing to people about items found abandoned in front gardens. And officers on late shifts will be knocking on the doors where they know students are living, urging them to make sure as much household waste is presented in good time ahead of their scheduled collection day.

If local residents make a complaint about rubbish the council will arrange for the items to be taken away the second week in July."

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Reading Freegle #rdg – keeping things out of landfill

Reading Freegle is a way of keeping things out of landfill, it facilitates you passing on things which you no longer need and getting things that you do need. They have recently improved their system. See the e-mail below:
"Hi ReadingFreegleUK members.

First of all, this is entirely optional - you don't have to try this if you don't want to, and everything will carry on working just as it does at present.

Sometimes people find Yahoo a bit frustrating. For ages people have been asking to be able to:

see just OFFERs which aren't TAKEN, and WANTEDS which aren't RECEIVED
see posts from all the Freegle groups you belong to in one place
see just OFFERs or just WANTEDs
use just a couple of clicks to mark your OFFERs as TAKEN, WANTEDs as RECEIVED, or repost items
see where things are on a map
join groups more easily, without having to tackle the mysteries of getting a Yahoo ID
Set up an alert for an item using our Alerts feature

And now you can! Our new way of doing things is called Freegle Direct, so if any of the above sounds worth a look, click on

Don't worry; you are not committing to anything - you can easily go back to how you use the group now if you are not happy. Whether you use this or stick with how you use the group now, it is still the same group - just a different way of viewing and using it.

You can easily sign in with either a Yahoo, Gmail or Facebook ID at Freegle Direct:

Please email us if you need any help using Freegle.
Any queries, just get in touch with us at
Best wishes
Alan, David, Wendy and Matt

Links to all the above are on our home page at Yahoo:

ADMIN new way to make freegling much easier.    __._,_.___
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Messages in this topic (1)
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To make posting easier please try  out Freegle Direct

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Friday, 25 May 2012

How can we help you? Residents' advice surgeries.

Your Park Ward Green Party councillors – Jamie Whitham, Melanie Eastwood and Rob White – will be holding the following residents' advice surgeries. No appointment is necessary.

Monday, May 28 – outside the Co-op supermarket, Cemetery Junction 5 PM to 6 PM

Saturday, June 30 – outside the post office, 75 Wokingham Road 11 AM to 12 noon

Saturday, July 28 – Playcafe, Palmer Park 11 AM to 12 noon

If you are unable to come along to these surgeries, but have issues you would like to raise, please get in contact.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Alfred Sutton expansion letter

In case this didn't get to you in the pupil post:

"Dear Parents,


Across the whole of Reading we are facing a significant shortage of pupil places for September 2012, and are having to identify a number of primary schools across the Borough to accommodate the additional children who have applied for a school place. In East Reading this year (2012/13) we have seen a corresponding increase in demand for school places and in response Alfred Sutton Primary School has volunteered to accept an additional intake of up to 30 foundation stage children.

Alfred Sutton is a popular choice amongst parents in the locality, often first preference. This year we are presented with a significant increase in pupils in East Reading generally and to date we have been unable to offer them all a school place. Whilst not all the children live within the designated area for Alfred Sutton we will try and offer those closest to the school with a place.

Our criteria for selecting Alfred Sutton Primary for this expansion include:-

  • The demand for the extra spaces is arising primarily from children within the East Reading /Wokingham Road area.
  • The school has the space to help develop new pupil capacity for Reading

This cohort will then work their way through the school until they leave after year 6. The Borough Council and the school will now work together to strategically locate a new modular building on the school grounds to allow the planned growth in pupil numbers. In addition the Council is committed to Masterplanning the existing school, to ensure that it can successfully integrate the enlarged year group throughout the 7 years that the pupils will attend Alfred Sutton Primary School.

This is the case for September 2012 and the school and the Local Authority are in discussions for future years.

We realize many of you will have questions and concerns where this proposal is concerned. We are intending to hold an open afternoon in the school during the summer term where, alongside the school staff, we will be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have in response to our proposals. We will issue further information about this event as soon as we have organized it.

Yours faithfully,

Myles Milner

Education Assets Manager"

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Reading Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Park Ward

There are a number of Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Park Ward. We have been working hard plugging this opportunity, and supporting residents, so it's pleasing to see seven in the area.

Saturday, June 2
– Amity Road

Sunday, June 3
– Talfourd Avenue

Monday, June 4
– Waybrook Crescent
– Bulmershe Road
– School Terrace
– St Peter's Road

Tuesday, June 5
– Cumberland Road

For the full list of road closures across Reading see here. Although, I would guess that road closure times don't correspond exactly the street party times!

Palmer Park to be tested for safety for more events #rdg

The area to the north of the stadium in Palmer Park is to be tested by a ground stability specialist with a view to having more events. See the briefing I got below for more information.
"Ref: Ground testing Palmer Park:
The Parks service has requested that a 13,000 sqm area at Palmer Park be tested by a ground stability specialist (as attached plan), Mat Labs, to establish if it is safe to have vehicles, heavy equipment and events use this area. Testing will take 4 working days and commence on Thursday 24th May. This will involve hammering rods into the ground to test its strength and stability, in areas where ground radar has previously indicated some ground disturbance.
In the 1980’s underground chalk mines became evident beneath the surface of Palmer Park with a number of areas of parkland partially collapsing/sinking.
Work was undertaken to survey the ground around these holes and works completed (as required) to strengthen the ground.
As a result of the above issue, it was decided (for health & safety reasons) that RBC would suspend large scale event activity on site.  This caused the car boot sales, fun fairs and circus to be displaced and accommodated at other venues across the town. Such events were missed by some within the community that visited them and requests continue for their reintroduction.
Current position
There is a rising demand both within the community and from event operators to reintroduce event activity to this site.
This would be both cost effective and serve to provide leisure activities that add to the local leisure programme aimed principally at East Reading and university area.
The area selected for probe testing is located to the west of Palmer Park stadium.  Should the ground in this area prove to be stable, it would reprovide a venue for community and leisure events. This is further from neighbouring residential properties than the original area used for car boots, circuses and similar activity. The parks service has registered interest from fun fair, Circus and Festival operators that could provide a number of activities across the year.
Further consideration
The decision to withdraw large events from Palmer Park was taken in consultation with the Council’s Health & Safety team through risk assessment.  The parks service will review the findings of the probe testing with colleagues form corporate Health & Safety to establish whether the park could restart hosting events."

Saturday, 19 May 2012

East Reading Festival programme out #rdg

East Reading Festival is fast approaching with the fun day in Palmer Park on Sunday, June 10 from 12 noon to 4 PM.

The programme is now out and soon to be delivered to some of the east Reading area. Everyone can view it online here.

Pirates of the Caribbean star Winston Ellis – who was born in Newtown – will be opening the festival! The fun day also features music, events, food and stalls.

There are events from June 7 through to June 10.

This year the festival is mostly being run by volunteers due to budget cuts. They have done an amazing job so far but extra help is always appreciated.

Fingers crossed for good weather on the big day in the park.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Newtown after school club's future safeguarded

I just learnt that Newtown school has agreed to take over the running of Newtown After School Club in September – from the Council. They are still happy to offer this service to pupils at both St John's and Alfred Sutton. This should hopefully safeguard the future of the club. Well done to the parents that helped make this happen.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

University and hospital area residents' parking

I just got this press release from the council about introducing residents' parking in part of neighbouring Redlands Ward. Having spent a number of years working to address problems at the boundary of the residents' parking zone in Newtown I have deep concerns about this scheme. The boundary appears to be arbitrary rather than a natural barrier such as a main road, river or railway line. I have asked officers to ensure that residents in nearby roads such as Crescent Road, Bulmershe Road, College Road, Culver Road, Whiteknights Road, Green Road to Holmes Road and Hamilton Road have their say.

Next Stage of Consultation on Residents' Parking in University / Hospital Area


Reading Borough Council Press Release

Moves to give parking priority to residents of the hospital and university area of Reading are progressing with the next stage of public consultation beginning this week.

Outside of the town centre, the Royal Berkshire Hospital and the University of Reading are two of the most significant places that people want to travel to and from in Reading. The area attracts high numbers of staff, visitors, patients and students, and is key to the local economy. This can however mean local residents vying with visitors for the same limited number of parking spaces.

As a result, Reading Borough Council embarked on a major consultation exercise last year with a view to identifying - with the help of local residents _ how the high demand for road space in the area is best handled.

Questionnaires and feedback from a public drop in session in November 2011 have now been looked at in detail and show many requests from residents themselves for a Residents' Parking Scheme in individual streets. The other main issues raised by residents include congestion, speeding and the need for more pedestrian facilities.

Local ward councillors in the area have now asked Council officers to develop options for a possible Residents' Parking Scheme. The aim of any scheme would be to maximise the availability of on-street parking for residents, allow for other reasonable parking demands for visitors to the area, and minimise displacement of parking demand from one road to another. If a decision is taken to implement such a scheme, residents would receive their first permit free of charge.

A Residents Parking Scheme questionnaire is this week being posted through letterboxes in the area asking for people's views on a possible scheme. There will also be another drop-in event at St Luke's Hall, Erleigh Road on Friday May 25 between 2pm to 7pm where the public can hear more about the detail of a scheme and ask any questions they may have. Consultation questionnaire materials will also be available to view at the Civic Centre and online at:

Questionnaires need to be returned by Friday June 1. Once forms are received the next stage will be to analyse responses and report back to Local Councillors once more. If residents continue to indicate that they support the introduction of a Residents' Parking Scheme, a formal consultation will follow in the summer to define how the scheme will work at an individual street level.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Art network event #rdg

Reading has a thriving arts scene. Some of my favourites include Jelly's Third Thursday and the Whiteknights studio trail.

From the council:

"The Cultural Partnership will be hosting an Art Network event on Wednesday 30th May, 6.00pm-7.30pm at South Street Arts Centre. The network event will provide the opportunity for all local art individuals' organisations and community groups to come together and find out about national and local arts projects and agenda's.

The key note speaker for the event will be Vidya Thirunarayan- Arts Council South East, Combined Arts & Touring Relationship Manager. Vidya Thirunarayan, Combined Arts & Touring Relationship Manager, has 20 years of experience in the arts sector, reflecting her broad and eclectic interests. She was the founder Artistic Director of Sankalpam, a national touring company, and has worked as a choreographer, performer, tutor, board member, mentor, and advisor.

To book your place on the network event you must register at and e-mail or phone 01189374046 to book your place.

If you register with the Cultural Partnership and become a member there is a performance concession to view to Chris Goode's - The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley at South Street Arts Centre after the network event. Refreshments will be available to purchase from the bar.

Please bring along any marketing and promotion or information about your organisation or project to share with other attendees."

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Tolhurst Organic growing and biodiversity talk

We have Iain Tolhurst speaking at our May Green Party business meeting on growing food and biodiversity.

He grows vegetables in South Oxfordshire and is a well respected as an expert in his field as well as running a veg box scheme in the area and supplying True Food.

The May meeting is on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30 PM upstairs at RISC.

For more information see the Tolhurst Organic website:

Everyone welcome including nonmembers.

Please promote widely.

World Development Movement group in Reading

World Development Movement have set up a new group in Reading. Here is a bit more about it.

"Would you like to join the new World Development Movement (WDM) group in Reading? Our meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at RISC at 7.30pm and some of us meet beforehand for a meal at The Great Expectations Pub next door.

We have decided to take up WDM's food speculation campaign. At our next meeting on 21st May we will be practicing answers to difficult questions in preparation for two stalls we plan to hold in May and June. We hope that the first will be in Reading College in May. The second one will be in Reading town centre on 7th July 10am - 2pm when we will be using WDM's new materials featuring Lady Luck.

WDM's website officer will be coming to our meeting on 18th June to share some ideas with us about using Social Media.

For more information about WDM check their web-site at

For more information about their food speculation campaign you can follow the link :

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Vote Jamie Whitham, Green Party on Thursday

The Green team – those that turned up on time – before heading off and delivering our vote tomorrow leaflet in Park Ward.

Vote Green tomorrow

Labour fact checker...

Labour are distributing a leaflet in Park Ward with misleading information. You can check the facts here:

Council tax – Labour have cut £12.6 million worth of jobs and services. In their budget papers – in black and white – this includes cuts to children's special needs transport. Rejecting a small increase in council tax this year means that Labour will either have to hike it massively next year or cut services even further.

The budget papers are 176 pages long so we have linked directly to the Directorate of Education and Children's Services budget savings proposals page here. The relevant line in the Business Transformation section is "Improvements in the administration of special needs transport service eligibility – £140,000 [cut]":

Maiden Erlegh – parents, not politicians, won this battle. Deservedly, they had the support of people from all parties - and Labour’s attempt to claim all of the credit is wrong.

Casework – quite simply, these are the official numbers from the Council! For the last quarter published for Park Ward:

Cllrs Rob White and Melanie Eastwood (Green) – 137

Jon Hartley (Labour) – 0.

Green space – Labour have permitted developers to chip away at the site between Green Road and Crescent Road for a number of years. They allowed a nursing home to be built on the tree covered Mockbeggar site on Whiteknights Road and houses on precious education land by Green Road. Labour's transport plan also still talks about putting a park-and-ride car park on Broken Brow by the Thames.

The relevant page from Labour's transport plan can be found here.

We will let the voters decide on Thursday, May 3. Vote Jamie Whitham for a third hard-working Green councillor.