Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How can we help you? Residents' advice surgeries in #parkward #rdg

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

Saturday, August 18, 2012 – outside the Co-op supermarket, cemetery junction, 11 AM to 12 noon

Friday, September 21, 2012 – Alfred Sutton school, Wokingham road, 3 PM to 3:30 PM

Friday, October 26, 2012 – Newtown school, School Terrace, 3 PM to 3:30 PM

E-mail me – rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk – if you would like to be added to our monthly supporters local issues e-mail list.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Cuts to onshore wind energy generation

Commenting on today's government announcement that the subsidy for onshore wind energy generation is to be cut by 10%, the UK's Green MEP for Reading Keith Taylor said:

"It is disappointing that the government is continuing to create more uncertainty for the wind energy sector by announcing yet another consultation on the level of government support. While the 10% cut in subsidies may be a minor victory for Ed Davey, he still seems to have a fight on his hands to convince the Treasury that the UK should seriously invest in renewables."

"Today's news that the government will support an increased reliance on gas-fired power stations shows that they have little consideration for the UK's legal obligation to source 15% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, as set out in the EU Renewable Energy Directive. To date, only 3% of the UK's energy comes from renewables, compared with the European average of 12%."

"The UK has vast potential to benefit from investment and jobs in this growth sector, yet it's lagging behind Europe and the rest of the world. The government is currently failing to attract investment in this growth industry in which tens of thousands of much needed jobs could be created. Investors need certainty, not more obfuscation. Only by moving away from dirty and volatile fossil fuels and towards clean renewables will the UK be able to secure tens of thousands more jobs, more affordable energy bills for consumers and the ability to meet its obligations to bring down dangerous levels of climate emissions."

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Could we have a corporate free Olympics? Yes we could!

Do we have to sentence Olympics visitors to eat plastic buns and drink vast tubs of sugary drinks, subject them to the promotion of the dubious Dow Chemicals, and force Paralympics athletes to compete under the shadow of the sponsorship of the hated work capability test providers ATOS? When we see police officers forced to empty their crisps into paper bags to avoid having the "wrong" brand on show then something has surely gone awry?
It’s worth considering the basic figures. The total cost of the Olympics will be around £9.3bn, of which the actual staging will cost about £2bn. Domestic sponsors are supplying around £690m, and the IOC's "worldwide partners" £375m So about 11% of the money is coming from the sponsors.

Some of these don’t have any obvious ethical problems – one watch company is probably much like another and someone needs to provide the timing services; ditto for computer-makers and quite a few of the other sponsors.

A less glitzy, less OTT, simpler games could still celebrate the finest of human physical endeavour, but where, say, the food sponsor being a consortium of the world's fruit and vegetable growers, with seasonal food on site from local providers. We could save a fortune on security guards by having them only to deal with actual security, not the wrong sorts of crisp packets or errant logos from rival corporations.

So imagine an Olympics with 5% less funding and 50% less hassle - Shelly Ann Fraser and Usain Bolt could still be poised on the same blocks, James "The Missile'' Magnussen and Emily Seebohm ploughing down the same pool, Yelena Isinbayeva and Renaud Lavillenie still thrilling in the pole vault - but we wouldn’t have vast numbers of officials staying in London’s top hotels and clogging its streets with nearly 4,000 new BMWs and fewer pointless banners cluttering every available flat surface.

The sports venues might be less flash, but they would still provide everything the athletes and spectators might need without getting in the way with irritating commercialism or impersonal security. The venues could be further distributed around Britain to make more use of existing facilities – and make more sense. I mean really, beach volleyball in Horse Guards Parade is just silly – Brighton, or Southend-on-Sea or similar would have a lot more logic too it – and spread the crowds over a bigger area.

And while we’re imagining something more in line with the original Olympic ideals, we could stop moving the Games to a new city each time, with all of the destructive, expensive, regularly strategies that accompany them, and have a couple of fixed sites spread around the world – or maybe we could even just go back to the original inspiration and always hold them in Athens; a boost for the Greek economy.
But back in London, with much less sponsorship overall, we could avoid every surface of the Olympics city being plastered in over-Photoshopped, glowing images of fakely delighted staff and customers (yes McDonald's, you're really putting me off my lunch every time I walk through St Pancras station) - a much cleaner, simpler Games, whose focus is on the athletics. The way it should be.

By Natalie Bennett, Green Party leadership candidate

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Kennet Side wall replacement #rdg

Update from the project officer:

"At the end of May I sent an email to update you all on the progress on this project. I explained that the work was progressing more slowly than expected due to problems encountered when the old retaining wall was excavated. The wall is over 100 years old and unfortunately the actual construction of the structure is significantly different to that shown on the drawings we had available. Whilst we have been able to solve the issues that have arisen their resolution has considerably lengthened the programme.
 
In that previous email I also advised you that the work was expected to take another 6-8 weeks to complete which would have taken us until the end of July. However there have been further delays since then both caused by engineering issues and also due to the poor weather which made working in the river unsafe. The contractor has now provided me with an updated programme and the expected completion date is now Friday 28 September. Whilst the delays are disappointing I can assure you that significant progress has been made and it is important to note that the cost of the work is still within the budget agreed before work started. I am attending regular meetings with the contractor and will continue to press them to speed up the work where it is possible to do so. The contractor was instructed to ensure that the completion date shown on the latest programme allows for any additional problems that may arise and therefore will not need revising again. I am therefore hopeful that the completion date may be brought forward.
 
Now that the contractor has updated the programme I will arrange for residents to be sent a letter explaining the delays."

Monday, 23 July 2012

Readibus #rdg

Readibus provide an essential service in Reading helping people with restricted mobility get around. I almost made it to their AGM earlier in the month – I was there before it started and chatted to a few volunteers/employees.

Some figures that you might find interesting – as of 29th June 12, there were 86 residents of Park ward who are either current users or who have used the ReadiBus service within the last 18 months or so and these users made 4,598 journeys on ReadiBus in the year from 1 Apr 11 to 31 Mar 12.
 
Well done Readibus, keep up the good work!

E-mail me – rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk – if you would like to be added to our monthly supporters e-mail list.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Happy 75th birthday Palmer Park library #rdg

Earlier in the week I attended the Palmer Park library 75th anniversary event. Libraries are definitely a positive thing, bringing people together, making reading affordable and promoting reuse.

It would be good to see libraries better funded loaning a wider variety of things – tools for example. Any other ideas?

With the coalition cuts some authorities have reduced their library provision, but in Reading some opening hours have been extended.

At the anniversary event there was a very interesting talk on libraries in Reading followed by cake.

I asked the historian if he would put his notes online – which he sounded positive about – but here are a few of the facts that I noted down:

– before Palmer Park library there was a reading room at Newtown school, but this wasn't very successful
– there used to be an adult school on the corner of Grange Avenue and Norris Road where I think the Indian Community Association is now
– land was bought at cemetery junction for a library, but the council wasn't able to secure the funding so this became Arthur Hill baths
– a room at Alfred Sutton was used as a library distribution centre
– finally in 1937 Palmer Park library opened
– libraries used to be open from 6 AM to 10 PM
– unfortunately it is often mistaken for the public loos
– it had an unusual lighting system including a large skylight

As I am quite frugal I am often to be found in either the Palmer Park library reading the local papers or the central library reading the New Statesman magazine or loaning a book out – currently I have one on tai chi with a £1.70 fine and one on politics. Long may libraries continue!

How would people like to see the library service improve?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Redlands residents' parking scheme shelved

Earlier in the year we informed you of our concerns regarding council plans to introduce residents' parking in neighbouring Redlands ward – which we feared might worsen parking problems in Park ward.

We are pleased to report that following the consultation, a combination of a low response rate and no clear preference from responders, means that the council won't be pursuing a large residents' parking scheme in Redlands. Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond.

We will keep up the pressure to tackle parking problems with appropriate schemes. This will include putting pressure on both the university and hospital to take on more responsibility. We will also keep pushing walking, cycling and public transport.

Smaller schemes which are coming forwards include reviews of existing walking and cycling facilities, upgrading streetlighting, improving bus lanes and more 20 mph zones. We will keep you updated as a progress is made.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Green road mosque "paused" at cabinet

One of the controversial items on the agenda at cabinet last night was the Green road mosque.

The cabinet agenda papers can be found here.

This item appears twice on the agenda. The first appearance was the confidential stuff, the second appearance – item 12 – was reporting the decision in public with a bit of debate.

As I said at the meeting I support the idea of a purpose-built mosque in east Reading for the broad Muslim community to worship at. When the planning application came forward previously I raised a number of transport issues on behalf of residents, but the meeting last night wasn't about the planning application but about control of the project.

This is a very complicated area but to summarise the Labour administration didn't like the Coalition administration's scheme for the Alexandra road mosque to control a new mosque at Green road. Labour therefore have moved to end the lease and the sale of the land at Green road and pause the project.

I'm not on cabinet so I had no vote on this, but I still felt uncomfortable that amongst other things by wanting to change control of this project Labour seemed to be expressing a preference for one type of Islam over another.

Unfortunately I fear that the Muslim community will be used as a political football on this issue and we will go back to press releases on this project involving Labour councillors ahead of local elections. Hopefully I will be proved wrong and an acceptable solution can be found.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Dog fouling campaign #rdg

This is something councillor Melanie Eastwood has been taking a lead – no pun intended – on. The council are now more active on this subject – see the e-mail below. I have suggested a few other roads in the area which might benefit.

 
Dear Cllrs
 
I am writing to let you know about the above campaign which will be carried out in the Newtown area on Wednesday 11th July and to invite you to come along.  We are hoping to have a group photograph at 10:30am on the grassed area at Avon Place where we will have a gazebo
 
This campaign is building on the work carried out in Whitley earlier this year and as a result of views expressed in the “Lets Talk Campaign”, enquiries the service has received, and also the knowledge of front line staff and local groups.
 
This is the second event of the campaign with the first having been held in the Kensington Park area in June.  The area we will be covering is shown In the attached map but for information is as follows: Kennet Side (path and cycle track) – from The Jolly Anglers PH and houses 318 & 320 and 336 to 346 along to the first Railway Authority Bridge; Newtown Primary School / surrounding  area; Avon Place – houses 1-4 and small block of flats opposite; Cholmeley Road – houses 168 to 142 and 119 opposite; School Terrace – houses 1 to 31; Cumberland Road – houses 154 – 136 and 107 – 143
 
This is quite a contained area and the reason for this is to ensure we can provide effective officer presence, however prior to the event flyers/posters will be distributed to a slightly wider area..
 
The campaign will work as follows:
 
1.                 A press release will be issued next week 
2.                 At the beginning of the week commencing 9th July, the dog wardens and street care environment team will visit the area to distribute posters/flyers to residents, shops, and schools
3.                 On the day the dog wardens and street care environment staff will be in the area from 07:00 to 21:00.  PCSO’s for the area have been invited to attend
4.                 Officers will be talking to residents and handing out flyers, leaflets, posters and poop scoops. 
5.                 If anyone is found allowing their dog to foul and not clearing up after them they will be issued with a £75 Fixed Penalty Notice.
6.                 The street care environment team will spray any faeces found on the day pink and arrange for it to be cleaned up by the following day.
7.                 We are also proposing to spray a stencil on the pavements showing a dog fouling with the words clean it up (these signs will eventually wash away).
8.                 Towards the end of the week the dog wardens will return to the area to assess impact.  This will be repeated again the following week.   
 
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me or the dog warden service on 0118 9372251 or e-mail dogwardenservice@reading.gov.uk
 
Yours sincerely

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Labour do micro U-turn on park-and-ride #rdg

At full council this evening Labour announced that the micro park-and-rides proposed for Palmer Park and Clayfield Copse were to be withdrawn i.e. canned.

Labour said that they had listened to what people said, but if they had asked people first then we wouldn't of had the recent debacle.

Well done to the sports clubs for the petition and residents for objecting.

Reading Green News – park-and-ride, bus concessions and animal testing

Hello all,

Here is a brief update on what we've been up to recently:

· 9am Free Bus Travel Proposed for Elderly Reading Residents

· Green councillor signs pledge to end animal testing for cosmetics

· Minister and businessman unite with sports clubs to oppose park and ride

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

http://www.readinggreenparty.org.uk

Best wishes

Rob White

Green Party Councillor Park Ward

http://join.greenparty.org.uk

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Tackling traffic problems on the Wokingham Road #rdg

I have been working with council officers and Dominoes to try and improve the parking and traffic situation on the Wokingham Road near the shops. Residents have been raising problems for a while – the combination of commercial drivers, customers picking up takeaways and pedestrians can at times be quite dangerous. Below is an update from the Council:

Dear Councillor White,

Further to your enquiry dated 13th June concerning the parking of delivery vehicles in the vicinity of Domino’s Pizza Wokingham Road, officers have visited the locality in the evening and spoken with the management of the business.

Investigations reveal that Domino’s have 38 drivers on their books in order to address a demand for home delivery which makes up 90% of overall takings; mainly on a Friday and a Saturday evening. There are approximately 18 drivers providing delivery services for other premises nearby including Chicken Base, Peppers, Istanbul Grill and Perfect Fried Chicken.

Following evening monitoring and a discussion with the manager of Dominos, all five premises were written to informing them that two of the key Licensing objectives, Public Safety and Public Nuisance in relation to pedestrians and other road users may be breached by the parking practices and if sufficient evidence was collected, a review of the licence could be requested which may result in alterations to conditions on the licence, additional conditions, alterations to the opening hours and possibly revocation of the licence. It was suggested to the manager of Dominos that the original use intended may have been outgrown bearing in mind the substantial proportion of overall trade that the delivery element of the business constitutes.

If residents were content to collect and provide evidence, including dates, times, location parked, vehicle make, model, colour, registration number and if possible a photograph; this would assist Licensing Officers dealing with the matter. Dominos drivers wear a company t-shirt which should identify them from drivers working for other takeaways.

I have liaised with colleagues in Parking Services who have confirmed that the area directly in front of the shop is public highway and enforcement would be subject to an enforceable restriction at the time of the offence. Wokingham Road and Pitcroft Avenue are part of their regular enforcement, with Civil Enforcement Officers visiting these streets at different times of the day in order that no pattern of enforcement can be established.

With regards to vehicles that may be parked on the pavement on Wokingham Road, causing obstruction, the Council is unable to assist unless an enforceable parking restriction is in place (e.g. double yellow lines, etc.). At present in this area there would be a reliance on Police involvement as at the times indicated there is no parking restriction in place out side of Domino's shop. The Council encourages the reporting of obstruction (Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986; Regulation 103) to the Police; as this enables both the Council and the Police to measure the degree of difficulty that is being caused."

Should you have any further queries concerning the Licensing aspects of this matter meantime, do not hesitate to contact me. Should you have any queries regarding the Parking Enforcement aspects, please contact my colleague Ian Thomas.

Yours sincerely,