Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ridgeline trust harvest fete rescheduled

A message from the Ridgeline trust:

Dear local friend / contact Apologies for contacting you by a mass blind-copy email to my local contacts, and double apologies if you have already heard via another source  but it seems to be the bestl way of spreading the word at short notice.

You may have been aware that last Sunday 23 Sept was to have been the annual Harvest Fete at the Ridgeline Therapeutic Garden for the disabled. This was postponed because of the awful weather, and we are going to try again this coming Sunday 30 Sept 1pm -4pm. This is our main chance to show the neighbourhood and interested organisations what we have been doing this year, and to show our plans for the future- including the imminent construction of our new clubhouse for which we have been fundraising for so long. We aim to turn the first turf for the foundations around 3pm.  The garden is looking good, and there will be plenty of things to entertain you and the family, so I hope you will consider coming along.

The garden is at the junction of Hamilton Road and Whiteknights Road, entered via the shared driveway with the new Lakeside Carehome opposite the University Lake.

Brief details of the Fete are set out below. General info on Ridgeline at the website

Hope to see you to see you there- or call in any Wednesday for the Community Gardening session any time between 11am – 2pm. If you could help by spreading the word among your local friends that would be much appreciated.


Sunday 30 September 2012 1pm to 4pm    
At the Ridgeline Therapeutic Garden  junction of Hamilton Road & Whiteknights Road RG6 7BY
Come and see how our garden has grown in the last year and how we are closer to having a building for our gardeners!
v  Produce and Plants
v  Second hand books
v  Home made cakes
v Studio pottery seconds
v Kids’ games and activities
v Refreshments
v Live Music

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Leaks in Newtown #rdg and water-saving

I followed up my work earlier in the year on the water leaks in Newtown – which Thames water failed to repair for quite some time – with a meeting with them today. I thought the meeting was productive.

I raised a number of issues with the including the time it had taken them to fix leaks in the area, a blocked pipe sewage issue and various aspects of water-saving.

I think they have now fixed all of the long-term visible leaks in Newtown that I have reported. Please let me know if there are any still outstanding?

Across the rest of Reading there will be 10 additional crews working to get on top of the backlog of leaks which they now have. This backlog is due to a combination of the Olympics and a new computer system. It is good to see them taking this issue seriously.

Water metering has been shown to focus people's minds on using water efficiently – although Thames water pointed out that some of the evidence suggests that this is only a short-term fix and usage drifts upwards in the medium term. You can contact Thames water to talk to them about getting a water meter fitted.

They also have some water-saving devices which they will post out to you for free.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Officer briefing on the Crescent Road site and planning applications including a map

Well done to Melanie Eastwood for persevering and getting this briefing from Reading officers. Remember, the public meeting we have been lobbying for – school places in east Reading – is on Thursday, September 27 at 6:30 PM at Alfred Sutton school in the main hall. I hope that as with the Maiden Erlegh campaign politicians and residents will be able to work together to keep all of this land in education use.

First of all, here is the map showing who owns what – red is UTC, blue is developer who will probably try to build housing there, green is the playing field area to be leased to the Academy. Below is more policy detail.

crescent rd map 040-page-002

Policy Position
Policy SA7 of the Sites and Detailed Policies Document, Submission Draft (2011) seeks to retain the wider site for Further and Higher Education (FHE) use but accepts that other educational uses may be appropriate if it can be demonstrated that this would not have a detrimental impact on FHE provision in the Borough overall. Policy SA7 says that the Crescent Road campus will continue to be used for Further and Higher Education (FHE) (but) where it can be demonstrated that the loss of FHE on this site will not have a detrimental effect on the overall FHE provision in Reading, the site will be used for:
•        Other education uses; or
•        If not needed for any form of education, development for residential (59-93 dwellings).
The policy goes on to state that if the site is shown to be suitable for residential use, the following criteria would apply:
•        Vehicular traffic along Crescent Road should be no greater than that generated by the current FHE use. If the development is to generate greater levels of traffic, the remainder should be accessed via an upgraded Bulmershe Road to the south (I understand that to date there has been no contact made by a developer to RBC Highways in respect of upgrading Bulmershe Road);
•        At the northeastern corner, development should incorporate a pick-up/drop-off area for Alfred Sutton School;
•        Development should seek to retain trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders;
•        Development should retain and enhance a green link across the site as shown on the Proposals Map, and mitigate its effects on biodiversity, including bats;
•        Development should have regard to the adjacent Conservation Area; and
•        Development should take account of the Air Quality Management Area, where it covers part of the development site.
UTC Planning Application
A planning application was received on 08/09/12 from the Reading Technical Academy Trust for the refurbishment of the UTC part of the site (outlined red on the attached plan). This application has not been validated yet. It shows subdivision of the site and use of the application site for the 'Reading Technical Academy' providing education for 14 - 19 year olds, demolition of some buildings and the erection of extensions.
Local residents will be consulted as soon as the submissions are validated.
Pre-application for the western part of the site
Pre-application advice was also requested for the redevelopment of the remainder of the site (blue outline on the attached plan) to provide houses and flats. The pre-application was submitted by Red Kite Development Consultancy, on behalf of Square Bay. Officers had an introductory meeting with the agent in June and a follow up meeting earlier this week.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Natalie Bennett on being the new Green Party leader, austerity and a fair tax system #greenparty

Why not join us?

Reading Tutti Fruity Fair at the Warehouse

I got this on the Greater Reading Environmental Network e-mail list. It is a positive project building on the Abundance work which has been done before. Unfortunately I am not in Reading that day.

29-Sep-2012 2:00 PM - 29-Sep-2012 5:00 PM

Location: The Warehouse, 1a Cumberland Road, Reading

Every year excess fruit goes to waste in Reading. This year we are determined to make sure abundant fruit is eaten, drunk and enjoyed! We will be collecting excess fruit from different locations around Reading and taking it to The Warehouse in East Reading where they have kindly agreed to store it for us until our Tutti Fruity Fair on the 29 Sept from 2-5pm at The Warehouse.

We would like your voluntary group to get involved in our fruity activities so please get in touch if:

You will have excess fruit this year and would like us to collect it from you?

Your voluntary group or project would like to be given fruit and jars so you can have a go at making your own fruity products?

Or if you would like to have a stall at our fabulous Fruity Tutti Fair

Everyone is welcome to this free event


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Crescent Road site sold #rdg

I couldn't attend the Reading UTC planning exhibition yesterday, as I was chairing a meeting on building community capacity – Melanie went along – but almost as we have been predicting I hear that the whole site has been sold by the University of West London to the Department for Education. They in turn have sold half to the UTC and the other half to a developer.

Here is a statement from the developer – Square Bay. It should be noted that the Council's planning policy is that this site can only be developed for housing if there is no education need. We will obviously be fighting this.

"As the UTC did not require the whole of the campus, West London University have sold the remaining buildings and hard tennis courts to Square Bay. This area is made up of a section of land at the corner of Bulmershe Road and Crescent Road and the hard tennis courts that front onto the unmade section of Bulmershe Road. It is intended to develop this land for housing in accordance with the Council’s planning policy SA7.

The new owner will shortly be engaging in pre-application discussions with senior officers of Reading Borough Council, prior to bringing forward an application for development of this land. Public consultation will be undertaken locally on the proposed scheme prior to an application being made, and all interested parties will be invited to comment at that time, in addition to normal statutory consultation during the application process. As these discussions are at a very early stage, it is not possible at this time to give more detailed information at the current time.”

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Natalie Bennett – new leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

Reposted from the National Green Party website. Why not join and get involved?

"Yesterday I was given an enormous honour and great responsibility in being elected as the leader of the Green party of England and Wales.

This is a time of tremendous opportunity for the Green party. Voters across Britain are seeking new answers – they want to know why in the world's sixth-richest economy, millions feel insecure, frightened about the future, worried about their children's future.

They know that after decades of growth based on the financial and retail industries, with a long-hours working culture and growing job insecurity, Britain has the unhappiest children in the developed world, that levels of mental illness and stress are extremely high, that huge numbers of people are not sure they can keep a roof over their heads.

And they know that our entire economy is based on treating the Earth as though it were a mine and a dumping ground, and the poor as though they were rubbish.

They understand that the 20th-century approach of neoliberalism and globalisation, of outsourcing and financial speculation, cannot continue. The model is broken.

Yet the Labour party, which was so relaxed about people getting "filthy rich," which was so keen to outsource NHS services and encourage academy schools, hasn't changed its tune – it just wants to cut a little more slowly than the coalition.

Only the Green party has the vision of radical change. It understands that we need to invest in the future, to invest in housing, in jobs, in energy conservation and renewable energy.

Cuts are only throwing more people on to unemployment benefits – what we need to do is create jobs and provide essential services – health, social care, education and social housing. And to fund that investment we need to collect a proper level of taxes from multinational companies and rich individuals, not cut tax rates and allow them to hide billions in tax havens.

That investment can restructure our economy to prepare for a low-carbon world, relocalise our manufacturing industries and food supplies, make Britain a leader in renewable energy and create jobs, opportunities and security. We can build all of this around a financial industry that's fit for that purpose, based on credit unions, mutuals and small local banks.

Rather than giant multinationals, we need to encourage co-operatives and small businesses rooted in their communities and meeting their needs. And we need to ensure that the law allows unions a significant role in the workplace – an important corrective to our current low-pay, casualised workplaces.

The Green party also accepts that we need to acknowledge that some people in society will need a helping hand, some of the time or all of their lives. Benefits are an essential support in a decent society, and they should be at levels that allow a proper standard of living. The demonisation of benefit recipients, the grossly unfair Atos disability tests, the slashing of disability living allowance all stand as testament to the wrong directions we have been taking.

The Green party thus offers a new answer to voters seeking it – and so this is a time of tremendous political opportunity.

We finished as clearly the third party in the recent London elections. In the West Midlands, to take just one example, we've been growing fast in numbers of councillors, and after the election of Caroline Lucas as MP in Brighton Pavilion in 2010, we've shown we can win first-past-the-post elections at all levels.

In my two-year term as leader, I will be aiming to help get many more Greens elected on to councils around England and Wales, and to see us trebling our number of MEPs in 2014, meaning many more voters have at least one elected Green representative. That will be a foundation stone for the 2015 Westminster elections and beyond.

We are seeing many Lib Dem voters come to us, but we also know that the Labour vote is very soft – many who might vote for the party of Blair/Brown/Miliband when they think they are the only alternative are delighted to shift their vote to the Greens when they realise they have the option.

It's clear we are in troubled times, but the Green message is that we can emerge stronger, with a more equal, fair and balanced society – and a better quality of life for everyone."

Why not join and get involved?

Monday, 3 September 2012

Reading Green News – Police and Crime Commissioner, parking permits and disability cuts

Below is our monthly e-mail newsletter keeping people informed on local issues. E-mail me – – if you would like to be added to our list.

Hello all,

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

Greens remind east Newtown residents to apply for parking permits

Consultation meeting on improving tree cover at cemetery junction cemetery

Fines issued for dog mess and fly tipping

Greens call for action from Thames water over forgotten leaks

Green party opposes Police and Crime Commissioner election

Councillor Rob White joins demonstration against disability cuts

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:

Best wishes

Rob White

Reading Green Party councillor