Friday, 28 June 2013

Lunch at Reading College and tackling youth unemployment #rdguk

A little while ago Sam and I went for lunch at Reading College. The restaurant is run by students at the college. Reading has more jobs in the hospitality industry than people who can fill them, so this training, experience and the qualification at the end of it are really important locally.

The food was very good and very reasonably priced. Here are a few pictures:

More details of the restaurant here.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Video from save Arthur Clark care home and Albert Road day centre demo/meeting #rdguk @savearthurclark

We were happy to support the Arthur Clark/Albert Road campaign yesterday both at the demonstration and by speaking at the Council meeting. Unfortunately we lost the vote, but there will be another opportunity to save these facilities at the upcoming committee meeting on Monday July 1.

It was disappointing that we did not hear from either the Labour councillor for Caversham or from their parliamentary candidate for Reading East (who is also a Reading councillor).

Below is some video from the evening. My speech is 26 minutes 20 seconds in.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Latest on Arthur Hill swimming baths #rdguk

The Council has released a bit more information on Arthur Hill, we will keep pushing to get it open as early as possible:

"Arthur Hill Pool and Fitness Studio has been temporarily closed while repair works are carried out to the structure of the building.

Work is due to start on Monday 24th June 2013 and is expected to last for approximately 10 weeks. Due to the complexity of the work being carried out we will have regular updates during that time to keep customers informed of progress and to confirm the exact re-opening date as we get closer.

While Arthur Hill is closed your nearest RSL gym facility can be found at Palmer Park Sports Stadium, Wokingham Road, Reading. Tel: 0118 937 5080. Your nearest RSL swimming pool is Central Swimming Pool, Battle Street, Reading. Tel: 0118 937 5070. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused and we look forward to welcoming you at our other sites during the closure."

Monday, 24 June 2013

Reading primary school expansion programme #rdguk

I got the following letter from the Council about expanding primary schools in Reading:

"Dear Councillor,


In common with many other urban areas in the country, Reading is experiencing an increased demand for Primary School places, due to rising birthrates, and people moving into Reading. Many of our Primary Schools are either at capacity or approaching capacity, and in order to provide sufficient school places the Borough Council is proposing to expand the schools listed below.

As part of the proposed expansion programme the Borough Council is required to formally consult on the expansion proposals for each school.

  • Alfred Sutton Primary School
  • Churchend School
  • E P Collier Primary School
  • Geoffrey Field Infant School
  • New Town Primary School
  • Southcote Primary School
  • St. Martin’s Catholic Primary School
  • St. Michael’s Primary School
  • The Ridgeway Primary School

But before we go ahead with this, we want to give local people an opportunity to tell us what they think about the proposals. This is a statutory consultation under the School Organization (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools (England) Regulations 2007.

The Council has already used the flexibility in the Schools Admission code to temporarily increase the admission numbers in some schools for the 2013/14 intake. The current capacities for the schools are listed below along with what they are proposed to increase to and how long it will take to get to this new capacity.


Current capacity

New capacity by Sept 2015

Alfred Sutton Primary School



Churchend School



E P Collier Primary School



Geoffrey Field Infant School



New Town Primary School



Southcote Primary School



St Martin’s Primary School



St Michael’s Primary School



The Ridgeway Primary School



The consultation will take place over a period of 4 weeks from Friday 21 June until Friday 19 July 2013, and is primarily directed at School Communities, Diocesan Authorities, Trades Unions, Ward Councillors, and Local MPs. Details appear on the Council Consultation website at

Please contact me if you want further information in respect of the consultation.

Yours sincerely”

Travellers in Palmer Park update #rdguk

I got the following update from the Council on the travellers in Palmer Park:

"Travellers pulled on to site at Palmer Park over the weekend (Sunday afternoon).

Access was gained by forcing over a bollard from the smaller Wokingham Road car park and the group (19 vehicles) are currently set up around the newly established Funfair area, adjacent to the stadium.

The incident was immediately reported to the police who attended site yesterday afternoon and took details of the vehicles and occupants etc.

The police reference for this incident is URN701 of 23/06/2013.

Billy Davis Funfair had been due to pull on to site today to begin to set up to trade from the 27th June – 14th July.

I have contacted the Funfair operator and made them aware of the situation and have also been in contact with Thames Valley Police to see if (with the above in mind) they will consider using their section 61 powers to move the group.  I am currently waiting for a call back from Thames Valley Police to discuss what can be done.

I will update all as progress is made with resolving this issue."

Residents' advice surgeries, how can we help you?

We have got the following residents' advice surgeries coming up. No appointment necessary.

Saturday, June 29, 2013, 11 AM to 11:30 AM
Outside the Post Office, 75 Wokingham Road

Saturday, July 20, 2013, 11 AM to 11:30 AM
Outside the Co-op, cemetery junction

Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 11 AM to 11:30 AM
Outside Palmer Park sports stadium

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

Saturday, 15 June 2013

New blog features: upcoming events and map of achievements

I have just finished adding a couple of new features to my blog that people might find useful.

First, on the right-hand side there is now a link to the Google Map that I have been updating of things we have done in Park Ward. Have a look and see what we have done in your area.

Second, again, on the right-hand side I have added some of the events from my Google Calendar: Council meetings, Reading East events and Green Party meetings. Let me know of any events in Reading East which should be there and aren't.

Finally, not a new feature but we do a monthly email newsletter. Email me, address at the top of the right-hand side column, to be added to the list.

What do people think? Are these useful?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Hope not hate event to tackle racism in Reading #rdguk

Just saw this event on tackling racism in Reading. Unfortunately I am away and so can't make it, but I thought I would publicise it.

Event Name: We Are The Many in Reading


We have stood up to the EDL's attempts to exploit the Woolwich murder but we cannot be complacent. There are still too many who share their anti-Muslim hatred and we also need to start addressing the preachers of hate who inspired the killers. The BNP might be on the decline but we have UKIP using increasingly hostile anti-immigrant language.
HOPE not hate stands for more than just being "anti-EDL" or "anti-BNP". It is about offering a positive antidote to hate - it is about a value system that celebrates tolerance, equality, diversity and fairness. It is about offering HOPE. Does that work for you? If so, get involved

Over the next few weeks we are holding meetings across the country to give our supporters a chance to discuss the challenges we face - be that from the EDL, hate preachers or the rise of UKIP.

Please come along and help us build on the 'We Are The Many' campaign so we can develop positive initiatives that will make a real difference in local communities.

Time: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:30 PM -:00 PM GMT+01:00

Host: Hazel Nolan

Location: 2 Church Street (Reading, Berkshire)

Monday, 10 June 2013

More detail on Arthur Hill swimming baths #rdguk

I got the following briefing with a bit more detail on the Arthur Hill swimming baths situation. Good to hear that the Council is no longer talking about if they will reopen but when.

"You asked for further details on the structural issue at Arthur Hill pool. Please see below.

You will be aware that there is a lobby at Arthur Hill pool. The issue relates to the two very large beams that support the substantial internal wall which is situated between the lobby and the pool. These beams are concrete with a steel beams encased within.  Water from the pool has penetrated this support which has 2 effects, corrosion of the steel work and weakening of the concrete as chlorides build up within it.

The beams have been monitored regularly, however following an inspection it was felt that the deterioration was such that the wall had become unstable and the pool was closed for safety reasons.  This course of action was corroborated by a member of the Council’s Building Control team.

We were also advised by Building Control that to do nothing and just close the pool was not an option as the supporting beams needed attention to prevent the risk of collapse which could affect adjoining buildings and the public.

The supporting beams can only be accessed via a winding narrow staircase and there is also old cast iron pipe work under the beam and some large boilers in the cellar making the area very hot and cramped to work in. This very much limits the methods that could be employed to repair the building.

Although a number of potential options were open to the council, the only practical one, and therefore the only one considered, was to repair the beam.

We believe this is the most cost and time effective solution as it addresses the safety concerns raised by Building Control and enables the pool to be reopened. The cost of the required works is circa £85,000. We cannot be more exact until the final structural support has been designed, approved by Building Control and contracts let. You have asked to see the report produced by the structural engineers. This report identifies budget costs, methods for repair and the specification against which we will be engaging contractors.  Since we are still in the process of engaging some of these contractors, and seeking to get the best value for money, the report is commercially sensitive and we are not able to release it at the moment.

You have also asked about the future of Arthur Hill. Once we complete the repair work, the building will be re-opened to the public. As you know, the Council is conducting a review of all its facilities. This is still on-going and a report will be produced in due course. Arthur Hill, as is the case with all Council buildings, will be included in this review, but it would be wrong to speculate on the final report or any future decisions at this stage."

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Spirit Level film trailer

This book highlighting inequality and the problems it causes was great, I am hoping the film will be even better and reach a far wider audience.