Friday, 28 March 2014

Crime statistics in East Reading; drug dealing up #rdguk

As many of you have mentioned to me, drug offences seem to be on the increase. If you believe it's going on in your area, call the police non-emergency number 101 with information, and keep a diary of the suspicious activities.

Crime statistics for the Redlands and Park Area below:

Thursday, 27 March 2014

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

If you have any issues of concern your Park Ward Green Party councillors – Jamie Whitham, Melanie Eastwood and Rob White – will be holding the following residents' advice surgeries. No appointment necessary.

Friday, April 25, outside Alfred Sutton Primary School, Wokingham Road, 3 PM to 3:30 PM

Saturday, May 17, outside the Co-op, Cemetery Junction, 10 AM to 10:30 AM

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Green MEP Keith Taylor in Reading talking about 20 mph, rail fares and air quality #rdguk

The European Parliamentary Elections are coming up soon, in May and Green MEP Keith Taylor is visiting Reading this Thursday.

With the threatened rise of UKIP it is especially important that the Green Party performs well in these elections.

Our local Green MEP, Keith Taylor, will make a special visit this Thursday 20th March, 8 PM upstairs at RISC to talk about the campaign and his work in Brussels.

This meeting is open to everyone, members and supporters alike.

Keith has worked closely with Reading and Wokingham Green Party over recent years on issues such as 20's Plenty, rail fares and air quality and it is important that we show our support for his campaign.

PLEASE put this date in your diary now and come along to support Keith.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Third Thames Bridge, be careful what you wish for #rdguk

Interesting information from Reading Friends of the Earth on flooding and a third Thames bridge. Below is an article which originally featured in their supporters' e-mail newsletter:

Third Thames Bridge and flooding
The flooding and the congestion resulting from closure of the road north of Sonning Bridge has led to calls for a Third Thames Bridge from Rob Wilson MP, supported by several hundred people at a recent meeting in Caversham. South Oxfordshire has long opposed this – presumably because of fears that it would open up the area for development.

Reading Council is in favour of a third bridge, although Councillor Page did comment that to attract private finance it was quite likely that it would be a toll bridge. Our recent comments on the proposed Cycling Strategy called for road user charging – see

It does seem very likely that - because Reading already has high levels of traffic and congestion at peak hours - a relatively small increase in traffic diverted from the Sonning route will make congestion in Reading much worse, and this seems to be the case. Several people have pointed out that the first priority should be to investigate if it is possible to flood-proof the short length of road north of Sonning Bridge which frequently floods.

As well as a road bridge Mr. Wilson is also advocating a north-south bypass for Caversham – but produced no route maps which might have caused concern among residents. This seems a step towards the London Outer Orbital which was discussed in the 1990s, and was revived by the Association of British Drivers some years ago - see - a massive loop from the Channel Tunnel to Junction 10 of the M4 and then back east to Harwich.

The 2002 Cross-Thames Travel Study (Google ‘Cross-Thames Travel Study Wokingham’) found that much of the travel across Reading bridges was relatively short cross-river trips which could to some extent be met by improved public transport and cycling. It reported traffic modelling which showed that a bridge would have knock-on effects on other routes and so increase through traffic in Caversham.

The report says:

  • .Given the potential suppressed demand for cross-river trips, any new road capacity is likely to rapidly induce traffic growth to match the capacity of the new bridge(s). While this would provide some benefits by displacing traffic, for example {a bridge} at Sonning, would create considerable additional traffic flows on the surrounding road networks in South Oxfordshire and south of the river in Reading and Wokingham. The existing road networks do not have sufficient spare capacity to deal with the significant additional demand, especially in South Oxfordshire.
  • A new mass transit system for the Reading/Wokingham area, together with network-wide bus and rail service enhancements plus parking restraint and traffic constraint, would provide a modern and effective means of reducing river-crossing traffic congestion, and addressing future travel demand in the area.

An economic analysis concluded

  • The solution within the 'Study' area is seen to rest with the extensively enhanced provision of mass transit, especially for commuters. The option of additional road infrastructure in the form of a by-pass to avoid and/or alleviate congestion although tendered as an option is rejected as impracticable in terms of cost, environmental implications and on the basis of computer modelling which shows that this type of provision does not solve the problem in this case.
  • The provision of mass/public transport has to be made in the light of a predominantly car based transport system, a major city intent on economic expansion but with a remote employee base, the presence of a substantial rural area plus significant across district long distance commuting.

It is important that a full long-term assessment of alternatives, including traffic and environmental implications, is undertaken before the proposal gathers too much momentum. Surely the floods should strengthen, rather than weaken, the arguments for reducing vehicle use? If there is a strategic plan to expand Reading over the Chilterns and create an Outer Orbital motorway loop it should be assessed and debated, not implemented incrementally.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Belated postcard from Bristol

Sam managed to prise me away from Reading a little while ago and we got the train down to Bristol for the weekend. Probably my last holiday before the elections, but it was a good one.

I stayed up too late the night before setting off downloading a few things to listen to. I sometimes get accused of being a bit one track on politics, so I thought I would broaden my cultural horizons and downloaded Grayson Perry’s Reith lectures on art.

On the first day we did a bit of exploring, found the tourist information office and kept dry in the Watershed bar and cafe. In the evening we went to Hugh’s (not even going to attempt his surname) River Cottage Canteen which took a bit of walking to get to, but was very good! Sam had a spelt risotto dish, I had a polenta lasagna and we swapped halfway.

The next day we did the Bristol open topped bus tour and walked round the shops in Stokes Croft. We were getting a bit cold though, so popped into a cafe for a mulled cider. Then we started to get hungry and so went to Pie Minister which I would definitely recommend.

Early evening on Sunday we saw Inside Llewyn Davis at the Watershed cinema which was a really good film with an amazing soundtrack. I would have been a bit depressed at the end of it were it not for the fact that we had to rush to catch our train back to Reading.

All in all we had a good time and I would definitely recommend a visit to Bristol.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Walk to Work Week, part 2 – The journey home #rdguk

Walk to work week this year is from 12-16 May 2014.

Below is a guest post from a pedestrian campaign in Reading.

Part 2 - The journey home

It’s been a hard, frustrating day at the office, the factory, the shop, the school. So why make it even worse by joining in the rush hour aggression at going home time?

On your way home why not enjoy the tranquillity of the footpath along the canal or river or the relaxing songs of the birds as you walk under the trees lining so many of Reading’s pavements or the freedom of enjoying some me time as your mind is freed up to ponder the important things of life – shall I stop to watch the swans or call in the riverside pub or perhaps spend some time chatting with that cheerful group discussing the pros and cons of green politics?

You can walk along the canal from the town centre to Newtown in 15 minutes but why hurry? Enjoy your independence and take 30 as the calming effect of walking beside the water takes over or take 60 by calling into a local riverside pub – perhaps to meet, chat and be merry with those close to you.

You’re not going to Newtown? No matter, relax and unwind on any number of other equally peaceful routes as you de-stress from the knotty problems of the day. The fresh air might even help to solve them.

You’ve done it! You’ve walked to or from work and what’s more you’ve had your daily 30 minutes exercise and you didn’t even realise it! Gain without pain! The same tomorrow?

For more details on greening your journey to and from work click on

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Newspaper and magazine recycling banks to go from Palmer Park and across Reading #rdguk

The Council has announced that it is going to remove the newspaper and recycling banks from Palmer Park. With the doorstep recycling of paper, I haven't used these for ages. What do people think?

See below for the email from the Council and list of banks to go:

"Attached is a list of Newspaper and Magazine Recycling Banks (known as PAMS) within Reading. These banks were originally installed to allow residents to recycle their newspapers and magazines before the implementation of the kerbside recycling collection scheme in 2001. As a result of the success of this ‘front door’ recycling, the volume of paper being placed in the recycling banks has been steadily reducing.

As the quantity of household newspaper waste in the banks is now minimal and the quality poor, the banks are no longer providing a useful service and the Council has decided to remove them. This will begin on 10 March and is expected to be completed by the end of the month. It is stressed that this is a service change as a result of the success of kerbside recycling and we expect the quantity of paper being recycled across the borough to remain at current levels.  Signage will be placed at the sites before removal and the Environmental Liaison team will monitor the sites frequently to investigate any fly tipping incidents that may occur until residents become aware of the closures.


Palmer Park, Wokingham Rd

Homebase, Forbury Road

Mount St, Whitley Street

Academy Sport Centre (Sth Reading Leisure Centre)

Waterloo Meadows Children's Centre, Elgar Rd North

Coronation Square, Southcote La

Rivermead Leisure Centre, Richfield Ave

The Milestone Centre, Milestone Way

Hills Meadow, George Street

Co-op Recreation Road Car Park, Recreation Road

Whitley Wood Recreation Ground, Basingstoke Rd

Tilehurst Station, Oxford Rd

Tesco Kings Meadow, Napier Road

Waitrose, Tilehust

Meadway School, The Meadway

Asda Meadway Precinct, Honey End La

Blagdon Rd

Friday, 7 March 2014

Help tidy up Reading next week as part of Reading RESCUE #rdguk

Why not help make a difference and tidy up Reading next week by coming along to one of the Reading RESCUE events at 2 PM on Saturday, March 15?

RESCUE (Rivers and Environmental Spaces Cleanup Event) has been going on for a number of years and is about improving our local environment.

Newtown GLOBE and the Kennet and Brunel Community Association have organised a few events in East Reading.

In Newtown we will be doing a tidy up at Kennet Mouth – where the River Kennet joins the River Thames – including picking litter and pruning the Willow hedge.

We will also be having a go at clearing some more of the rubbish out of the alley near the junction of London Road and Manchester Road.

The main meeting place if there is no flooding will be at the river end of Cholmeley Road at 2 PM. If the area is flooded the main meeting place will be at the junction of London Road and Manchester Road again at 2 PM. Either way, there will be an organiser at each of these locations at 2 PM on Saturday, March 15.

We have got some equipment from the Council, gloves, litter pickers, bags etc but if you have your own equipment including loppers for the willow please bring these along.

It would be good to have a rough idea of numbers, so let me know if you plan to come along.

Looking forward to making a difference with you.

Best wishes

Rob White

PS if you can’t make one of our events a full list of events across Reading over a number of days next week can be found here:

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Got repairs to Arthur Hill and Palmer Park gym. Casework success. #rdguk #parkward #casework #rdggreens

Following a resident contacting me on Facebook we've managed to get some improvements to both Arthur Hill and Palmer Park gym. The power of Facebook!

Officer response below:

"Arthur Hills

After thorough examination of the leaky areas in question, we have found the source of the problem to be condensation. The condensation is gathering on the pool ventilation shafts that run over the gym, due to insufficient lagging. The resulting condensation and excess moisture consequently drips on to and through the ceiling tiles.

I have made arrangements for the Councils property service team to apply lagging to the piping above the ceiling tiles to address this issue.

I have asked for this work to be completed in a timely fashion, and I will advise you upon its completion.

The resulting dampness in the atmosphere had been exacerbated by a poorly performing air conditioning unit.

In order to address this, we have cleaned the filters and in doing so, we immediately noticed a considerable difference in the air quality of the gym.

To ensure that there is no reoccurrence of this issue I have added the cleaning of filters to the weekly list of tasks for staff to complete.

We also looked at the extractor fans in the gym and found that they were performing poorly.

The Council’s property services team have also been asked to service/repair these to further improve air quality/circulation.

Palmer Park

The studio flooring at Palmer Park requires significant repair to address issues associated with the lifting of floor panels.

Quotes have been obtained for this work and I am in the process of seeking authorisation to undertake this work.

This will be progressed as a priority and I will update you as the order is placed and a timetable for the works has been confirmed.

So as to address the immediate issue, I have made arrangements for the temporary repairs to be revisited and addressed as required.

In respect of the concern raised about slipping, I am pleased to advise that this problem has now been resolved with the installation of air conditioning to the studio.

To ensure that this remains the case, we will continue to check the floor condition on a daily basis, whilst conducting routine cleansing."

Monday, 3 March 2014

Changes at the Granby #rdguk

The The Granby pub is a landmark at Cemetery Junction. It has lots of history and some protection in Reading's system and we recently defeated a plan to get rid of the bay windows at the front which has helped preserve the character of this building.

More recently the wooden windows have been replaced. We want to see the Granby back in use again, but it is a balance between supporting this and preserving the character of the building.

Below are a couple of responses from the planners in Reading on the situation.

"I’ve looked into this and you are quite correct, the Granby is subject to a local listing.
However, a local listing places no statutory requirement on an owner to obtain any permission that would not have applied had the building not been so listed, it is merely a material consideration for the planning system in determining any planning application that may be submitted.
As the Granby is not in a Conservation Area there is no requirement for planning permission to change windows provided that the appearance of the building is not materially changed. We will conduct a site visit to ascertain whether the work that has been done was likely to have required planning permission and then take any necessary action. I will get back to you when I know which way things are going.
As an aside, the work will have required building regs unless the installers were registered FENSA contractors. We will also check that out and, if necessary, apprise Building Control officers of the situation."

"Things have now moved on a bit – the windows have materially changed the appearance of the building and therefore would have required planning permission.
Planning enforcement investigation 14/00051 now refers. I will add you to the list of complainants so that you are kept up-dated as things progress."