Friday, 6 October 2017

Improving Crescent Road roadsafety


We know that roadsafety on Crescent Road is a priority for residents and we are working to improve the situation. Below is a (slightly updated version of a) street letter we delivered to Crescent Road recently.

Re: Improving Crescent Road roadsafety

Dear resident,

We know that unfortunately the parking congestion on Crescent Road has worsened causing traffic congestion and further dangerous behaviour such as driving on the pavement. We were also very alarmed by the car which turned over! Your Green Party councillors remain committed to tackling this problem as a priority to keep our community and especially our children safe.

As you know this situation stems from the introduction of the nearby hospital and university parking scheme and it has worsened with term starting at the University. We lobbied for a Park Ward scheme to be introduced at the same time or shortly after the nearby scheme but this has not been prioritised by the council.

In the short term we have requested an increase in the number of traffic warden and police visits (call 101). We are also helping with getting a crossing patrol at Alfred Sutton back. Finally, the yellow line passing places are still progressing.

You may be interested in getting a white access protection marking to protect your drive access – visit www.reading.gov.uk/maintenanceandroadworks for more information.

We will continue to press for a combined permit parking and yellow line scheme for the area, as well as measures to cut rat running. If you are not currently getting emails from us on this subject let Rob know and he can add you to the list.

We care about the area and will keep working with you to improve it and tackle problems.

Yours faithfully

Rob White, Josh Williams and Brenda McGonigle

Green Party councillors, Reading

PS: we produce a monthly email newsletter with more general information about what is going on in the area. If you want to sign up you can do so here: http://greenparty.org.uk/signup.html


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Pothole repair trial in Reading


We have been lobbying for a long time for shallow potholes – which the council doesn’t currently patch if they are less than 5 cm deep – to be fixed.  These potholes are a hazard for all road users especially cyclists. It is great to hear that the council has just conducted a trial on fixing these potholes. Let us know how this trial goes if you use one of the roads mentioned below.

If you want to get email updates from us about issues like these sign up here: http://greenparty.org.uk/signup

From the council:

“Please be advised that Streetcare Services Highway Maintenance Team will commence a week’s trial of an alternate pot hole repair solution that uses a pressure injection system on pothole defects. We are proposing to use the trial on roads where the depth of defects are below our current 50 mm depth investigatory level.

The trial will target roads of different construction make up, from concrete roads with very thin bituminous / surfacing layers that have scabbed off, to roads where the thin micro asphalt material has worn away. The repair system is a quick / speedy solution that will seal the road in advance of the coming winter, which will provide us with an ideal trail period to evaluate whether this would be an appropriate and durable solution to consider for future use.

Velocity UK Ltd will commence work on Monday 2nd October and are expected to complete by Friday 6th October.

The roads that are scheduled for repair during this trial are:

1.    Whiteknights Road
2.    Redlands Road (Addington to London Road)
3.    The Meadway
4.    Southcote Lane
5.    Portman Road
6.    Trafford Road
7.    St Marys Butts, junction with Castle Street
8.    Kiln Road
9.    Peppard Road service road by no 335
10. Valpy Street
11. Minster Street
12. George Street (Reading)
13. Northumberland (Hartland roundabout to Honiton Road roundabout)

The roads were selected to provide a good spread of roads with different construction makeup, vehicle type and volume use, presence of defects which currently fall below our 50 mm investigatory level criteria for repair, are ordered to provide a reasonable route for the contractor to follow and will be completed subject to available time and weather constraints. The work will be carried out under localise rolling traffic management by RBC Highways & Drainage Team and the working hours will be between 8 am and 5 pm.


We do not anticipate much disruption using this solution as it is quick process and moves along the length of the road fairly quickly. The Highways & Drainage operatives are on hand to provide traffic management and assist local residents who may be affected for a short period of time when any work is directly outside their homes.”

Monday, 31 July 2017

Object to the East Reading MRT planning application



The proposed East Reading MRT is a destructive road that Reading and Wokingham councils propose to build beside the River Thames, linking the Napier Road carpark at Tesco to the proposed Park and Ride site in Wokingham by the Waterside Centre. This is planned to be used by buses, pedestrians and cyclists, not by cars and other traffic. You can see details on the Council website http://www.reading.gov.uk/east-reading-mrt

The road itself won’t be very accessible to residents of Redlands or Newtown, as access will be via the Napier Road Tesco carpark, or a new path through the Coal Wood (by Tesco) or at the Park and Ride site (beyond the Wokingham Waterside Centre.)

Despite many thousands of people signing a petition against the use of green space beside the river as a carpark, Wokingham Borough Council recently gave planning permission to the proposed Park and Ride.

Reading Borough Council has now applied for planning permission for the road, which they are calling an ‘MRT’. You can see the RBC Planning application, and object, here:
http://planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=171108&ApplicationNumber=171108&AddressPrefix=&Postcode=&Submit=Search

If you don’t have time to respond to the planning application, then sign the petition here: http://bit.ly/soarpetition


FAQ
What can I do now I know what’s proposed?
If you want to, you can comment through the planning website, as all comments through that route will be formally logged. Emails to the planner may or may not be logged and responded to.

Who is formally applying for this planning permission?
RBC Transport is the applicant, with Peter Brett the agents. Pre-application discussions have been held with RBC Planning officers and it is now a valid application.

Has a planner therefore already assessed it?
No, Reading Borough Council Planning officers have so far helped with some ‘pre-app’ advice only.

So, when will planners assess this application?
Planners will start to get to grips with the application (in all its 125 documents) in late July, early August, and will start by ensuring that all statutory consultations are requested and chased. During that time they will also receive comments and objections from the public. After the consultation phase is finished, the full assessment will take place.

How long is the consultation phase?
This isn’t entirely clear – statutory period is 21 days from when you as a resident were informed about the application – ie. Saw the sign or read the paper, but in practise RBC will accept any comments and objections right up to the committee meeting. However, note that the earlier it comes in, the more time and detail will be spent on it. However, all will be dealt with. The application covers land in two separate authorities and so the application is going to both RBC and WBC.
A ‘16 week consultation’ is also being mentioned by the Council – and it’s not clear what this means. Target dates for officers’ reports and recommendations are that Wokingham Council receive their report first, probably in September and RBC Planning Authority would then receive the report to Committee in either October or November.
It is very possible that details of the plans could change, or be tweaked a little, along the way and these will be allowed where they are done to overcome an objection – unless in the Planning Officer’s mind they are fundamental and therefore require a re-consultation.
This means the overall consultation phase could be July – October or November.

What if the plan doesn’t fulfil its stated purpose? Is this relevant to planning?
Yes. That is a material consideration. But note that there are multiple stated purposes, and each one is a material consideration within the overall assessment.
So if the plan claims to improve walking and cycling along the route, it should be shown that it does that, and an objection would ideally show that it does not.
So if the plan claims to improve congestion and therefore improve air quality, it should be shown that it does that, and an objection would ideally show that it does not.

What if the plan ignores alternatives that would also meet that stated purpose? Perhaps in a superior way. Is this relevant to planning?
Yes, in this case that is a material consideration. In planning it usually isn’t a consideration (planning to build a house on location A doesn’t usually involve proving that the site is superior to other options at locations B and C), however, it has been determined that this application must contain an Environmental Impact Assessment and that means that alternatives are now a specific material consideration. Could the stated aims of the project be met in better ways, with less impact on the environment now matters in approving the application.

What if the plan breaches any specific RBC policies? Eg. Listed buildings? Eg. Protected areas? Eg. Loss of amenity?
Yes, these will all be part of the assessment and will all be part of the planning balance in approving or refusing.

It has been repeatedly and often claimed that the bridge segment of the plan couldn’t operate as a carriageway for all traffic in the future as it is too narrow at only one lane – but it is over 10 meters wide. (Sonning Bridge is only half that.) So this statement is obviously factually incorrect both in terms of traffic moving on a single lane via traffic lights or a future adaptation of the bridge into two lanes, by removing or reducing the cycle and pedestrian element. Is this relevant to planning?
Yes, there will need to be specific and robust legal requirements that the road and bridge are never to be converted to full traffic use. We don’t yet know what those are, but without them the application would likely be refused, because it is being assessed as a bus use only application.
Although it should be noted that it will probably be bus use plus coach use (RailAir / TVP shuttle) plus emergency services use (should they require it), plus potentially breakdown/recovery use.

Resident are concerned that access to the river from NewTown is via the Kennetmouth – and it appears from plans that this access would be lost for large periods of time during construction. Residents object strongly to this. Is that a planning consideration?
Yes, there would need to be robust phasing plans for the construction and details of access for the public, but of course some disruption is going to occur if approved and funded.

Could I access the planned bridge or road as a pedestrian or cyclist at the Kennet Mouth? If not, surely this application is fundamentally flawed?
No, there is no access planned at the Kennet Mouth, but there is an access ramp planned in the Coal Wood area near Tesco. Access is restricted by construction being in a flood zone, and by minimising the impact on the riverside. Ramps for access could be fairly large. So this is a consideration, but again, just one in the overall planning balance.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Update on fire safety in Reading following Grenfell


Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower Green councillor Brenda McGonigle asked for an update on fire safety in Reading at a recent council committee. Response below:

In the last six months there have been two major fires in high rise blocks of flats in other areas - one in Shepherds Bush and most recently the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower, Kensington.  The Grenfell Tower investigation is underway, but it will be some time before we fully understand how the fire started or why it took hold in the way it did.

Reading Borough Council has three 14-storey blocks of flats in Coley and four eight-storey blocks in Granville Road, Southcote, and we are confident they meet high levels of fire safety standards.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services has audited 90 per cent of the Council’s blocks of flats, including our high rise blocks, with communal areas and have not raised any significant issues.  Where fires have broken out inside flats, none of them have spread outside the flat.

Formal fire risk assessments are carried out in our high rise blocks every other year by the Council using a qualified fire risk assessor.  A block inspector regularly checks all blocks and housing officers are on site most days to ensure constant monitoring.  From this year every flat within the blocks will have their smoke alarm tested every year and tenants are encouraged to check them weekly.

There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower.  The Council can confirm that none of Reading Borough Council’s blocks have cladding systems comparable to those in the blocks where these fires occurred nor are any of the Council’s homes clad with the material which was used in the exterior refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.

The Coley high rise flats have very few cavities between any external cladding panels and the main concrete construction but on the limited elevations where they do occur fire breaks are in place to stop the spread of fire. None of the other flatted blocks have cavities.

The Coley high rise flats have fire exits at both ends of the blocks and have a call-point alarm system in communal areas which can be heard throughout the building when activated.  The Granville Road flats each have two communal staircases accessed via external balconies.  All flats have their own alarms which sound internally.  Smoke seals and intumescent strips are fitted on communal doors and the front doors of flats in all of our blocks to protect tenants from fire and reduce the risk of fire inside a flat spreading outside.

Fire risk is taken very seriously and the Council operates a zero-tolerance policy regarding items left in communal areas by tenants, as this poses a fire risk.  The Council enforces this policy strictly.

Every block of flats also has a fire notice board with an evacuation plan and factsheet giving advice regarding what to do in the event of a fire.  Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Council wrote to all tenants in our high rise flats to reassure them of the fire safety measures in place and to urge them to regularly check their flat’s alarms and provide guidance on how to reduce the risk of a fire occurring and what to do if a fire does occur.  If any resident had any health and safety concerns about electrical appliances inside their flat, the Council also offered to visit and carry out testing to check that there were no issues. A fire safety briefing was also provided to all Councillors.

The Council takes fire safety extremely seriously and reviews measures as new information arises or updated guidance is issued.  This includes learning from major incidents in other areas, including the findings which will come out of the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire.  Despite Reading Council’s blocks differing in design to Grenfell Tower, in order to provide residents with complete confidence and assurance, the Council is appointing an external organisation with specific expertise on fire safety in high rise blocks.  The organisation will carry out a review of our practice in the areas of management, fire safety measures and safety advice to tenants.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Reading Council and fire safety



Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Reading Council has clarified the situation in Reading. See below. We will keep up the pressure to ensure that all Reading residents live in decent, safe homes.

"Following this week’s horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in West London, I am sure like us your thoughts quickly turned to fire safety at tower blocks in Reading. This note is to provide you with a level of reassurance around existing fire safety measures in place. We hope it will help to answer any initial questions or concerns you may have.

The Council has three 14-storey blocks of flats in Coley, and four eight-storey blocks in Granville Road, Southcote. We are confident they meet high levels of fire safety standards. None of Reading Borough Council’s blocks have cladding systems comparable to those in Grenfell Tower Block.

The Coley high rise flats do not have a panel system. The blocks have limited, enclosed cavities between external cladding and the main concrete construction. On the limited elevations where they do occur, fire breaks are in place to stop the spread of fire. None of the other flatted blocks have cavities.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services has audited 90 per cent of the Council’s blocks of flats - including our high rise blocks - and have not raised any significant issues.

The Council takes fire safety very seriously.  While tower blocks in Reading differ in design to Grenfell Tower, we are nonetheless appointing an external organisation with specific expertise on high rise blocks to review management practice, fire safety measures and construction and safety advice to tenants. We hope this additional external review will provide a further level of reassurance to you.

The Council is this week writing to all tenants in the Coley and Granville Road high rise flats to reassure them of the fire safety measures in place. The letter is attached - this includes a reissue of the fire safety information which we provide to all tenants."

Monday, 12 June 2017

Red Route consultation in Reading



UPDATE: I have now had a briefing from a transport planner and can confirm that contrary to what the council's press release says the parking bays on the Wokingham Road are being changed subtly to white marked bays as part of a Red Route. This means that anyone parking outside of the bay (double parking for example) should hopefully get a ticket. However pay-and-display machines (with a free 30 minutes) will still be needed to make sure people don't stay in the bays for too long.

The council has started consulting on a Red Route along the number 17 bus route. We think this is generally a good thing for creating a more reliable bus service. We also think that if done right it could tackle the Wokingham Road parking problems in the vicinity of Alfred Sutton school.

As you can see from the plans – linked to from the consultation page – the Red Route won't impact on the majority of the parking in the Wokingham Road shopping area. This means that the double parking would continue.

We think the council needs to introduce pay-and-display machines in this area at the same time as the Red Route. The pay-and-display machines could have a free first half hour so the free parking would be the same as it is now. However it would be easier for the traffic wardens to issue tickets as they would only need to do one pass – as opposed to the situation at the moment where what they need to do one pass to see who is parked there and a second pass to issue tickets, by which time everyone has seen them and moved.

Please respond to the consultation with your thoughts.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Passing places on Crescent Road #rdg to improve road safety, what do you think?


Green councillors have been continuing to lobby for road safety improvements on Crescent Road. There are a number of streams of work, this one – to make sure they school zigzags are in the right place – is the simplest and the furthest forward. We want to get some feedback from residents as early as possible.

The transport planners were just going to put double yellow lines and school keep clear markings on the school side of the road. However, we know from what parents have said to us that sometimes congestion means people drive on the pavement. One idea that we have had is to introduce some passing places – using short sections of double yellow lines like we have created at the west end of Crescent Road near to the Eastern Avenue double roundabout. We have asked transport planners if we could have some passing places as part of this scheme. They have suggested one – as marked on the map.

We would like to know what people think about the idea of some passing places in principle, how many – looking at the map I think we could do with another one – and where they should be. Please comment on the blog post/Facebook and so on to let me know what you think. Alternatively send me an email: rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk

It should be noted that we also want the council to look at the traffic flow in the area more generally but this is obviously a bigger piece of work. Following our lobbying we hope to the council will have produced some ideas to talk to people about during the summer.

Green councillors will keep lobbying to make sure every child has a safe route to school.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Reading Council says 4-6 weeks until the delayed Whiteknights Dam works are completed


See below for an update from the council about the delayed Whiteknights Dam works. They say that it will be 4-6 weeks until the works have been finished. We will keep lobbying for the works to be completed as soon as possible.

"I refer to your recent enquiry concerning the progress of the Whiteknights Reservoir Scheme.

I can confirm that to date the contractor has completed  the drainage works, the gabion basket retaining structure and the concrete flood retaining wall (the wall that will protect the allotment and the homes).

The contractor is currently completing the brick cladding along the road frontage and the handrail fencing will commence shortly, followed by the reinstatement of the public footway and Allotment plots, including improvements to internal allotment footpaths and should complete their works within the next 4 - 6 week.

Reading Borough Council’s in-house Parks Department will complete the landscaping plan, which includes 3 new tress in the Allotment (Oak, Silver Birch and an apple tree), ground cover grass, Honeysuckle and native hedgerow). These works are scheduled to commence in the Autumn when it is appropriate to plant. The Scheme also included 5 new trees along the Wokingham Road corridor, to date 4 have been planted with one final tree to be installed on the central reservation near St Peter’s Road.

With regard to delays, the scheme was always going to be a very difficult one to deliver and our contractor has found it a challenge. As this is a Reservoir, the environmental constraints has caused the contractor to re-do some elements of the works, which compounded the programme. Areas that required alteration included some of the drainage. The rest of the delay has been down to sourcing approved materials to use with a reservoir and other engineering difficulties.

I trust this update provides the information you seek, however, if you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me."

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Snap general election – vote Green and get involved

Reading and Wokingham Green Party have a selection process to go through, but I plan to put myself forward for selection as the candidate for the Reading East constituency.

I think calling a general election is the right thing for Teresa May to do. At the moment, she has no mandate for the extreme Brexit she is planning on inflicting on the country. If you oppose this extreme Brexit, if you believe in standing up for public services like children's centres and if you want a party that will protect precious green spaces like the Thamesside then your only option is to vote Green and get involved.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Red Route to tackle Wokingham Road #rdg parking problems

Green councillors have been campaigning to tackle dangerous parking problems on the Wokingham Road, near to Alfred Sutton school. The council will be consulting on introducing a Red Route later in the year. We think the best opportunity for improving road safety in the area.

Red Routes are used in London to help buses run on time. The Reading Red Route will be along the 17 bus route. It is a similar parking restriction to the current loading ban along much of this route, but easier to enforce. For example the CCTV camera car can be used to issue tickets.

At the same time as introducing the Red Route the council will also be looking at other measures to tackle problems. Green councillors would like to see pay-and-display (with a free first 30 minutes) introduced in the parking bays on Wokingham Road opposite Alfred Sutton school. This would make enforcement easier and help tackle some of the parking problems. It would also free up the bays for people using the local shops.

Let us know what you think. We will keep people updated when we have more information about the consultation.


Friday, 10 March 2017

Litter pick this weekend in East #rdg


Newtown GLOBE have organised a Reading RESCUE litter pick & tidy up on Sunday 12 March from 1 pm - 2 pm. We will be meeting at the junction of Cholmeley road & the river Kennet - everyone is welcome!

We should have equipment, but bring your own gloves and litter pick if you have them.

Apologies about the short notice, but the council are no longer supporting Reading RESCUE meaning that it is organised by volunteers and everyone is a bit stretched!

Hopefully see you at the weekend.

Best wishes
Rob White

Newtown GLOBE

Tackling parking and road safety problems in East Reading


Last night at the Traffic committee Green Party councillor Rob White argued that the Park Ward, East Reading permit parking scheme and Crescent Road road safety scheme should be fast tracked to consultation. Unfortunately other councillors on the committee wanted to keep the order suggested by Councillor Page. This means progress will be slower than it could have been.

The large Park Ward scheme, bordered by Eastern Avenue, Whiteknights Road, Church Road and Wykeham Road, is currently 4th in the queue (Battle large area scheme, Caversham large area scheme, Minster small scheme, Park large area scheme followed by the other small schemes).

This is clearly disappointing as Rob highlighted road safety issues from the police, fire service and Crescent Road schools at the meeting, such as fire engines not being able to get down Hamilton Road, but the committee voted to progress the schemes in the order that they were received.

However, when Rob met with senior transport planner Simon Beasley ahead of the meeting Simon indicated that we would be able to get going on some of the ground work for this scheme in the next month or so. Councillor Page also wanted to set up a council subcommittee to progress the scheme – although he didn’t provide any detail on this at the meeting.

Thanks to everyone who emailed the Council on this and provided information. Green Party councillors continue to share your frustration on the slow progress towards consulting on a scheme to tackle the issues you have raised with us. We will keep lobbying and working to improve road safety and tackle parking issues.

Best wishes
Rob White, Josh Williams and Brenda McGonigle

Green Party councillors, Reading

https://www.facebook.com/rdggreenparty
http://twitter.com/reading_greens

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Palmer Park #rdg bin reductions


Due to government cuts, the council is looking at removing some of the bins from Palmer Park. More detail on this below. Let us know how this goes, the earlier we identify any problems the better.

The map above shows bins in Palmer Park as red circles. Those with a white cross are going. Click on the map to get a bigger version of it.

From the council: "Palmer Park currently has 72 waste bins, 68 of which are managed by Parks. By contrast, Reading’s largest park, Prospect Park, has 19 bins; other large parks used for dog-walking as well as sports, like Mapledurham, Cintra and Kensington Road have 14 bins each. Most parks have many fewer than this, and litter is no more of a problem where there are fewer bins. The issue at Palmer Park is that many bins are not used, rather than that there are insufficient of them. Clearly, compared with all other parks in Reading, 72 bins is excessive, with attendant costs for both the Council’s budget and the environment.

As mentioned, 68 of the 72 bins are managed by Parks. This means that

·         Every day we replace 68 green bags
·         Over a 7-day week, this totals of 476 green bags
·         As we do this every day of the year except Christmas Day, this total comes to 24,752 green bags
·         Each green bag costs 17p; so the green-bag cost to the Council for this site alone is £4,207.84

In addition, it takes an excessive amount of staff time to visit every bin and change the bag. On a busy weekend, it can take four hours to clear the bins and pick up any litter, meaning that some other parks on the round do not get visited.

If every bin were full every day, there may be some justification for this cost, but it is possible that many bins will have only one item. Some bins in Palmer Park are only a few metres apart. We actually need to rationalise the number, so that there is only one bin on a stretch of path.

From many years of emptying bins, we know which are the most well-used. We propose to take out first the infrequently used bins as well as those that are within 50m of another bin, and then to phase any further rationalisation over the course of the next year or two, when we have monitored changes in use and in litter across the park. Although dog waste can now be put in regular bins, we will leave in place well-used dog bins as a convenience to dog-walkers."

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Palmer Park library #rdg opening hours are changing…


Following the cuts to the libraries budget – which Green councillors opposed – we have had an update on the revised opening hours for Palmer Park library.


Currently
Initial proposal
Final proposal
Mondays
0900-1700
Closed
Closed
Tuesdays
0900-1900
0900-1200;1300-1900
0900-1200;1300-1900
Wednesdays
Closed
Closed
0900-1200
Thursdays
0900-1900
0900-1200;1300-1600
0900-1200;1300-1600
Fridays
0900-1700
0900-1200
Closed
Saturdays
0930-1300;1400-1600
1000-1300
1000-1300
Sundays
Closed
Closed
Closed

These hours will come into effect in April 2017. More detail in the full briefing below.

Briefing Note : Palmer Park Library/Reading College                        January 2017

Background
A Decision Book report in December sought approval to enter into a partnership with Activate Learning, the group that operates Reading College, to deliver library services from Palmer Park Library.  The contract will commence in April 2017 and covers a period of 15 months and may then be extended by a further two years.

The partnership with Reading College offers work-based placement opportunities for young people with learning difficulties through the College’s supported employment programme, with an on-site tutor supporting learning. This will alslow the Council to reduce to single staffing during term times, thus delivering a saving.  

Palmer Park Library remains part of the Library Service offer and network. The Council will continue to provide the building and infrastructure such as the Library Management System, self-serve kiosks, courier service and book stock, as well as offering professional advice and retaining overall management responsibility. The Council will also continue to support the public access IT offer. The building and contents will  remain RBC assets and a member of RBC staff would be on site during all opening hours.

Current Position
We continue to work with Reading College on the new model of service delivery for Palmer Park Library.

We have a contract and service specification ready to sign, following on from the Decision Book approval in early January – Reading College have signed to approve.

We are proposing that an amendment is made to the initially proposed opening hours for Palmer Park Library and that 3 hours move from Friday to Wednesday. This change allows greater accommodation of the student and tutor model.

The staffing would be 1xRBC staff + 1xCollege tutor + up to 3 students, except a) after 5pm, b) on Saturdays and c) in College holidays. During these times  2xRBC Library staff would be in place.

The original hours have been displayed as ‘subject to change’ on site. The final report on the library service restructure to Plicy Committee in July flagged that ‘as currently, opening hours will continue to be monitored and changes may be made as and when required without further consultation. Books can be ordered, collected from and returned to any service point as currently’.

The impact of this change is the moving of the Friday rhymetime which would seem to fit best on a Wednesday. We would communicate this change well in advance to those attending. The overall total hours open per week do not change.

The new opening hours will be implemeted in line with all library sites from Monday 3 April and, as we are then immediately into a College holiday, the full new model of staffing at Palmer Park Library will start from Monday 24 April.

Changes to library opening hours across all library sites will be more widely highlighted from mid February.

In developing a partnership delivery model with reading College we are working through all relevant policies and procedures to ensure clear training, lines of accountability and a smooth introduction.

We will report on progress as we move closer to the new model of working from April 2017.

Monday, 6 February 2017

More cuts as #rdg Labour Council reveals budget


Reading Labour have now published their budget for the coming year including £24.2 million worth of cuts. The council is in a dire financial situation partly due to Conservative government cuts and partly due to local Labour mismanagement (with a £7.5 million in year overspend on the Council budget this year). Cuts will continue until councils get together and stand up to the government.

The council is currently consulting on closing 9 out of 13 children's centres. Arthur Hill swimming pool in east Reading has been closed. Vulnerable adults have had care packages cut. Members of the public are suffering and understandably concerned as public services are cut at the same time as council tax goes up (Labour are proposing a 5% increase this year).

The budget is going to the Policy committee on Monday, February 13, but isn’t debated and voted on until full Council on Tuesday, February 21.

Budget papers can be found using this link. The report is very long. Pages 1-4 give a summary of the council’s dire financial position.  Individual budget savings can be found in appendices 1A, 1B and 1C from page 31 onwards – most of these have been announced previously.

Green councillors will continue to stand up for public services. Why not get involved?


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Park Ward parking and Crescent Road road safety update

Crescent Road road safety scheme
The new parking scheme in Redlands Ward will clearly create knock on problems for Park Ward. We have been lobbying for the Park Ward parking scheme scheme (bordered by Eastern Avenue, Whiteknights Road, Church Road, Wykeham road) and the Crescent Road road safety scheme to be developed and consulted upon as soon as possible.

When we recently raised this with transport planners they said that they were now in a position to start moving forward with the parking and the Crescent Road road safety schemes. We have asked for a meeting in February and will keep residents updated.

An initial idea for the Crescent Road scheme is here. This went to the Traffic Committee recently: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/6591/Item08/pdf/Item08.pdf

Let us know what you think as well as your thoughts on parking.

If you are interested in regular updates on both of these schemes we have set up a Google group – link below. If you have a Google email address you can subscribe yourself. If not send me an email to rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk and I will add you.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Redlands Ward permit parking going live dates, zones and applying for permits


Above is a map showing the new residents’ parking zones in Redlands Ward. Alexandra Rd and to the east are in permit zone 13R. Avebury Square, and Upper Redlands Road(no.1-29) is in permit zone 15R. Allcroft Road, Whitby Drive and Lancaster Close are in resident permit zone 10R. Your permits only allow you to park in the zone in which you live.

The new parking scheme will be carried out in separate phases due to the size of the scheme.  The first phase to be introduced will include properties within Whitby Drive, Lancaster Close, Avebury Square and areas east of Alexandra Road (with the exception of Upper Redlands Road), this is due to be implemented by 23rd Jan. If you live in one of these areas you should have received a letter from the council about applying for permits.

The rest of the approved scheme will be the second phase and is proposed to be delivered at the end of March, this is subject to the delivery of pay and display machines. The council hasn't written to people in this area yet about applying for permits.

If you want to get further updates on the rollout of the parking scheme send me an email: rob@readinggreenparty.org.uk

If you live in one of the phase 1 areas and you haven’t applied for a permit for your car or visitors’ permits already you will need to do so quickly. More information on applying for permits below. As well as ordinary residents’ permits there are special permits for other groups such as carers. There are also discretionary permits for people who don’t qualify for other types of permit and some transitional measures. Contact the council for more information on these and if you don’t get anywhere let us know.

http://www.reading.gov.uk/parkingpermits

Friday, 13 January 2017

Urgent: consultation on Reading Council first parking permit charges

At the Policy Committee on Monday, January 16 councillors will be voting on changes to the parking scheme in Reading including a charge for the first permit. I want to know what people think and so have set out the key arguments in support of a charge below and have created a short online survey for people to let me know what they think.

Apologies for the short notice, but the recommendation from the Traffic Committee was only made yesterday!

Key facts
The council is proposing introducing a charge of £30 for the first permit per year (an increase from 0) and leaving the 2nd permit at £120.

The parking permit scheme (permit administration and enforcement) currently runs at a loss meaning all council taxpayers, including those without cars, are subsidising it. Given government cuts, and the dire financial situation of the council, this is not sustainable into the future.

Introducing a charge for the first permit would mean in some years there is a surplus and any loss will be smaller. This uncertainty is because the cost of the enforcement contract depends on the number of tickets issued.

Any surplus from the scheme will be ring fenced for transport and used as follows:

  • to introduce new schemes (currently because of a shortage of money there is a backlog of schemes which is not moving)
  • to improve the online permit administration system making it easier for residents to use
  • an upgrade to the CCTV camera car which will improve enforcement of existing schemes
  • more traffic wardens
  • more flexible visitor permits, eventually allowing us to move away from the a.m./p.m. permits to custom permits that fit better with the hours a visitor wants
  • an upgrade to the Love Clean Reading smart phone app so residents can report cars which are breaking the rules

The short survey can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/eJdQdSJPeOcXBhJH2

Financial notes
  • Administration of parking permits is cost neutral.
  • In the last 3 years the amount the enforcement contract has been subsidised by ranges from £300,000-£157,000. It is dependent on how many parking tickets are issued.
  • Maintenance of parking scheme signs and lines across Reading ranges from £30,000 per year to £50,000 per year
  • Introducing a charge of £30 for a first permit brings in £226,080.
  • Approximately £30,000 will be brought in by charging £30 for discretionary permits which are currently free.


So if we look at the best case after introducing a £30 charge for the first permit and discretionary permits the income/costs would be as follows:

Income: £256,080
Best case costs: £187,000
Surplus to pay for new schemes and improvements per year: £69,080

It should be noted that if the number of parking tickets issued is low then there will be no surplus and the scheme will make a loss.

The short survey can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/eJdQdSJPeOcXBhJH2


The full council committee report can be found here: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/6593/item06/pdf/item06.pdf