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.

Initial proposal
Final proposal

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

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?