Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Palmer Park Stadium after school cycling dates

Well done to Green councillor Josh Williams for getting the council run after-school cycling club going again at Palmer Park sports Stadium. The first session was fully booked!

More information from Josh below:

"Thanks so much to everyone who came with their children to the first session back at Palmer Park velo for the after-school cycling!

It was fully booked, and it was fantastic to see so many kids back out on the track learning to ride and develop their cycling with Coach Gary after such a long break. Don't forget to book in advance if you want a place:

Some updates - attached is a list of the after-school cycling sessions the Council is running - Thursdays are sporadic because of some athletics sessions taking place. They can't let children borrow bikes at the moment, but all being well they will be able to this summer. Next session is Monday 26th, and already filling up fast!

If you have an older child keen to develop their cycling, the Council isn't yet bringing back the Wednesday after-school sessions which were for 6 to 16 year olds. But you could contact Palmer Park Velo and see if they have any junior sessions, or Avanti freewheelers who are just starting up as a community cycling club for juniors. Check them out.

Best wishes to everyone as lockdown eases, stay safe and happy cycling!

Cllr Josh Williams"

Reading Green Party


Monday 19th of April- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Monday 26th of April- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Monday 10th of May- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Thursday 13th of May- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Monday 17th of May- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Thursday 20th of May- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Monday 24th of May- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Thursday 27th of May- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Monday 7th of June- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Thursday 3rd of June- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Monday 14th of June- 4:00pm-5:00pm

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Wokingham Road cycling scheme update

On the Wokingham Road cycle scheme, Reading Council has admitted that it has run out of money and won’t be doing any more of the works related to this scheme. We are letting you know as the council doesn’t appear to have told anyone. There are both pluses and minuses to the remaining elements of this scheme not being taken forward.

Green councillors obviously support measures to boost walking and cycling, but we have shared the concerns of residents about some elements of this scheme. We have been critical of the Tiger crossing by Palmer Park as well as measures which have put cyclists onto narrow pavements – this is especially problematic outside Alfred Sutton primary school. We think this scheme has been a wasted opportunity for more decent on road cycling facilities.

One of the measures which the council disappointingly will not be able to implement because they ran out of money is changing the angle of the entrance to side roads from Wokingham Road. They were due to be made more severe – which would have slowed cars down. This is true for the junctions of Wokingham Road and Holme Road, Regis Park Road, Belle Avenue, Grange Avenue, Pitcroft Avenue which were due to also have similar changes to slow down cars.

Sadly, the Herringbone crossing markings designed to improve things for pedestrians by slowing cars down will not be done at the junctions of Wokingham Road and Belle Avenue, Regis Park Road, Early Hill Road and Holmes Road.

None of the road safety works will be done at the junction of Hamilton Road and Whiteknights Road. This is particularly disappointing with the increased school traffic at this junction which will only increase when Hamilton School which is being built now opens.

However, the council running out of money also means that thankfully the pushbutton pedestrian crossing across Wokingham Road, near Pitcroft Avenue over to the Alfred Sutton school will stay. It will not be replaced with another Tiger crossing like the unpopular one near Palmer Park.

Also, we are pleased that the small pedestrian traffic island in the middle of the Wokingham Road, which residents campaigned for, in between the junctions with Talfourd Avenue and Melrose Avenue will now stay. It will continue to do a good job of helping people cross the road.

We care about the area and will keep working with you to make it easier and safer to get around especially on foot and by bike.

If you want to get emails on street issues like this for your road let us know.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Kennet Side closure update – reopening may be further delayed

We just sent this update to people who signed the petition over the poorly coordinated closure of the Kennet Side by SGN at the same time that the Napier Road tunnel has been closed by Network Rail. Unfortunately it looks like the reopening of the Kennet Side may be further delayed. If you want to get further updates on when the Kennet Side will be reopened sign the petition here:

Subject: Kennet Side closure update – reopening may be further delayed

Dear resident

Your Green councillors have been working hard trying to get SGN to either accelerate the works to upgrade the gas main on the Kennet Side or provide a path around them. We know how frustrating it is to have to walk the long way around! Unfortunately it looks as though the works and closure are further delayed.

Following Cllr Brenda McGonigle’s petition I met with the person in charge of the contractors. He said they can’t work any quicker and a path can’t go through the school car park because of the extent of the works. He also said they don’t want to use a floating path or a ferry because of the expense and now the high level of the Thames. 

We have just heard that due to the high level of the Thames the works may be further delayed. SGN say they are bringing over extra resources this week to try to finish the works, but if they are unable they will need to extend the closure up until the end of March. We have asked that the out-of-date signage be updated.

This is clearly disappointing and we will keep up the pressure for the works to be completed as quickly as possible so the Kennet Side can be reopened.

Having said all of that we do obviously support works to upgrade the gas main, it is just frustrating about the timing and lack of coordination with Network Rail over the Napier Road tunnel closure at the same time.

On a related note it looks like one of the contractors working on this site has taken down a large tree without the correct permission as part of the works near the gas main site – well done Cllr  Josh Williams for spotting this. The council is currently pursuing this with them. Also locally you may have seen that SGN have delayed works to demolish the gas tower because excitingly the Peregrine Falcons are breeding (good work campaigners).

We think it is important that residents are kept informed. 

Please forward this on to anyone – especially new people - who you think might be interested. If you receive a forwarded email let us know if you would like to be added to the list for future updates about your road.

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

Best wishes,
Rob White 

Green Party councillor for Park Ward

PS If you need a helping hand to get through the Covid-19 crisis, the Council’s One Reading Community Hub is here to help. If they can’t do anything let us know

You are receiving this street email about an issue in or near your road because you signed the petition on this issue. If you no longer want to receive these emails, please let us know and we will remove you from the list. 

Monday, 22 February 2021

Green budget consultation

Green councillors want people and planet put first in the council’s budget.

Over 160,000 people live in Reading but there were just 114 responses to the vague Labour Council budget consultation. Only 21 people agreed with Labour’s proposals.

Green councillors support some measures in the budget such as the one-off grant to help those on low incomes manage the council tax increase. However we are concerned about other elements of the budget.

Complete our brief 4 budget questions survey here to let us know what you think.

We are concerned about the £50,000 cut proposed to the drugs and alcohol service (business case here on page 75) with the UK drug related deaths at an all-time high.

The council needs to do more on climate change. We estimate that the council has been properly insulating less than 50 properties per year (ones which are not currently well insulated). In Reading we need to be insulating 4000 homes per year to cut carbon emissions, tackle poverty and create jobs.

We oppose the cuts to the pay, terms and conditions of Reading Council staff including some care workers (business case here on page 99) and the impact this will have on staff morale, recruiting and retaining staff.

The council’s full budget papers can be found here:

The business cases that go with the budget papers can be found below. Disappointingly these have not been published by the council making it impossible for members of the public to understand the budget.

Directorate of Adult Care and Health Services business cases

Directorate of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services business cases

Directorate of Chief Executive and Corporate Business Cases

Remember to complete our brief 4 budget questions survey here to let us know what you think.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Palmer Park swimming pool planning application submitted

It's 4 years since Reading Labour councillors closed Arthur Hill swimming pool. Still no swimming pool in east Reading, but a planning application has now gone in.

Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) the organisation that Reading Labour Council were planning on outsourcing leisure to – before the pandemic – have put in for planning permission for a swimming pool in Palmer Park. You can view all of the documents and respond here.

At the moment there is still no contract between the council and GLL (Green councillors have been concerned about plans to outsource leisure rather than running it in-house).

A large number of documents make up the planning application and it will take us a while to get through them. I have had a quick look though as I know many residents are concerned about the loss of green space. We share these concerns and have lobbied for no green space to be lost. I have posted some plans from the planning application below.

Please let us know what you think.

This is the current footprint with 209 spaces in the car park is:

Below is the worst option from when the council consulted on council plans (development framework) a little while ago showing an expanded car park with 230 parking spaces:

This is the current planning application showing a reduced car park with 131 parking spaces:

When we have read through and got to grips with the application I will post some more detail here. In the meantime have a look and let me know what you think.

UPDATE 1: the planning documents clarify that "...992 square metres...0.6% of the overall greenspace provision at the park" will be lost to the development.

UPDATE 2: It looked like one of the large limes on the Palmer Park Avenue side of the park was going to be removed, but thanks to residents raising it and Greens lobbying on this the plans will be amended to save the tree.

UPDATE 3: Planning permission has been granted.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Morgan Road Playing Fields sell off consultation

Guest post from David McElroy, Redlands Green campaigner (above right with Cllr Jamie Whitham):

UPDATE: Abbey school have said that they are interested in buying the playing fields.

Lots of residents have contacted me recently about Reading School’s proposal to sell off part of its playing fields on Morgan Road and then convert some of the remaining to an artificial pitch.

I know that Redlands Cllr Jamie Whitham and myself share many of those concerns, and we will continue to support local residents through any future Planning process. Any new sports buildings, and likely the 3G pitch, would need their own planning permission, as would any future development based on the land.

Below is some very dry planning related stuff, but I know that a lot of residents just don’t want to lose an amazing green resource in the community, great views, great history, and replace all that with posh flats and a plastic pitch.

Let the school know what you think by Tuesday, December 22.

Now for the dry planning bit.

The Planning process rests on the Council’s Local Plan, and the playing fields fall into the local Conservation Area – although residents have already spotted that there are two conflicting maps used at the end of the Conservation Area appraisal!

But the new Local Plan

(Map F) shows the playing fields included in the Conservation Area, and this is the primary document so my understanding would be that they are included. Eagle-eyed readers of those documents (who zoom in) will also see larger green dots over the playing fields denoting an existing or proposed Green Link (policy EN12).

I would also argue that the declared Climate Emergency is very real and very valid in a material sense in Planning terms (including at least one adjudication from the Inspectorate to back this up.)

Additionally, the local plan says: "playing fields ... should only be developed where: a) an assessment clearly shows the area to be surplus to requirements; or b) the loss would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location; or c) the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the needs for which clearly outweigh the loss." (Policy OU1) It also notes the: "national policy presumption against loss of playing fields in the NPPF."

Remember to respond to the consultation and we will keep working with you to protect and improve the local area.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Update on Henley Road Cemetery Muslim graves section

I have been contacted by residents concerned about council plans to grass over graves at the Henley Road cemetery in the Muslim graves section. I raised this with the council and got the following response which is being sent out to families with relatives buried there. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

“Further to previous correspondence regarding your [mother/father’s] grave and the intention for the section where [she/he] is buried to be laid to lawn, I can now confirm that Reading Borough Council will be writing to all grave owners with loved ones buried in that section, with an option to change the grave type to a traditional grave. The decision to change grave type will only be able to be approved by the grave owner and the costs associated with this change will also be their responsibility.

Signs will also be placed near this section so that all loved ones are aware of this option. Grave owners will have a 6 months notification period to confirm their preferred grave type and a further 6 months for stone sets to be implemented. Upon receipt of the request to change to the traditional grave type, a letter will be sent you the grave owner by Reading Borough Council confirming the fees payable. These fees only cover the licence costs for RBC, they do not cover the cost of the headstone and traditional grave itself. Quotations will need to be obtained by the grave owner from licenced stone masons approved by Reading Borough Council. We will send you a list of approved stone masons.

I am also writing to the Chair of each of the mosques in Reading with this message to confirm the position. Additionally, I will share with them my hope that families who cannot afford to cover expenses but wish for a traditional grave should be duly supported by the mosque communities.

It is clear that information pertaining to the graves in this cemetery section was not properly conveyed by community representatives. To mitigate against communication lapses occurring again, I am committed to the following:-

• Community engagement sessions to be arranged to ensure the decision above and all future relevant information is also communicated to the wider Muslim community. All of these sessions will include Muslim councillors, representatives from each of the Reading mosques, representation from the Pakistani Community Centre and the Lead Councillor for Corporate and Consumer Services (or pertinent portfolio Councillor) and a representative from the Council’s Bereavement Services management team.

• Commitment to clear communication (via website and leaflets) with bereaved families. Leaflets are to be prepared in English and an appropriate second language providing:
o A clear description of what a Lawn grave is, how they are maintained, and the costs involved.
o A clear description of what a Traditional grave is, the conditions regarding requirement for a stone set and the costs involved.
o The Terms & Conditions for both grave types in respect of size, planting and use of adornments.

• Burial Notices to be shared with grave owners as well as the Licensee acting on behalf of the family.

• Written agreements to be introduced between Reading Borough Council and mosques with full details as above.

I would like to thank you for your representations and hope that you find this to be an amicable position.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me should you have any further queries about this specific issue or contact the Bereavement Team for general enquiries and to make arrangements for your loved one’s grave. Grave owners can expect to receive letters from Reading Borough Council in [the coming weeks].”