If you want to get emails on street issues like this for your road let us know.
Thursday, 18 March 2021
If you want to get emails on street issues like this for your road let us know.
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
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: https://bit.ly/rdghorseshoe
Monday, 22 February 2021
Green councillors want people and planet put first in the
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: https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=136&MId=4503
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 https://www.dropbox.com/s/6pcnzxptqwj7p4f/Directorate%20of%20Adult%20Care%20and%20Health%20Services%20Business%20Cases%20February%202021.pdf?dl=0
Directorate of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services business cases https://www.dropbox.com/s/uhrej0gwqq4mvyz/Directorate%20of%20Economic%20Growth%20and%20Neighbourhood%20Services%20Business%20Cases%20February%202021.pdf?dl=0
Directorate of Chief Executive and Corporate Business Cases https://www.dropbox.com/s/iqu1xqorp5mud9g/Directorate%20of%20Chief%20Executive%20and%20Corporate%20Business%20Cases%20February%202021.pdf?dl=0
Remember to complete our brief 4 budget questions survey here to let us know what you think.
Thursday, 17 December 2020
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:
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 3: Planning permission has been granted.
Friday, 11 December 2020
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 https://www.readingschoolsport.co.uk/our-impact 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 https://images.reading.gov.uk/2019/12/Adoption_Proposals_Map_Nov19_E_to_G.pdf
(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
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].”
Tuesday, 3 November 2020
Guest post by Louise Keane - Green campaigner for Katesgrove who finished in second place last time:
More protection needed for Reading's Black History Mural
At a recent council meeting, I was able to ask a public question about the fate of the Black History Mural at the bottom of London Street. This iconic image on the side of the Central Club is so important to the Black Diaspora, to Katesgrove and to Reading, and I fully support the initiative from the community to apply to Historic England to have it nationally listed. I also think the flawed bidding process for Central Club should be reopened - petition here www.bit.ly/savecentralclub and more below.
But we don’t know how long that process will take, and the building is unused and unloved by the Council. So, in the meantime, I asked the Council to Locally List the mural as a stopgap. Sadly, Labour Councillors say that this won’t happen as it isn’t needed – that because it falls inside a ‘Conservation Area’ it has protection anyway.
But the Conservation Area doesn't even mention the Mural, or list it as having any merit whatsoever, and goes so far as to say that modern development at the end of London Street actually spoils the appearance of the area. That doesn’t feel very protected at all.
The Council could have locally listed the mural, and perhaps it should look at Historic England’s advice that "Heritage assets can be added to a local heritage list regardless of whether they are in conservation areas." They even say that one thing you should look at is “unlisted buildings that make a ‘positive contribution’ to the character of a conservation area." The Conservation Area needs urgently updating to show what a positive contribution the Mural makes!
Sign Petition for Central Club bidding process to be reopened
The fate of Central Club building on the side of which the mural is located is now more uncertain than ever. Labour have unfortunately agreed to sell it to a developer primarily to build flats for profit. Now the developer has come back with a reduced offer, which the Council has accepted without even talking to the community bidder - Aspire. That isn’t right.
Green councillors supported the Aspire African Caribbean proposal for the Central Club which was knocked back by the council. If you agree that community should be before profit, you can sign our petition for the Central Club bidding process to be reopened www.bit.ly/savecentralclub.