Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Commomwheels car sharing scheme

I had a demo of the new car sharing scheme in Newtown today. I think car sharing schemes are a great idea. They give people access to a car for when they need it without the hassle and expense of owning one. And what's more you get a guaranteed parking space!

In Newtown where I live parking pressures are tight. People say things like 'I don't go out in the evening because I don't want to lose my parking space'. It's in areas such as these where the car sharing scheme can help reduce parking pressures - as each car sharing scheme car can take around ten cars off of the road - help people to get around, and even save people money.

The fees are straight forward, you pay an hourly rate and then a cost per mile. Booking the car was very simple, just a case of logging onto the website and a few clicks later it was booked. If you've not got access to the Internet you can do it by phone.

I accessed the car – an efficient and modern Polo BlueMotion - via a swipe card, then I drove away. Petrol is done via a petrol card and insurance is done through Commonwheels. It was all very easy and straight forward.

In the future the council could even run its car pool cars with the car sharing scheme to increase the number of cars available in Reading.

I'd recommend that anyone who needs access to a car, wants to save money, or to do their bit for the planet, has a look at the Commonwheels website.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Economic growth

There is a very good Special Report on economic growth and how (un)sustainable it is over at the New Scientist website. You can read some of it for free. I'll be off to the library to read the rest.

Hat tip to Chris Rose for bringing it to my attention and in his words:

"It's the fundamental difference between us and the ConLabLibSNPPlaidSocialistSect conflation whose ultimate economic (ecological) illiteracy we need to be hammering in the run up to the General Election."


Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Seven Principles of Public Life

I came across this on The Seven Principles of Public Life while looking into getting more involved with one of my local schools and it got me thinking do Reading politicians hold to these principles?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Berkshire Diet

Thanks to Pete for this on the Fife Diet - which is a diet of 90% locally produced food.

Radio 4 have done a program on it.

Maybe this'll do for a local project? Anyone fancy the Berkshire Diet? I think starting in spring or summer would be best when it will be easier...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Free West Papua

I attended the Free West Papua event with - Green MEP Caroline Lucas speaking - at RISC yesterday and heard about the various injustices - rape, murder and displacement - perpetrated by Indonesia against the West Papuan people. It is outrageous that these atrocities are still committed and yet another murderous regime is still being propped up with military hardware from the UK with the blessings of the Labour government.

It was a really good event mixing the sadness over what has happened and the hope of a more positive future. In one of the lively songs it was good to see the Mayor Peter Beard dancing away, but he looked a little concerns when him chains ended up on one of his fellow dancers!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

EA to sell off lock keepers' cottages

The Environment Agency is to sell off lock keepers' cottages...this doesn't sound like a good move... See here for more information.

12 months, 12 columns, one bag of waste!

Our waste challenge – to generate less than a black bin of waste in a year – is over. But how have we done? Well we've not starved to death, fallen out over it or gone without in any real way and as you can see in the picture, we've generate a bin bag full of waste – mostly plastics that the Reading recycling scheme doesn't take – which is far less than a black bin. So a success.

It has been hard work though, because we've had to change our habits and keep at it for a whole year, and change can be hard. Now it's your turn...only joking. Whilst it would be theoretically possible for everyone in Reading to live as we have for the last year, it's not realistic to expect this to happen, because as I said change is hard and to try and get hundreds of thousands of people to change their lifestyles as we did would be very hard.

What is easier and more realistic though would be for the government to regulate manufacturers and retailers further to minimise packaging and make it all recyclable. Additionally they could legislate against the single-use throw-away culture that has developed and promote repair and reuse. Or maybe this is just as unrealistic under the current government?

Where next? Sam said no to my suggestion to do another year. Maybe someone else could do a year or 365 people could do a day each? Or what about a campaign for a local producer or retailer to reduce the waste they generate?

Finally what should we do with our bag of waste? Insulation, inspiration through an art project involving the waste, or incineration – as Reading will be doing with one quarter of our waste next year?

Ideas to me at or 8 Mandela Court, Orts Rd, Reading, RG1 3JG.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Nepalese Ex PM comes to Reading

Just got back from being one of the guests at a public meeting with the Nepalese PM. The meeting was focusing on the Gurkha right to settle issue which I've worked on recently.

I think we won the argument for the right to settle ages ago. With the recent test case decision, another battle has been won, but I think the government still has enough room for movement to get out of this situation without righting the injustice against the Gurkhas. So we better keep the pressure on. And we've not even got onto pensions yet!

On a lighter note, Rob Wilson MP better watch out on the way home, as the 12 inch blade (kukri) he was presented with and was last seen concealing under his coat, won't do much for his knives cost lives campaign if caught by the police!

Friday, 3 October 2008

The growing Nepalese community

Yesterday I attended a meeting to identify the needs of the large and fast growing Nepalese community in Reading. Lots of people attended but the gender balance could've been better - more women.

I learned that there may be up to 3000 Nepalese in the Reading area! What's more the community may grow even faster following on from the recent decision to re-examine 2000 Gurkha applications to remain. Well done to everyone who campaigned for this, but there is still a long way to go.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Cross campus route at Whiteknights

The officer report on this scheme hasn't been written yet, so you've still got time to respond. See the Facebook group for more information.