Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Reading anti-cuts meeting

1) Public Forum (Sponsored by Reading Shop Stewards Network & RMT Reading Branch)
We’ve watched the bankers gamble and lose, watched their financial system go into meltdown.
We’ve watched banks and companies collapse, watched the government hand £50 billion to the one’s who’re to blame.
We’ve watched jobs lost, homes taken, lives wrecked. We’ve watched the richest 1000 people in the UK increase their wealth by £80 billion.
Now we are expected to watch while our public services which we rely on are smashed to pay for the crisis that they created.
“We are in this together”. “We are the big society”. We are being robbed.
Enough! It is time we stand up and stop this. Time we unite and fight back against these cuts.
On 23rd September join community groups, trade unions, political and faith groups, service user groups as well as residents and workers from across Reading to form a coalition against these cuts to our services.
There is too much at stake to sit back and watch.

2) Demonstration against Tory Party Conference
Sunday 3rd October, Central Birmingham
Coach leaves 9:15 from South Street, Reading
Tickets £12 / £8 Concession / £20 Solidarity
Coach organised by Reading Shop Stewards Network. For further info ring 07544822759

UPDATE: Maiden Erlegh catchment area changes

I have now talked to officers at both Wokingham and Reading about possible changes to the catchment area of Maiden Erlegh school which would exclude children from the Alfred Sutton school area.

First, let me say that the setup of schools as they are at the moment with Reading children going to Wokingham secondary schools dates back to when Berkshire county council looked after education. I think it's massively unfair for Wokingham Council to use its control of these schools to disadvantage Reading children who have as much right to go there. I will fight the corner of Reading parents and children.

I have set up a Facebook group called No to Maiden Erlegh Catchment Area Changes to bring people together to fight these changes. If you aren't on Facebook and want to be kept updated please get in contact.

I don't have a copy of the report yet -- as it hasn't been published -- but from my two conversations on the phone with officers from Reading and Wokingham it appears as though the recommendations in it are along the lines of:

-- Wokingham should change the catchment area of Maiden Erlegh secondary school to exclude Reading children from the Alfred Sutton school area.
-- These children will still be able to access places at Bulmershe School in Wokingham.
-- There will be sibling protection, so if a child already has an older brother or sister at Maiden Erlegh school then they will be able to get a place there to.

The timeline so far runs like this:

-- In January Wokingham started a review of secondary school admissions -- for 2012 -- following the closure of Ryeish Green.
-- They appointed an independent consultant -- Alan Parker. His report went to a review board with an independent chair.
-- Wokingham Council are about to publish the report and consult on its recommendations roughly from September to October -- they are planning to consult Reading parents too. There will be two consultation meetings, one on September 29 and one on October 6 -- venues haven't been agreed yet.
-- The results of this consultation will go to an admissions forum in November. The output of the admissions forum will then go to statutory consultation from December to February.
-- This will then go to Wokingham Council's executive in March -- for councillors to agree. There is one more opportunity to object. The policy will be in place by mid April.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Wokingham excluding Reading children from secondary schools...

Rumours are circulating that Wokingham Council is having another go at excluding Reading children -- from the Alfred Sutton primary school area -- from Maiden Erlegh secondary school.

I am currently in the process of trying to get an up-to-date briefing from Reading Borough Council. As soon as I have more information I will post again.

For those of you out of the loop, as I understand it the rumour is that Wokingham is seeking to make September 2011 the last year for Alfred Sutton as a catchment school, also:

-- No Alfred Sutton school children except for siblings of current children from September 2012
-- There will be a consultation meeting on September 6 in Wokingham for people to put their views -- more details once I have them.

Rest assured I will be fighting for Reading children.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

English Defence League -- Berkshire...

The far right group the English Defence League came into existence in 2009.

"It claims to be a peaceful, non-racist organisation opposed only to "militant Islam". But many of its demonstrations have ended in confrontations with the police after some supporters became involved in violence, as well as racist and Islamophobic chanting." BBC website

I was therefore fairly concerned when I was out in the town centre on Saturday night, and some friends said they had seen people -- four -- with "English Defence League -- Berkshire" T-shirts on drinking in the Monks Retreat. True to form they were kicked out for alleged drug dealing by the staff.

A quick Google reveals that they have a Facebook group listing events and my friends must of seen them out in Reading for their 'meeting'.

With the October spending review looming, probably bringing massive cuts to public services, I fear groups like this will be on the rise and tensions between communities will increase.

Fortunately, in Reading all of our communities tend to rub along in relative harmony. Long may this continue.

The next positive event that is coming up is the Reading Interfaith walk. Unfortunately I am away that weekend, but I would urge anyone who cares about community cohesion to go along.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pakistan flood fund-raiser

Another fund-raiser. Including excellent (Asian style) home-cooked food. This Friday at Park Church Hall, Palmer Park Avenue. Starting at 7pm and including a presentation from the charity Islamic Relief (which IS a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee). Dates and snacks at 20.07, full meal served about 15 minutes later. £5 on the door, under 5's free. It would probably be helpful to those organising the donated food to notify attendance in advance to:

tahir_maher@hotmail.com - but not essential.

Note that fast-opening will occur on time. Parking at Park Church Hall is on the corner of the park opposite the church, approached only from Palmer Park Avenue; from town, take the right fork at Cemetery Junction into Wokingham Road, pass the cemetery, pass the park, pass the church and turn left into Grange Avenue. Down to the end of Grange Avenue, turn left at the end, and left again at the bottom into Palmer Park Avenue; just before you get back to Wokingham Road there is a gateway on the right into the parking area. The excellent 17 bus stops just past the church.

Monday, 23 August 2010

How active has your councillor been since the May elections?

After a bit of chasing I have managed to obtain the statistics on how active councillors have been. This spreadsheet shows how many items of casework -- raising housing issues on behalf of residents, reporting fly tipping, requesting repairs to streetlights for example, asking questions of officers on behalf of residents etc -- each councillor has put through the Front Office system in each month since the elections in May. As you can see there is a large range in the levels of activity.

As people have pointed out in the past casework is only one aspect of a councillor's work and I wouldn't expect the mayor for example to be doing much casework as he or she is busy being the figurehead of the council. But I still think it is a useful measure of how active your councillors are.


Established 1874, Re-formed 1891 and to be re-established 2010

All TUC Affiliated Unions with members/branches in the Reading Area are urged to nominate delegates to attend a meeting called for 10.30am on Saturday 18th September at the Unison Offices, Church Street, Reading.

Established in 1874 in response to the Criminal Law Amendment Act which introduced prosecution for participation in strikes, Reading Trades Council aimed at Uniting the great number of unions in the Town

Re- formed in 1891 the Trades Council continued that task for more than 100 years including from 1920 to 1945 constituted as Reading Trades Council & Labour Party.

Today the need is as great as ever, faced again with hostile governments both national and local. To protect our jobs, services and industries it is essential that unity and co-operation between unions is in place and to this end the meeting on the 18th September will consider the crisis facing unions in all sectors in the Reading Area, begin to build that unity of purpose and resolve to re-form the Reading Trades Union Council and apply to the Trades Union Congress for affiliation.

A website has been established here

Friday, 13 August 2010


I will be heading off camping this weekend for a weeks holiday in Henley. The campsite isn't too far away from the town centre and there should be loads of great walking round there.

Fingers crossed that the rain is gone by Saturday!

I may send the odd tweet over the course of the week.

Note to burglars -- my other two housemates will still be around!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Transition town Reading film screening

Transition comes to Reading
19-Aug-2010 6:45 PM to 9:30 PM
Location: RISC (35-39 London St Reading RG1 4PS)
Transition Town Reading
Present the inspirational film:

In Transition 1.0
"From oil dependency to local resilience"

Followed by a talk and discussion.

How are the people of Reading going to meet the challenge of declining fossil fuel use, and create a better future for us all? Come along to find electoral out more and get involved.


Friday, 6 August 2010

A month in the life of a Green Party councillor – July 2010

July was another busy month. I am now starting to get into the swing of things though. At the moment casework is taking up the majority of my time, but I am still managing to get along to lots of community events. Although for the first time in a few years I missed both the Alfred Sutton and Newtown summer fairs as I was away at a Association of Green Councillors training event in Sheffield.

Council meetings – 1
Surgeries – 1 stationery and 4 walkabout
Governor meetings – 1
Community meetings and events – 16
Enquiries and requests for repairs from residents – 91

Some of our action:
· Continued our campaign against landlords charging tenants unfairly
· Continued to tackle issues on a case-by-case basis
· Worked towards defending our public services from devastating cuts

Some of our results:
· Got graffiti, trolleys and fly tipping cleared across the ward
· Got the council to take action against people parking on the pavement, and blocking it, at the bottom of Eastern Avenue
· Helped residents get a better night's sleep in the Wokingham Road area by stopping take-aways from operating beyond their licensed hours

· None claimed.