Monday, 29 November 2010


Message from the Council: "The Meteo Group (our new winter weather forecast supplier) have forecasted 2-5cm of snow to fall tonight from approximately 23:00, which may continue into the morning rush hour (approximately 08:00).

"As a precautionary measure the decision has been made to spread urea in the town centre block paved/footway areas and salt primary and secondary routes this afternoon and evening. Our gritting contractors will remain on standby throughout the night or until the risk of snow has passed."

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Palmer Park recycling has moved

A message from Reading Borough Council:

"The Park Team have been working over the last few weeks to move the Palmer Park recycling site. I’m pleased to inform you, yesterday the recycling banks were relocated to the new recycling area in Palmer Park they are in the new car park near to Stadium.

Regarding old the area it was cleaned and rubbish was removed arrangements are being made for the litter bins to be relocate and signs are going up to inform the members of the public that the site as been relocated."

Monday, 22 November 2010

From Communicare to Communishop

Communicare are like the Citizens Advice Bureau but local to us in the east of Reading. They do a great job of providing expert advice in practically every area imaginable to people in need and also help filling in forms. I personally have found them really helpful in the past and am always recommending them to other people.

In these tough times with need going up -- as people lose their jobs and benefits are cut -- and funding being cut across the board it will be a challenge for all charities to keep their heads above water. Creative thinking to keep the money coming in is definitely necessary! As always Communicare is rising to the challenge with the Communishop project which will provide affordable second-hand goods, keep things out of the landfill and be another hub in the community all at the same time -- not to mention providing some more income for Communicare. More power to their elbow!

A message from Communicare and a list at the end of what they need to make this project happen:

As many of you will know we have had the vision of opening a charity shop in the Cemetery Junction area for some years.

We have now located premises and we are in the process of signing a lease which will give us possession of the shop on 1 December.

We are excited by this new project and are confident that it will allow us to realise a vision of sustainable funding and opportunities to expand our current community involvement. It will give us the opportunity to offer voluntary positions to local people.

The shop will be another visible presence of Communicare in the neighbourhood. We expect to be able to offer useful pre-owned items as well as handmade items and gifts for a reasonable price to local people, thereby building up a focal point in the neighbourhood, a community shop in which local people have a vested interest and commitment, and from which the proceeds feed into the work of Communicare.

The sense of community ownership starts here!

We want to open the shop as soon as possible after 1st December, and to do this without wasting money, it needs clearing, cleaning, refitting and setting up.

WE NEED YOU to help by donating the items and gifts of help that we need to set up and run a general charity shop.

Please look at the suggestions below and contact Sarah at Communicare to make your donations.

Communicare is at 233 Kings Rd, Reading (behind Wycliffe Church),
and is open Mon 10-3, Tues, Thurs 10-4, Fri 10-1.
Telephone 01189263941.

HELP we need Volunteers
We need labour from 1st to 10th December to clear refit, fetch & carry
Can you donate your handmade crafts for us to sell?
Can you offer transport or delivery?
We need volunteers to work in the shop
We need you to donate saleable goods
We need someone to make a photo portfolio/study/blog of our progress. This is ideal for a photography student!
Electrician - do you know a good reliable electrician available 1st - 5th December?

Loans of money
Plastic garden furniture
Display case
Towel rails
Clothes rails
Coat hangers
Size Indicators for coat hangers
Small trolley
Storage boxes

Sewing Machine
Sewing items - needles, cotton, buttons etc.
Washing machine
Tumble Dryer
Vacuum Cleaner
Toilet Roll Holder
Ironing board
Jewellery stands
Shoe racks
Outdoor planters

Health & Safety sign for shop premises
Leaflet display cabinet
Notice boards
Storage boxes
Cleaning materials
Bathroom cabinet for toilet area
Tea towels

Bubble wrap
Tissue/Wrapping paper
Carrier bags

What else will we need to set up shop?
What else can you give to save costs in fitting out the charity shop?

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Maiden Erlegh "the catch"

Here is the detail of what Wokingham is now proposing. I am still trying to get my brain round exactly what this means and will post again with more information when I have.

"(a) Bulmershe and Maiden Erleqh School

Following consultation on the Secondary Admissions Review, it is proposed that Maiden Erlegh's area be

expanded to incorporate parts of the current Bulmershe area in Lower Earley.
expanded to incorporate parts of the current HoltIForest area in Lower Earley.

It is also proposed that part of the current Bulmershe area (Shinfield North, west of Shinfield Rd) is reassigned to the shared area for Emmbrook, Holt, Forest and St Crispins - see b) below.

It is proposed that the whole of the new Maiden Erlegh area be treated as a shared area, so that it also forms part of the designated area for Bulmershe School.

Within the designated area criteria (C and D) for Maiden Erlegh, the tiebreaker to be used, in place of radial distance from the school, is 'additional radial distance to the alternative designated area school. This would be calculated as the distance to Bulmershe School minus the distance to Maiden Erlegh School.

In effect this tiebreaker would mean that priority would be given to those applicants who, if they were not admitted to Maiden Erlegh, would have to travel the furthest to Bulmershe as their alternative designated area school."

Friday, 19 November 2010

Council Welcomes New Proposals for Maiden Erlegh

I haven't seen the proposals referred to yet, but from the Reading Council press release below it looks like Wokingham has done a U-turn on its plans to exclude Park Ward pupils from Maiden Erlegh school. Assuming that there isn't a catch this is great news for everyone who has been fighting for this.

UPDATE: I think there might be a catch! I will post again when I have done a bit more reading.

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Reading Borough Council has warmly welcomed revised draft plans for the catchment area of Maiden Erlegh School as a 'victory for dialogue'. While children of the Whiteknights/Park Ward area were previously to be excluded, under the new proposal, they will not be.

The new draft proposals have been drawn up by Wokingham Borough Council after months of discussion, negotiation and dialogue with Reading Borough Council and a review and consultation exercise with parents and neighbours of the school.

Unlike Wokingham's original proposals, the new plans will also protect access to siblings.

Mark Ralph, Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Education and Children's Services, said: 'This is a major victory for dialogue between the two councils, parents and the wider local community, and saves both Authorities from the necessity of expensive legal intervention. There has been a huge amount of contact with Wokingham at all levels.

'I am very pleased that the new proposals have taken account of feedback from residents in Park Ward, that there is no exclusion of Park Ward residents from the designated area and there is protection for siblings of children that attend Maiden Erlegh.

'I am delighted that we have been able to secure this change for the benefit of many parents and their children.'


Third Thursday, first for entertainment

Yesterday I went along to the Third Thursday event -- putting art into non-traditional spaces in the town centre -- organised by Jelly and Reading UK CIC.

I had a great time. It was in the Novotel, there was some good artwork being auctioned to raise money for Launchpad and there was free food and wine.

I think these are really positive events from Jelly continuing to challenge the dominant vertical drinking culture in Reading and providing variety appealing to a far wider section of the community.

I am looking forward to the next one which if my memory serves me correctly will be poetry and mulled wine in Blandy and Blandy solicitors on Thursday, December 16.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Young peoples' achievements and awards event

On Thursday, November 11 last week I went to the Young Peoples' Achievements and Awards event at the town hall. It was a really positive evening and I was genuinely entertained by the singing and music -- Ground Roots from Sun Street in particular -- and moved by young people reading poems and hearing about the young carers group.

I don't know if they have sent in a press release yet, but I really hope they get some prominent -- front-page? -- and good coverage of this event -- as young people are often unfairly slagged off in the national media. I have e-mailed the Editors of the local papers about this.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Improving the town centre and district centres

Following on from my previous clone town work, I collaborated with Cllr Epps to produce the following recommendations to improve our town centre and district centres at the last Corporate, Community and External Affairs scrutiny panel. It was decided at the meeting to refer this back to the management panel to fine tune these recommendations, but we have definitely got the ball rolling! What do people think?

That the Panel recommend that the Cabinet:-

· Takes steps to ensure its policies actively promote local independent retailers and markets, as an important part of the diversity and retail offer of the Borough, including active promotion through Reading UK CIC.
· Seek opportunities (in conjunction with the voluntary and community sector) for a re-imagined high street project in the Borough, where people help planners create a re-invigorated community in a local centre.
· Make residents an equal partner in Local Development Framework processes, holding sessions where residents are able to speak at Council meetings where decisions on planning policies are made.
· Design well-being, distinctiveness and sustainability indicators into Council site-specific planning processes.
· Ensure resident participation in Business Improvement Districts.
· Write to the Secretary of State for Enterprise to call on him to establish a Local Competition Ombudsman as recommended by the Competition Commission to rein in monopoly power of the big four grocery chains.

CCEA Panel receives reports back within 12 months:-

· On the feasibility of establishing one or more High Street Hubs in key vacant shops to accommodate activities that help develop local economic sustainability: not community centres, but.activities that could range from local currency development (like Brixton £) to local food distribution and tool share/exchange schemes;
· On the potential to create an Empty Dwellings Management Order instrument for the Council to apply to empty builds (not just residential properties) to bring them back into active use for public benefit;
· On progress made for improving our local centres;
· And again evaluates whether to sign up to the Sustainable Communities Act at the appropriate time

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Councillors, the gifts register and free Reading Festival tickets

The Council runs a register of gifts for councillors and staff. When you receive a gift from a member of the public over the value of £20 then you should declare the gift on the register.

Unfortunately, the register isn't accessible as a whole online, but you can access each councillor's individual declaration of interests, which are updated individually with the gifts received. Here are the interests of my ward colleagues Councillor Hartley and Councillor Hussain.

To link this back to a campaign I was running a little while ago, I was questioning the practice of all Reading councillors being offered two free Reading Festival tickets worth approximately £360. Rather than checking each councillor's individual declaration of interests I recently asked to see the register of interests -- I think any member of the public can do this -- to see who had taken up the offer of free Festival tickets. The list can be found here.

Interestingly though Councillor Hartley is on the list as having accepted tickets, but his declaration of interests hasn't been updated -- although it was for other tickets in both 2008 and 2009?

Monday, 1 November 2010

Reversing the clone town trend in Reading

Following on from the New Economics Foundation's recent clone town report which placed Reading second in the league of clone towns across the UK, we have an item on the agenda for the Corporate, Community and External Affairs scrutiny panel on Wednesday.

The report has some recommendations on page 43.

What practical, concrete things would you like to see the council doing to reverse the clone town trend?