Friday, 28 December 2012

Pictures of the flooding at Horseshoe bridge where the Kennet meets the Thames #rdg

By popular demand I donned my wellies and got a few photos down at the Horseshoe bridge – where the Kennet meets the Thames at the boundary of Reading and Wokingham.

It is still pretty bad down there. I saw a few people wading through the water in trainers heading to Tesco, but I definitely wouldn't recommend this!

Fortunately in this neck of the woods the flooding is not anywhere near houses at the moment. I popped into the Jolly Anglers on Boxing Day – which is on the Kennet Side – but they seem pretty relaxed about the situation.

One of the things that contributes to flooding is people concreting over their front gardens. In 2008 the Council changed the planning rules on this to persuade people to use materials which will absorb water rather than causing run-off, overloading the storm drains and worsening flooding. Still more to do, but this is a step in the right direction.

Anyway, enough of me, here are a few pictures.

Rob and floodingIMAG0011IMAG0012IMAG0015IMAG0008

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Loans4logbooks at cemetery junction Reading #rdg

I have had a number of residents enquire about Loans4logbooks at cemetery junction – inappropriate fluorescent signs, illegal parking on the pavement and questionable business model. I recently got the following update from planning:

"The investigation has identified two potential issues with the site, firstly the unauthorised change of use from A1 retail to A2 financial services and secondly the separate item of unauthorised advertising. The case officer wrote to the company in August 2012 requiring them to take the necessary action.
"No action has been taken but we have recently heard from solicitors appointed by the owners/operators of “Loans 4 Logbooks” who have made a case that firstly no change of use has in fact occurred (supported by decisions made by other planning authorities for other such stores in this national chain) and secondly that the advertising is indeed lawful having deemed consent under the Advertisement Regulations. We do not necessarily agree with this claim and may still choose to take enforcement action but it has been necessary to refer the case to the Council’s legal advisers for advice as to how to proceed."

I would strongly recommend that anyone with debt problems in east Reading seeks independent advice from someone like Communicare – also at cemetery junction – CAB etc.

Draught busting workshop by Transition Town Reading #rdg

Transition Town Reading are running this interesting and useful workshop on draught proofing your house. This project is aimed at the general public and specifically the most vulnerable in the town.

"As you may already be aware Transition Town Reading, a small special interest group interested in the environment and community, has recently been awarded a grant from Reading BC to fund materials for a draught busting project and to help with some internal thermal imaging surveys. We are running an information seminar on Saturday 12th January at RISC from 13:00 til 15:00. This will be useful to all who have problems with draughts in their homes but of much more interest to those who are in severe energy poverty and qualify for assistance under this scheme.

"The basic philosophy of the project is to enable some of the most vulnerable in our town who are in the worst energy poverty to live in draught free homes. Draught proofing is by far the most cost effective thing to do yet virtually no funding is available for it. The materials will be paid for by the grant and the labour will be provided by volunteers, initially this will be us, but as homes are done some of the beneficiaries will be invited to assist on the next couple of projects expanding the skills base and driving forward a community based self help programme. The idea is that the project will be self propelling and community driven. As the necessary materials are fairly cheap progress can be made in the general community where people can afford the materials but haven't done their draught proofing for lac of know-how or enthusiasm. There may even be a green business opportunity for cooperative purchasing of draught proofing products here too."

Monday, 24 December 2012

Action against the forest of estate agent boards in some parts of Reading #rdg

Some parts of Reading are unfortunately blighted by the forest of estate agent boards which go up every year and are up for a large part of the year. Here is an update on progress to tackle the problem by banning the boards – as has been done elsewhere.

"As a result of the Redlands & Uni NAG’s petition I was tasked with putting together a case to go to members to decide whether or not we apply to the Secretary of State for a Regulation 7 Direction to ban such boards. In order to make the case to members it was deemed necessary to provide one year’s worth of data to prove the extent of the problem so we have been carrying out monthly surveys since January this year to do just that. Our December survey will be completed this week and, depending upon the results, the case will be put to members in the New Year (though I anticipate that we will actually need to continue the surveys until April to fully prove the regular and cyclical nature of the problem).
If (and it’s still a big if) members decide to make the application to S of S, we will do so later next year. It will then (based on other Council’s experiences) take about a year for the Planning Inspectorate to carry out their investigation and report to the Secretary of State and a further six months for the S of S to make a decision. If (and that’s an even bigger if) the Regulation 7 is granted it will come into force sometime thereafter (I’m not sure what the notice period actually is – in the case of an article 4 direction its 12 months!). Realistically we are looking at the direction coming into force in late 2014 at the very earliest - if indeed it is granted.
Similar applications by other authorities have had various levels of success but the common factor when Directions have been granted seems to have been that the application relates to a Conservation Area. This does not bode well for us as the majority of the area to which we would wish the direction applied is not within a CA.
Anyway, the bottom line is that we are still working towards making the application but are still a long way from doing so.  If you need any more information give me a call and we’ll go through it in more detail."

Currently, legally a "to let" board can be left up for as long as it takes to let the property, but once it has been let, the board must be taken down within a few weeks. Please let me know about any long-term boards and I will happily pass this information on to planning.

Merry Christmas and a happy – clean-shaven – New Year

With the economy flatlining, unemployment high and many people worrying about cuts to benefits, this year has been a pretty tough one for lots of people.

But I still have hope that things can be improved. My hope is fuelled by the little acts of kindness, such as the Pakistani community centre Christmas lunch, which brought a diverse section of the community together in a positive way. It might take a few years – and a bit of hard work – for things to start get better, but I'm sure through working together we can do it.

For me Christmas is about people. I have caught up with lots of friends over the festive period and will be going to see my family in Congleton, Cheshire before the year is out.

As one or two people have commented I still have my Movember – where men grow a moustache to raise awareness of men's health issues – moustache. My plan, after seeing one of the Movember promotional videos is to get a photo of my dad and I both with moustaches. Then I will shave it off.

So, merry Christmas and happy New Year.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Road works at Three Tuns junction #rdg #earley

In case you missed the press release about the roadworks at the junction of Wokingham road and Church road see below. Unfortunately Wokingham didn't inform Reading councillors of this work. From the press release, if things are running to plan then they should be finished by the end of next week – Friday, December 14.

"Work is due to start this week (November 12) making significant improvements to the traffic lights and highway at the busy Three Tuns junction on the A329.

The work, which is due to last five weeks, is one of the first schemes to be rolled out as part of Wokingham Borough Council’s £2.75million grant from the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).

The scheme will help to ease traffic congestion and improve walking and cycling access through the junction.

This will include the installation of an ‘intelligent’ traffic light system to replace the older less efficient equipment. The new traffic lights react to real time traffic flows and automatically adjust to reduce congestion through the junction; ultimately cutting journey times and C02 emissions. The lights themselves use the latest energy technology - low energy LEDs – requiring less maintenance and are therefore cheaper to operate.

The A329 Wokingham Road eastern approach to the junction will be resurfaced under the scheme, as well as improved facilities installed for cyclists and pedestrians.

Where possible the works have been planned to cause minimal disruption to traffic, and will be carried out during off-peak periods. However 24-hour four-way traffic lights will be needed – sometimes manually operated - during the morning and evening peak periods. Some of the lanes approaching the junction will also be restricted as a safety measure.

Works will also be carried during the first two weekends to minimise the risk of the work timetable overrunning."

Friday, 7 December 2012

A new secondary school in East Reading? #rdg

A few months ago Reading East MP Rob Wilson announced plans for another secondary school in the east of Reading. At the time not much detail was available. I asked to meet him on the subject, but didn't hear anything back.

More positively, a public meeting has recently been organised on the subject. See below for a post taken from the PEER Facebook group.

It is a shame that the local community haven't been involved with shaping this proposal at an earlier stage, but hopefully this opportunity will be the start of a more positive relationship.

"Secondary School Places

Do you have a child in Year 5 or below? Are you concerned about what the secondary school options in East Reading are for your child?

If so come and join other parents and members of East Reading community at a meeting to hear about and discuss an opportunity to create a new school in East Reading in 2014 that meets your needs. All members of the community welcome.

The meeting will be hosted by Rob Wilson MP On Tuesday 11th December at Reading College on the King’s Road, RG1 4HJ, starting at 7pm and ending at 8:30pm.

If you can’t come but would like to get involved then please email us below.

Please complete the questionnaire at:



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

This year's council tax freeze grant is the meanest yet

In recent years the Tory-led government has been offering councils money to freeze council tax. Unfortunately the money offered has not been at a level which has offset cuts in government funding. This has therefore shrunk council budgets and meant devastating cuts to back-office and frontline council services across the country.

The freeze grant deals have not all been the same. They have been getting less and less attractive. The first one (2011/12) was equivalent to a 2.5% council tax increase and was over a number of years. The second one (2012/13) was for the same amount, but for one year only – and so 10% of councils, both Labour and Conservative, rejected it and put council tax up. This year's offer is the meanest yet at 1%. It is over two years though – to lessen the financial cliff we will drop off – but is still the worse deal yet.

As was said by the administration last year, public services have already been cut back to the bone. Taking that as your starting position and then having to make £16 million worth of cuts – as Reading is predicted to have to make – despite Labour councillors unwillingness to say it surely means more cuts to frontline services.

Council’s that rejected the freeze grant last year did so to stop the council tax base being further eroded so that they would be able to fund decent public services for residents especially the vulnerable. Unfortunately in Reading we accepted the freeze, have eroded our council tax base and will have to make more cuts than necessary because of this.

Reading's budget hasn't been published by the administration yet, but rest assured it won't be pretty.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Reading Green News – employment, affordable housing and Green leader visit

Hello all,

We are excited to have Natalie Bennett – the new leader of the Green Party visiting Reading in December – see below for more information. This will be a great opportunity to find out more about Natalie's vision for a fair and sustainable society and ask any questions you might have. It would be great to see you at this public meeting.

Here is a brief update on what Reading Green Party has up to recently:

Natalie Bennett to visit Reading

Find Out More About Your Housing Options at Free Information Day

The Council must keep up the pressure on affordable housing

MEP visits Reading’s ‘Solar School’

Greens challenge council on council tax benefit

Council Aims to Boost Employment

Consultation on a Climate Change Strategy

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

Best wishes

Rob White

Green Party councillor

PS I have updated the web address of my blog. It is now here:

Thames Valley Police alerts – are you signed up?

I got this from the police about signing up to their messaging service. They use it to circulate security advice and information about crime in your area.

"We live in a world of mass communication, being fed information which is usually neither relevant to us nor wanted. With Thames Valley Alerts this couldn’t be further from the truth. Thames Valley Police not only promote a flow of localised information between the police and community; we actively encourage it.

That is why we want to build our Alerts system into something which is not only an integral part of living in the Thames Valley Area but a functioning tool to keep our communities safe and informed. We are constantly trying to enhance and develop the messages we send to you.

With only 62,000 members subscribed to our service we know there are more people who could benefit from receiving Thames Valley Alerts.

Are your neighbours and friends signed up?

Would a relative benefit from signing up?

Every member of our community will gain from the knowledge that our Alerts system provides. So as one of the 2.2% of Thames Valley’s population who is already signed up please help spread the word and remember this service is available to everyone.

Please help us to increase sign up by encouraging people to visit:
and sign up to receive text, phone or email alerts .

If you know of anyone who would prefer to sign up over the phone please reply to this email with their contact information and telephone number. One of our administrators will be happy to go through the sign-up procedure with them.

Thank you for your continued support,

Thames Valley Police"

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Flooding at Kennet mouth #rdg

Just got back – 4:30 PM – from my trip from Newtown to Kings Meadow via Kennet mouth. As you can see from my pictures below Kennet mouth is flooded, but you can still just about get over the Horseshoe bridge. I wouldn't recommend this in the dark though!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Reading's Olympic legacy

One of my constituents asked a few weeks ago about what Reading's Olympic legacy was. A little bit of research later and here goes:

– following the successful bid to get the torch to Reading many residents will have priceless memories
– talks are going on about keeping the Olympic year events website running
– a local fundraising dinner raised enough money to employ a sports youth worker for the next four years
– many trees were planted including I am informed "Olympic Avenue" in prospect Park
– a new exhibition was created at the museum on Reading's sporting past which brought new items into the museum's collection and will hopefully spawn a book

Sports clubs in Reading have also seen a surge in membership.

I am sure that I have missed stuff so apologies in advance. I am sure that you will let me know.

Not bad for a volunteer committee with a £0 budget. Well done to everyone on the Reading 2012 partnership and involved in many, many other ways.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Come along to prayer for Gaza demo in the Reading #rdg

On Saturday there will be a demonstration about the conflict in Gaza – organised when the fighting was more intense – but still going ahead to remember the dead. Also because the current ceasefire is little more than a small plaster over a gaping wound which will simply just burst open again if we don't get a fair political solution to the situation.

The issue of peace is close to my heart. I first got active in politics during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, marching with 1 million other people against this illegal war.

The situation in the occupied territories is consistently depressing. There is the occupation, the severe restrictions on movement of people and the illegal settlements. And ultimately the impact of this on human life.

With the current escalation the latest statistics on the death toll which I just heard on the radio are 160 Palestinian deaths against five Israeli deaths. I obviously condemn the violence against civilians from both sides.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has been lobbying the government on this issue to back the ceasefire and take a stronger stance with Israel.

Green MEP for Reading Keith Taylor has been active on the subject of the trade relationship between Europe and Israel.

Please join the Facebook group and come along to remember the dead and press for a political solution to this situation.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christmas fairs in the Park Ward area #rdg

There are lots of Christmas fairs going on in Park Ward area, so I thought I would summarise them here. Let me know if I have missed anything.

Christmas Bazaar – Saturday, Nov. 24th, from 2.00 p.m to 5.00 p.m., The ERAPA Centre, Palmer Park, RG1 3PA

NEW: Earley St Peter's Christmas fair – Saturday, December 1, 3 PM to 5 PM, Earley St Peter's school, Church road

NEW: Community Christmas Craft Fair – Wednesday, December 5, 6:30 PM to 9 PM, Wycliffe church, lower back hall, Kings road

Crescent Under 5’s Pre-School’s Mini Christmas Fayre – Thursday, Dec. 6th, from 10.30 a.m., Community Hall, Alfred Sutton School, 148 Wokingham Road, RG6 1JR

Newtown Christmas Fair – Friday, December 7, 3:30 PM to 5 PM, Newtown school, School Terrace

St. John’s Primary School Christmas Market – Friday, Dec. 7th, from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m., St. John’s Primary School, Orts Road, RG1 3JN

Alfred Sutton Primary School Christmas Fair – Sat. Dec. 8th. From 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m., Alfred Sutton School, 148 Wokingham Road, RG6 1JR

Christmas Coffee Morning – Monday, Dec. 10th, from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., Palmer Park Library, St Bartholomew’s Road, RG1 3QB

Monday, 19 November 2012

Movember and men's health

I'm supporting Movember again this year.

"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer."

I have been a bit slow off the mark with sponsorship as I have been focusing on cultivating my Mo. If anyone wants to sponsor me – anything from a pound upwards would be great – follow this link.

Movember Rob

Friday, 16 November 2012

Ash Die Back: Chalara fraxinea fungus and Highways Ash trees in Reading #rdg

I got the following briefing through on Ash dieback from the Council and where the trees are – on council Highways land only. For some Green Party comment see here.

There are 173 Ash trees on highway land in Reading as shown in the following table:


Number of Ash trees

































Sudden Ash dieback ( Fraxinus species) is caused by the Chalara fungus which has been featured heavily in the media over recent days and as of the 5th November has been found in 82 sites in Britain.

A visual survey of all 173 highway Ash trees is being carried out by Phil Cowpland, the RBC Tree Officer but the results are unlikely to be conclusive at this time of year during natural leaf fall. Conclusive evidence of the active disease may not be available until the leaf buds break next spring, but we have not received any conclusive reports over the summer months of sudden leaf death.

We will monitor all the trees over the winter and at leaf bud break next spring and inform you of any remedial action that is necessary. The disease cannot be cured once contracted by the tree, but death is not inevitable as some trees will have a natural resistance to the fungus, and more mature trees will have more chance of surviving an infection. We have no plans to instigate full scale felling of trees to prevent infection or to prescribe wholesale felling of trees which are suspected of being infected unless encouraged to do so by the Forestry Commission.

If you receive any queries or reports of affected trees from residents please refer them to myself, Phil Cowpland or Richard Stimpson.

Further information can be found on the Forestry Commission website:

and suspected outbreaks can be reported on the following e mail addresses:,

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Palmer Park chalk mines deemed stable so more park events to follow #rdg

Survey plan May 12-page-001Those with good memories will remember that I blogged a while ago about testing in Palmer Park, east Reading, to ascertain if work to stabilise old chalk mines had been successful. I followed this up recently and was delighted to hear that the problematic mines have been secured meaning we have the go-ahead for funfairs, car boot sales etc on the park again.

See below for the full response from the Parks team:

"Thank you for the below enquiry regarding the testing of ground at Palmer Park and the outcome of this.

I am pleased to advise that the testing returned positive results in terms of stability, with no significant underground voids detected.
It is our intention to now look to re-introduce to this area of the park a programme of annual event activity.

Our aim is to encourage a diverse range of recreational / leisure activities that meet the demands and expectations of local residents. We have for many years, following the discovery of the chalk mines and the ceasing of event activity on site, received calls from members of the public asking when events such as Fun Fair’s, Circus’s and Car Boot sales would return. Until now we have only been able to advise residents of other parks and areas of the town where these services can be accessed and unfortunately these have been some distance from Palmer Park / the east of Reading.
The area of the park tested was as the attached plan and this was carefully selected to ensure minimal disturbance to residents as a result of any future event activity.  The area is in the centre of the park backing on to the rail tracks and is visually screened from all surrounding residential properties in St. Bartholomew’s Road, Palmer Park Avenue, London Road & Wokingham Road.
Significant interest has been received from potential event partners and the opportunities provided by the site are extremely exciting.  The encouraging of commercial events activity within the park will also generate much needed income for the local authority and will assist in meeting budget savings targets.
We will ensure that ward councillors are fully appraised of all proposals as they take shape."

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Reading UTC going to planning committee on Wednesday #rdg

Reading UTC – Crescent road – will be going to the planning applications committee on Wednesday. It is item 15 on the agenda.

I still think that this will not meet the local education need and is a wasted opportunity, meaning that this part of the site can no longer be used for primary or secondary aged children from the local area.

However, as the report makes abundantly clear, no change of use is required and the school could go ahead in the existing buildings anyway. Planning permission is only needed for the small bits of demolition, the extensions and the changes to parking. I have been through the application a number of times and looking at these bits of the application they meet our policies. So officers are recommending approval.

What do people think?

Monday, 12 November 2012

How can we help you? Residents' advice surgeries in #parkward #rdg

Your Park Ward Green Party councillors – Jamie Whitham, Melanie Eastwood and Rob White – will be holding the following residents' advice surgeries. No appointment necessary.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 – outside the post office, 75 Wokingham road, 11 AM to 12 noon

Saturday, December 8, 2012 – outside the Co-op, cemetery junction, 11 AM to 12 noon

Friday, January 11, 2013 – Alfred Sutton school, Wokingham road, 3 PM to 3:30 PM

Friday, 9 November 2012

Improved lighting in Palmer Park #rdg

A number of residents have raised the issue of lighting in Palmer Park with us. For a number of years we have been lobbying on this. Progress has been slow, but we are now close to getting some more lighting installed. This is great news for park users and local businesses.

Let me know what you think.

For more information see the briefing and map below.

Palmer Park lighting plan 1_2000 green phase revised-page-001

"Following numerous enquiries about lighting in Palmer Park, in August 2011 we obtained from SSE Contracting quotations to install lighting. Because resources are limited, we requested that quotations be supplied for three phases of work as shown on the attached plan:
Green: from the car park to the library/Wokingham Road/St Bartholomew’s Road, with a spur through the play area to the main driveway (this is the pedestrian route used most often on winter evenings and about which most enquiries have been received)
Blue: from the car park to the Wokingham Road/Palmer Park Avenue corner (also frequently used)
Red: from the car park to the London Road
The quotations were as follows:
Green: £8,956.74 or £13,106.34 (depending on the type of lamp used)
Blue: £6,6060.96 or £8,268.21
Red: £19,940.00 or £22,740.00
These quotations were for standard fittings (rather than heritage fittings to match the originals).
Having approval from Cabinet to spend capital in Palmer Park, and on the understanding that most queries about lighting have been about the ‘green’ route, we negotiated with SSE the installation of lighting along this route, and placed an order in September for heritage fittings to match the existing (which will look better in this area). The order includes full Mayflower CMS to allow for more energy and Co2 saving if required. The value of the order is £12,500. On 3 October, I was informed that SSE does not have in stock the lantern for which they quoted, and they are looking for a substitutes."

Monday, 5 November 2012

Works on the railway and noise in #Newtown #rdg

As a Newtown resident, a few weeks ago I got the letter below on the subject of works on the railway over the Christmas period -- piling to create foundations for overhead power lines for the trains. Looking at the bigger picture, this is part of improving the station they should be welcome. However, the possible noise was of concern to me and I can imagine others in Newtown. I followed it up with the Council, and got the response below. According to the plan the work should have already started. I haven't heard of any problems so far, but please get in contact if you experience any. You can also contact Network Rail on their 24 hour helpline 08457 114141.


Council response: "The contractors have applied to the Council for consent for the piling works under section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The consent has been given with a number of conditions attached including: requiring Network Rail to undertake communication with residents; preventing work on consecutive nights outside of particular residential areas; and no noisy work to take place at Christmas (24th-27th December). These measures will reduce the impact, but unfortunately some level of noise disturbance is inevitable."


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reading Green News – tow path, playing fields and air quality

Hello all,

Here is a brief update on what Reading Green Party has up to recently:

Reservoir activists lose fight but win support for their campaign

Cut your energy bill in big energy-saving week

Protect our majestic and beautiful birds of prey

Kennet Side tow path finally reopens

Other parties block Green attempt to protect playing fields

Green councillor calls for air quality alerts

And upcoming events:

various Tree Warden events including a practical tidy up session at the cemetery junction cemetery

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

Best wishes

Rob White

Green Party councillor

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Tree warden events including cemetery junction cemetery

A message from the Tree Warden network:

"Practical Work Days at Reading Old Cemetery, Cemetery Junction - Saturday 10 November, 10.00am - 3.00pm and Thursday 22 November.

Reading Borough Council working with Trees for Cities and The Conservation Volunteers will help the Reading Tree Warden Network lead work parties at this practical work day.  The Conservation Volunteers will provide training and the tasks to be completed are the removal of small self-set trees, cutting back ivy and other conservation work.  If you would like to come along to the event, for the full day or just a couple of hours please let us know or call 0118 9545796.

Guided Tour of Burnham Beeches - Thursday 15 November, registration at the Beeches Cafe for start.

Dr Helen Read, Conservation Officer, will lead us on a guided tour of the ancient site of Burnham Beeches. The trees are not only of great interest in themselves but also provide a stable habitat for over 60 rare and endangered species of plants and animals. She will also tell us something of future plans to preserve this special site. The walk will return to the Beeches Cafe at about when there will be a chance to have a light lunch together. If you would like to attend please email or call 0118 9545796

Trees, Roots and Buildings Talk by: Ian Richardson – owner of the Reading based “Richardson’s Botanical Identifications” 28th November 6.30pm - Committee Room 1, Civic Centre

Ian will be talking about how trees and shrubs can cause damage to buildings, using graphs and illustrations from the past 35 years of doing this work, plus how the business is strongly influenced by building type, weather, soil, etc. Other issues and problems that can be caused by large vegetation in towns – and the options available once an “offending” tree has been found. The talk will be followed by an opportunity for questions. To book for 'Trees, Roots and Buildings' or for information about forthcoming events email or call 0118 9545796

Thanks for your continued support.
Sally Swift"

Berkshire Greenpeace frozen planet event YouTube video #rdg @berksgp

Monday, 22 October 2012

East Reading Festival 2013 committee – people needed

A message from Kennet and Brunel Community Association: "East Reading Festival is a celebration of ‘all things East Reading’, particularly our sense of unity whatever our diverse backgrounds.

A small but dedicated group of volunteers organised East Reading Festival 2012 and it was better than ever, but alas it was hard work! Kennet and Brunel Community Association want to organise 2013's festival and your skills/free time (or somebody else you know!) could make it a whole lot easier this time around. Your help would be greatly appreciated in whatever capacity so please tell us how you would like to be involved -

On the day?
In the month before?
From the outset?

To discuss East Reading Festival 2013 a meeting will be held on:

Monday 12th November 7- 8pm at Sun Street Community Centre in Sun St. Please come along if you would like to be part of it, or contact us on: or 07740 337 697 if you can't make it."

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Photo diary of a day in the life of a Green Party councillor: green jobs, tow path and RESCUE

I started the day by supporting Friends of the Earth with their green jobs flash mob in Reading town centre. This is part of their Clean British Energy campaign.

Rob Green jobs

Next, I went along and supported the Greenpeace Save the Arctic campaign.

Rob and polar bear

After a spot of lunch myself and Melanie Eastwood did a bit of work promoting that the Kennet Side tow path has now been reopened between the Newtown and the town centre – although some of the work finishing the fencing is ongoing.

Rob and Mel and tow path

Finally,  we helped Newtown GLOBE and the Kennet and Brunel Community Association with a Reading RESCUE cleanup at Kennet Mouth and the Thames etc. I finished the day with a cup of tea at the Jolly Anglers.

Rob and Mel RESCUE

Reading Green News – Council tax benefit, HMOs and bus travel

I just sent this out to our monthly e-mail newsletter list. If you are interested in being added to this list please get in contact –

Hello all,

Here is a brief update on what we've been up to recently:

Have your say on council tax benefit changes

Proposed new controls on HMOs

Passengers to benefit from bus lane extension

Consultation: let's talk education

Coming to the RESCUE of Reading's litter hotspots

9 AM bus travel for concessionary fares begins

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

Best wishes

Rob White

Green Party councillor

Friday, 12 October 2012

Reading RESCUE this weekend

There are Reading RESCUE (Rivers and Environmental Spaces Clean up Event) sessions going on across reading this weekend. See here for more information.

Just a quick reminder that we have the Newtown GLOBE/Kennet and Brunel Community Association litter pick – Reading RESCUE event – on Saturday, October 13 (tomorrow) meeting at 2 PM outside the Jolly Anglers on the Kennet Side.

We should have some bags, litter pickers and gloves, but if you have your own equipment please feel free to bring it.

We will do an hour or two litter picking along the Kennet, Thames and in the Coal wood. Feel free to dip in and out as your time permits.

If you can't find us give me a call on my mobile: 07985923938

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

School places in east Reading, public meeting and what next

Last week there was a public meeting on school places in east Reading at Alfred Sutton school. It was well attended, informative – sort of – and frustrating for some.

The meeting started with a presentation on school places. The headlines are that we currently don't have enough primary school places – which has temporarily been dealt with through bulge classes – and that by 2015 we run out of secondary school places.

We then moved on to comments and questions. A variety of subjects work covered – University Technical College, Crescent Road site, housing developer, playing fields etc.

One of the interesting things that came out of the question and answer session was that Labour who in the past have been critical of the University Technical College were now saying "it is going ahead, support it". Planning permission has not been granted yet though.

It took a while to prise the options the council was considering from the administration. But they seem to be as follows. Option one, a free school on the small bit of the Crescent Road site which a housing developer currently owns. To fit it in it would need to be three stories high! Option two, council to borrow £15 million and spend it on a community school on the same site.

Towards the end of the meeting the MP for Reading East's representative spoke. She said that he is currently pursuing another free school for children from 11 to 16 in the east of Reading. Unfortunately the community is not being involved in the development of this school and no further details were given. A public meeting was promised at some unspecified date in the future.

In conclusion I thought it was a reasonable meeting – although a bit unstructured – as I learnt more about what the different stakeholders are getting up to.

Since the meeting the local community through the Parents for Education in East Reading – via the Facebook group – have organised a meeting to brainstorm free school ideas. Join the Facebook group to find out more.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Kennet Side path update

Thanks to Roger from the Kennet and Brunel Community Association for the update:

"I am writing to give you a further update on the progress of this project. When I last wrote to you in July I informed you that the expected completion date was today, Friday 28 September. Unfortunately our contractor has advised us that it will not be possible to open the path today for safety reasons.
Over the last week there have been further delays largely due to difficulties working around the Thames Water manhole which is approximately half way along the site. The wall is being constructed using a number of standard sized pre cast concrete units which have been designed to slot together. The majority of these unit have been placed with relatively little problem. However the area around the manhole has been more problematic and the contractor has been required to cut down some of the concrete piles and make adjustments to the precast concrete units on site in order to make them fit properly. This has taken longer than they were anticipating. The extra time working in this area has meant a delay in the pouring of concrete for the capping beam and it would not be safe to carry out this task with the path open. In addition to this several days were lost when a boat hit the coffer dam and it had to be rebuilt.
I have been assured by the contractor that they will be able to re-open half width of the footpath at the end of next Friday, 5 October, with the guard railing installation works completed one week later under localised pedestrian management.
The contractor will be erecting signs on site to inform the public of the date the path will be reopened."

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ridgeline trust harvest fete rescheduled

A message from the Ridgeline trust:

Dear local friend / contact Apologies for contacting you by a mass blind-copy email to my local contacts, and double apologies if you have already heard via another source  but it seems to be the bestl way of spreading the word at short notice.

You may have been aware that last Sunday 23 Sept was to have been the annual Harvest Fete at the Ridgeline Therapeutic Garden for the disabled. This was postponed because of the awful weather, and we are going to try again this coming Sunday 30 Sept 1pm -4pm. This is our main chance to show the neighbourhood and interested organisations what we have been doing this year, and to show our plans for the future- including the imminent construction of our new clubhouse for which we have been fundraising for so long. We aim to turn the first turf for the foundations around 3pm.  The garden is looking good, and there will be plenty of things to entertain you and the family, so I hope you will consider coming along.

The garden is at the junction of Hamilton Road and Whiteknights Road, entered via the shared driveway with the new Lakeside Carehome opposite the University Lake.

Brief details of the Fete are set out below. General info on Ridgeline at the website

Hope to see you to see you there- or call in any Wednesday for the Community Gardening session any time between 11am – 2pm. If you could help by spreading the word among your local friends that would be much appreciated.


Sunday 30 September 2012 1pm to 4pm    
At the Ridgeline Therapeutic Garden  junction of Hamilton Road & Whiteknights Road RG6 7BY
Come and see how our garden has grown in the last year and how we are closer to having a building for our gardeners!
v  Produce and Plants
v  Second hand books
v  Home made cakes
v Studio pottery seconds
v Kids’ games and activities
v Refreshments
v Live Music

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Leaks in Newtown #rdg and water-saving

I followed up my work earlier in the year on the water leaks in Newtown – which Thames water failed to repair for quite some time – with a meeting with them today. I thought the meeting was productive.

I raised a number of issues with the including the time it had taken them to fix leaks in the area, a blocked pipe sewage issue and various aspects of water-saving.

I think they have now fixed all of the long-term visible leaks in Newtown that I have reported. Please let me know if there are any still outstanding?

Across the rest of Reading there will be 10 additional crews working to get on top of the backlog of leaks which they now have. This backlog is due to a combination of the Olympics and a new computer system. It is good to see them taking this issue seriously.

Water metering has been shown to focus people's minds on using water efficiently – although Thames water pointed out that some of the evidence suggests that this is only a short-term fix and usage drifts upwards in the medium term. You can contact Thames water to talk to them about getting a water meter fitted.

They also have some water-saving devices which they will post out to you for free.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Officer briefing on the Crescent Road site and planning applications including a map

Well done to Melanie Eastwood for persevering and getting this briefing from Reading officers. Remember, the public meeting we have been lobbying for – school places in east Reading – is on Thursday, September 27 at 6:30 PM at Alfred Sutton school in the main hall. I hope that as with the Maiden Erlegh campaign politicians and residents will be able to work together to keep all of this land in education use.

First of all, here is the map showing who owns what – red is UTC, blue is developer who will probably try to build housing there, green is the playing field area to be leased to the Academy. Below is more policy detail.

crescent rd map 040-page-002

Policy Position
Policy SA7 of the Sites and Detailed Policies Document, Submission Draft (2011) seeks to retain the wider site for Further and Higher Education (FHE) use but accepts that other educational uses may be appropriate if it can be demonstrated that this would not have a detrimental impact on FHE provision in the Borough overall. Policy SA7 says that the Crescent Road campus will continue to be used for Further and Higher Education (FHE) (but) where it can be demonstrated that the loss of FHE on this site will not have a detrimental effect on the overall FHE provision in Reading, the site will be used for:
•        Other education uses; or
•        If not needed for any form of education, development for residential (59-93 dwellings).
The policy goes on to state that if the site is shown to be suitable for residential use, the following criteria would apply:
•        Vehicular traffic along Crescent Road should be no greater than that generated by the current FHE use. If the development is to generate greater levels of traffic, the remainder should be accessed via an upgraded Bulmershe Road to the south (I understand that to date there has been no contact made by a developer to RBC Highways in respect of upgrading Bulmershe Road);
•        At the northeastern corner, development should incorporate a pick-up/drop-off area for Alfred Sutton School;
•        Development should seek to retain trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders;
•        Development should retain and enhance a green link across the site as shown on the Proposals Map, and mitigate its effects on biodiversity, including bats;
•        Development should have regard to the adjacent Conservation Area; and
•        Development should take account of the Air Quality Management Area, where it covers part of the development site.
UTC Planning Application
A planning application was received on 08/09/12 from the Reading Technical Academy Trust for the refurbishment of the UTC part of the site (outlined red on the attached plan). This application has not been validated yet. It shows subdivision of the site and use of the application site for the 'Reading Technical Academy' providing education for 14 - 19 year olds, demolition of some buildings and the erection of extensions.
Local residents will be consulted as soon as the submissions are validated.
Pre-application for the western part of the site
Pre-application advice was also requested for the redevelopment of the remainder of the site (blue outline on the attached plan) to provide houses and flats. The pre-application was submitted by Red Kite Development Consultancy, on behalf of Square Bay. Officers had an introductory meeting with the agent in June and a follow up meeting earlier this week.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Natalie Bennett on being the new Green Party leader, austerity and a fair tax system #greenparty

Why not join us?

Reading Tutti Fruity Fair at the Warehouse

I got this on the Greater Reading Environmental Network e-mail list. It is a positive project building on the Abundance work which has been done before. Unfortunately I am not in Reading that day.

29-Sep-2012 2:00 PM - 29-Sep-2012 5:00 PM

Location: The Warehouse, 1a Cumberland Road, Reading

Every year excess fruit goes to waste in Reading. This year we are determined to make sure abundant fruit is eaten, drunk and enjoyed! We will be collecting excess fruit from different locations around Reading and taking it to The Warehouse in East Reading where they have kindly agreed to store it for us until our Tutti Fruity Fair on the 29 Sept from 2-5pm at The Warehouse.

We would like your voluntary group to get involved in our fruity activities so please get in touch if:

You will have excess fruit this year and would like us to collect it from you?

Your voluntary group or project would like to be given fruit and jars so you can have a go at making your own fruity products?

Or if you would like to have a stall at our fabulous Fruity Tutti Fair

Everyone is welcome to this free event


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Crescent Road site sold #rdg

I couldn't attend the Reading UTC planning exhibition yesterday, as I was chairing a meeting on building community capacity – Melanie went along – but almost as we have been predicting I hear that the whole site has been sold by the University of West London to the Department for Education. They in turn have sold half to the UTC and the other half to a developer.

Here is a statement from the developer – Square Bay. It should be noted that the Council's planning policy is that this site can only be developed for housing if there is no education need. We will obviously be fighting this.

"As the UTC did not require the whole of the campus, West London University have sold the remaining buildings and hard tennis courts to Square Bay. This area is made up of a section of land at the corner of Bulmershe Road and Crescent Road and the hard tennis courts that front onto the unmade section of Bulmershe Road. It is intended to develop this land for housing in accordance with the Council’s planning policy SA7.

The new owner will shortly be engaging in pre-application discussions with senior officers of Reading Borough Council, prior to bringing forward an application for development of this land. Public consultation will be undertaken locally on the proposed scheme prior to an application being made, and all interested parties will be invited to comment at that time, in addition to normal statutory consultation during the application process. As these discussions are at a very early stage, it is not possible at this time to give more detailed information at the current time.”

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Natalie Bennett – new leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

Reposted from the National Green Party website. Why not join and get involved?

"Yesterday I was given an enormous honour and great responsibility in being elected as the leader of the Green party of England and Wales.

This is a time of tremendous opportunity for the Green party. Voters across Britain are seeking new answers – they want to know why in the world's sixth-richest economy, millions feel insecure, frightened about the future, worried about their children's future.

They know that after decades of growth based on the financial and retail industries, with a long-hours working culture and growing job insecurity, Britain has the unhappiest children in the developed world, that levels of mental illness and stress are extremely high, that huge numbers of people are not sure they can keep a roof over their heads.

And they know that our entire economy is based on treating the Earth as though it were a mine and a dumping ground, and the poor as though they were rubbish.

They understand that the 20th-century approach of neoliberalism and globalisation, of outsourcing and financial speculation, cannot continue. The model is broken.

Yet the Labour party, which was so relaxed about people getting "filthy rich," which was so keen to outsource NHS services and encourage academy schools, hasn't changed its tune – it just wants to cut a little more slowly than the coalition.

Only the Green party has the vision of radical change. It understands that we need to invest in the future, to invest in housing, in jobs, in energy conservation and renewable energy.

Cuts are only throwing more people on to unemployment benefits – what we need to do is create jobs and provide essential services – health, social care, education and social housing. And to fund that investment we need to collect a proper level of taxes from multinational companies and rich individuals, not cut tax rates and allow them to hide billions in tax havens.

That investment can restructure our economy to prepare for a low-carbon world, relocalise our manufacturing industries and food supplies, make Britain a leader in renewable energy and create jobs, opportunities and security. We can build all of this around a financial industry that's fit for that purpose, based on credit unions, mutuals and small local banks.

Rather than giant multinationals, we need to encourage co-operatives and small businesses rooted in their communities and meeting their needs. And we need to ensure that the law allows unions a significant role in the workplace – an important corrective to our current low-pay, casualised workplaces.

The Green party also accepts that we need to acknowledge that some people in society will need a helping hand, some of the time or all of their lives. Benefits are an essential support in a decent society, and they should be at levels that allow a proper standard of living. The demonisation of benefit recipients, the grossly unfair Atos disability tests, the slashing of disability living allowance all stand as testament to the wrong directions we have been taking.

The Green party thus offers a new answer to voters seeking it – and so this is a time of tremendous political opportunity.

We finished as clearly the third party in the recent London elections. In the West Midlands, to take just one example, we've been growing fast in numbers of councillors, and after the election of Caroline Lucas as MP in Brighton Pavilion in 2010, we've shown we can win first-past-the-post elections at all levels.

In my two-year term as leader, I will be aiming to help get many more Greens elected on to councils around England and Wales, and to see us trebling our number of MEPs in 2014, meaning many more voters have at least one elected Green representative. That will be a foundation stone for the 2015 Westminster elections and beyond.

We are seeing many Lib Dem voters come to us, but we also know that the Labour vote is very soft – many who might vote for the party of Blair/Brown/Miliband when they think they are the only alternative are delighted to shift their vote to the Greens when they realise they have the option.

It's clear we are in troubled times, but the Green message is that we can emerge stronger, with a more equal, fair and balanced society – and a better quality of life for everyone."

Why not join and get involved?

Monday, 3 September 2012

Reading Green News – Police and Crime Commissioner, parking permits and disability cuts

Below is our monthly e-mail newsletter keeping people informed on local issues. E-mail me – – if you would like to be added to our list.

Hello all,

Here is a brief update on what we've been up to recently:

Greens remind east Newtown residents to apply for parking permits

Consultation meeting on improving tree cover at cemetery junction cemetery

Fines issued for dog mess and fly tipping

Greens call for action from Thames water over forgotten leaks

Green party opposes Police and Crime Commissioner election

Councillor Rob White joins demonstration against disability cuts

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

Best wishes

Rob White

Reading Green Party councillor

Friday, 31 August 2012

Video from Readifood – Reading's food bank #rdg

ReadiFood Video from Malcolm Peirce on Vimeo.

UTC Reading – planning exhibition

I got this from UTC Reading. I shall be going along to find out more and asking them to cut their grass!

"Dear Stakeholder,
We are delighted to announce that UTC Reading (previously known as Reading Technical Academy) has gained Funding Agreement approval from the Schools Minister, Lord Hill.  This is another milestone towards the opening of UTC Reading in September 2013.  
Having procured the site for the UTC at Crescent Rd in East Reading, we are now pushing ahead with the refurbishment of the facilities.  In advance of our planning submission we are holding an exhibition on 5th September to share the design scheme being proposed and to gain feedback from the community and other stakeholders.  The planning exhibition will be held at Reading College on Wednesday 5th September between 6pm and 8pm.  Please see attached for a flyer with further details.
For information:
What is a UTC?
A University Technical College (UTC) is an innovative school that provides education for students aged 14 to 19 and offers specialist programmes alongside traditional subjects. It is supported by a University and high profile academic and industry partners who are involved in every aspect of the UTC, including the development of the curriculum.
About UTC Reading
UTC Reading will specialise in computer science and software engineering, taught alongside the national curriculum. This means that students get the benefit of practical study of the specialist subjects whilst still taking the GCSE’s and A-levels that they would take at a regular school; getting the best of both worlds. The specialist curriculum proposed by the UTC will appeal to secondary school-aged pupils interested in computer science and/or engineering who are keen on pursuing and developing their talents.
UTC Reading will accommodate 600 students when at full capacity. The location at Crescent Road is in a central position to serve the proposed wide catchment area, which includes young people within a 15 mile radius of postcode RG1 5RQ in East Reading, extending to Newbury, Slough, Basingstoke and Farnborough. UTC Reading’s site offers extensive playing fields for sport and recreational activities, to ensure that the 14 to 19 year olds starting in September 2013 have all of the facilities for the planned programme of extra-curricular activities.  The recruitment drive to appoint a new principal for UTC Reading is also underway and the sponsors plan to have the chosen candidate in post on January 2013, to be in place to spearhead the launch. Other teaching and support staff will be recruited soon after.
Making all of this happen is a committed partnership made up of sponsors and partners. These include the Lead Sponsor, Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, as well as Reading College, Reading School, the University of Reading, Microsoft, Cisco, Network Rail and Peter Brett Associates. Together the sponsor and partners believe they can help create a new kind of facility for 14 to 19 year olds, that brings together the combination of education and industry to give them the best possible start in their professional life.
UTC Reading Team
For general queries contact us at:
For admissions queries contact us at:"

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Reading RESCUE ideas? #rdg

Reading RESCUE – Rivers and Environmental Spaces Cleanup Event – is now twice a year – spring and autumn. Has anyone got any ideas for a project in the Newtown will Wokingham road area? In the past we have done litter picks by the Thames, cleared fly tipping in alleys and even a swap shop. See below for more details from the council:

"The date for Autumn RESCUE has been set as Friday 12th and Saturday 13th October.  We have extended the theme this Autumn to include woodlands as well as waterways.  This was in response to the popularity of the event last October and feedback from participants that woodlands in Reading need more attention during RESCUE events.
Thank you to those of you who have already shown interest in taking part. 
If you are an individual who would like to take part, please email back telling me where and when you would like to work (Friday / Saturday morning or afternoon).  However, if you want to enter a group, please complete the online registration form:
The deadline for group registrations is Monday 24th September.
We will be having a committee meeting on Monday 17th September at 6pm at Novotel Hotel, Friar St, Reading.  Please let me know if you would like to attend to discuss plans for this upcoming RESCUE, as well as the main event in March."

Cemetery Junction cemetery, improving tree cover meeting #rdg

The consultation meeting yesterday on improving tree cover at Cemetery Junction cemetery went well. We had approximately 40 people turn up – and I am not including speakers to inflate the numbers!

At the meeting we heard about the history of the cemetery and plans for the future.

There is a tree walk planned in September. See the link below:

A new tree will be planted in Cemetery Junction near to the public toilets where there is currently a cracked old planter. Approximately 8 new trees will be going in the cemetery – succession planting for some of the old specimens approaching the end of their lives and continuing the avenue of lime trees towards the arch. There will also be some native hedging going in at the arch end.

In the autumn there will be some clearance of self seeded saplings growing out of and damaging graves and the same goes for ivy. This was the most controversial part of the meeting, but I think a way forward can be found that balances wildlife habitat, health and safety and the wishes of relatives of those buried there.

The initial work will be done with a tidy up day in November and a planting day in February – volunteers welcome.

It was stressed that this is just the start of things. Hopefully we will manage to form a resident led friends of type group which will continue to improve the cemetery – seating, interpretation boards, more wildlife habitat etc.

The next step is a smaller meeting to go through the plans in detail. If you'd like to be kept updated, please get in contact –

Monday, 27 August 2012

Atos games, #rdg #atosgames

Atos games from 11:30 AM on Tuesday, August 28 outside the Atos assessment centre Eaton Place – 2 min walk from the Broad Street Mall. See here for a helpful map:

Join us there for solidarity, songs and fun, fun, fun.

Brought to you by Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts. More information here:

Monday, 20 August 2012

Reading initial census information #rdg

Here is the Census briefing which the Council sent out recently. Hopefully this information will enable us to better understand our residents and meet their needs, for example by providing enough local school places.

"Total Population - Reading

The 2011 Census estimates the population of Reading at 155,700. This a 9% increase on the 2001 census figure of 143,096 and a 2% bigger change than the one between 1991 and 2001 when there was 7.1% increase in the Reading population.

1,300 additional people were identified as born outside the UK staying or intending to stay in the UK for a period of three months or more but less than twelve months.

What has caused the increase in population?

There are a number of reasons why the population has increased:

1. The Census coverage is better this time and picked up more people. In Reading the response rate increased from 93% in 2001 to 95% in 2011.

2. The Office of National Statistics has used a better method for calculating the estimate.

3. More children are being born evidenced by the increase in the Reading 0-14 age group.

4. Mortality rates have decreased

5. People have into moved to the area.

We will understand more about this when the more detailed data is released later in the year.

How does the 2011 Census estimate compare to other estimates?

Below is a comparisons between the 2011 Census population estimates, the 2010 mid-year estimates (the latest release prior to the Census) and the 2012 Sub National Population Projections (SNPP) used in the 2012/13 Settlement.

It must be noted that the 2011 Census figure is derived from a count on a single day (27th March 2011), the 2010 data is a mid-year resident population estimate based on the 2001 Census figure and the 2012 data is a projection with its starting point as 2008 mid-year data (also based on the 2001 census figure).

2011 Census

2010 Mid Year Estimate

2012 Sub-National Population Projection




The Reading Census estimate is 0.3% lower than the 2012 SNPP. Many other local authorities have seen considerably bigger changes which may impact on future settlements.

Population by Age


Reading 2011

Reading 2001

Reading % change 2001 - 2011

Reading % change 1991- 2002

All Ages



































There have been significant increases in the 0-19 age groups, particularly the 0-14s. The 30-59 age group whilst increasing shows a slower rate of change than that over the previous 10 years. The 60-74 age group has increased by 8% compared to a decrease of 8% in 2001. There has been a slight decrease in the 75+ age group.

In broad terms Reading has a higher than England (and the South East) average of its population in the 0-4, 20-39 year age bands and lower than average in the 10-14 and 45+ age bands.


The total Households is estimated at 62,900, an 8% increase since 2001.

Is the Census estimate a good one?

As a result of criticism of the 2001 Census coverage, the 2011 Census methodology was improved to improve response rates and the quality of the estimation process.

The 2011 Census achieved its overall target response rate of 94 per cent of the usually resident population of England and Wales, and over 80 per cent in all local and unitary authorities. The population estimate for England and Wales is estimated with 95 per cent confidence to be accurate to within +/- 85,000 (0.15 per cent). There was a 95% response rate for Reading.

Following Census Day itself a programme of measures to assess coverage and make adjustments was undertaken and all the census population estimates were quality assured.

Our plans for rolling out the results

We have a Census 2011 page on the website giving the link to the ONS Census page. We will keep this updated with new information. 2011 Census Statistics | Reading Borough Council

The Borough and Ward data will be released from February 2013 to June 2013 after which we will produce Borough and Ward profiles and supplementary reports.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Berkshire Disabled People against Cuts in #rdg #dpac

Yesterday I went to a meeting of Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts. We were a small but determined group. What we need at the moment is more people to get involved and help in whatever small way they can. There is a Facebook group here that you can join.

A bit of background from the DPAC website:

DPAC is about disabled people and their allies. DPAC is UK based but we know that disabled people in other countries are suffering from austerity cuts and a lack of fundamental rights. We welcome all to join us in fighting for justice and human rights for all disabled people.

Disabled people should not be the scapegoats for the financial mistakes of governments, should not be constantly told that there is no money to support them by millionaire politicians. We will not tolerate further erosion of our living conditions or our human rights, nor will we sit quietly while they try to take our rights away.

A bit of Green Party background in this area:

Last autumn conference Green Party members called on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to stop using IT firm ATOS as its assessor of benefit claimants.

Concerns have been raised over the company's suitability to conduct assessments, ranging from the lack of disabled access at their assessment centres to the shocking fact that 40% of their decisions have been found to be wrong on appeal.

ATOS's computer-led assessment is far too blunt an instrument to assess a benefit that is vital for so many. For example, the box-ticking exercise is close to useless for assessing a condition such as autism. Not only that, but the number of decisions that have been reversed means that an awful lot of taxpayers' money has been wasted.

Disabled people should be afforded the dignity they deserve throughout any assessment process, and should not be presumed guilty or treated like they're avoiding work. ATOS has no place in such a sensitive area, and we urge the government to sever all ties with the company.

Join the Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts Facebook group here.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Tree warden events in east Reading #rdg including Cemetery Junction cemetery

Public Meeting - Walk at Reading Old Cemetery - Tree Planting - Forthcoming Events

Public Meeting - The Trees in Reading Old Cemetery

Tuesday 28th August, 6pm, The WareHouse, 1a Cumberland Road, RG1 3LB

Come along, have your say and get involved in activities at Reading Old Cemetery. Reading Borough Council working with the Reading Tree Warden Network, Trees for Cities and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) are proposing a number of events to take place during the Autumn and Winter 2012/2013.

For more details - Call Richard Stimpson on 0118 937 2441 or Email:

Historic Tree Walk Reading Old Cemetery

Saturday 8th September 2012, 10.30am

As part of Heritage Open Days join Reading Tree Wardens on a walk around Reading Old Cemetery known for its historic gatehouse at what is now called Cemetery Junction where King's Road meets Wokingham Road. It was one of many cemeteries built by the Victorians in response to rapid population increase. Built on farm land outside the existing borough boundaries at a site called Hattons Platt the cemetery has many trees including a weeping beech voted Reading's Favourite Tree in 2011.

Registration 10.15 - Cemetery Gate , Reading Old Cemetery, Cemetery Junction, Reading

Check out other Heritage Open Day events happening in Reading

To book your place on the walk email

Events being planned for later in the year;-


Official opening of Olympic Way Avenue of Trees , Prospect Park - date to be confirmed


Workday at Old Reading Cemetery - date to be confirmed

Tree Walk at Burham Beeches, Burnham, Buckinghamshire, a largely beech woodland which has been regularly pollared, with many trees now several hundred years old. Their age, and the amount of deadwood in and around them, means that the woodland is rich in wildlife - date to be confirmed

Tree Week Event

Trees, Roots and Buildings Talk by: Ian Richardson – owner of the Reading based “Richardson’s Botanical Identifications”

28th November 6.30pm - Committee Room 1, Civic Centre

Ian will be talking about how trees and shrubs can cause damage to buildings, using graphs and illustrations from the past 35 years of doing this work, plus how the business is strongly influenced by building type, weather, soil, etc. Other issues and problems that can be caused by large vegetation in towns – and the options available once an “offending” tree has been found. The talk will be followed by an opportunity for questions.

As co-author of “Tree Roots & Buildings” plus other publications, Ian worked at Kew Gardens before starting the business in Reading back in 1979. Richardson's Botanical Identifications are a leading company in this type of work and receive samples daily by post – sometimes from as far afield as Europe, Australia, Florida, Hawaii….!

To book for 'Trees, Roots and Bildings' or for information about forthcoming events email

Thanks for your continued support, hope to see you at some of the events over the next few months.

Reading Tree Warden Network - Management Committee

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Reading Green News -- healthcare, small businesses and fuel poverty #rdg

Here's our latest e-mail newsletter. E-mail me – – if you would like to be added to our list:

Hello all,

It may be the summer holidays but we are working hard all year round.

Here is a brief update on what we've been up to recently:

Money should not be a barrier to healthcare

Council promises action on east Reading football parking problems

Greens help small local businesses subcontract

Dog wardens ready to clear town of messy business

New efforts to meet insulation targets demanded by Green councillor

If you've got any feedback, ideas or want to get more involved please get in touch.

Please feel free to forward this on to other interested people and as always, for more recent news from the Green Party, to join us, or to find out more about our policies, go to:

Best wishes

Rob White

Reading Green councillor

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lessons of history support Greens’ economic vision, says leading Green

Another piece from one of the national Green Party leadership candidates:

Green Party policies show Britain how to “escape austerity and prepare for sustainability”, leading Green Party campaigner Peter Cranie said today.

In a comment article in online current affairs magazine The Economic Voice, Peter Cranie accuses Labour as well as the Coalition parties of being in thrall to the banks, which he says “continue to show themselves unworthy of public trust”, and of “running things in the interests of the One Per Cent.”

Peter Cranie says history shows that “austerity measures have never worked”. He cites top economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman’s recent advice on “the urgent necessity of massive government spending to get us out of the recession” – which Peter says accords entirely with the Green Party’s policy on the Green New Deal.

In his article, Peter Cranie argues that the austerity policies followed by the Coalition government – and which Labour has pledged to continue if it wins the next general election – are “devastating Britain’s public services and wrecking our economy” as well as standing in the way of a serious effort to tackle “the immense threat posed to the world’s economy and its inhabitants by climate change”.

Peter Cranie argues that the Green Party’s track record on economics is good – he cites instances ranging from the party’s opposition to the financial deregulation that facilitated the recent global crisis, to the Green Party’s warning that austerity measures would trigger a double-dip recession. And he says that Greens can therefore feel confident in pushing the party’s economic policies in order to reach a wider sector of the electorate than ever before:

“Consider all those people opposed to the austerity agenda who will have no established party other than the Greens to vote for; all those who want a Robin Hood Tax, redistributive taxation, a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion; those who want to protect the NHS and post offices. Those who want an end to huge bonuses in the publicly-owned banks, and a windfall tax on private bankers’ bonuses; those who want a government that would pay not one penny more to the private banks in bailouts, but which would establish a not-for-profit People’s Bank as a safe place for people to keep their money.”

Monday, 6 August 2012

Briefing on turning street lights off #rdg

Following a resident's enquiry about turning street lights off I got the following briefing back:

"A number of trials are being carried out across the country which involves switching off street lights completely or in some cases overnight in residential areas. Switching street lights off overnight has only been carried out after consultation with the local residents and local community police and there has been clear support.
Many residents have concerns about switching off street lights in residential streets overnight particularly in respect of increases in crime and the impact on people’s safety. In view of this many local authorities are looking at dimming and more use of energy efficient lamps e.g. LEDs rather than switching off.
As this is relatively new technology, much of the street lighting equipment in the Borough is operated using photo cells and older technology which doesn’t permit dimming or switching off part time. When street lighting is upgraded we are installing equipment that allows dimming and also remote monitoring to adjust lighting levels to reduce energy costs and CO2. We are also installing LED lamps which operate on reduced energy and lower CO2 emissions e.g. Kennetside.
As part of the East Reading Study we are looking at the potential to upgrade street lighting which would allow dimming etc and is likely to be more acceptable to residents than switching off lights.
I will also forward your e mail and my response to the Project Officer dealing with this Study so he can take the comments into consideration.
Regards et"

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