Wednesday, 27 March 2013

@reading_buses consultation on bus service changes #rdg

See below for the e-mail I got from Reading Buses consulting on changes to the service. Selfishly a more frequent 17 in the evening sounds good!

Previously Reading Buses have mentioned introducing a £1 ticket from cemetery junction to the town centre. Disappointing though that there hasn't been any progress on this.

What do you think?

Reading Buses

Welcome to our consultation document outlining proposed changes to our buses services starting on 1st July 2013. This is our annual service change, which we have this year brought forward from September to coincide with the opening of the Northern Interchange at Reading Station.

We are looking for your feedback on these proposals. Please send your views direct to Jayne Foster, Customer Champion of Reading Buses before Friday 29th March. This will allow us to take account of everything raised before making our final plans, which have to be registered with the Traffic Commissioner during April 2013 for implementation on 1st July.

Here are the summary proposals, route by route. Please note that we don’t have detailed timetables prepared at this stage – so we are talking about principles of routes and frequencies here.

Routes not mentioned will not be subject to any significant change.

Northern Interchange

The new Northern Interchange opens on 1st July 2013. It will mean that people from north of the river Thames will have much quicker and easier access to the station. In consequence, all Pink routes, plus 27/29 and Vitality 2, will be changed to take account of the Northern Interchange. Buses will call at the Northern Interchange on their way out of Reading, after the stop at Apex Plaza, and on their way into Reading, before coming into town either via Caversham Road (Pink 22 & 24) or via Vastern Bridge, (Pink 23, Shuttle 29 and Vitality 2).

A potential problem is that the diversion through the Northern Interchange adds a few minutes to every journey. On the Pinks we will deal with this by adding an extra bus to the schedule and Vitality 2 has spare time available on most trips, but the 27/29 timetable cannot be made to work in its present form. So we are proposing that all Lower Caversham Shuttles will become 29s which means that Customers from Lower Caversham who wish to travel to Caversham Centre will have to change buses at the Northern Interchange onto Pink 22 & 24 or Vitality 2 and vice versa to go home. We realise that this is not ideal, but the only way we can do it given the fact that there will no longer be time to do two round trips as we do now in each hour. A possible alternative would be for the 27/29 service to remain as at present, but that would mean it would not serve the Northern Interchange. We need to know what you think about this, please.

West Reading, Tilehurst & Purley

There has been quite a lot of change in the routes and times of buses in this area over recent years. This is because buses are generally not well-used in these outer areas. We have also had significant disruption to the Royal Blue 33 for many months last year, which gave us experience of a completely new route, along Little Heath Road. Recently we have been surveying the use made of buses in the Westwood Glen area and in Turnham’s Farm. In both cases, it is very low indeed and we propose to make the following changes to take this into account and to improve our offer:

Sky Blue 15 will retain its current frequency but will not operate further west than Tilehurst. It will terminate in Tilehurst by going round a loop comprising St Michael’s Road, School Road and Mayfair. The evening and Sunday service will be between Central Reading and Dee Park only.

Sky Blue 16 will be increased in frequency to every 15 minutes during the daytime along its entire length between Central Reading and Purley. This doubles the existing frequency between Overdown Road and Purley,

Sky Blue 16a will cease to operate and alternative provision for Chapel Hill will be made by diverting the Royal Blue 33 as below.

Royal Blue 33 will maintain its 15-minute frequency throughout but may be diverted away from Turnham’s Farm. The reason for this is that little use is made of buses in Turnham’s Farm and some residents have raised concerns about the ability of the highway to handle the present bus traffic. This is currently the subject of a residents’ ballot. A recent survey of the use of buses in Turnham’s Farm showed an average of 1 passenger per journey, and stops in City Road (33) & the Water Tower (17) are close by.

However, the lengthy period last year when the Royal Blue 33 was diverted via Little Heath Road has demonstrated that there is a demand for a service along that road. So the new Royal Blue 33 route could involve buses making an anti-clockwise loop from Lower Elmstone Drive, turning right into Chapel Hill, then continuing via Little Heath Road, City Road and Hildens Drive back into Lower Elmstone Drive.

Evening and Sunday services will continue to be provided by Royal Blue 33, running round its current loop from Tilehurst via City Road, Hildens Drive and Lower Elmstone Drive.

South Reading

We’re proposing to make the experimental reverse routing of Red 9 from Shinfield Road permanent, as this change seems to have worked well and has reduced delays at what used to be the Maidens junction. In addition, we are going to add some time to the early morning journeys on Red 9 on weekdays, as these struggle to maintain the current schedule.

Purple 17

Since we improved the daytime frequency on Purple 17 to every 7/8 minutes last September we have been rewarded by a very significant increase in patronage, so we propose to improve the weekday evening service to every 15 minutes and the Sunday daytime frequency to every 10 minutes.

University & Lower Earley

After a lot of careful deliberation, involving a public meeting hosted by the Maiden Erlegh Residents Association we have decided to leave the Claret routes more or less as now for the 2013-2014 Academic Year, albeit with some minor improvements to the schedule to allow for better reliability at busy times. Note that in the summer holiday period (1 July – 2 September inclusive) the service on routes 20 and 20a will be hourly as it now is on Saturdays, with the 21 every 15 minutes. We propose to add additional Sunday evening journeys on the 20 between Reading Station and the University, to improve the service for the many students who return to the University at the end of the week-end.

Summer Holidays

This year the summer holiday period for timetables will run for nine weeks from 1st July to 2 September. Slightly reduced timetables will be operated on routes 5, 6, 9, 17, 20/20a, 21 & 26.

Please make any comments in writing to Jayne Foster, our Customer Champion, or by letter to her at: Reading Buses, Great Knollys Street, Reading RG1 7HH, providing any feedback you may have on the above before 5 April 2013.

Thank you very much

James Freeman

Chief Executive Officer 15 March 2013

Sunday, 24 March 2013

10th anniversary of the vote to go to war in Iraq

Rob White welfare not warfare v2On Tuesday, March 20 I joined the vigil organised by Reading Peace Group to mark the 10th anniversary of the vote to go to war in Iraq.

10 years on from the Parliamentary vote to go to war in Iraq and the evidence is clear that the war had nothing to do with finding non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction, and everything to do with the fact that the then Prime Minister Tony Blair had already promised President Bush in March 2002 that he would support a war for regime change.

The legal and political distinction between finding WMD and regime change was essential for Blair to secure a majority of the parliamentary Labour party's support for war, without which he could not have gone ahead. However, the now infamous Downing St memo told Blair in 2002 that in the US "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy".

If WMD were really the focus of the war, Blair would have granted the Weapons Inspectors’ call for more time. Moreover, Blair blatantly misrepresented the evidence available. For example, in his speech to the House on the resolution to go to war, he suggested that soon after Saddam Hussein’s son in law, Hussein Kamal, defected to the West in the mid 1990s, he disclosed that Iraq had an extensive WMD programme.

In fact, the transcript of the interview with UNSCOM/IAEA records Hussein Kamal’s statements that Iraq’s WMD programme had been destroyed and nothing remained. The details of the interview were public knowledge in February 2003, well before the vote for war.

The parliamentary failure to hold Blair to account at the time of the vote makes it all the more essential that we have a debate in parliament now. We must formally record how such a flimsy case for war was able to get through our parliamentary process.

Unwavering Tory support for the vote was obviously critical. How convenient, then, that soon after William Hague writes to his Cabinet colleagues to tell them not to mention the war, David Cameron's government has failed to find time for a Parliamentary debate, requested by Green MP Caroline Lucas and a cross-party group of MPs, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of that vote.

Whatever position this Government now takes on Iraq and the Chilcot Inquiry, it is crucial that the public does not see Parliament just sitting back and ignoring the 10th anniversary of these lies and distortions. We owe it to the servicemen and women and all those who have lost their lives in Iraq to carefully examine what happened, in order to learn the lessons of the most damaging foreign policy decision of recent times. .

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Road repairs in Reading and Park Ward #rdg

Lots of potholes around at the moment. We have been reporting them but due to the number across Reading – because of the bad weather – it is taking the Council a while to get round to repairing them all.

The Council's highway maintenance programme is going to the Traffic Management Advisory Panel this evening. The full agenda is here.

In Park Ward the following major roads are getting resurfaced:

Wokingham road from cemetery junction to Palmer Park Avenue
Eastern Avenue

The minor road resurfacing schemes include:

St Peters road
Heath road
Crescent road from Hamilton road to Eastern Avenue

Footway schemes include:

Heath road south side
Amity road

The full list is in the report – item 13 on the agenda.

East Reading free school doesn't get through to next round

I'm not a fan of free schools, but at the moment they are one of the few ways that we can meet the upcoming shortage of secondary school places in east Reading. So I was disappointed to read on Facebook that the recent bid has failed. Text copied and pasted.

"Updated press release, with additional info.

We regret to inform everyone, but East Reading Free School has not been selected for the next stage of the Free school application process. The Department of Education have provided some useful feedback and also had some very positive comments. They were impressed by our ethos and rational and how we would develop students individuality, discover their potential and work individually with pupils to nuture this potential. The areas that they suggested we worked on for future applications include student targets and budgetery issues.

We are obviously disappointed, but would like to thank all those who have supported us so far in getting the application submitted in a short space of time (local parents, councillors of all parties, teachers, community members and GEMS Education Trust).

We have decided that we would like continue developing the application with the view to re-submitting later this year for opening in September 2015.
We would be very interested to hear from anyone who wants to be involved in moving this forward. Please do get in touch.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish West Reading Education Network success with progressing their application as they wait for the results for their interview.

East Reading School Trust"

Friday, 8 March 2013

Just heard that the #cemeteryjunction post office is changing sides #rdg

A resident just let me know that the post office at cemetery junction in east Reading is moving. I popped in and they have a consultation notice up as well as some handouts with more information.

Briefly, they are planning on relocating to the other side of the junction – 209 London Road, empty shop next to Mr Cod. If all goes to plan will happen in May 2013.

We have been campaigning for a longtime to get this shop back into use, so this seems like good news. It will obviously leave the old convenience shop and post office on the other side of the junction empty, but this should be easier to let then the currently derelict property they are moving into.

I believe the opening hours and range of services will be approximately the same, and the proposed new location is less than 100 m walk from the old location.

What do people think?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Council budget and the vulnerable, Rape Support Centre and more all in Reading Green News

Hello all,

With the Council budget recently – the most important Council meeting of the year – it has been a busy and stressful time. We did our best to stand up for vulnerable people, and have been working hard in other areas too.

Also, we have had the national Green Party conference recently. See here for Green Party leader Natalie Bennett opening the conference.

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

Update on the current forest of estate agent boards

Everyone should enjoy the same marriage rights

Green Deal is an underfunded deal

Next stage in £6 million Bulmershe school building programme

Greens move budget amendment to protect vulnerable people

Rape Support Centre to open in Reading

And the events which are coming up:

New Year meal, Tuesday, March 19, 7:30 PM and the Spice Oven in Caversham. Everyone welcome to this social, sitdown, buffet meal, but please confirm your attendance in advance.

Reading Green Drinks, tonight, Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the Global Cafe. I will be there from 7 PM. This is a very informal drop-in affair.

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, Melanie Eastwood and Jamie Whitham

Green Party councillors