Friday, 30 August 2013

Reading Peace Group update on #Syria local and national action #rdguk

This is the latest update from Reading Peace Group. You can sign up for email updates here:

"The world will be watching London tomorrow - we need the biggest
possible turnout to send a message around the globe that the anti war
majority is staying in the streets".
- Stop the War Coalition

Dear friends,

Congratulations and many thanks to everyone who came out at short notice
to demonstrate in Reading yesterday against attacks on Syria. Public
actions like ours were vital in helping to defeat David Cameron's war
plans in Parliament - but Cameron will be keen to push the matter
forward again and Obama is ready to commit the US to military action, so
the crisis isn't over yet.

1) Stop the War Coalition national demonstration tomorrow (Saturday)
Meet at Reading station (South side) by the information desk and screens
to travel to London together at 11.00 am. Please have your ticket
bought and be ready to travel then, as there can often be long queues at
the ticket office on Saturday.
In London, gather on Temple Place, off Embankment (nearest tube: Temple)
at 12 noon for march via Parliament and Downing Street to Trafalgar
Square where a rally will be held.


2) Weekly Peace Vigils in Reading every Friday evening.
We will be holding a peace vigil in Reading town centre every week on
Friday evening until the crisis is over. Join us from 6-7 pm outside
the Old Town Hall in Friar Street, near Marks & Spencer. There will be
someone there every week with banners and flags. We are also hoping to
organise a similar vigil on Saturdays for those who can't manage Friday

3) Reading Peace Group business meeting
There will be a Reading Peace Group business meeting to discuss future
campaigning on Syria and group affairs on Monday 9 September. All welcome.
Meeting Room 1, RISC Centre, 35-39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS
7.30 - 9.00 pm, Monday 9 September.

4) Burghfield blockade, Monday 2 September
At the same time as British government ministers are champing at the bit
to attack Syria over the use of chemical weapons, Britain's own weapons
of mass destruction are quietly being manufactured at the AWE Burghfield
nuclear factory near Reading.

Action AWE and Trident Ploughshares have set up a two week disarmament
camp near the base and on Monday a blockade is planned with the aim of
closing down the base for the day. All welcome.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Reading Peace Group don't attack #Syria – in Reading town centre on Thursday #rdguk

As the tragedy continues to unfold in Syria it is good to see Reading Peace Group organising some local action:

"The Cruise Missile Liberals, who casually call for other people’s children to fight their wars and for bombs to fall on the heads of those they will never meet, are beginning to cry for military action".
- Owen Jones, Independent, 25 August 2013

Join Reading Peace Group and friends in Reading town centre on Thursday to say 'Not In My Name' to the government's plans for a military attack on Syria.

Peace vigil between 6 pm - 7pm at the Queen Victoria Statue in Friar Street, outside Marks & Spencers, at the same time as Parliament votes on approving military action.

All welcome - bring friends, positive attitude, and flags / placards / banners

Stop the War Coalition are organising events in London this week to oppose attacks on Syria:

- Protest tomorrow 5pm, Wednesday 28 August, Downing Street, London
- National Demonstration: Saturday 31 August, 12 noon, Embankment, London

More details:

Read Hans Blix in the Huffington Post discussing why an attack on Syria will be "a sad day for international legality":

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Friday, 23 August 2013

#ArthurHill to reopen on Monday, September 2...hopefully #rdguk

I recently got the following update from the Council on Arthur Hill. I know lots of people have been frustrated that it has been closed over the summer. Personally I have trekked over to both Central and Meadway for a swim and so will definitely appreciate having Arthur Hill so close when it reopens. We will keep pushing on this and let you know when we have some more information.

"Arthur Hill Pool and Fitness Studio Update – 21st August 2013

Repair works at Arthur Hill Pool and Fitness Studio are progressing well and all structural work is on schedule to be completed by the end of next week. Our engineers are planning to start the re-commissioning of the plant equipment and swimming pool on Tuesday 27th August to get everything ready for the re-opening of the site the following week.

The provisional re-opening date of the site will be Monday 2nd September 2013. A further update will be sent out after Tuesday 27th August to confirm the date in case there are any issues found with the plant operations after they have been out of action for a while.

For customers who have had their memberships temporarily suspended, Direct Debit collections will recommence on 1stOctober 2013 and customers will be able to use the site from re-opening.

While Arthur Hill is closed your nearest RSL gym facility can be found at Palmer Park Sports Stadium, Wokingham Road,Reading. Tel: 0118 937 5080. Your nearest RSL swimming pool is Central Swimming Pool, Battle Street, Reading. Tel: 0118 937 5070. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused and we look forward to welcoming you at our other sites during the closure."

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Picnic and petition for no park-and-ride on the Thamesside #rdguk

Thanks to everyone who has signed our ‘No park-and-ride on the Thamesside’petition so far. Reading and Wokingham are still pressing ahead with their plans for the car park, and we learnt recently that their plans for the link road are also further ahead than we thought.

Sorry about the short notice but we had the idea of a picnic by the Thames in the vicinity of the park-and-ride site. This would be a good opportunity for people to get their heads around where the link road will go and where the car park will go.

We thought we better organise one quickly before the good weather goes. We will be meeting this Sunday (August 25) at 12 noon where Cholmeley Road meets the River Kennet.

We will walk to Kennetmouth and then along the Thames taking in the location of the link road and the park-and-ride car park. Then at approximately 12:30 PM we will have a picnic on the green space by the Thames in the vicinity of the Wokingham Waterside centre.

Let me know if you can make this and feel free to bring along a few friends. And remember to bring along some picnic food.

PS if you haven’t signed the petition yet it can be found here:

We have also set up a Facebook page here please like us:

Friday, 16 August 2013

#Walking and #cycling improvements in East Reading update #rdguk

Good outcomes on walking and cycling facility improvements in East Reading so far, more to come:

"Dear Steering Group Members

Please see below an update on progress with delivery of the pedestrian and cycle schemes as agreed at the Eastern Area Steering Group meeting in June.

· The two pedestrian refuge islands on Redlands Road (near to the junctions with Acacia Road and Addington Road) have been installed and the resurfacing works are scheduled for the end of the month.

· Implementation of the zebra crossing on Redlands Road, to be positioned between the junctions with Morgan Road and Redlands Road, is due to commence at the end of this week and will be completed once the resurfacing has been undertaken.  Consultation with local residents directly affected by the scheme has resulted in the crossing being repositioned further north, closer to the junction with Morgan Road.

· Implementation of dropped kerbs and associated works in Craven Road, to form a pedestrian refuge island to the north of the junction with Erleigh Road, is planned for September.

· Implementation of the advisory cycle lanes on Southampton Street and Silver Street is planned for September.

· The procurement process to appoint a contractor to undertake the substantial works at Cemetery Junction and London Road is currently being progressed, with works scheduled to commence in November."

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Courses at the Ridgeline Trust #rdguk

I got the following from the Ridgeline Trust:

"A couple of free introduction courses running at Ridgeline – therapeutic gardening in East Reading – if you have any individuals in mind, or can help spread the word?

1)  We have a free 6 week social & horticultural therapy introduction course, at the garden, aimed at people with physical or mental disabilities, or carers, starting on Tue 10th Sep(for 2hrs, 10.30am - 12.30pm).  We would like the group to be mixed, so on the whole would only like to see up to 2 people from a particular group or organisation.  We are looking for 8-12 people for the course, we have a few people in mind so far.  There will be a new course running from 29th October for a new batch of people if demand is high, and again early 2014. 

2) We have a Sow & Grow course for people over 50, in association with Thrive.  We need to determine demand before we can determine course length etc, but would like to do an initial session atleast.  This would probably be on a Tues or Weds, around 2pm-4pm, with the session to take place before end of Sep."

Arthur Clark, Palmer Park lighting and school places all in Reading Green News #rdguk

Below is our latest (August) monthly supporters email newsletter. You can sign up for it on the Reading Green Party website on the right-hand side or by emailing me:

Hello all,

We hope you are having a good summer. Below is a brief update of what Reading Green Party has up to recently.

One small thing first though. Do you have a Twitter or Facebook account? If you click through and read a story, why not ‘like’ it or Tweet it using the buttons at the bottom of the story. This is easy to do and really useful as it helps spread our message to new people. Thanks in advance.

The last Naach Gana in Reading?

Action needed on badly maintained and dangerous roads in Caversham

Happy Birthday, NHS!

Greens welcome new lighting at Palmer Park

Council wins support for more primary school places

Closing Arthur Clark takes us backwards not forwards

Crossing patrol volunteer hangs up his lollipop

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

PS we have a NEW Facebook page, please ‘like’ us:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Play Streets in Reading @Aliceplayingout #rdguk

The roads that have applied for the Play Streets scheme are listed below.

Talfourd Avenue
Larkswood Close
South View Avenue
School Terrace
St Peter’s Road
Lorne Street
Blenheim Road

We have three in Park Ward, it could have been five but unfortunately the organisers were put off by the amount of bureaucracy/legwork required. Maybe next year we will be able to reduce this.

Well done to the organisers and good luck.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Help shape the future of Heathrow airport business consultation @hacan1 @airportwatch @greenKeithmep

I thought people might be interested in helping shape the future of Heathrow airport. I'm sure that the people running the consultation will want to hear from a wide variety of businesses.

Green MEP for the Southeast put out a press release on expansion recently.

"Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, along with four other partnership organisations around Heathrow (Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP, Oxfordshire LEP, Enterprise M3 LEP and West London Business), has appointed Regeneris Consulting to conduct a study looking into the economic implications of future development scenarios for Heathrow Airport. The study will be looking at the three main options: a new hub airport to the east or north-east of London, with the closure of Heathrow; an expanded Heathrow; and a “do-nothing” option.

To help inform the work, Regeneris is carrying out a business survey and we would be very grateful if you could spare a few minutes to respond to the questions before the closing date of 23 August. Click here to take part in the survey.

Once completed, the study will be submitted to the Airports Commission chaired by Howard Davies to inform the debate on the UK’s aviation infrastructure needs.

Please note: in order to maximise the engagement with businesses about how important Heathrow Airport is to them, this survey is being sent out via a number of different business networks. As a result, you may receive the link to this survey more than once. If this is the case, please accept our apologies for this duplication. We are keen to get feedback from as many businesses as possible, as this will help us to make evidence-based representations to the Airports Commission on how any changes to the status of Heathrow would affect businesses."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Help clean up your community with @ReadingRESCUE #rdguk

Do you know of a grot spot in your local area? If so, why not get involved with Reading RESCUE – community clear up/litter pick – and organise an event to tidy it up?

If you don't want to organise one yourself, closer to the event a list is published and you can get involved with which ever event you choose.

Dear RESCUE Organisers

Hope you are well and enjoying the weather. Some updates from RESCUE that may be of interest, especially if you are looking to take part in our next event:

1) The RESCUE registration form is open until 16th September for clean up teams* to register for Autumn RESCUE, 10 - 12 October.

2) We have a refreshed website, which you can visit when you go to read our latest newsletter found on this page of the website.

3) We are just finalising the volunteer pack: a useful resource for new groups in particular.  I will notify you when this is complete and available on the website.

4) Lastly, the Mayor will be hosting an appreciation reception for RESCUE volunteers.  It will be in early September, so if you have been taking part in RESCUE for a few years, please expect an invite in your email box soon.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Road safety at Cemetery Junction #rdguk

At the last full Council meeting I kept up the pressure to improve road safety at Cemetery Junction. See below for my question and the response. It is amazing that in so many words there can be so little substance! We will keep lobbying for action though.

QUESTION NO. 8 in accordance with Standing Order No.10

Councillor White to ask the Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport:

Road Safety Improvements, King’s Road

Over a year ago on February 21, 12-year-old Harsh Dharmendra was hit and killed by a vehicle while he was crossing King's Road at cemetery junction. The trial has now finished and justice has been done. However the Council has not implemented any road safety improvements on Kings Road yet. What action does the Council plan to take on this issue and when?

REPLY by Councillor Page (Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport):

I thank Cllr White for his question and the opportunity to up-date on this tragic case.

By way of background, colleagues will be aware that the tragic accident causing the death of 12 year-old Harsh Dharmendra resulted in the trial and conviction of the driver, Aadil Asghar, at Reading Crown Court.

Mr Asghar, 25, was jailed for five-and-a-half-years for killing Harsh by dangerous driving, banned for 5 years and will have to take an extended driving test before regaining his licence.

The jury convicted Asghar after hearing how his Audi fatally hit the 12 year-old at a pedestrian crossing as he sped down a bus lane in King's Road. The Judge told Mr Asghar that he alone was to blame for the death of Harsh Dharmendra as he tried to cross King's Road.

Mr Asghar had illegally driven his Audi down the bus lane in King's Road at about 45mph, and witnesses had seen his Audi cutting in and out of traffic earlier in the journey on February 21 2012.

The court heard Asghar had been involved in a collision in the bus lane in 2007, just 100 yards from the fatal collision, and was sent on a driving improvement course. He was given three points for exceeding a 30mph limit in March 2009. His Audi was caught on camera driving in another bus lane in Reading in October 2011 and he was convicted of jumping a red light in Earley in December 2011, leading to six month disqualification.

Sentencing, the Judge said he believed Asghar deliberately entered the bus lane in King's Road in congested rush-hour traffic. He said: "You did so because your manner of driving was aggressive, selfish and heedless of the safety of others. By your actions that day, you deprived a loving family of their young son. The simple fact is that he would be alive today if you had not behaved so irresponsibly. This was a wholly avoidable accident which caused a wholly avoidable death. Only you are to blame."

We all know Cemetery Junction is a challenging area that carries significant volumes of vehicular traffic, as well as catering for pedestrians that need to cross the road. This tragic fatality has put the area in the spotlight and we all agree that road safety and reducing casualties is a priority. As a member of the Eastern Area Steering Group, Cllr White is well aware that much of the work is focused on road safety and exploring options for reducing casualties.

Such busy junctions are to be expected within the urban environment and all road users are required to behave appropriately when travelling through the area. The Highway Code helps everyone understand what is required of them and if we all acted as we are supposed to then Cemetery Junction would be as safe as it could be.

The Council produces an annual Road Safety Programme based on injury accident statistics which identifies patterns of accidents that can be treated. This is an ongoing process and will include Kings Road even though safety improvements were carried out in 2005. As was clear in the tragic case of Harsh Dharmendra - where aggressive, dangerous and selfish driving took place - anything that we do is unlikely to stop irresponsible individuals who are determined to break the law.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Reading Old cemetery at Cemetery Junction on TV #rdguk

Last night the Cemetery Junction cemetery featured on Urban Jungle with Chris Packham! For those who didn't see it it is on BBC iPlayer. It is the first item after the introductions. You might recognise a few locals traipsing around the cemetery looking a bit bleary eyed for our 4 AM dawn chorus event.

This event was organised by the Friends' of Cemetery Junction group. If you would like to find out about more wildlife and history events in the cemetery let me know ( and I will add you to our email list.

We also have a Facebook group here.

Reading Town FC is now the only trade union owned club in the country #rdguk

Thought this might be of interest:

"Dear all,

They play in a red 'n' black strip. They are the only club fully owned by the trade union movement. Their goal is to create a fully anti-corporate, union owned, community football club.

No not St. Pauli, rather "the St Pauli of the Thames Valley"... READING TOWN FC!

Ok, the Premier League this ain't and the crowd can be counted in tens. 

But, Reading Town Football Club is now owned by Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Council and sponsored by the GMB union. It is the only trade union owned club in the Country.

Their sponsor says:

"Reading Town have their first home game on 10 August at 3pm. Can you put the word around that Left and union activists are especially welcome at Reading Town"

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Roads resurfaced, but for how long? #rdguk

A number of people have complained to me about roads being resurfaced and then deteriorating very quickly. I raised a few specific roads, which had been mentioned to me, below is the response. The main point raised is that roads being resurfaced are guaranteed for two years:

"Dear Councillor White,

Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the Resurfacing Programme 2013/2014.

There is a 2 year guarantee on materials for schemes on both the major and minor resurfacing programme so the work scheduled for Rotherfield Way and Oxford Road over the next few weeks would have a materials guarantee of 2 years.

I have checked the records we hold and Rotherfield Way and the section of Oxford Road near Tilehurst Station do not appear to have been resurfaced in the last 10 years. Given it is at least 10 years any previous guarantees would have expired.

With regards to Kiln Road I cannot find any records of Kiln Road being resurfaced in recent years so any previous guarantees also would have expired.

Hope this is helpful."