Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Nepal Earthquake Relief Charity Musical Event in East Reading

Young people from the Nepalese community in Reading are organising a charity musical event to raise funds for the disaster relief effort in Nepal. Details below:

"The recent catastrophic earthquake in Nepal devastated thousands of lives and millions became homeless. In this difficult time we all are trying our best to provide relief and rehabilitation support to Nepal and Nepalese people.

I would like to appeal, invite and request wider community to join and help us in this endeavour. Nepalese youths of Reading are organizing a charity musical program on 30th of May, Saturday at Wycliffe Church, Kings Road ( Cemetery  Junction) to raise relief fund.

Venue: 233 Kings Road, Reading, RG1 4LS
Date: 30th May, 2015, Saturday Time: 7 PM
Ticket: £25
Organized by: Youths United

Monday, 18 May 2015

Newtown gas holders to go. Beautiful or ugly?

Gas holder UPDATE: a more up-to-date blog post on this subject can be found here

Just heard from one of my constituents that the two gas holders behind Newtown are to be dismantled.

Letter on this here and page 2 here. Unfortunately the email address didn't work for me.

I always thought these were interesting and a piece of local history, but I know they are not universally liked. What do you think?

I don't have much information on this at the moment, when I have some more I will post it here.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Whiteknights Road Reservoir ground investigation works

Thought this might be of interest to people living in the vicinity of Whiteknights Road Reservoir:

"Re -Whiteknights Road Reservoir Ground Investigation Works at Mockbeggar Allotments

I am writing to advise you of proposed ground investigation works programmed to take place on Whiteknights Road on the footway adjacent to the Mockbeggar Allotment site and on the road embankment within the allotment site.

These ground investigation works are required in order to determine the stability of the embankment which forms part of the Whiteknights Reservoir. Whiteknights Reservoir is located within the University of Reading grounds and borders Whiteknights Road and the Borough boundary.

The Reservoirs Act 1975 sets out requirements on the Statutory Undertakers of the reservoir to carry out an inspection every 10 years by the ‘Inspection Engineer’, who is appointed to the All Reservoirs Panel. Reading Borough Council has been determined as one of the Statutory Undertakers of the Reservoir, as set out in the Act due to the RBC public highway road running above the downstream reservoir earth embankment and the downstream slope boarding the Mockbeggar Allotment site.

The trial hole and investigation works are programmed to take 3 days and will commence on Monday morning 18th May at 9:30 am under traffic signal control. The signals will operate until 3pm at the latest when the road will be fully opened up to all traffic. Please refer to the trial hole location plan attached.

Advance notice boards will shortly be erected on site, letters have been sent to the allotment tenants, (copy attached for your information), and Reading Buses have also been advised. There will be some minor disruption during the investigation works within the allotments, but every effort will be made to keep this to a minimum.

If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Streetcare Services Manager

Highways | DENS

Reading Borough Council

19 Bennet Road, Reading, RG2 0QX

0118 937 2138 (72138)

0771 516 7880 (87497)


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Council tax debt collection and children

Civic CentreOver the course of the general election campaign I receive many emails on different subjects. One of them was over council tax debt collection methods where a household has children.

I asked the council about this and got the following reply. I would be interested in hearing from people who have had direct experience of this and the impact this had on them and their families so that we can lobby the council to improve its work in this area. I can be emailed at:

"Council Tax Debt Collection methods

Firstly I need to apologise for my delay in responding to you regarding the enquiry you received from your constituent, as I am sure you can appreciate this is a particularly busy time of year for us, and we are experiencing high volumes of customer contacts.
That said we have also received a number of enquiries of a similar theme, as the Children’s Society have been running a campaign on their website encouraging residents to contact their local Councillors in light of publishing their recent report “The Wolf at the Door”, with regard to the recovery methods Local Authorities employ to recover outstanding Council Tax.
I enclose the link to their website for information:

With regard to the numbers your constituent quotes to in in respect of the number of households in Reading affected by this issue - “4717 households were referred to bailiffs in Reading that's the equivalent of 69 bailiff visits for every 1,000 households”.
I am unable to advise you whether these figures are true or represent Reading as we can not validate the figures they have quoted or validate their source of this information. However I can assure you the figures they have quoted would be highly unlikely. We use “Enforcement Agents” as the very last resort.
It is our local practise before referring a Council Tax debt on to our enforcement agents for collection, that the customer will have received the appropriate number of reminders and opportunities to pay, via arrangement or instalment. Where payment have not been received despite our best efforts to contact the customer via correspondence, we will then check our records to see if we are aware of any Council Tax Support in payment, indicating they are on a low income. If this is the case, and they are in receipt of a qualifying benefit or we hold earned income details we will attempt to apply an attachment of benefit or earnings before taking any further steps. If this is still not successful we will try to reach the customer via telephone in order to make a last attempt to enter in to an arrangement. Only then will we begin to consider the use of enforcement agents.
We refer to the enforcement agents manually, after careful consideration and only ever as a last resort, and only after considering any vulnerability of the household make up. Our Council Tax database does not hold information regarding children within the household, as it is not relevant when deciding liability for Council Tax. However if there is a Council Tax Support claim we may be able to see if children are present and we will be mindful of this when deciding next action, but this only reflects a very small proportion of our Council Tax accounts in the whole.
We have a service level agreement with our enforcement agents, and they will contact via telephone and letter up to 3 times before a visit would be undertaken to recover the debt outstanding to us.
The enforcement agents are highly trained to recognise when contacting a customer if they are presented with a household that appears to be vulnerable including the sick and elderly and will refer back to ourselves for instruction before taking action.
I am not aware of any circumstances where I have been contacted regarding children being in fear as a result of our recovery methods.
We received a freedom of information request from the Children’s Society in January 2015, asking if we could provide information regarding the number of households in Reading in arrears where children were present. As this is not recorded within the Council Tax system we were unable to provide any information regarding this specific point. However we did advise them of our practice which follows “good practice guides for the collection of arrears”. We pointed out to them that our policy is to only use enforcement agents as a very last resort.
I trust that this answers your enquiry and you can assure your constituent that the use of enforcement agents in in Reading is very considered, limited and only ever the last resort."

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

WEA temporary parking success

Following the planning meeting where Green councillor Jamie Whitham was asked to work with the WEA and council to help ensure there is sufficient parking for studentsWEA temporary parking, we now have a temporary solution to keep courses going in the short term. More information below:

"Further to your enquiry below, I have been asked to respond as the building manager of Hamilton Centre.

We have been working with WEA to find a temporary solution which will ensure parking until the end of term.

As of the 12th May we have permission from UTC, who joint manage the playing field adjacent, to set up a temporary parking area on a triangular piece of land south of the centre. This will be available to WEA until the end of term. I have attached a map which has been shared with WEA organisers showing the area and how to access it. The route to access the parking will be marked clearly to ensure cars do not stray away onto the field and will be signposted to aid users...I will also be on site on Monday morning to help facilitate the students as they arrive and we will be monitoring the use of this area over the coming weeks."

Crowdfunding campaign helps get our message, for the common good, out in Reading East

crowd funded leaflet Reading EastThanks to everyone who chipped in to get a leaflet through the door of every house in the constituency about a fairer, healthier and more affordable Reading. Hopefully if you live in Reading East you have seen it? Text from the back page below:

Rob was elected as Reading's first Green Party councillor five years ago, and has worked with passion and commitment for the people of Reading. Rob joined the party in 2003 after Labour ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq. It was clear then, as it is now, that the business as usual parties failed to act for the many by not challenging inequality. Only the Greens offer real change from the status quo.

Rob’s priorities are making Reading a healthier, fairer, more affordable town. He is proud to be Leader of the Green Party on Reading Borough Council. Green councillors have achieved much for the common good – getting more people a living wage to tackle poverty and solar panels on council buildings to cut our carbon emissions and bills.

Rob is inspired by community, and his campaigning work has always focused on bringing people together. He believes that change is needed now more than ever and, if elected, will represent Reading East with tireless determination, supporting:

· a living wage

· our NHS

· council housing

· energy-saving measures

· free education for all

Rob will stand up for Reading against the tide of austerity that threatens so many of us. People who didn’t cause the financial crisis, don’t have off-shore accounts, and don’t get enormous bonuses – ordinary families and communities. With your help Rob wants to take his passion and hard work for Reading to Westminster as your MP.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Caroline Lucas endorses Rob White for Reading East

Caroline Lucas is offering a message of hope to those of us in Reading, endorsing Rob White as the Green Party candidate for Reading East. A living wage, affordable living, the cancellation of all tuition fees and debts. Every individual in this country deserves a truly fair chance without the fear of poverty, and that is what the Green Party offers.
On May 7th, vote for a fairer and more affordable Reading. Vote for a fairer United Kingdom. Vote Rob White. Vote Green.
Posted by Reading University Young Greens Society on Friday, 1 May 2015