Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Last year homelessness in Reading was up 1033%...

Homelessness bedding s
Since 2010 homelessness has increased massively in Reading peaking at a shocking 1033% increase in 2016/2017. Fortunately this has levelled off but the increase from 2010 is still modelled to be nearly 700% this year – see the bottom of this email for homelessness and rough sleeping statistics.

That’s a forecast 285 families and individuals without a roof over their head, in the fear of ending up out in the freezing cold on the street, who have been offered help by the council.

Rough sleeping has also continued to grow in Reading. And it is deeply concerning that the rate of increase is speeding up! Of further concern is the fact that local homelessness charities say that this figure is an underestimate.

That is at least 22 people out on the street in the freezing cold.

If you have walked through Reading town centre at any time recently will have seen people in doorways. Cardboard and blankets laid out. This is desperate and sad.

Unfortunately at a council meeting last year Labour councillors voted to cut the budget for tackling homelessness by £245,000. This is a budget reduction of 17%!

As the Equality Impact Assessment noted when this cut was nodded through by the Labour group, it will impact on the physical health and mental health of people who are homeless and increase substance misuse.

The life expectancy of someone living on the streets is 47 years old. Approximately 30 years lower than average.

Green councillors support more funding for public services such as housing and homelessness. We agree with others who think there are some areas of the council – such as the amount of money spent on agency staff at all levels – where savings could be made by recruiting more permanent staff.

We care about Reading and will keep working with you to improve it. Why not join the Green Party and help us make a difference:

Number of individuals and families classed as homeless by the council by year


Number of individuals and families classed as homeless by the council

Percentage increase since 2010



















2017/18 (so far)



2017/18 (forecast end of year)



Number of people sleeping rough in Reading by year


Number of people sleeping rough in Reading

















Is Reading Council wasting money on agency staff?

Civic Centre s
Green councillors have been concerned, at a time when children’s centres and swimming pools are being closed and homelessness support services are being cut, about the amount of money being spent by Reading Council on agency staff.

I asked about this at a council meeting last year and the response I got seemed to show that the spend on agency staff was coming down – as permanent staff were being recruited. Question and answer towards the bottom of this PDF:

However, the council didn’t provide me with an end of year forecast and when I asked for an update recently I was shocked to see the agency spend go up massively – see the bottom of this post for the figures which includes all staff covering permanent roles including senior managers.

The Green Party thinks the council needs to have a greater focus on recruiting permanent staff. As well as saving the council money, increasing the amount of permanent staff will stabilise the council which is teetering on a financial cliff edge, help the council retain important skills and boost morale.

We care about Reading and will keep working to improve it. Why not join and help us make a difference on issues like these?


Reading Council agency spend


£9.7 million


£12.9 million

2017-18 (to date)

£12 million

2017-18 (forecast to end of year)

£14.4 million

Friday, 23 February 2018

Respond to Wokingham Road pay-and-display consultation

Wokingham Road pay-and-display

The council is now consulting on introducing pay-and-display in a number of areas across the town including the Wokingham Road shopping area near to Alfred Sutton primary school.

Green councillors think pay-and-display in this area will help tackle some of the parking problems and improve road safety. However we want to see a free initial 20 minutes. If you agree with us respond to the consultation by March 1, 2018 saying that you want an initial free period for the Wokingham Road pay-and-display. You can respond to the consultation by emailing:

The proposed charges are:

8 am – 8pm
Up to 20min – 70p
Up to 40min - £1.20
Up to 1hr - £1.60
Up to 1hr 20min - £2.20
Up to 1hr 40min - £2.70
Up to 2hr - £3.20

Full consultation details here:

Your Green councillors care about the area and will keep working with you to improve it.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Stopping drivers from mounting the pavement on Crescent Road

Crescent Road s

Many people have contacted us about drivers mounting the pavement on Crescent Road and putting people in danger. Some people have even been clipped by cars! Your Green Party councillors agree that this is totally unacceptable and have been working with residents, schools and the police on this issue.

Following our request the council will be painting some stretches of single yellow line along Crescent Road – on the section opposite to the schools. These will act as passing places for the traffic. There will also be signs on the pavement which will act as bollard's deterring drivers from mounting the pavement.

These measures have already been consulted on and we have been lobbying for them to be installed as soon as possible. The council says that this will happen in the next few months.

We know that more action is necessary to truly address this problem along the whole of Crescent Road and we will keep working with you to tackle this road safety concern.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Busted – Will East Reading MRT reduce congestion?

Kennet mouth artists impression one bus only

The Labour-run Council, and the Tony Page-run Labour Councillors, have made lots of claims for the huge, new road planned along our riverside in East Reading, but one of the most insulting is that it will be good for the people of East Reading. A road (that people in East Reading wont be able to access!!) will be good for us - because it will bust congestion coming into town, and - let's be honest - we all want that.

Will it?

'Congestion' is not the amount of traffic on a road, it's the point at which traffic becomes so saturated it leads to slower speeds, longer trip times, and more and more queuing - what the Council's documents term 'driver delay.' None of us want to be delayed, and none of us want queuing traffic outside our homes. What will be the effect then? The Council's planning application for the 'MRT' states an overall assessment of the effect on driver delay as negligible to, at best, not significant. (Environmental Statement Vol. 1 if you want to look it up.)


- £35 million pounds.

- An unspoiled riverside we can never get back.

- And a 'negligible to insignificant' affect on congestion in East Reading.

You can view the plans and submit comments to the Council here: MRT Planning Application

or contact the Green Party and get involved, make a difference today

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Will Reading and Wokingham Thamesside road reduce congestion?

A number of people, including me, have wondered how robust the traffic modelling for the East Reading 'MRT' (Mass Rapid Transit / bus lane by the Thames) can be, as it fails to include 'induced demand'. That is, if the MRT is built, and the London Road really was a bit freer in the peak times - wouldn't it just fill up again as people who previously weren't driving think they might now, as it's easier with less congestion?

This is what the Council's own business case says on 'Car Reduction Implications':

5.3.1 ...the reduction in car trips on the network would not be so large as to release substantial road capacity in the corridor.
5.3.3 ...the scale of car trip reductions on the network are quite small.
5.3.4 ...the scale of car trip reduction is unlikely to result in trip inducement in the corridor.

In plain English - any shift in usage from car to bus will be so small as to not be a factor in inducing increased demand. The shift, according to the Council, is so small, that the effect on 'driver delay' is classed as negligible - and 'negligible' is helpfully defined as 'average vehicle delay changes are less than 20 seconds as a result of the proposed development during the peak hour periods.'

Your Council will be millions of pounds poorer, your riverside will have been ruined, but the journey into Reading will be (less than) 20 seconds faster in the mornings…

PS: The 'business case' is here: