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Question to council: William Marshal

Richard Stainthorp to ask the Lead Councillor for Culture Heritage and Recreation: William Marshal As I am sure the Lead Councillor is awar...

30 Jan 2011

Letting my garden grow and saving pennies

I am a keen gardener, not great, but very enthusiastic.  I have been leafing through seed and plant catalogues trying to decide what to grow - usually a balance between ease and cost saving.  Fruit is usually the greatest cost so that will be a focus - we have a cherry tree, raspberries and strawberries already.  Blueberries went in last year to crop this year and I have a blackberry and tayberry waiting to be planted.  It's not a big garden but will be crammed!
Having read in the national press that farmers are predicting food prices will rise, growing some of our own food will certainly help.  VAT has gone up so some everyday purchases cost more and this, combined with more expensive food, will make the next year tougher on the bank balance. 

Council Tax is likely to be frozen but the Tory-led council will be making other charges to compensate such as being charged for green bag/bin collection, no more concessions for large waste item collection, more charging for parking and a focus on increased income from fines.  Council tenants will see a rise in their rent and those with mortgages are likely to see an interest rate rise as the Bank of England battles with rising inflation.

Not ready to sacrifice the flower border for veggies yet but it may become a sensible choice.

27 Jan 2011

From the RCRE Holocaust Memorial Event

I have just got back from the Reading Council for Racial Equality (RCRE) Holocaust Memorial Day event.  It was moving and interesting in equal parts and the speakers told me many things about the children of war I never knew.  It was made clear that even if an issue you care about doesn't effect you personally, speak out and help others as you may need their help one day.  We read this out at the end:

First They Came
Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jew
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

25 Jan 2011

We left them a recovering economy and they broke it!

I must admit I was surprised to see the economy did not grow in the last quarter.  There have been warnings of a double-dip recession but it's not something anyone wanted.  I really do hope this quarter shows growth and recession is avoided.

You cannot grow an economy by making massive cuts as the Tory-led Government have done.  It leaves people fearing for their jobs, homes and services and not likely to spend any more than they have to.  And you also can't blame the lack of growth on snow!!!!!

22 Jan 2011

Got a problem? We're here to help....

As a ward councillor I am here to help Battle ward residents be it a parking issue, concern about your local area or a question about a Council service.

As I walk about the ward I do pick up a few issues - this week an example was a blocked gutter and some fly tipping.

19 Jan 2011

Don't gift thieves your property!

Last night Cllrs Chris Maskell, Tony Page and Mohammed Ayub and I attended the Oxford Road Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG).  The Oxford Road NAG is a group of residents, local groups, council and Police officials all with the improvement of their local area at the top of their agenda.  It was a very interesting meeting covering littering, crime, and other local concerns.

I did discover something surprising and it has prompted me to take action.  If the Police raid a suspected thief's property and find what could be the proceeds of crime, they cannot prosecute unless it can be proven the items were stolen.  Unless you report your property stolen and provide a means of identification, like a serial number or you've marked it with a UV pen, the theft cannot be proved and the property returned to the suspect.  Suffice to say all our electricals are now marked. 

Of course it's better not to have things stolen in the first place and one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent burglary is to double lock your front door.  Burglars can very easily open an unlocked door from the inside using a bendy pole - they just pull the door handle and wander in - nasty.  So double lock your front door and make a note of serial numbers/mark your property with a UV pen and keep safe!

17 Jan 2011

Slow down Mr Cameron!

The sheer pace at which the Tory-led Government is making changes scares me.  How well thought through are these changes?  We have already seen there have been problems with the proposed changes to child benefit and the u-turn on Bookstart.  After targeting disability benefit leaving many vulnerable people worried about how they are going to survive, they are now targeting the NHS.

Stop and think things through.  The NHS is too precious to be hacked to pieces in the name of reform.

7 Jan 2011

Fantastic librarys

I have just been to Battle library.  What book did you get you may ask?  Well it was not for a book but for Rhymetime with my sons - an excellent half hour singing session that is in libraries throughout Reading see here.

The library also offers Storytime for Under 5's, craft sessions, Health Visitor drop-in clinic, breastfeeding drop-in as well as coffee mornings and other chances to meet up with like minded people.

I sincerely hope the library service in Reading retains the funding to continue to provide such an excellent service.

6 Jan 2011

2010 finished, welcome 2011!

Another Christmas over.  The tree is down, we've all had a cold, I've had flu and the bin is overflowing. 

2010 was a funny old year.  It seemed quite straight-forward, I won my election in May, had a lovely family holiday in June then my youngest arrived 2 months early in July.  Thanks to the excellent staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital he is a healthy little chap but it does rather knock you for six.  The staff in Maternity and Buscot Special Care Baby Unit could not be faulted and we should be proud of our NHS and should do anything we can to protect it.

2011 will be less complicated.  My fellow councillor and Dad is standing for  re-election is in May and I have every confidence he will be re-elected as he works very hard for the residents of Battle Ward - the ward he was born in!  He has an excellent website here.

What will happened through-out Reading?  Who knows.  Many Lib Dem votes I know feel betrayed and are adamant they will not vote Lib Dem again but who will they vote for?

So 2011 will be less complicated but certainly not dull!