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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...

24 Dec 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I would just like to wish the residents of Battle, and Reading, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

I will be taking a few days off with my family.  The Council's emergency number can be seen in the post below and if you do know of someone in need of company tomorrow, please see here:


23 Dec 2012

Could Be Useful: Christmas Opening Hours & Bin Collections

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Civic Centre

Visitors and callers to the Civic Centre over the Christmas and New Year period are being reminded of revised opening hours.

The Contact Centre will be open from 8am to 3pm on Christmas and New Year's Eve. Over the rest of the Christmas break it will be business as normal 8am to 6pm (closed Christmas, Boxing and New Year's Day). The 'face to face' service at the Civic Centre will be running from 9am to 3pm on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and 9am to 5pm other days. There will be no late night Revenues and Benefits 'face to face' service on Thursday 27 December

The usual out-of-hours emergency telephone service will operate throughout the Christmas and New Year period. The number to call is 0118 937 3737.

The Post Office at the Civic Centre will close at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve and 4pm on New Year's Eve.

Over at the Museum and Town Hall, they will be closed on Christmas Eve, reopening on Wednesday 2 January

Christmas Bin Collections

The Council's bin crews will be out collecting on normal working days and some Saturdays over the Christmas period, but not on the Bank Holidays over the Christmas period. Residents are advised to check their calendars for revised collection dates or log on to the Council's website at www.reading.gov.uk.

As usual, people are being encouraged to recycle as much of their Christmas waste as possible, putting cardboard, gift wrap and old cards in the red bins / boxes. People are reminded not to put recyclable rubbish in plastic carrier bags and also to put the right waste in their red bins / boxes - paper and card, cans, empty aerosols and plastic bottles only. Residents can also recycle their household batteries by putting them in a clear, sealed sandwich/freezer bag and leaving them on top of their red bin on collection day.

Reading Borough Council has nearly fifty bottle bank sites where people can recycle all their empty bottles and jars. Details of locations and recycling tips are on the Council's website at www.reading.gov.uk/bins..

Residents are being asked to make every effort to ensure that their household waste is contained in the grey bin.

Smallmead Household Waste and Recycling Centre will be open every day from 8am to 6pm, except on Christmas Day. More information at www.re3.org.uk/opening-and-access-times.asp.

Christmas Trees

Trees can be recycled as usual at the Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Alternatively people can recycle their Christmas trees using the green garden waste collection service. Trees must be chopped into pieces so they fit in the green waste bin or bag. Garden waste collections resume on Monday 21 January. Residents are advised to check their calendars   log on to the council's website at www.reading.gov.uk.

Sport and Leisure Centres

Arthur Hill, Central Pool, Meadway and Palmer Park will be open during the holiday period but closed Christmas, Boxing and New Year's Day. Highdown will be closed from 24 December to 2 January. Please check with each centre for details of holiday opening and closing hours.

Reading Libraries

Reading's Libraries will be open 9am to 1pm on Christmas Eve except Southcote and Whitley which will be closed all day. They are all closed Christmas, Boxing and New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve libraries will close at 4pm except Southcote which will be closed all day and Whitley which will be open 2pm to 4pm.'

21 Dec 2012

Your Council Your News - December

What's been going on? Take a look at this video. At the very end there is a real treat, a performance of Walking In The Air from last nights Civic Carol Concert.

19 Dec 2012

Christmas in Battle Ward

Last night Lieutenant Kenneth Guest led a wonderful carol service at Battle Library joined by the Salvation Army band and the Reading Community Gospel Choir.  

If you missed last night there is a Sing Noel sing-a-long with entertainment at the Emmanuel Methodist Church on Friday 21 December at 7pm.  Argyle Community Church also have a Christmas service at 10.30 on Sunday and a candlelight service on Sunday at 6 followed by mulled juice and mince pies.

Battle Ward has some hard working community groups within it and we are keen to as work with as many as possible.  We have already met some new groups and people through the Keep It Real project and through Battle Community First.

 If you are a resident or group within Battle who would like to help show what a truly great community we have, please get in touch.

'The Salvation Army working in West Reading

Sarah and Kenneth are nearly dwarfed by a mountain of toys

Councillor Hacker and I popped in to the Oxford Road Salvation Army to see what they are doing for families in need this Christmas.

Lieutenant Kenneth Guest invited us to pay him a visit to see at first hand the work he and is colleagues and volunteers are doing to bring a little happiness to disadvantaged children this Christmas.
When we arrived black bags were being filled with toys ready for distribution. There were several tables groaning under the weight of toys donated by members of the public. It was a fantastic sight.
Kenneth told us that even in these difficult times donations were flooding in. He said people’s generosity was quite overwhelming.

It is not too late to donate a toy. Even if your donation is not used this year it will be kept and distributed next year. Every child deserves presents at Christmas time.'

14 Dec 2012

7UP Art Club Exhibiting in Battle Library

I am in and out of Battle Library and it's nice they have art on show.  Recently they have had some lovely pieces by a local resident > http://artbyailbhe.me.uk/

Next week the 7Up Art Club will have their work on show.  If you are passing, please pop in and have a look.

'Youngsters Ready to Show Their Art to Community

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Battle Library's 7Up Art Club will be exhibiting work from its youngsters on Monday December 17.

Battle Library will be opening its doors, from 3.30pm, to the local community and the parents of the '7Up' artists to view their recent creations. The exhibition will be up in the library until 4th January 2013.

In September of this year, as part of their on-going work with children in the local community, Battle Library started the 7up Art Club for children aged over 7. The classes are free to attend and have been very popular, with a long waiting list already for next term.

Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Culture and Sport, Cllr Marian Livingston, said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to support young artists. I am delighted to see that the 7Up Art Club has already proven to be a success and I have no doubt it will continue to be so in the future."

8 Dec 2012

Spreading the message of Christmas

I was sent this poster by Lieutenant Kenneth Guest from the Salvation Army in Battle Ward and he asked if I could share it.

.If there is anyone you know who would like to share Christmas Day with the Salvation Army, please pass on this information or even share the poster yourself.  Christmas can be a lonely and difficult time for some.


5 Dec 2012

Severe Weather Emergency Provision

We are facing more cold weather so this information could prove useful.

Launchpad: http://www.launchpadreading.org.uk/

St Mungo's: http://www.mungos.org/services/where_we_work/reading

'Reading Borough Council Press Release

As in previous years, homeless people who find themselves on the streets in Reading are to be offered emergency extra beds during severe cold weather this winter.

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is a partnership arrangement between Reading Borough Council, Launchpad, Hamble Court, the Salvation Army, Waylen Street and St Mungo's that has existed for many years and is activated whenever the Met Office forecasts three nights or more with a minimum temperature of 0°C or below.

During this time, St Mungo's coordinate extra accommodation in the communal areas of Reading's homeless hostels for anyone who would otherwise be sleeping rough.

St Mungo's are commissioned by Reading Borough Council to provide a street outreach team to support rough sleepers and assist them in moving into appropriate accommodation. During the cold weather, St Mungo's use the opportunity to engage with homeless people who may have been previously reluctant to access accommodation and support services.

In addition, this year Launchpad will be coordinating a breakfast drop-in for the use of SWEP clients. This will provide further opportunity for the St Mungo's team to assess and engage with homeless people and encourage them to access support service available.

Last year, over the winter period, 46 people were offered SWEP accommodation and only 5 refused. 40% of those accommodated in SWEP were from outside of the Borough. When St Mungo's carried out analysis in May of this year, they found that 28 (57% of those offered) of the homeless that had engaged with SWEP had gone on to find settled accommodation.

Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods and Housing, Rachel Eden, said: "Reading can be proud of the work that the Council, St Mungo's and the rest of the voluntary sector do in partnership all year round to support rough sleepers and help them back into accommodation; but particularly, as the nights draw in, I'd urge anyone who knows of a rough sleeper to contact St Mungo's or the Council so that they can make contact. During any prolonged cold weather, emergency measures are put in place and this can help people access services that can make a long term difference.'

Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper at any time of the year in Reading should contact Street Concern on 0118 9585002 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm or email streetconcern@mungos.org'

2 Dec 2012

Victoria Groulef - Our Parliamentary Candidate For Reading West

Just a short post to introduce Victoria Groulef, Labour parliamentary candidate for Reading West.  She was selected today by Labour members in the Reading West constituency.

Victoria is a candidate bringing a wealth of experience.  She understands the challenges facing residents in Reading West and has been campaigning with us for a year around Reading and in Battle Ward.  I am very happy she has been selected and look forward to working with her in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

Victoria Groulef (centre camel coat) with Labour members, Councillors and former MP Martin Salter

You can find out about Victoria here:http://www.victoriagroulef.co.uk

Follow her on twitter here: @VictoriaGroulef

28 Nov 2012

Christmas Rhymetime!

Yet again the very popular Rhymetime is heading to the Hexagon for a Christmas special.  My youngest and I have got our tickets and it's firmly in the diary. See you there!

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Reading Borough Libraries are celebrating the success of the Rhymetimes events for children under 5 years with a special Christmas performance at the Hexagon on Thursday 20th December.

From 11.00am to 11.45am, Library staff will be singing along with and an audience of regular 'Rhymetimers'.

The Mayor will be coming along to join in the fun and the money raised from the ticket sales (£1 per adult, children go free) will be donated to the Mayor's Charity.

Rhymetimes support the development of language skills for very young children, provide a structure for parents on how to engage with their child in reading and literacy activities and install a love of the fun of reading, books and libraries. There are 18 sessions each week, taking place across all Reading Borough libraries. Between April 2011 and March 2012, more than 52,400 people (under 5s, parents and carers) visited Reading libraries for Rhymetime sessions.

Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Culture and Sport, Marian Livingston, said: 'Reading Libraries Christmas Rhymetime Celebration has become an annual tradition. It's a way to celebrate the successful sessions and thank all the staff and families who make rhymetimes so popular.'

Mayor of Reading, Cllr Jennifer Rynn, said: 'The Christmas Rhymtime is a lovely way to round off the year. Rhymtime is the perfect way of getting our young children to be interested in reading and improve their literacy. I am sure this will help them develop a love of books as they grow older.'

26 Nov 2012

Some useful flood information

Few would realise but Battle Ward is at risk of flooding as we are close to the Thames.  This morning some Battle residents, who had signed up the the Environment Agency's Flood Warnings Direct service, were called and advised of  risk of flooding.  The properties most at risk are those near to Portman Road.

For up to date information you can call Floodline on 0845 988 1188, select option 1 and enter Quickdial number 171213

To receive future alerts you can sign up for Flood Warnings Direct here > https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/home

The current flood warning can be seen here > http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/34681.aspx?area=061FWF23ReadCav&page=1&type=Town&term=reading

Reading Borough Councils flood information can been seen here > http://www.reading.gov.uk/news/2012/nov/flooding-alert-river-thames-reading/

16 Nov 2012

World Prematurity Day - What It Means To Me

Saturday 17 November is world prematurity day.  60,000 babies in the UK are born too soon and in 2010 one of these babies was my youngest son.  There were no indications anything was amiss with my pregnancy.  It was just the same as his older brothers but, for no reason, he was born 9 1/2 weeks early.

My waters broke early so we had a few days to get our heads round the idea that he may arrive soon but, on the other hand, we were told he could stay put until he was full term.  Unfortunately this wasn't the case and 5 days later he arrived.  We missed the birth as I had to have a general anaesthetic and we then had to wait to hear how he was doing.  Thankfully he was a strong little fellow and we were told he was breathing for himself, with a little help.

For the following 4 weeks and 2 days he was under the fantastic care of Buscot Ward and the Royal Berkshire Hospital.  We visited everyday, watching him grow bigger and learn to feed.  The support from the staff was great, as was the information from Bliss and when I should have been 35 weeks pregnant we took a tiny 4lb 9oz baby boy home with us.

World Prematurity Day is to raise awareness of the support early babies and their families need, not just in the UK, but cross the world.  Please take time to check out the Bliss website, share your story or donate if you can.  There is also a World Prematurity Day Facebook group so you can keep up to date with what's happening across the world.

 We were lucky but sadly 1 million premature babies die across the world every year.  Other babies survive but need lifelong support.  Please do what you can.

11 Nov 2012

Labour: “Use your vote on Thursday to protect policing in Reading!”

Reading & District Labour Party Media Release 
11 November 2012

Labour’s Tim Starkey visited Reading on Saturday to remind voters of the importance of the upcoming Police and Crime commissioner elections.  He spent time in Whitley talking to local Labour Councillor Rachel Eden and former MP for Reading West Martin Salter about how dispersal orders have successfully been used to tackle crime and anti – social behaviour in the area. Tim also warned about the government’s plans for a 20% cut in police funding which would hit Reading hard.

Remembrance Sunday Parade

I attended the Remembrance Service at Brock Barracks today.  It was a very well attended and moving service remembering those who have lost their life in defence of us, as well as those who survived past wars and those still serving.

After the service there was a parade of veterans, serving personnel then civilians groups.  It was lovely to see them march past including my former Girl Guide group, 2nd Reading from St Georges.  Here are a few pictures from the parade.

4 Nov 2012

Love Apps and Clean Streets? You'll Love This... UPDATED

 I've known about the Love Clean Reading app being trialled for a while and, typically, it all goes public when I am holiday in West Sussex with next to no internet access.  Oh well! 

I report a lot of fly-tipping, graffiti etc as I pass through Battle Ward, usually by emailing councillor services.  I now have an alternative.  It's downloaded and waiting for it's first thing to report.  Councillors are being encouraged to trial this app and, if used, it should free up councillors services to deal with casework, rather than Streetcare reporting.  I have already seen positive comments on #rdg about it and I am looking forward to trying it out.

UPDATED:  I have used it four times now.  Once for dog fouling and to report a dumped suitcase, speakers & shelving and a tv stand.  You tap begin, I used my phones gps for the location, you take a pic, add a short description and allocate it to one of the categories listed and hit send!

Once you report something you get a confirmation email then an email when the report is accepted.  Your pictures are shared on the Love Clean Reading website, as are their location.  The status of your case is updated by email and also online.  The website is here: http://loveclean.reading.gov.uk/Reports

You can also use the website to report things.

'Council To Trial Free 'Love Clean Reading' App

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Reading Borough Council is inviting a group of local residents to help
trial a free new 'app' which will allow people to report things like
litter, graffiti or flytipping direct to the Council whilst they are out
and about.

The new app   called 'Love Clean Reading'   is a quick and easy way for
residents to help the Council keep their local neighbourhood clean by
taking photos of litter, fly tipping, dog mess or graffiti they come
across. All they have to do is take a picture and then use the
downloaded app on their smartphone or tablet to send it directly to the
Council's Sreetcare Team.

27 Oct 2012

Fun at Fridayfest

I was very kindly invited to Fridayfest at the University of Readings Institute of Education yesterday.  It was a day full of arts activities for local primary aged children.  Geoffrey Field, Emmer Green and Katesgrove children were there.

I first visited the music session with Geoffrey Feild children and they were a very well behaved bunch.  They learned about rhythm and how to make sounds without instruments. 

The second session was puppet making with Katesgrove.  Another well behaved group with great imagination!  The puppets were made from newspapers and they had to 'breathe'.  Some of the puppets danced, sang and one swam!

I didn't get to see a session with Emmer Green.

Overall it was a great afternoon and the children clearly enjoyed themselves.  Many thanks for the invitation!

25 Oct 2012

Do You Have 'Environment Fatigue'?

The environment has been important to me for as long as I can remember.  Aspects of my degree covered environmental impact and management and how environmental and agricultural issues interact and I have still remained interested in the scientific side of environmental new ever since.

I am a member of the Woodland Trust and was interested to read this blog by The Woodland Trust on how this government is failing to be 'The Greenest Government Ever' and how, during difficult financial times, people turn away from environmental issues:

'The report concludes that there is a combination of growing pressures from the recession and an increasing scepticism about environmental issues, particularly climate change – there is a rising sense of “environment fatigue”.'

I do what I can to mitigate my families impact on the environment including using cloth nappies, recycling all we can and using detergents that do not harm the aquatic environment.  The nappies are a big money saver but other eco-friendly products can be expensive and I can understand that, with food and fuel prices rising, economy in the household budget is vital.  It is in my household!

 In regard to scepticism about environmental issues, some are a 'no-brainer'.  We can't keep dumping our waste in holes in the ground - we will run out of space!  I am also pretty convinced the climate is changing.  The last few years have produced some frankly bizarre weather (see this article) and, right now, my daffodils seem to believe it's spring. 

I definitely don't have environment fatigue but is this the case with you?  Have your environmental priorities changed?  Are you sceptical about environmental issues?  Do you have environment fatigue?  I'd be interested to know how many others feel the same.

My daffodils, taken this morning.  It's not spring!

20 Oct 2012

Save Money On Your Energy Bills!

So the big energy companies are increasing their prices again.  That, combined with rising food costs because of the wet summer, means we are all facing increases in the cost of living.  It is starting to feel a little relentless as we also watch fuel prices go up as well and residents who are in the Thames Water region facing a price hike in water bills in the next couple of years too.

You can do something to ensure you are paying no more than you need to.

The Labour Party have launched Switch Together to help people club together to negotiate a cheaper deal on energy prices.

Reading Borough Council are taking part in 'Big Energy Saving Week' 22-29 October.  This is a national campaign to help people with their energy costs through energy saving advice and how to make sure you are getting the best energy deal.

You can also use the many price comparison websites.  One thing that won't save you money is doing nothing.

Cut Your Energy Bill in 'Big Energy Saving Week'

'Reading Borough Council Press Release

Residents struggling to cope with spiralling energy costs are being urged to take a few simple steps to help them slash their bills and put money back in their pockets.

17 Oct 2012

Tim Starkey: Candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner Thames Valley

Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley

In November of this year you will have the opportunity to vote for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Police Area. The Home Office state that Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will
  • ensure the policing needs of their communities are met as effectively as possible,
  • bring communities closer to the police,
  • build confidence in the system and restore trust.
PCCs will make and influence key decisions that will impact on how your local area looks and feels – from CCTV, street lighting and graffiti to tackling gangs and drug-dealing.
Reading Council’s Crime and Disorder Partnership (CSP) are providing residents, businesses and organisations a chance to ask the candidates questions directly on issues that affect them on 24th October at Reading Town Hall.
The election is on Thursday 15th November.

More details will be available soon.

The Labour candidate for this vital position of power over how our town will be policed into the future is Tim Starkey, his key priorities are:

Protect The Operational Independence Of The Police
Who to investigate, arrest and charge must be decided by Police Officers not politicians

Put Victims At The Heart Of The Criminal Justice System
Protect Victim Support

Fight The Cuts
20% cuts to police funding are criminal! Stop further cuts to Police numbers in Thames Valley

Stop Police Privatisation
Outsourcing patrolling our streets to private firms like G4S is not the answer!

Create A More Efficient Service
Use technology to reduce bureaucracy and keep victims/witnesses better informed

Keep Decision Making Local
Give local communities the power to decide police priorities in their area

More information can be found on his website here and you can follow him on Twitter

We urge to make sure you cast your vote in this important election.

From www.redlandslabour.org.uk

13 Oct 2012

NAG Public Meeting: Prostitution

Prostitution on the Oxford Road is still a  major concern for residents and for Battle councillors.  We have brought this up at the NAG and in scrutiny at the council.  We have been told the number of girls is increasing in part due to welfare reforms which is shocking and sad.  Help is being offered to streetworkers to help them move away from this kind of work and there are successes.

The Oxford Road NAG will be holding a further meeting for residents to discuss progress on Wednesday 17 October 2012 at Oxford Road Primary School from 7.30 - 8.30pm. At this meeting Jo Daley, Reading Borough Council’s (RBCs) anti-social behaviour (ASB) manager, will be providing an update on the feedback on diary sheets. The police will also be able to answer concerns raised by residents.
 Any residents who would like diary sheets sent to them can either contact Jo Anderson at RBC on 0118 937 4258 or they can use the contact us option on the Oxford Road NAG webpage, http://www.uknags.org.uk/

8 Oct 2012

Let's Talk Education: We Want To Hear Your Views

As the parent of a reception age child I know only too well the anxiety and worry school allocation caused this year. The shortage of places was predicted but the location of these shortages was not. It quickly became apparent there was a problem in Battle and the Oxford Road corridor and I ensured the concerns of parents were made known in the various meetings I attended while the bulge classes were identified and transport problems resolved.

It was suggested early on that a good subject for Let's Talk would be education and school places are an ongoing challenge. The event in Battle is Thursday 25 October at 4pm at Oxford Road Community School, 146 Oxford Road, RG1 7P. I urge as many people to attend as possible as this is a very important subject.

If you are unable to attend please complete the survey.  I have included the link in the top right hand corner.  Just click Let's Talk Education.  Battle is in the Central West planning area.

Please see below the press release from Reading Borough Council:

5 Oct 2012

What's on at Battle Library?

We popped into the library to change the boys books today and I picked up a 'What's on for you at Battle Library' leaflet.  I knew a few of the things they offer but was impressed by the variety of activities.  Here are a few:

Coffee Morning every 3rd Thursday 10.30-11.30 with guest speakers.

Coffee and Craft every Tuesday 9.30-10.30 where you can have a coffee and a natter over your crochet/knitting etc

The National Careers Service are at the library every Monday and Friday offering free careers and skills advice.  Call 0800195 4700 for an appointment.  www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

SATS Study Club for year 6 pupils Tuesdays in term-time 3.30-4.45.  Booking essential.

Saturday Storytime11.30-12

Thames Valley Sling Babies for advice on babywearing, slings and cloth nappies. www.thamesvalleyslingbabies.co.uk

There are loads of other things.  Call 0118 901100 or go to www.reading.gov.uk/libraries for more info or speak to a member of staff.

22 Sept 2012

Updates from our Neighbourhood Police Team

I get sent an update from the Neighbourhood Police team on a monthly basis.  This information isn't just for councillors but available to everyone.  You can access this information on their website:

Oxford Road North

Oxford Road South

I also have the links in the 'Links I Like' section on the right.

These updates let you know what has been going on in our area, as you can't always see what the Neighbourhood Police team are doing, and gives useful information and contact details.  I have copied the update below:

Oxford Road North and South Monthly Update – September

Here is the latest update from the Oxford Road North and South Neighbourhood Police Teams from Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Paul Franklin:

Neighbourhood Priorities

The neighbourhood priorities set by the Oxford Road Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) are as follows:-

•Burglaries (Oxford Road North only)
•Litter (Oxford Road North and South)
•Drug Dealing (Oxford Road North and South)
•Prostitution (Oxford Road South only)

Between June and August there was a small increase in burglaries around the Oxford Road South area when compared to the same period in 2010-2011. The Oxford Road North area had slightly less. Since the start of August there have been a few burglaries on Elm Park Road which have been occurring in the afternoon/ evening time. There have not been any patterns of burglary for the Oxford Road North area.
If you would like us to carry out a free crime prevention survey of your home, contact the team on the new non-emergency number 101, or via our email addresses below.

The Oxford Road NAG has been contacted by West Village Residents Association about fly tipping in the Valentia Road/Valentia Close area.
 If any residents see fly tipping happening, they should report the date, time and any details of the vehicle or persons doing the fly tipping to Reading Borough Council via the Contact Form on the homepage, http://www.reading.gov.uk/ or by calling free phone number, 0800 834 035. REMEMBER, YOUR COUNCIL TAX IS PAYING FOR THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FLYTIPPING.
 For residents, landlords or businesses within the Borough who want to find out about the bulk waste collection service you can look on Reading Borough Council webpage, http://www.reading.gov.uk/ and then from the homepage select residents, rubbish and recycling information and then bulky waste collections or you can call free phone number, 0800 834 035.

You can also report litter and fly tipping problems by texting the Council GROT number 81722.
Fly tipping containing hazardous materials or incidents involving pollution of drains or watercourses should be reported to the Environment Agency - www.environment-agency.gov.uk (opens new window). Their Incident Hotline is 0800 807060

Drug dealing
Between June and August 2012 the amount of drug related incidents recorded has decreased slightly for both the Oxford Road South and North areas when compared to the same period last year. Since the start of August there have been a couple of incidents in the area of Liebenrood Road for the Oxford Road South and Beresford Road for the North.
Reading User Forum (RUF) is running a Community Syringe Patrol pilot which covers the Oxford Road area and town centre.  If there is a problem with drug paraphernalia litter residents can contact them on 07708 757 416 or email ruf@sent.com and they will come and have look.

RUF are also happy to give talks about drugs and related issues. RUF is open to all drug users.  The group was formed in 2004 and is made up of ex substance users and current users at every level of treatment in Reading.
If you suspect any drug activity near you, please report it by calling Thames Valley Police on 101 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. 

The Oxford Road team have been carrying out operations to tackle prostitution which has led to one male being considered for the change course and a number of women given cautions.
The Oxford Road Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) are pleased with the response from local residents about the increase number of reports to them and the police about prostitution.  But we still need residents to report prostitutes and kerb crawlers. 

The Oxford Road NAG will be holding a further meeting for residents to discuss progress on Wednesday 17 October 2012 at Oxford Road Primary School from 7.30 - 8.30pm. At this meeting Jo Daley, Reading Borough Council’s (RBCs) anti-social behaviour (ASB) manager, will be providing an update on the feedback on diary sheets. The police will also be able to answer concerns raised by residents.

 Any residents who would like diary sheets sent to them can either contact Jo Anderson at RBC on 0118 937 4258 or they can use the contact us option on the Oxford Road NAG webpage, http://www.uknags.org.uk/

19 Sept 2012

Reading RESCUE - will you join in?

Once again Reading Rescue is swinging into action.  I was lucky enough to join a group this time last year (see here).  It's a great way to get involved with helping your local environment  Please see the below press release for more information:

'Business and Community groups Spring to Reading's RESCUE for Autumn clean-up.

Reading Borough Council Press Release

The waterways and woodlands of Reading will be the focus for a dozen clean up teams during a major two-day clear up of Reading's rubbish hotspots.

The Rivers and Environmental Spaces Clean Up Event (RESCUE) will take place on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October. Hundreds of volunteers from Reading businesses and voluntary groups will take part in the massive litter pick.

This follows a similar RESCUE event in March which saw 30 community and business teams giving up their time to remove unsightly and sometimes hazardous rubbish from some of Reading's most beautiful wild spots. They managed to clear up around four tonnes of rubbish. And last Autumn, 130 volunteers cleared 17 miles of towpaths during the RESCUE event.

Thames Water is keen to sponsor this new water focussed event and will be starting the clean up a day early on Thursday 11th with a team of 150 volunteers to pick up litter along the River Thames and surrounding areas. The Council is co-ordinating the clean up teams and lending litter pickers, bags and gloves to the volunteers. If you are keen to get involved, contact www.readingrescue.org.uk or check out the facebook group 'Reading RESCUE 2012'.

Paul Gittings, Reading's Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change, said: 'We're looking forward to another successful RESCUE event with the Council working in partnership with volunteers from the community and business giving up their time to do this vital work. Thank you all!

'Reading RESCUE is a valuable event for the borough   annually we have around 1,000 volunteers taking part to keep their local areas clear of rubbish for everyone to enjoy. And this popular event isn't just about litter, it brings communities together to make a positive difference to where they live,' he added.

Karen Rudkin, Thames Water's Community Investment Co-ordinator, said: 'We're now celebrating five years of sponsoring the bi-annual RESCUE clean up event. In March our employees worked at three separate locations - The Coal Wood, Island Road and Rose Kiln Lane areas - and accumulated an impressively large haul of rubbish in a little over three hours.''

15 Sept 2012

Time for our MP’s to get off the fence on Equal Marriage says Reading Labour

Reading & District Labour Party Media Release 
12 September 2012

It’s time for Reading’s two Tory MPs to get off the fence when it comes to Equal Marriage says Reading Labour LGBT Officer, Richard Wood. 

At last weekend’s Reading Pride, Reading Labour together with LGBT Labour and Reading Young Labour asked people to fill in and sign letters (see attached) calling on local MPs Rob Wilson and Alok Sharma to vote in favour of the Equal Marriage bill when it is brought before parliament.

Richard Wood commented “We had a fantastic reaction at the stall, over 200 people signed the letters calling on Alok Sharma and Rob Wilson to commit to voting in favour of the bill. It was clear from the feedback we got that people feel the time has come, countries such as Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden all allow same sex-marriage and recently the Democratic Party in the US, lead by President Obama, has committed itself to introduce legislation.”

Cllr Tony Page, Deputy Leader of Reading Borough Council, who represented the Labour Group on the march and at Pride, commented “I’m delighted Richard got such a positive reaction to his campaign, I agree with him that time has come for us to move forward on this issue and provide true equality in marriage, I am also extremely gratified that so many of my colleagues have also signed.”
Labour Councillors who have signed letters to their MPs include Cllrs. Lovelock, Page, Davies, Eden, K.Edwards,  Ennis, Gavin,  Hacker, Hoskin, P. Jones, T. Jones, Khan, Livingston, Maskell, McElligott, Rodda, Ruhemann, Terry, Tickner, Williams, and Woodward.

 Richard Wood comments “I’ll be delivering the letters to the offices of Alok Sharma and Rob Wilson next week and hopefully we may finally get a response from them on how they intend to vote”.

13 Sept 2012

Zombies At Battle Library - Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

I love Battle Library.  From Rhymetime to homework clubs it offers a variety of interesting groups and talks.  Imagine my delight when I received this press release from Reading Borough Council:

Zombie History Lesson at Battle Library

On Saturday 24 November there'll be zombie experts telling you how to survive a zombie attack, tales of zombies from around the world and a free 'Little Monsters' session 10.30-12 with craft, stories and a face-painter amongst other things.


12 Sept 2012

Very Excited About Strictly

To say I am a Strictly Come Dancing fan would be a lie. I am, in fact, a super fan.  I've loved the series since it began and I am so excited about this years line up.  See here for as list of those taking part.

I've danced since I was 6.  Mainly ballet but I also did ballroom and latin at the County School of Dancing in Southampton Street until I was 16.  Must find a way to get famous so I can go on Strictly......

7 Sept 2012

An Important Consultation For All: Council Tax Benefit

The way people received Council Tax Benefit is set to change with local councils devising their own schemes when Council Tax Benefit is abolished.  The amount of money available to pay this benefit is being cut by 10%.  Reading Borough Council are launching a consultation on how the benefit it paid.

The on-line questionnaire can be reached here.

For full information on the consultation, including how these changes may effect you if your receive Council Tax benefit, please see here.

This potentially effects everyone, not just those currently receiving the benefit.  No-one knows what the future holds so everyone's views are important.  With pay rises a rare event these days, and with the cost of food and fuel forever on the increase, how people are going to afford these changes is yet to be explained by our Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition Government.

'Have Your Say on Council Tax Benefit Changes

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Reading residents are being asked to respond to an important questionnaire following the Government's decision to abolish the current Council Tax Benefit scheme.

The questionnaire is being sent out as a direct result of the Government's decision to scrap the current Council Tax Benefit scheme as part of it's wider welfare reform changes. This means it will now fall to local authorities like Reading to design their own Council Tax Support scheme for those of working age on low income.

In addition, as of April 2013 the Government is cutting the funding it provides to all local authorities for Council Tax support by 10% nationally. In Reading a 10% cut would equate to around £1.2million shortfall in funding.

Given that the money Reading Borough Council receives from Central Government has been cut substantially since May 2010 - and looks set to reduce even more in future years - the Council is unable to cover the estimated shortfall in funding without impacting directly on frontline services.

The Council believes the fairest way of managing this shortfall is to spread the impact as fairly as possible. It has therefore designed a local scheme which aims to spread the funding shortfall as fairly as possible across the remaining working age benefit recipients. Pensioners are protected from any reduction in entitlement.

A questionnaire outlining the proposals is available online and will be posted out over the next month to all working age people in Reading who currently receive Council Tax Benefit and who will be affected by the proposed change. It is not limited to current claimants however - any Reading resident can respond.

The initial proposal being put forward for consultation would mean:

- In the future, because of the cut in Government money, entitlement to benefit will be assessed on 85% of Council Tax rather than 100%. This will mean that some claimants on very low incomes who previously paid nothing, will now have to make a contribution to their Council Tax while others will receive less benefit.

- Working age benefit claimants deemed to have savings of £3,000 and over in the tax year in which they claim council tax support, will not be eligible for help for the whole of that tax year.

- Abolishing the second adult rebate scheme. This scheme helps people who receive single person discount - even though they may have a very high income - who face an increase in payments when a second person moves into their home, but is unable to contribute to the Council Tax. This is considered unfair when other council tax payers on low incomes will face a reduction in the support they receive under the proposed council tax support scheme.

The Council is also proposing a discretionary special hardship fund as part its Council Tax Support scheme to help people who may face exceptional and extra ordinary difficulties in paying their council tax. This would only be available where a person is receiving some level of council tax support.

Reading Borough Council is now consulting on those proposals and is keen to hear feedback from Current Council Tax Benefit claimants, and indeed any Reading resident who has a view.

People can visit www.reading.gov.uk/ctconsultation to share their views. For people that are Council Tax Benefit claimants, they can fill in and return the questionnaire that is being sent out.

For people who do not have access to the internet at home, they can call our Customer Services Team on 0118 937 2150, and request a paper copy of the consultation, or pick up a copy from the Civic Centre. The closing date for consultation responses is October 31st.

As part of the consultation process, Reading Borough Council is also engaging with a number of voluntary sector organisations and other interested parties known to have local expertise in the benefits system to ensure that they have an opportunity to express their views on our proposed scheme.

Once the consultation is complete the feedback will be collated and a report will then be developed and considered by the Council's Cabinet in November 2012. Under Government requirements, all Council's are expected to have a new scheme in place by January 31 2013 to take effect from April 1 2013.

Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said: 'This additional cut in Government funding for Reading will affect people on low incomes who already struggle to make ends meet. The Council is trying to devise a way of dealing with this problem as fairly as possible for all those affected, but if people have other ideas on how to make these unwelcome changes work we hope they will respond to this consultation.''

5 Sept 2012

More good news on dog fouling in #rdg

As I reported here,  Kensington Park in Battle was targeted as part of an anti-dog fouling campaign.  It's good to hear further irresponsible dog owners have been caught and fined for not cleaning up after their dog.  It's simple, you go out with your dog, you should be prepared to pick up after them.

'Reading Continues to Get Tough on Dog Mess

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Up to five dog owners have now been caught and fined for not picking up after their pets.

Reading Borough Council's high-profile campaign to combat dog poo has encouraged local residents - including law abiding dog owners - to report incidents of fouling which Council officers have then acted on. This has resulted in 5 fixed penalty notices of £75 being issued to offenders to date.

Offenders have been caught in Kensington Park, outside a school in Wensley Road and Whitley Wood Road - all areas identified as fouling hotspots.

The fines were served under The Fouling of Land by Dogs (Reading) Order 2011 which was introduced by the Council last year. It is hoped it will act as a warning to other dog owners to always ensure they have a bag with them to clear up after their pets when they are out and about on walks.
Over the past few weeks the Council's Dog Warden Service and the Street Care Environment Team have together been touring various parts of Reading as part of an on-going education campaign on the need for dog owners to clear up after their pets. It follows last year's 'We Need To Talk' Council consultation which highlighted dog mess as one of the major gripes residents wanted strong action on.

Dog wardens and the Street Care team have already visited the Whitley, Kensington Park, Newtown and Coley areas, talking to residents, spray painting mess and handing out poop scoops to highlight the extent of this messy problem. The team will visit Tilehurst (Bromley Walk area) during the week beginning the September 10, with the main event day taking place on the 12th September.

Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Gittings, said: 'We never want to see people fined for such a preventable problem, but we really hate to see our neighbourhoods covered in dog mess. It doesn't take much effort to clean up after our pets and that is all we ask. This tour has been a fantastic success and I hope residents will recognise a positive difference in the near future..'

The dog owners now has 2 weeks to pay the fine. If it is not paid the Council can take legal action through the Magistrates Court with a possible fine of up to £1,000.'

1 Sept 2012

The growing season comes to an end...

Well I harvested the last of my potatoes last night.  I have been more successful than I thought.  The potatoes have been great.  They are Charlottes grown in bags and I have had loads.  I chose them because they are my favourite salad potato and I guessed it would save a bit of money growing them myself.  I got enough to say I have made a saving!

Another success has been the runner beans despite slugs and snails doing their best to scupper me.  They are variety White Lady and are still going strong.  The beans are tender and tasty even if they get big.  No strings or 'toenails'.  I am definitely growing them again next year.

My blueberries, strawberries and raspberries have done well but I am still go get a courgette a decent size without losing half to those pesky mini beasts!  The rhubarb, which I thought I had killed last year, has already provided a crumbles worth and has another crop ready.

Not having much space means I have to think hard about what to grow.  I am going to try and squeeze in another crop of potatoes but the winter months don't provide much.  I have some tiny cabbages still growing so fingers crossed I get to harvest them in a few weeks.

22 Aug 2012

We love Rhymetime so we'll see you on Friday!

I am going to be at Rhymetime on Friday, partly for fun, but also to speak to those attending. 

It was brought to Battle Coucillors attention that attendance was to be limited to 60 adults per session.  We met with the library team to talk about this as we don't want to see people being turned away from a library activity.  It's tough enough getting our of the house with babies and toddlers in tow without it being a wasted journey.

The boys and I will be having a good sing then staying after the 10.30-11 session to talk to people about this proposal and any other local issues they may have.  I've said before that we are trying a few new things this year and this will mean we get to speak to a new group of people.