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School funding cuts shouldn't deny children a full and varied education

School funding is being cut - there's little doubt about that.  Funding changes and increased costs mean schools in Reading have less mo...

30 Jan 2012

Healthy Living Event To Be Held in Town

19/01/2012
Reading Borough Council Press Release

A healthy living event is taking place in the town on Wednesday, February 8th.

People who live and work in Reading can go along to the Civic Offices from 10.30am-1.30pm, where adult social care and health professionals will be on hand to offer advice to those with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, breathing problems and joint pain.

There will be free blood pressure checks and screening for diabetes.

From 10.30am-12.30pm, a series of lifestyle presentations will take place, led by Citizens' Advice Bureau, Arthritis Care, Diabetes UK, The Stroke Association and NHS Berkshire.

The event has been organised by Reading's Physical Disabilities and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN)   a group which aims to improve the quality of life for people with physical disabilities, neurological conditions and sensory loss.

Mike Orton, lead councillor for adult social care, said: 'It is really important people take care of their health. This event is a good way for people who have long term health conditions to check themselves out and ask health professionals any questions.'

The PDSN Network is an organisation made up of adult social care service users, carers, representatives from national charities and local user-led organisations. This event will help people to improve their lives by seeing how they improve their health by changes in life style.

Regular meetings take place four times a year alongside special events and conferences focusing on issues of particular interest or concern for people with physical and/or sensory disabilities and their carers.

For more information call Nina Crispin on (0118) 937 2383 or email housingccstrategyteam@reading.gov.uk

29 Jan 2012

Sometimes it pays to look up.

It's so easy to bustle about, getting on with life, and miss some truly beautiful things simply because you dodn't look up.  I was in Battle Library on Thursday and, while waiting to get the baby weighed, noticed this stunning stained glass:




I have been told by a very reliable source that they depict the arms of Reading Abbey, Reading Borough and the University College, Reading, ( later the University of Reading ).  I've been in and out of Battle Library for the last 30 years and never really noticed it.  What else have I missed?

22 Jan 2012

Cow Lane bridge nearly finished!

Here's a brilliant time-lapse video showing the entire construction of the new Cow Lane bridge.  The works are on track and the bridge will open on 30 January at 6am.  Although the change for motorists will be small at this stage (you could just about get two cars side by side under the old bridge), pedestrians will benefit immediately with a pavement where, before, you had to dodge traffic.  The traffic on the Oxford Road should also return to normal - phew!




17 Jan 2012

Grit, urea and the winter plan

Last Thursday was the Transport Users Forum - open to all.  This time there was an excellent presentation on the winter plan Reading Borough Council puts in place for the winter season.  I found it very interesting and, if it weren't for my banana bread and soda bread, I would have popped a post on about it earlier. You can get more information by searching for 'winter gritting' on the council's website.

Here are a few of the facts about the winter plan:
  • We have 1200 tonnes of salt in stock at the beginning of the season.
  • 40% of the highway network is treated in the event of ivy/snowy weather. It takes 2 hours to complete the primary routes and a further hour for the secondary routes.
  • Salt is only effective up to -7C.
  • The spread rate of the salt depends on the weather forecast 10g/m2 is the normal amount but they spread 20g/m2 if prolonged icy or snowy weather is forecast.
  • They get a forecast at midday then an update at 7 in the evening.  These forecasts help them decide if the gritters are to be sent out.
  • If prolonged cold weather or snow is forecast urea is spread in the pedestrianised areas of the town centre. It is either extracted from animal urine or synthetic.  It forms a gel that lasts three days and stops ice forming and snow settling.  If needed it will then be swept away and re-applied.
  • There is a new Vaisala weather station outside Battle Library to measure urban road/surface temperature, dewpoint, humidity, air temperature and rainfall to help get more accurate forecast for Reading.  It will be fully operational shortly.
I thought this was CCTV and wondered why it was pointing at the floor!
 All in all a lot of work goes into ensuring the roads of Reading remain safe and usable.  I really do recommend coming along to a Transport Users Forum as the presentations made are very interesting!



13 Jan 2012

I am going to get into baking!

I would say I am a pretty good cook and most of our meals are 'from scratch' (to quote a good friend).  I do your usual family meals - roasts, sausage and mash, spaghetti, chilli plus a few more exotic risottos and paellas thrown in for variety.  The perfect curry still eludes me though so I usually cheat with a ready made sauce.  One thing I rarely do is bake.  If you make a tasty cake you have to eat it don't you?  Not good for the waistline.

Well this year I have decided to embrace my inner domestic goddess and take up baking.  I shall just bake things that can be eaten sensibly or as part of a main meal.  I have just baked a rather good chocolate and banana bread, inspired by the Great British Bake-off and a baking book from my parents.  So pleased with how it's turned out:


The oven is still on so I am going to bake a soda bread to go with our stew instead of potatoes. So expect the random posts of 2012 to be about baking as well as gardening!

UPDATED: The soda bread, lemon drizzle cake and shortbread

9 Jan 2012

Good news for Readings voluntary sector

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Voluntary and community groups across Reading are set to benefit from an increase in funding from Reading Borough Council over the coming year..

Despite the difficult economic climate, in Reading the Council plans to continue to increase money going towards the voluntary and community sector from a budgeted £12,596,403 million in the current year, to £12,637,584 in financial year 2012/13.

6 Jan 2012

Working Better With You - Battle

Last year Reading Borough Council held a series of Let's Talk events.  There was an on-line survey, leaflet, letters were sent out and two events held in every ward.  This all culminated in the Working Better With You event at the Town Hall in November.

It was during this event that the priorities for Reading residents were revealed.  The feed back from Let's Talk can be found as a pdf at the bottom of this page.

The priorities in Battle were found to be:

Important: Health services, libraries, public transport,
education and play activities for children

Improve: Tougher licensing laws for shops selling
alcohol cheaply, removal of street drinking around
Oxford Road.

While setting the budget for 2012/2013 the Labour administration have had the priorities of residents at the forefront of their minds.  Funds are tight and it's important that valued services are maintained and protected wherever possible.

Battle councillors Chris Maskell, Gul Khan (also our candidate in May's local elections) and I are already taking the results above very seriously.

Residents say health services are important but we have all just found out the promised medical centre on the former hospital sit will not be built.  Battle councillors have expressed their anger and concern about this massive disappointment and will be working hard to ensure residents concerns are taken seriously.

We are also considering the future of the Oxford Road once the Cow Lane bottle neck has been removed in 2015.  The road has already been resurfaced and unnecessary street furniture removed.  We are now looking for further improvements in the next few years.

We are working with local police and the Oxford Road Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) about concerns with public drinking, alcohol sales and street workers near West Reading bridge.

There are many other things we are working on for the neighbourhood as a whole, certain areas and individuals.  If you need our assistance, please get in touch.

3 Jan 2012

Sometimes it's the small things

A councillors work is varied - from ensuring roads are resurfaced and libraries refurbished to getting missed bins collected and dog waste bins installed.

This dog waste bin in Little Johns Lane was installed in the last few months because residents were concerned about dog fouling.  I asked if a bin could be provided, and it was.  Let's hope those walking their dogs use it.
Small projects like dog waste bins are just as important as the larger problems and projects because they are important to residents and are therefore important to me.

1 Jan 2012

Happy New Year!





Wishing you all a peaceful New Year.  

Battle councillors Chris Maskell, Gul Khan and I will continue to work hard for Battle residents.  If you have a suggestion, concern or need some help please do get in touch.  Our contact details are here or you are welcome to come to one of our surgeries at Battle library - the first of the year being Saturday 7 January 10.30-12.  Further dates are on the left hand side of this page.