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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 May 2012

Oxford Rd gaming centre refused #rdg

Just back from planning and I am pleased to say the gaming centre on the Oxford Road was refused planning permission with a unanimous vote.  There were several local residents who spoke against the gaming centre as did a representative from Christian Community Action.  Cllr Khan and I spoke against the centre in our capacity as local residents and elected representatives.  People highlighted their concern that the centre would attract anti-social behaviour and was inappropriate in an area where young families live.

Cllr Maskell, who is on the planning committee, spoke about his concerns that, after many years of hard work from residents, the council, cllrs and police, the problems with drink, drugs, anti-social behaviour and prostitution would start creeping back if developments like the gaming centre were allowed.  He said the application was 'at the wrong time and in the wrong place'.

The refusal has to be based on policy and the following policy was one of the reasons for refusal: developments will be assessed to ensure that they 'create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder or fear of crime does not undermine quality of life or community cohesion.'

29 May 2012

Civic office move approved and the Conservatives

After a short Council meeting (I say short, these usually go on past 11pm) it has been agreed by Labour, Lib Dems and Greens to move the civic offices to Plaza West - the lowest cost option compared to staying where we are, or moving to RG2 (formerly Yell).

The Conservatives had an odd evening.  They tabled an amendment complaining that the Labour Group had made their decision public. They claimed it made tonights meeting pointless as there would be no meaningful debate and opportunity to change peoples' minds. They then went on to say, had we not made our decision public, they would have supported us by choosing Plaza West.  If they were supporting Plaza West, as we were, where would the debate be and whose minds were they changing?

They went on to abstain from one of the biggest, most far-reaching decisions the Council has made recently.  A decision on where we will provide services for the public, offices and a nursery for staff and democratic space for the Council for the next 25 years plus. It's hardly representing the people who voted for them.  Toys from prams?

27 May 2012

Latest Into Battle and a thank you from Cllr Khan

Here is a copy of our latest Into Battle, at the printers as I type. Paper copies will be delivered to Battle residents shortly.  Click on the picture to read the full newsletter.

26 May 2012

Missing seeds and mildew

Well, what a slow start to the gardening year this has been.  After March's nice weather I planted loads of seeds, for myself and some for a local playgroup who will be selling the plants to raise money at the Oxford Road Fun Day.  I waited, and waited, then poked at the compost with the label, then waited some more. 

Over the past few weeks seedlings started to emerge but only those in my little growhouses.  Cue more poking about to discover all my peas had rotted and several courgette and bean seeds had vanished altogether.  Eaten?  I am now on my third sowing of peas and second of carrots.  Fingers crossed they grow.

Things have improved over the past fortnight and this glorious sunny weather has given things a much needed boost.  More veg has been planted for the playgroup and there should be a good number of plants for them to sell in just over a month. 

My garden is now full.  I have courgettes, a squash, french beans, runner beans, cabbages, carrots, loads of potatoes in bags, garlic, peas and my fruit.  I seem to have lost a blueberry to the bad weather though.  I also appear to have planted mangetout by accident and have nowhere to put them.  Tricky.

As well as my plants being at the fun day, Battle councillors will be there too.  More on that to follow.

24 May 2012

Oxford Rd closed overnight 25-26 May #rdg

The Oxford Road, by West Reading Bridge, will be closed overnight from midnight Friday 25 May until 5am Saturday 26 May while emergency bridge repairs are made.

A fully signed diversion route will be in place as follows:

From the West

  • Turn right on to Grovelands Road
  • Turn left on to Water Road
  • Turn left on to Tilehurst Road
  • Turn left on to Russell Street
  • Turn left on to Oxford Road (diversion ends)

From the East

From Chatham Street on to Bedford Road:

  • Lane 2 of Bedford Road (southbound) closed, all traffic forced left on to Oxford Road
  • Turn right on to Russell Street
  • Follow reverse of diversion ‘from the West’
For information on bus diversions please see here.

23 May 2012

'Mayor Making' tonight - the Council's AGM

Today was the first full Council meeting since the local elections and it the Council's AGM.

The new Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected - this year Cllr Jenny Rynn was elected Mayor and Cllr Deborah Edwards Deputy Mayor.  It was nice ceremony with speeches from the outgoing Mayor and Deputy Mayor and for the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor. 

This is my 5th Mayor Making as I attended my Dad, Cllr Chris Maskell, becoming Deputy Mayor and Mayor before I was elected as a councillor.  This will be my 3rd as a councillor.

Membership of committees, forums and groups were also formalised along with lead councillor appointments.  This year I am:

Labour Group Chair
Art Forum Chair
Deputy lead cllr for Culture & Sport
Transport Management Advisory Panel (TMAP)
Internal Overview & Scrutiny Commission (IOSC)

Talk to Celebrate 19th Century Hero

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Come and discover the life and unusual adventures of the inspirational Ada Lovelace at Battle Library, Oxford Road .

Sew Charman-Anderson- a journalist and social media expert, who has written for the Guardian and Forbes.com- will be giving a talk on this 19th Century pioneer on Thursday 31st May at 7:30pm.

Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron, a keen mathematician and the author of what many consider to be the first computer programme.

This talk is part of Ada Lovelace Day, which was founded in 2009 by Mrs Sew Charman-Anderson. The day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in technology, science, engineering and maths. With grassroots events held around the world and thousands of people writing and talking about the women who have inspired them, the day seeks to raise women's profiles and highlight unsung heroines.

Reading Borough Council's Lead Member for Culture and Sport, Councillor Marian Livingston, said: 'This event is a wonderful opportunity for people to find out about the life of a true pioneer. The fact Ada Lovelace achieved so much at such as a woman in the 1800's is a testament to her talent. I implore residents to come along and share this knowledge with Mrs Charman-Anderson.

Tickets to this event cost £3 and are available at Reading Central Library and Battle Library. For more information please contact Battle Library at 0118 901 5100

17 May 2012

Teddy Bears Picnic Rhymetime - yay!

After the huge success of the Christmas Rhymetime in the Hexagon, Reading Libraries are going to be running a summertime version.  I am so pleased as we really enjoyed the Christmas one.  It did involve me tearing across town from work and back again but it was worth it.  My youngest thought it was great.

It will be taking place on Wednesday 13th June at 10.30 near the bandstand.  Children, their carers and their teddies are invited along for about half an hour of songs and the chance to have a picnic (bring your own) in the lovely gardens.

Fingers crossed the weather is kind and I'll see you there!

15 May 2012

We need more hiring, not more firing

We need more hiring not more firing

 This is an extract from http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/page/s/hiring-not-firing.  It is a campaign I am supporting as a trade unionist and citizen -

'After a drubbing in the local elections, and with millions of people unemployed, we might have expected this Government to come up with some ideas to get people back into work.

But instead, in the Queen’s Speech, the Tories and Lib Dems have put forward a collection of policies to make it easier for employers to sack people.

Increasing job insecurity is not a path out of the recession. We need people in good, secure jobs, spending in the local economy - not more people on the dole, and millions more saving instead of spending, as they are worried about whether their job is safe.

Will you sign our letter to David Cameron and Vince Cable telling them they’ve got it wrong?
Dear Dave and Vince, are you really listening?

Your plans in the Queen’s Speech to make it even easier to put people out of work show that your Government has got its priorities back to front.

2.65 million people in the UK are out of work – your Government should have a plan to create jobs, not to make it easier to sack people.

You’ve already taken away protection from unfair dismissal from millions of people by raising the threshold to two years. The changes you are making to tribunals will make it even harder for people who have been treated unfairly at work to get justice.

Increasing job insecurity is not a path out of the recession. We need people in good, secure jobs, spending in the local economy - not more people on the dole, and millions more saving instead of spending, as they are worried about whether their job is safe.

After the local election results, both your Parties promised you are listening. If you really are listening, then start focusing on the real priority – getting people into work, not making it easier to put people out of work.

From the working people of Britain

12 May 2012

Art Network Event

Reading Borough Council Press Release

The Cultural Partnership will be hosting an Art Network event on Wednesday 30th May, 6.00pm-7.30pm at South Street Arts Centre. The network event will provide the opportunity for all local art individuals' organisations and community groups to come together and find out about national and local arts projects and agenda's.

The key note speaker for the event will be Vidya Thirunarayan- Arts Council South East, Combined Arts & Touring Relationship Manager. Vidya Thirunarayan, Combined Arts & Touring Relationship Manager, has 20 years of experience in the arts sector, reflecting her broad and eclectic interests. She was the founder Artistic Director of Sankalpam, a national touring company, and has worked as a choreographer, performer, tutor, board member, mentor, and advisor.

To book your place on the network event you must register at www.theculturalpartnership.com and e-mail theculturalpartnership@reading.gov.uk or phone 01189374046 to book your place.

Reading Borough Council's Lead Member for Culture and Sport, Cllr Livingston, said: 'We have a talented, passionate and unique arts scene in Reading which I am very proud of. The Culture Partnership nurtures this community and hopefully artists will take advantage of what the Partnership has to offer.'

If you register with the Cultural Partnership and become a member there is a performance concession to view to Chris Goode's - The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley at South Street Arts Centre after the network event. Refreshments will be available to purchase from the bar.

Please bring along any marketing and promotion or information about your organisation or project to share with other attendees.

9 May 2012

Labour re-elects winning team

Reading & District Labour Party Media Release  
8 May 2012
The first meeting of the Labour Group following the party’s success in the Borough elections has tonight re-elected Jo Lovelock as Leader and Tony Page as Deputy Leader, and kept the same Cabinet Members, although some changes have been made to some of their portfolios.

Jo Lovelock says: “With 26 out of the 46 Council seats, we have a solid mandate to push ahead with the programme on which we fought the elections, and the important thing now is to get down to work and deliver for local people.  We are keen to get on with our ‘Let’s Talk’ approach in communities across the town and making the changes that people want to see.  We know we are in tough times, but we have shown that we can stand up for local people, particularly those who are most in need of Council services, and we will be working hard to deliver what local people expect.”

The full Cabinet list is as follows:

Leader - Jo Lovelock
Deputy Leader
& Regeneration, Transport & Planning - Tony Page
Adult Social Care - Mike Orton
Community Engagement & Service Transformation - Jan Gavin
Culture & Sport - Marion Livingston
Education & Children’s Services - John Ennis
Environment & Climate Change - Paul Gittings
Health & Wellbeing - Bet Tickner
Neighbourhoods & Housing - Rachel Eden

7 May 2012

Guest post: Marian Livingston - Save The Bees!

'Bees across the world are dying in millions.  Pesticides, disease and electronic signals all being cited as possible causes.

Reading Borough Council is doing its bit to help.  We have entered into partnership with University of Reading in a research project.  Strips of wild flowers and grasses across the borough will be planted and monitored by researchers hoping to learn more about pollinators.

This is important work.  Imagine the cost if one day we only have artificial pollination to maintain our food supplies.
Find out more from Friends of the Earth - The Bee Cause'

5 May 2012

Then everything returns to normal

Well the election is over, votes cast, Cllrs elected and things return to normality. 

This morning Cllr Khan and I had our monthly surgery (see box to the left for future dates).  A time to help residents with their concerns and chat about Thursday's results in between..

Tuesday we have our first group meeting, now with 26 Cllrs.  A time to sort out who is on what committee, forum, panel, outside body and group.  Group officers are elected.

Battle Cllrs have a few campaigns already in progress: 
  • opposing the proposed gaming centre on the Oxford Road(open 24 hours if they get permission), 
  • ensuring the problem with bin bag mountains is tackled on the Oxford Road
  • tackling fly-tipping,
  • asking some serious questions about the local primary schools allocation and admissions this year and in future years and supporting local parents
  • attending the Tesco appeal
  • working with the local Neighbourhood Action Group on their campaigns
  • making sure dumped trolleys get collected (and Iceland trolley is currently residing round the corner from my house.  A rare site this far away from the store).
  • getting potholes filled 
 We are planning a few different things this year so keep an eye out for when they are announced and do get in touch if you need assistance.

4 May 2012

May the 4th be with you...

Happy National Star Wars Day!

Labour regain control of Reading Borough Council & Gul wins!

Finally home at 2.40 am this morning after the local election count which held excellent results for Reading Labour Party.

Cllr Gul Khan comfortably retained his seat with 54% of the vote:

Interestingly the Lib Dems dropped to fourth place, behind the Greens.  They also dropped to fourth in Abbey, Caversham, Church, Norcot, Park and Whitley and fifth in Kentwood and Thames.  They retained their seat in Tilehurst.  They lost Redlands and Katesgrove to Labour.

The Conservatives lost Church, Kentwood and Caversham to Labour.  For the full results please see here

We are now in majority control with 26 seats (+4), Conservatives 12 (-3), Lib Dems 4 (-2) and Greens 3 (+1).  Nationally Labour have made big gains as well.  A strong message to the Tory/Lib Dem Government that the cuts are hurting but not working?