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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...

27 Jun 2012

See you at the Oxford Road Community Fun Day!

It's the Oxford Road Community Fun Day on Saturday, 12-4 at Kensington Park.  I have been for the last few years (though I was on my holidays last year) and have always enjoyed it but this year will be different.

23 Jun 2012

#Rdg Arts Week - a great week to look forward to

Last night I was lucky enough to go to the launch of Reading Arts Week.  It was a great event, so full of people involved with or supporting local Arts.  I was only there for an hour before I had to head off to a previous engagement but I got a sneaky peek of the art on display and I was so impressed.

Reading is lucky to have a wealth of artists, and the art I saw was so diverse.  I really do recommend getting along to the Penta Hotel this weekend to take a look.

There are other events running this week:

Artists Place
Wednesday 27 June 2012 | 1pm - 6pm
Market Place (outside Nino’s), Reading Town Centre.  This is an outdoor art market.

The Big Art Picnic
Friday 29 June 2012 | 2pm - 8pm
Caversham Court Gardens, Church Road, Caversham, Reading & Caversham Lock

More information can be found here, on Facebook and by following @Rdgartsweek on Twitter.

15 Jun 2012

Continuous path for Cow Lane please

The current plans for cyclists and pedestrians to pass under the Cow Lane bridges is to have to cross over the road and change pavement sides to continue their journey from Portman Road.  Although the route for pedestrians and cyclists will be much improved from the current precarious situtation, having to cross the road is far from ideal. 

Battle councillors have been asking for a continuous path under the bridges and, at last nights Transport Management Advisory Panel, I asked that the council does everything in it's power to ensure there is a route for cyclists and pedestrians that does not require them to cross the road to continue their journey.

I was assured this is something they are looking into. I hope we get what we, and many other people, have been asking for.

On a slightly different note, here is a picture I took going over the bridges this week, showing the work that is going n above our heads!

12 Jun 2012

Back from a course with some interesting questions

I have been in Manchester for the past 2 days on a course with my union, Unite.We got on to discussing class and I have come away with some serious food for thought.  Firstly, is class relevant anymore?  It is still referred to and most people will place themselves within a class when asked: working, middle or upper? 

It was clear that the old ways of defining class are no longer adequate.  Working people; those facing cuts to tax credits, erosion of their pensions and rights as workers, the granny tax, changes to disability allowance, forced acadamisation of their schools, cuts to their council services, are the people that need the representation of trade unions in the workplace and in the community.  What about those not in work who have a voice that needs to be heard? Both traditional working and middle classes fall into this group.

Although there were no answers what did become clear is that we all need to work together to protect each other and our rights.

10 Jun 2012

Cllr Chris Maskell : Tesco need to act before someone is badly hurt

Posted by Cllr Chris Maskell on

'What will it take for Tesco to take their responsibilities seriously? That is the question Battle Councillor Sarah Hacker will be asking Reading Borough Council and Tesco.

She said: “In January this year Councillor Maskell emailed the council because of concerns he had about the maintenance and safety of the strip of land at the bottom of Chester Street. He pointed out that there was an accumulation of rubbish and fly tipping and damage to fencing caused by fallen tree parts, which suggested the trees are not safe. He asked if anything could be done to get Tesco to clean the area up, clear the shrubbery and make the area safe. That was nearly six months ago.

Fallen tree could have caused a fatality
“I, like many others, use the connecting footpath from Chester Street to Tesco to do our shopping. It is not a very pleasant walk as thick undergrowth and low tree branches border the path. There the undergrowth is strewn with litter, fly tipping and the occasional Tesco trolley. It really is a thoroughly unpleasant footpath to walk along. What is also a concern is that during the summer the footpath becomes hidden by overgrown trees”.

Tesco are fully aware of their responsibilities yet appear not to be interested in maintaining that strip of land. At the request of Battle councilors Reading Borough Council has attempted to engage with Tesco in an effort to get something done but without success. Young mothers walking to Tesco with their children frequently use the footpath. It is very fortunate that when the tree came down no one was on the path. If the tree had fallen on anyone the consequences could have been tragic.

In January a tree fell into some ones back garden, now a tree has fallen across a pedestrian footpath. What will it take for Tesco to take action and get that area cleaned up and made safe?'

Community Events to Benefit From Council Grant Money

Reading Borough Council Press Release

A film project, fitness holiday clubs and special swimming sessions are among the community events to benefits from Reading Borough Council's 2012 Culture and Sports grants programme.

Earlier this year the council encouraged groups to bid for grants of up to £10k to fund projects linked to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee.

The successful bids were:

" Reading Repertory Theatre - £5k
" Reading rockets - £9,984.50
" Rising Sun Arts Centre - £9,716
" Creativity in Sport - £5,120
" Beautiful Creatures Performance Group - £6,700
" Nature Nurture CIC - £9,770
" Mapis Project CIC - £7,800
" Positive Strides - £8,800
" DSISO - £5,800
" Reading Dolphin Swimming Club - £1,170
" RBL Theatre Company - £554.50

The projects also feature street theatre programmes, an innovative arts scheme providing activities for people with disabilities, environmental education projects, fashion and beauty self esteem courses for young women, healthy lifestyle sessions using basketball, an international Downs Syndrome Swimming championship and family and friends fitness holiday clubs.

A total of £70k was available through the programme. The successful projects were ones which deliver activities that are engaging for all ages, backgrounds and abilities. The aim of the scheme is to build on the legacy of the 2012 Games and Jubilee by encouraging more people to take up and appreciate the benefits of sport and physical activity or get involved in cultural initiatives.

Marian Livingston, Reading's Lead Councillor for Culture and Sport, said: 'We had some fantastic projects presented to us so it was hard to whittle it down to these 11 local groups. I'm sure they will all make the most of the grants to deliver some excellent initiatives for their local communities.'

7 Jun 2012

Battle's dog fouling problem being tackled!

You may recall I wrote a blog post last year on the problems residents faced with inconsiderate dog owners failing to clear up their dog's mess: Dog Pooh Problem?

Despite getting new dog waste bins installed, the problem hasn't really got any better.  Dogs can't clear up their own mess so it is strictly down to their owners!  Battle councillors have been asking the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Gittings, for action on this horrible problem.

Battle councillors are very pleased to hear that Battle will be the first ward to have a dedicated campaign on dog fouling, starting on13 June in Kensington Park and surrounding areas.  Let's hope this helps educate owners and we see a reduction in the number of fouled pavements.

'Council To Call Foul on Inconsiderate Dog Owners

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Reading Borough Council's Dog Warden Service and the Street Care Environment team is getting ready to call foul on inconsiderate dog walkers who fail to clean up their pets mess, thanks to a new borough wide campaign.

6 Jun 2012

9am Free Bus Travel Proposed for Elderly Reading Residents

Below is a press release confirming that Labour led Reading Borough Council are looking to re-instate free bus travel from 9am for pensioners.  This is excellent news.

When the coalition Tory/Lib Dem council administration took away this free travel in 2010/2011, as well as that for disabled residents, I was contacted by many people who could not understand why those on fixed and lower incomes were being targeting in this way.  Labour pledged to re-instate free travel and are delivering!

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Elderly people in Reading will be able to travel for free on local buses from 9am on weekdays, if proposals are adopted next week.

The nationally funded concessionary fares scheme means that, at the moment, people over pensionable age in Reading can only make use of free bus travel from 9.30am, Monday to Friday.

Reading Borough Council is now planning to introduce free bus travel for the elderly from 9am onwards on weekdays. The cost of funding the extra half-an-hour's free travel   estimated to be between £29,000 and £46,000 per year - would be paid for with income from bus lane fines in the town.

5 Jun 2012

The Jubilee has finished, bring on half term!

It's been a nice few days.  We visited the Tilehurst Jubilee Festival in Prospect Park on Saturday which was great.  The boys enjoyed the music, animals and rides and I enjoyed tasting the chilli sauces for sale.  I even decorated the house with some flags to complement my Jubilee window box.

Yesterday we watched the Reading Community Carnival pass by with my Dad, Cllr Chris Maskell.  As usual, is was a joyous affair and the youngest bopped along to the music.

We now have 3 days left of half term and the Children's Festival will keep us entertained.  We are going to the Teddy Bears Picnic on Thursday afternoon which, judging by the weather forecast, will be held in the museum.  We will then head into town on Friday for Hullabaloo.  More information on the Children's Festival can be found here.

1 Jun 2012

Battle School Ofsted announced

 The below press release confirms that Battle Primary School has been placed in Special Measures.  Battle councillors are committed to supporting the parents and school and will be attending the forthcoming parents meeting.

New Governance at Battle Primary Vows To Drive Up Standards

Reading Borough Council Press Release

The new Governors of Battle Primary School and Reading Borough Council have vowed to continue to work closely together to drive up standards following an Ofsted report published last week in which the school was criticised and placed in Special Measures. This means that the school must do considerably more to enhance the education for the children.

The report   published on Thursday May 31st on the Ofsted website   deemed the school needed to be placed in Special Measures to improve standards. It follows an inspection at the school in March this year carried out at two days notice.

Ruth Allen, Chair of the recently constituted Interim Executive Board (IEB) at Battle Primary, said: 'We are determined to give the children at Battle Primary the education they deserve. The IEB has already held a parents meeting to establish a Parents' Council and to listen to the views of parents at the start of our journey of improved communication. Staff meetings have been held and the views of teachers and support staff will help to inform future planning. The School Council will be more directly involved in identifying the needs of the children and ensuring that the school offers exciting challenging lessons in a safe environment.

'We are confident that with the focus this report has given us we will see Battle Primary become a good school, a school of which the children, parents and staff are proud. '

John Ennis, Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Education and Children's Services, said: 'This is obviously a disappointing Ofsted report and there is a real need to urgently address the issues raised. Reading Borough Council will of course continue to offer any support it can to the school and together we will work towards addressing those problems.'