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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...

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.