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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 Nov 2013

More overnight closures of Cow Lane bridges

I got the following update about Cow Lane bridges this weekend.  There will be further overnight closures starting tonight (Sunday 24 November) 11 pm until 5 am.  Please see below and share with those you think will need to know.

'The closures will be from Sunday night to Friday morning between 2300hrs and 0500hrs only, for up to 3 weeks commencing this Sunday.

Advance warning signs are being erected on site and we are placing warning messages on a number of our variable message signs. Access will be maintained to Safestore (from the south) and to Cardiff Road from the north.'

21 Nov 2013

Exhibition on it's way: Oxford Road Improvements

Battle Library on Tuesday December 3rd, 

between 1pm and 7pm, and 

Bridge Hall on Thursday December 5th, 

between 1.30pm and 6.30pm. 

Plans will be on display for members of the public to view and transport officers will be there to talk through the proposals and answers any questions. Information can also be found here: http://www.reading.gov.uk/residents/parking-road-and-travel/oxford-road-area-study

I am really looking forward to sharing these plans with residents.  Battle councillors have already had some input into their design as our local knowledge is great and we have made a few tweaks.

Highlights of the Oxford Road Area study at Cow Lane are:

• Downgrading the road classification of Oxford Road between Chatham Street and Norcot Road and re-designating the A329 to Richfield Avenue, Cow Lane and Portman Road
• A review of street signs, including a review of the routes lorries / freight take through the area
• Improvements to the right turn approach lane to Caversham Road roundabout from Richfield Avenue
• Improvements at the Portman Road/Cow Lane/Beresford Road junction and a review of the bus gate restrictions.
• Improvements to the Portman Road/Norcot Road approach lanes

Other associated Oxford Road corridor improvements include:

• cycle lanes/road markings on Oxford Road between Chatham Place and Norcot Road
• bus lane on the Oxford Road approach to Norcot Roundabout and westbound on the Oxford Road approach to Bedford Road.
• improve cycle access to Oxford Road eastbound bus lane approaching Bedford Road.
• A possible 20mph zone and a review of existing turning manoeuvres. 

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“The widening of the roads under Cow Lane bridges as part of Network Rail’s scheme will be a huge improvement to the notorious bottleneck which exists there and which has a knock-on effect on the surrounding areas. The Council now wants to use the opportunity to propose a package of improvements to the Oxford Road which will complement the work at Cow Lane.

“The Oxford Road is not just a through-route, it is a destination in its own right. When taken together, the proposed measures will help create a safer and more welcoming environment for residents, businesses and visitors.

“I would urge local residents or businesses to take some time to try and visit one of the two exhibitions which have been organised. The exhibitions are set up so that people can just drop in for a short period of time, whenever suits them, to have a look through the proposals. Transport officers will be on hand to answer any questions or talk through any concerns people may have.”

The exhibitions will be followed by a period of statutory consultation, from mid-January to mid-February. Any objections will then be considered by a future meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Traffic Management Sub-Committee, of which I am a member. 

If you have any comments on these plans please respond to the consultation but feel free to email me too: sarah.hacker@reading.gov.uk

19 Nov 2013

How can we make Reading a woman-friendly town?

We have a great selection of women coming along, not all of them activists, an inspiring speaker and I'm making a lemon drizzle cake.  What's stopping you signing up to come along? ;)

13 Nov 2013

Tackling Poverty in Reading....

Every year around this time Reading Brough Council hold a community engagement event.  This year we are focusing on tackling poverty in Reading.  I represent Battle ward as a councillor and it is an area with pockets of depravation and poverty.  I believe everyone can help tackle poverty and this event invites everyone to get involved.......

Tackling Poverty in Reading
Press Release 


TACKLING Poverty in Reading is the theme of the town’s Annual Conference this year which takes place at the Town Hall on Tuesday November 19.

Organisations, residents, community groups and charities from across the borough are all being invited to attend the event and play their part in helping to develop a strategy to tackle poverty in Reading.

Welfare reforms, reducing public sector expenditure and the slow economic recovery are all combining to create increasing hardship for many residents, including some of the most vulnerable. The Local Government Association estimates that welfare reforms will see working people whose wages are so low that they have to claim some benefit in order to keep a roof over their head, lose an average of £1,660 per year. In Reading nearly 11,000 working people will be affected. For 7,693 people out of work, the loss of income figure is higher at £1,671 a year.

Reading’s ‘Tackling Poverty’ event on November 19th runs between 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Chaired by Professor Gavin Brooks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), University of Reading, the event will begin with an introduction by Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock. That will be followed by a keynote address from Alison Garnham, CEO, Child Poverty Action Group, key facts and figures from the organisations that work everyday with people in poverty, and testimonies of real-life experiences of poverty in Reading.

The proposed schedule is:
  •  6.00pm: Welcome by Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock
  •  6.10pm: Key note address - Alison Garnham, CEO, Child Poverty Action Group
  • 6.30pm: What does poverty look like in Reading – Christian Community Action Reading / Citizens Advice Bureau Reading / Reading CIC / Welfare Rights
  • 6.45pm: What does poverty feel like in Reading - First hand testimonies (video and short play by 'Spotlight on Diversity')
From 7pm the event will split into a series of workshops, all based around the theme of poverty, which are aimed at discussing, exploring and developing practical actions to deliver a plan to tackle poverty. The workshops will be facilitated by a variety of different groups and organisations and the 10 themes will be: 
• Advice on tax credits and benefits
• Affordable Credit
• Support into Work
• Best start in life
• Tackling In work poverty
• Affording Basic Needs
• Disabled People
• Older People
• Tackling poverty in a multi-cultural community
• Health and Wellbeing 

Groups or residents who would like to take part in a specific themes workshop are asked to book ahead and register at http://tacklingpoverty.eventbrite.co.uk/. Alternatively people can just turn up on the night and decide which workshops suits them best.

The workshops will then be followed by pledges of action and the outline of a way forward, before finishing at 8pm.

Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock said:
“Five years on, the economic downturn has shown us that Reading continues to perform well in comparison to other places. We also know very well that there remain a great many people out there in Reading who continue to struggle financially as a consequence of the increased cost of living and the reforms and changes that are being made. Many of the people affected are working long hours and still having to choose between heating and eating; the need for foodbanks in Reading has increased by 400%; 1 in 5 children in Reading are officially living in poverty. The theme of ‘Tackling Poverty’ is therefore the right one for this year’s conference. 

“The event will include real life experiences of poverty in Reading. I hope organisations including public services, businesses, schools, voluntary and community organisations, charities or faith organisations, will want to make their own pledges on the night that will go towards helping us to develop a plan for tackling this key issue in Reading. 

“The event on November 19th is open to anyone in our community who is concerned about poverty and who has any ideas about how we can help tackle it.”

10 Nov 2013

Ban payday loan company adverts on children's TV? I couldn't agree more

I am an enthusiastic follower of Martin Lewis and his MoneySavingExpert.com wesbite.  Last week he introduced his campaign to ban payday loan companies from children's TV channels and I added my support (I tweeted him a 140 character version of the following on my personal twitter).  Why?  Here's why....

I have two children, both boys, age 5 and 3.  We were sat together in our living room the other day and my eldest chirped up he he wanted a new app to play on.  Because I think it's important to teach children the value of money I said he couldn't have this particular app as it cost money and we did't have any money put aside for an app.  At this point a Wonga advert came onto the children's tv channel we were watching.

He looked up, pointed at the TV and said 'We can get some money from them and then we could buy whatever we want'.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  The advert had been marketed in such a way that my 5 year old understood from it that there were copious amounts of money to be had, for free, and that it was easy to get hold of.  What sort of message is that for a children's tv channel?

He's a bright little lad so I explained to him that if we wanted money from Wonga it would cost us even more to borrow it.  I think he 'sort of' understood and the matter was closed.

Why do payday loan companies feel the need to advertise on children's tv?  They are clearly targeting parents who feel under increasing pressure to give their children whatever they want (I'm firmly don't believe this) and with wages barely increasing, energy bills shooting up and Christmas round the conrer I expect the payday loan companies are rubbing their hands with glee.  The side effect of this is children are being exposed to the message that borrowing money to buy things you want, not need, is OK.  This is the wrong message and unnecessary.

I am please to see that Ed Miliband has added his support to this campaign and said that if the advertising watchdog did not bring in a ban, a Labour Government would use legislation to ban it.  This is yet another reason why I am campaiging to get Victoria Groulef elected as Labour MP for Reading West and a Labour government returned to parliament.

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You can read the BBC new article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24886804

9 Nov 2013

Traffic changes to the Oxford Road: what do you think?

The Oxford Road is in a bit of an odd position at the moment, with is being shut just around the corner from where I live.  There is very little traffic but, as you know, this is not the norm.  The Oxford Road is currently a major arterial route from the west but changes are afoot!

In 2015 the second Cow Lane bridge will be completed meaning buses and lorries will be able to use Portman Road and Richfield Avenue when travelling from the west.  There will no longer be the current bottle neck controlled by traffic lights.  Traffic will be able to move freely.  Pedestrians and cyclists will have a dedicated route alongside the road so there will be safe access to Richfield Avenue.  It will be very different.

So what about the Oxford Road?  Ahead of 2015 Battle councillors have been part of the Oxford Road Corridor Study looking at how the Oxford Road can be changed for ther better.  On Tuesday the Traffic Management Sub-Committee approved a report to allow consultation to go ahead on changes to the Oxford Road and surrounding areas traffic flow.  The proposals are as follows:

The proposals consist of the following (taken from the full report here):-

'Cow Lane bridges - associated network improvements
  • Potential downgrade of the road classification of Oxford Road between Chatham Street and Norcot Road and re-designate the A239 to Richfield Avenue, Cow Lane and Portman Road.
  • Strategic signing review including freight routing in consultation with the Highways Agency
  • Richfield Avenue – right turn approach lane improvements to Caversham Road roundabout
  • Portman Road/Cow Lane/Beresford Rd junction improvements and review of bus gate/6’6” restrictions
  • Portman Road/Norcot Road approach lane improvements 
Identified Oxford Road corridor improvements – Phase 1 & 2
  • Oxford Road between Chatham Place and Norcot Road – On carriageway cycle lanes/symbols – Phase 1
  • Oxford Road approach to Norcot Road roundabout – bus lane  – Phase 1
  • Oxford Road westbound approach to Bedford Road – bus lane  – Phase 1
  • Oxford Road eastbound approach to Bedford Road – approach lane modifications to improve cycle access to existing bus lane  – Phase 1
  • Possible 20mph Zone/Limit – Phase 2
  • Review of existing turning manoeuvres - Phase 2
4.6 The proposals to downgrade the road classification of Oxford Road will result in a change to the current inspection regime to now take place quarterly. However, the maintenance regime will remain the same. The same process took place when the A33 Relief Road was opened and the Basingstoke Road was downgraded.

4.7 The second phase of the area study will commence upon completion of the Cow Lane works to ensure the most up to date traffic patterns are captured. The second phase will focus on existing turning manoeuvres and speed limits and parking restrictions.'

There will also be environmental improvements such as new trees.  These proposals will go out to public consultation shortly and I'll let you know when that happens.

This, alongside the £1.6 million Battle councillors secured for the area from the Battle Hospital re-development, means the next few years are going to be very interesting and exciting!

5 Nov 2013

Oxford Road re-opening delayed by further collapsed sewer

Thames Water have found a further collpased sewer and have extended their works.  It's likely that the Oxford Road will be re-opened later than expected, hopefully by the start of next week.

2 Nov 2013

Upcoming Cow Lane Closures.....

Residents living near the Cow Lane bridges have received a letter warning us of overnight closures of Cow Lane bridges.  Network Rail weren't expecting more closures this year but there will be the following:

Overnight Closures

Night-time closure: Sunday 10 November from 11pm until 5am on Thursday 14 November
Night-time closure: Sunday 17 November from 11pm until 5am Thursday 21 November

If you have questions about the works you can contact Network Rail on crwest@networkrail.co.uk or on their 24 hour helpline 08457 11 41 41.