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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...

28 Dec 2013

A Rembrandt in The Oracle and a pub crawl with licensing!

I recently had a very interesting couple of Saturdays. 
On Saturday the 7 December I was all over Battle Ward (walked over 5 kms in total).   We did a local business Street Surgery on the Oxford Road, our normal surgery,  I judged a mince pie competition at Argyle Community Church then popped into the local Scouts Christmas fair where I had donated a lemon drizzle cake.  I created an album on my Facebook page as a different way of sharing my day which you can see here: Busy Saturday 7 December 2013

Meeting Computer Care (South) Ltd during our business street surgery
Saturday the 14 December was interesting in a different way.  In my capacity of Chair of the Arts Forum I was kindly invited to the Reading Gallery Christmas Event.  There I was faced with the slightly surreal situation of viewing a Picasso and Rembrandt in Crabtree & Evelyn.  It was a lovely evening and I had a lovely chat with Lord Lawrence about his ambitions for the Vivian Frederick art collection.  You can read more about the Reading Gallery here.

I popped home for a couple of hours then I was out again at 11pm with our licensing team, police and Cllrs Ennis, P Jones, Woodward, Vickers and Ballsdon.  The pub crawl I mention in my title was in fact a visit to local bars to see what our licensing team do.  Not a drink was sipped. 

It was very interesting to listen to the police, licensing team and local bar managers.  We saw they steps they all take to ensure Readings revellers are kept safe and we were also shown the custody suite at Loddon Valley. 

We ended the night in the CCTV room at Reading Police Station where we saw the CCTV cover Reading has.  I was very impressed with the quality of the cameras.  I reckon they could read the time from your watch! (possible exaggeration).

24 Dec 2013

Merry Christmas & The Little Boy Santa Claus Forgot

I love a Christmas song - cheesy, traditional, I not fussed as long as it's not too modern.  Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) by The Darkness is just about allowed on my compilation CD.

My children and I were listening to them in the car when Nat King Coles The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot came on.  At the end of the song my eldest piped up 'Mummy, that songs not true'.  I asked him why. 'Because Santa Claus doesn't forget any children'.  As I'd like him believing for a few more years yet I agreed that the song was wrong and every child gets a present at Christmas.

Sadly this just isn't true.

Recently Cllr Maskell and I popped in to the Salvation Army on the Oxford Road as we had been invited to see the huge piles of presents donated for those children that Santa may have 'forgotten'.  We were told that in Reading west alone there had been 200 families referred to receive gifts for their children this year.  The Reading Post's Giving Tree and Reading Chronicles Toys & Teens appeals also collect gifts for those who may otherwise go without and there are many other organisations that do the same.

Generosity like this, and the food bank collections I've seen in supermarkets and work places, is really what Christmas is about.  Giving freely without expecting anything in return and making someones Christmas a little brighter. 

Times are tough for a lot of families in Reading with 1 in 5 children in poverty.  Let's hope there's not one child forgotten by Santa Claus this year, and if there isn't, it's thanks to the people of Reading.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and here's to a 2014 where we can all make a positive difference :)

Handing my contribution to Kenneth and his team

11 Dec 2013

Helping The Homeless At Christmas

I recently passed on details of a homeless person a resident and I had seen sleeping rough on the Oxford Road.  The council have processes in place to reach out to the homeless and I thought I'd share the details in case you see someone in need of help.

This is a year round service but help is more urgent when temperatures plummet.  Here's what the team do:

We commission our Street Outreach Team to engage with rough sleepers and support them into housing and treatment services. 

Even where an individual is already known to us, it is still important for us to be aware of exactly where people are sleeping so that we are able to find them and sustain their engagement with our work to help them off of the streets and their health and safety can be monitored. We encourage businesses and members of the public to report any concerns about rough sleeping.

People can make reports of rough sleepers and rough sleeping sites to us, directly to our Street Outreach Team either by email to streetconcern@mungos.org or by telephone on 0118 958 5002.

6 Dec 2013

Small Business Saturday: Oxford Road Street Surgery Special #smallbizsatuk

This Saturday is Small Business Saturday.  Labour councillors in Battle value the small businesses that line the Oxford Road.  In fact I use quite a few of them!

I know there was concern that the new Tesco would take business away from traders but recent press articles by traders have shown this not to have been the case.  The Oxford Road is a thriving area with very few empty shops. I am pleased to see that a couple of units that have been empty for a while are being refurbished.

Because of all this I decided it would be a nice to hold a street surgery with a difference and speak to the small business owners on the Oxford Road and see what we can do to help them.  We will be dropping our leaflets in to them and if they would like us to call by, they just need to pop our leaflet in their window.

If you are a small business owner in Oxford Road and we don't get the chance to speak to you, please feel free to drop us a line at any time.

5 Dec 2013

Can you help with operation S.A.N.T.A?

I received this letter from Lieutenant Kenneth Guest from the Salvation Army church on the Oxford Road.  We supported Operation S.A.N.T.A last year (see here) and I am happy to support it again.  I think Kenneth's letter says it all:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.

For a number of years now The Salvation Army in Reading have launched a Toy Appeal. This year is no different and so we are launching;


Thanks to your fantastic generosity we have been able to distribute 100’s of gifts donated for children who were living in social services care or extreme poverty.

The need to provide for these children is just as great this year (the entirety of the gifts donated to social services and local professionals last year still only scratched the surface) and so I am hoping to help arrange for even more of these children to receive at least one present this Christmas.

Be assured that in addition to the kind donations we receive from members of the public, and collections carried out in your work places, we as Salvationists across the Three corps in Reading, hold a Toy Service, this year it is December 8th at which  our members contribute a colossal amount of toys.

Over the last couple of years we have been able to see the list of children (listed by sex and age from babies to 16 years) for whom gifts are requested.

It struck me (alongside the sadness I felt thinking of any child in such circumstances) that this is a relatively easy and tangible way to make a difference to a child's Christmas and so I wondered if any of you might also like to buy a gift for one of these children.

The presents can be handed in to any Salvation Army Centre in Reading, although Reading West Corps based in the Oxford Road, will be co-ordinating the appeal. We will then hand over the gifts to social services, family workers, children’s centres and health visitors to distribute the gifts to the relevant children thus ensuring that the most needy children receive a present.

If you would like to buy a gift for a child in Reading, then you might like to choose one of these options:

1.   Buy and send a gift to any Salvation Army centre to arrive by 12  December. 

2.   Order a gift online to be delivered to us by 12 December.

3.   Send a donation so that we can buy a gift on your behalf for a specific child

As many of us know, particularly for young children, receiving a present is often not about how much the present is worth but the excitement of having something to open (or a cardboard box to play with!) so really any donation will be appreciated.

Having said that, I do recognise that many people have charities to which they regularly donate and/or this may not be a way in which you would like to contribute, which of course is absolutely fine and I hope you don't mind me asking.

If you would like more information about the Salvation Army in Reading or about our Toy Appeal please don’t hesitate to ring me or email me.

Thank you for the time you have taken to read this letter.

May God Bless You.

Lieutenant Kenneth Guest
Commanding Officer
Reading West Corps

PS – Please do NOT wrap the gifts as this will make it easier for us to allocate the presents.

4 Dec 2013

Fix your fence -again!

The fence surrounding the abandoned medical centre site is broken once again. This time a large section was blown down during the gales a few weeks ago. I gave them some time to fix it but it's been five weeks now. This morning I rang the NHS property department and asked them to fix it as it's clearly not bring monitored. Let's hope the site is secured once again.

2 Dec 2013

More residents parking on the way in Battle?

In a previous Traffic Management Sub-Committee meetinga a report was brought to us outlining plans to increase the number of residents parking spaces in Battle ward by redefining parking bays (Item 5 here).  This report was approved and consultation has begun.

If you want to take a look at the plans and make a comment you can here: http://www.reading-travelinfo.co.uk/traffic-orders/advertised-traffic-orders/residents-parking-order-2013.aspx

This has the potential to bring over one hundred new parking spaces to the zones covering Battle ward!  Good news :)