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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 Sept 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Prospects Cake Party

I have been very naughty and not kept up to date with my diaries.  It all got a bit hectic with my eldest going back to school and my youngest starting school for the very first time!  Things have finally calmed down so it's catch-up time. 

On Saturday 6 September I was invited to the Prospects Cake Party and what a wonderful afternoon it was.  It was an event to celebrate the staff, volunteers and people who use the services the charity offers.

Prospects are a charity that works with adults with learning disabilities to give them the support and skills needed to live a full life.  It also trains people to set up their own groups through churches across the country so their reach is very impressive!

We were entertained with music, dance and tricks.  Naturally I was required to join in with the card tricks!  I also got the opportunity for a little dance to the music by the excellent musicians.
Rob Wilson MP popped in at the beginning and helped me cut the celebration cake.

It was clear how much the volunteers mean to the people that attend Prospects sessions and how much benefit it felt.  It was an afternoon filled with happiness (and cake).


10 Sept 2014

Cow Lane delay?

When we found about about the possible delay to the works at Cow Lane Bridges Councillor Chris Maskell wrote this on his Facebook page.  He explains how we feel well so I have no more to add:

'Public Inquiry into Cow Lane Bridges

It is possible that the road works linking the two Cow Lane bridges could be delayed for up to a year. A number of objections have been recieved from land owners who had been served compulsory purchase orders. The CPO's had been served to facilitate the building of a road that would link the two new Cow Lane bridges and finally remove the infamous bottleneck.

As a result of the objections the Secretary of State for Transport has confirmed it will be necessary to hold a Public Inquiry. This has therefore delayed the construction programme for the Cow Lane Highway works by approximately 12 months.

Reading Borough Council officers have said negotiations with the objectors are on-going and there is a possibility that if the proposed agreements are approved and the objections withdrawn, the Public Inquiry will not be required.

It is a shame that this has happened but it is entirely understandable that some land owners felt the need to object. Hopefully, RBC and the landowners can come to an agreement that will allow the project to be delivered on time.

I am not sure when Portman Road, Cow Lane and Richfield Avenue were linked up but since that time the short stretch of road between the two bridges has bee a source of complaint from pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.

Any delay to the completion of Cow Lane will impact on the work we are doing to improve the Oxford Road. The first phase of work can still go ahead as scheduled. The second phase will be determined by monitoring the impact the opening up of Cow Lane has on traffic flows during its first year. Any delay will impact on this second phase.

Battle councillors have been campaigning to get the bridges sorted out since 2004. We were looking forward to the opening up of Cow Lane next summer, unfortunately that may now not be possible.

When we first floated the idea that something could be done many people looked to the heavens and said: "not in your life time mate". Well, it will happen but if it takes a year longer than anticipated, so be it. Another 12 months added to the forty or so years people have been waiting for Cow Lane to be sorted out will be 12 months well spent.'

3 Sept 2014

New school for the Oxford Road - plans on show & green space expanded!

As any parent knows applying for a primary school place is a stressful time. I've done it twice now and I am glad I don't have to do it again.  West Reading is a popular place for families with good schools, facilites and a great sense of community so it's no surprise that we need more primary places.

The proposed new school will relieve pressure in the central west area of Reading, increase green space at Victoria Park and provide Oxford Road Community School, where I am a governor, with shared dedicated outdoor space.

Residents will also be pleased that the council are keeping to their promise to remove the temporary nursery on Victoria Park.

There are a group of residents keen to improve the park.  You can find out what they are up to here:

Plans for Proposed new Academy Primary School in Hodsoll Road

Reading Borough Council Press Release
RESIDENTS and potential parents and pupils can view plans for a proposed new primary school in Reading for the first time at a planning exhibition on Thursday 11th September.

The planned two-form entry school will be called Civitas Academy and will be run by REAch2 Academy Trust - a provider selected by the Department for Education following a bidding process in late 2013.

The proposed location is on land to the side of the bus depot, on the corner of Hodsoll Road and Great Knollys Street. It would be across the road from Victoria Park and no building work would take place on Victoria Park itself.

The proposals include plans to provide much-improved facilities for Fairview Community Centre by moving it into the new school building. The land on which Fairview Community Centre currently sits - on the George Street side of Victoria Park – could then be returned to green space, along with the temporary Oxford Road Community School nursery unit site, which is now no longer in use.

In exchange, a section on the north-east corner of Victoria Park would be designated for joint recreational use by the new academy school and Oxford Road Community School, but would remain fully open for public use outside school hours.

The current road closure outside the bus depot at Great Knollys Street would also remain in place as part of the proposals.

A national shortage of primary school places is being mirrored in Reading. Latest Census figures show a population explosion of 34% in Reading of children aged 0-4 years old – the second highest rise in the whole of the South-East since 2001.

A new school for this area was a well-supported option in the Let’s Talk Education consultation which took place in 2013. The proposed new Civitas Academy forms part of a major expansion programme of primary school places across Reading, creating an additional 2,520 much-needed primary places over the next 7 years.

Reading Borough Council is hosting a planning exhibition next week so that local residents and new parents can view and discuss the proposals in detail and ask any questions they may have. This is in advance of a planning application being submitted by the Council later in the month.

The planning exhibition on September 11 takes place between 3pm and 7pm at Fairview Youth and Community Centre, Victoria Park, George Street, Reading RG1 7RR. Residents can also request more information or comment on plans by emailing newschool@reading.gov.uk or calling 0118 937 4381.

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

“The proposal is for a new academy to be built on council owned land to the side of the bus depot and across the road from Victoria Park. The planned relocation of Fairview Community Centre into the school means not only much-improved facilities for the local community but allows the Council to return the current Fairview building back to green space, along with the temporary nursery unit which is no longer in use. In exchange, a shared space for both the new school, Oxford Road Community School and the public could then be created next to the railway line on the other side of Victoria Park. The road closure outside the bus depot also remains in place as part of these proposals.

“The planning exhibition is a good opportunity for local residents to view the plans in detail and discuss any concerns in advance of the submission of the planning application, where local residents will again get the chance to give their feedback.”

Reading’s Lead Member for Education, Cllr John Ennis, said:

“The shortage of primary school places both in Reading and nationally is well documented and this new academy is one of 13 expansion projects across the town to cater for the rising demand. As well as a place to educate young people, schools are also an important part of any local community and I would urge as many local residents as possible to take a look at the plans.”

The new school plans to open in September 2015 on a temporary Council-owned site on the corner of North Street and Weldale Street, next to the Ambulance Station. The temporary site will also have outdoor space. It is expected – subject to planning permission - that the school will relocate to its permanent location on Hodsoll Road in September 2016.

The new Civitas Academy, as a two-form entry school, will start with two reception classes of 30 children in September 2015 and gradually fill up every year until reaching total capacity in September 2021.

REAch2 Academy Trust – who will run the new Civitas Academy – will also be holding a public meeting later this year to promote the new school ahead of 2015 admissions.