Bulmershe to Benefit from Funding Injection – update

Further to my earlier post please see the front page of this week’s Earley edition of The Chronicle’s reaffirmation of around £6 million investment in Bulmershe School by WBC.

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Footway & Verge Parking Policy – update

Last month I posted about this and am writing again with a link to the criteria officers have set.  As I stated before, some roads are too narrow for the ban of pavement parking to be enforced, which is why officers have worked up the criteria.

Lots more residents have been complaining to me about cars parked on the pavements.  They are extremely pleased to hear that I and my party are tackling the issue.

You can read an RBC press release about it here

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Making green waste fairer

Should 77% of residents pay for a service they can’t and/or don’t use? 

This was the question the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition asked itself about green waste collections.  About 15,000 (23%) of Reading’s households have a green bin.  Therefore 77% not using the service have been subsidising it.

The greenest option is to home compost; an RBC-run service is not a must-have, so I think it is fair to give residents the choice to opt in – or out.  Those who opt in will be charged £22.50 (£7.50/bag).  The service costs £321,000 to run.  This charge works out at 46 p a week or 92 p a fortnight, which compares favourably to other authorities.  Alternatively residents can opt out and either take their green waste to the Civic Amenity Site or compost at home.  The last collections for those opting out will be in late May.

Many people in my Ward are incredibly hard up and don’t have a garden, so I am very pleased they will not have to fork out for a service they can’t use.  The Conservative-led administration’s policy is to protect and improve services that are for everybody’s benefit like libraries, leisure centres and swimming pools, eg extended library opening times in Palmer Park and a refurbished swimming pool.  This is in sharp contrast to Labour-controlled Manchester which you can read about here where Labour has closed libraries, swimming pools and leisure centres.

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Bulmershe to benefit from funding injection

Park Ward parents with children at Bulmershe will be pleased to learn that WBC has pledged to invest major funds which, according to the Reading Chronicle, is rumoured to be £6 million capital programme of developments, according to the Reading Chronicle.

Bulmershe School has released a statement in which the Headteacher, Peter Lewis, says “…this decision to develop proposals to inject significant capital, together with the Local Authority’s commitment to education on The Bulmershe campus, gives all of us a real boost to accelerate the developments underway in teaching and learning, making the school THE school of choice for families living in our area…we retain our absolute commitment to continue to drive improvements in academic performance for our young people within the context of a successful 11-18, inclusive, all ability, multi racial school community.”  You can read the full statement here

I am delighted that WBC is putting its support firmly behind continuing to improve standards at Bulmershe and pleased that they have responded so positively to the concerns raised by me and others.

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Consultation: Some roads for weekly collections?

Missed collections create stink & risk vermin

Also at last night’s Cabinet meeting there was a report on streets suffering ongoing problems with the fortnightly collections Labour introduced a few years ago.

When the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition formed 10 months ago, one key priority was “to introduce weekly refuse collections in priority areas in a phased programme in consultation with residents.”

Officers used criteria to identify priority roads.  Having worked with Sun Street residents (who have frequently had missed bin collections) and the Refuge Collection service I was delighted that this is one of the 5 roads in my Ward that met the criteria.  The others are:  Cholmeley Place, Cholmeley Terrace, Regent Street and Woodstock Street.

It is important to note that wheelie bins would be retained to store the bagged waste until collection day, but before that residents will be asked whether they are happy to return to weekly collections and, as long as the majority of their road agrees, then the Coalition Council will bring back weekly refuse collections. 

Update: Read my colleague Richard Willis’ post which rubbishes Labour’s lies

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Cabinet meeting last night – Green Road Mosque

The Cabinet is the Council’s Executive.  The Cabinet decide the Authority’s policy.  I attended the meeting last night because of two particular agenda items relating to Park Ward. 

The first was about the Green Road Mosque.  This has been an ongoing issue for many years.  I have been working hard pushing for more transparency in the agreement. I welcomed the Cabinet’s work to bring about this long and much-needed purpose-built Mosque for Reading. However I stated that it is crucial that the wider community is kept onside, that building works (assuming planning permission is granted) are done considerately and that there is plenty of parking on site; and I pledged to help broker this.

I asked for a further clause to be added to the recommended action outlined in the report.  I asked that democratic and transparent elections are held as soon as possible in the next 12 months in accordance with the constitution.  I said that I believe all Muslims who regularly worship in the town’s Mosques should be allowed to participate.  This, I said, would enable Reading’s Muslim community to fully get behind and support the Trustees to realise Green Road Mosque being open for worship within 5 years.

As a result of my lobbying before the Cabinet meeting and letters from other parties, the following two conditions were added by officers:

  • written evidence is provided to the Council that the Trustees have gained authority to purchase the Freehold in the sum of £150,000 in accordance with the constitution of the Jamme Masjid Charitable Trust
  • written evidence is provided to the Council that the Trustees have enlarged the Management Committee to 13 members in accordance with the constitution and that the Management Committee Members have been elected

The Cabinet agreed the report with the two added conditions as stated above.

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Palmer Park in the sun

It has been a very busy week.  I’ve been campaigning with Rob Wilson MP, fellow councillors and friends.  Palmer Park is looking stunning: the daffodils are magnificent, the trees are in blossom and the beautiful weather has attracted the crowds who have been enjoying the great new facilities in the playground.  With the fantastic equipment it is not surprising that there’s plenty for everybody to do.  I met a great bunch of teenagers who regularly exercise their two dogs here.  I also caught up with the Sri Lankan owner of the Earley Café with her two daughters who were very excited that their school holiday had just begun!

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Bottle Bank Cholmeley Road

This morning officers have written to me and my Ward colleagues to say that unfortunately they realise it is not possible to establish a set of bottle banks for glass recycling at the canal end of Cholmeley Road because the large lorries cannot reliably access the area.

I’m not that surprised because of the narrowness of the roads, but it is a shame.  I will let you know if a solution can be found.

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Maiden Erlegh School – Admission Result

Tonight Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive voted 8:1 for the alternative tie-breaker (* See below)

For Park Ward residents this means that unless they are (a) a “looked after” child; (b) have a serious medical, physical or psychological condition; or (c) are a designated area sibling; they are very unlikely to be given a place as (d) all the other designated area children criterion is probably going to be over-subscribed.

I will speak with my colleague Mark Ralph (Lead Cllr for Education & Children’s Services) tomorrow to discuss WBC’s decision.

*  The wording of the alternative tie-breaker is:  “For Maiden Erlegh School only, within criteria C and D, first priority will be given to applicants whose permanent home address is south of the centre line of the A329 and within 600m radius of Maiden Erlegh School, after which priority will be given to the applicants whose permanent home address is the greatest additional radial distance to the alternative designated area school (Bulmershe).”

UPDATE: There is an article in today’s Reading Post

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Progress on 20 mile an hour zone – Part II

Talfourd/Melrose/Belle Avenue & Holmes Road

Last month I wrote about progress on a 20 mile an hour speed limit for the above named roads.

I met Cllr Richard Willis, Lead Member for Transport, again today and fed back to him that residents I & others spoke with yesterday were in favour of the reduced speed limit.

The Council is working towards carrying out a formal consultation and, as long as the majority are supportive, a 20 mile an hour zone will be implemented.

If you live in one of these roads do let me know your opinion by dropping me an email

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