Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Hospital And University Need To Be Better Neighbours

RBH & Uni: Putting Pressure On Our Streets
The extended public consultation on parking and traffic issues in Redlands closes at the end of this week, following which consideration will be given to drafting up any firm proposals which command a public mandate. However, what is already clear - and has been for some time - is that the streets around "old Redlands" struggle to cope with the pressures of having two of Reading's three largest employers as our neighbours.

There is no doubt that the Royal Berkshire Hospital and the University of Reading are good for the local economies of Redlands and Reading as a whole - I'm sure local councillors would be to the fore of any campaign if ever there was any suggestion of either of these fine institutions relocating.

That being said, we must expect more of the RBH and the UoR in the way they address the issues arising from being large employers and running organisations which attract a large number of daily visitors.

It is simply not good enough to expand in the way that both have done in recent years and expect that that the Victorian streets in Redlands can soak up ever-increasing numbers of cars roaming around seeking a parking space.

Both the hospital and the university have capacity to build new car parks (at Addington Road and on the Whiteknights campus respectively) yet nothing is planned. If they argue that limited resources would mean detracting from clinical or academic needs, then form a partnership with a third party to build and run such facilities.

But building car parks can only be part of their response. The university should also be encouraged (or challenged!) to take more seriously it's responsibilities for those students who live in rented houses in our streets, while the hospital could engage in a better dialogue regarding providing a workable park and ride scheme (and not a repeat of the "ghost buses" they ran a few years ago).

We need co-operation and commitment from our big neighbours now, or else the council will be forced to defend the interests of local residents in a more resilient way than ever before.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Lib Dem Membership Plummets

Who would be a Lib Dem these days?

Good question, and a question to which the answer is – far less people than last year, as their membership slumped by 20% in a single year.

Lets take a look at some of their vital statistics. How did trebling tuition fees work out for the Lib Dem Youth wing “Liberal Youth?


How about in the constituencies of ministers? Surely being close to power is intoxicating, no? How about in Sarah Teather’s Brent party?

Ouch. Ah well. Sarah has had a tricky year, what with her hilarious gags and everything.

How about Nick Clegg, the most powerful Lib Dem in history (think on that, if you will). Surely the people of Sheffield Hallam are drawn to him like a moth to an orange flame?

Oh dear.

Now let’s not pretend that Labour is in a perfect position when it comes to membership. We aren’t. We’re far away from being a mass membership party, and many hundreds of thousands of members away from where we need to be in terms of a fighting force that can win elections on the ground.

But these Lib Dem membership slumps are in a single year. One year.

Who would be a Lib Dem these days? Good question.

Reproduced from Mark Ferguson's article on LabourList

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Wilson Can Be Beaten In Reading East

Wilson Acting As Hunt's "Bag Man" At Leveson Inquiry
Robert Wilson has been a lucky man. He won the Reading East seat by squeak in 2005 and hasn't faced a serious challenge since.

Having slipped down the Westminster greasy pole from Shadow Front Bencher to Bag Man (sorry, PPS) to a Junior Minister with much to answer at the Leveson Inquiry, his political carrier is in a bit of a tail-spin.

Locally, the Reading East Conservative Association and their Councillors have faced splits and the threat of law suits.

Meanwhile Wilson has tried to boost his local popularity by proposing a new University Technical College for East Reading - only to subsequently distance himself from the plan as the project is forced to be downgraded to a Technical Academy with a huge catchment area from Basingstoke to Wycombe!

With continuing confusion over which parcels of land may or may not be used for the education establishment at Crescent Road - and, disturbingly, what trade-offs will have to made to housing developers, Wilson's part in this has a long way to run yet.

Not content with that, he then further grubs around for votes in the dirt by sticking his nose in the relocation of the Civic Offices to no great effect as the Conservative Councillors at RBC agreed that Plaza West is the best option.

The guy is vulnerable locally and, with the continuing decline in Tory support and organisation, can be beaten at the General Election in 2015. With the Lib Dems also disintegrating, it is entirely plausible for Labour to go from third place to first in less than three years time.

To do that, we have to find the right candidate. In my opinion, that means we have to find a strong local candidate. Residents in Reading East deserve better than Wilson and Labour must answer that call.

(Photo credit: AP)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Ward Surgery - Saturday, 9 June

Cllr Jan Gavin and I will be holding our regular Labour Councillors' Ward Surgery for residents at Hexham Road Community Centre, between 10.30am and noon today.

No appointment is necessary and discussions are strictly confidential.

Ward surgeries are held on the second Saturday of each month, alternating between St Lukes Church Hall, Erleigh Road and the Hexham Road Community Centre.