Friday, 30 August 2013

Guest Blog: Electoral Reform Society

An important piece of legislation is coming up for second reading in Parliament next week and we thought you’d be interested in hearing about what’s going on.

Along with many other non-governmental organisations, charities and campaigning groups, the ERS has become increasingly concerned about the latest changes to the Government’s Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

We’ve written to the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, Chloe Smith MP, to express our concern that one consequence of the Bill could be that small campaigning organisations like the ERS are unfairly constrained and penalised. We are particularly alarmed that the new financial limits to be placed on NGOs during election years could undermine our ability to function as a modern campaigning body. You can read our blog about it and the Electoral Commission has published a useful update outlining the problems with the Bill here

While the ERS is broadly supportive of the principles of greater transparency in relation to lobbyists, we have stressed to Chloe Smith that a strong democracy relies on its citizens’ ability to participate in the battle of ideas in the lead up to an election. A vibrant general election campaign relies on diverse participation from across civil society.

We are concerned that should the Bill be passed in its current form, the ability of the ERS and many other charities and NGOs to raise important issues could be severely limited. We have asked the Minister to take our concerns into consideration and urgently clarify the consequences of the Bill.

How can you help?

Stay up to date and join the discussion by liking us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Join us! If you’re passionate about political equality and building a better democracy in the UK, please join us for £1 or £2 a month – we need your help and it would be great to have you on board! Become a member and help us keep up the pressure on the Government.
We’ll keep you posted and let you know what the Minister says in response to our concerns. With your help, we will build a better democracy.

Best wishes,

KatieGhose signature.jpg

Katie Ghose

Chief Executive
Electoral Reform Society

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

East Reading School: Site Bought By Council


Labour controlled Reading Borough Council has secured a site which could accommodate a new secondary school for 11 to 16 year olds on land at Crescent Road in East Reading.

Current projections are that by 2017 secondary school in Reading will be full for those starting secondary education . The Council is therefore moving now to buy the freehold of the key Crescent Road site which could provide a new school to help cater for the rising demand.

The location means that children at the school would have access to playing fields and the opportunity to share resources with both neighbouring Alfred Sutton Primary School and, it is hoped, the new University Technical College (UTC). The proposed new school would also fulfil Reading Borough Council’s ambition for a new secondary school which caters for 11 to 16 year olds. The proposal to make the UTC an 11 to 16 year old college was rejected by the Department for Education (DfE) when it was put forward by the Council in 2011.

The purchase of the Crescent Road site was approved at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee on July 15.

John Ennis, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Education, said: “Despite having to make savings of approximately £40m over the next few years, children’s education remains a key priority within the spending plans of the council. By securing this site, which could accommodate a new secondary school, the Council is taking a big stride towards addressing the concerns of parents in East Reading.

“The Council was clear at the time that while we welcomed the UTC to Reading, we also thought it should open its doors to children from the age of 11, rather than just from the age of 14 as is currently the case. Unfortunately the Council’s proposals on this were turned down by the Government but I’m pleased to say that a proposed new school would fill that gap and hopefully help to reassure parents who would have been understandably concerned.”

During the Autumn of 2012 a group of local parents in East Reading submitted a bid to open a Free School serving the local community using a site other than Crescent Road. That bid was turned down by the DfE in the bidding round in March 2013, but the need for additional school places in East Reading remains. Now that the Council has secured the Crescent Road site, the route for a new school in East Reading is again likely to be the Free School option.

Cllr Ennis added “The Council is willing to work closely with any parent group in East Reading that may want to help take this forward and I would be happy to sit down with parents to have that discussion.”

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

Ongoing economic difficulties also mean that young families that would traditionally move out of central Reading into the suburbs and into larger properties, are now remaining where they are. This is placing a significant added burden on school places in Reading.


 As I reported on the public meeting held on 27 September 2012 Cllr Isobel Ballsdon disclosed that the current Reading East MP Rob Wilson was "60% there" in plans for a new 11 to 16 school for east Reading. Well, nearly twelve months on Wilson, Ballsdon and their Tory cronies have achieved nothing of substance.

Meanwhile Reading's Labour council has taken positive action to move a new secondary school a big step closer.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Lib Dems: Only 7 Women MPs - And Could Fall To 2

Lib Dems: Only 7 Women MPs
Nick Clegg is planning to award peerages to a number of the Liberal Democrats’ key female activists in an attempt to rebut claims his party is anti-women according to the Daily Telegraph.
At the moment just 7 of the Lib Dems’ 57 MPs are women (12.7%), a figure which compares unfavourably with Labour, where almost one in three MPs (31 per cent) is female. The Conservatives are on 16 per cent.

And Lib Dem insiders believe the proportion could go down after the next general election in 2015, because five of the Lib Dems’ seven women MPs, represent constituencies which are among the 12 most vulnerable of the party’s seats.
The source said “It’s very hard for us to do anything about that in the Commons for the next election, because we have so few winnable seats where a new candidate can be chosen."
Mr Clegg plans to use the appointment of working peers to promote more women despite saying last year that he would refuse to take up a peerage  - something which could open him up to hypocrisy charges. He said at the time “I personally will not take a seat in an unreformed House of Lords. It just sticks in the throat.”
Last month Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, pointed out there were as many knights on the Lib Dem benches in the Commons as there were women. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Reading Festival 2013

Wednesday 2pm: Roads in and around Reading are already getting busy with visitors arriving for the world famous Reading Festival.

Traffic delays are expected across the Reading area due to the sheer volume of visitors heading for the Richfield Avenue site and the various car parks and campsites in the vicinity.
Local shops and supermarkets are doing a brisk trade in catering for all the expected needs of the young, hungry and thirsty.

So if you aren't planning to be at the Festival - and the £200 weekend tickets sold out a month ago - but are planning to travel into Reading town centre on any of these days, allow extra time for your journey times: better still, leave the car at home and jump on a bus.

Relatively normal traffic flows are expected on Saturday and Sunday ... and abnormal weather is expected for the Bank Holiday weekend - with hardly a muddy welly in sight!

Let's hope it's a good one!


Police: Local Priorities, Meetings And Officers

Local priorities

The following priorities have been identified by the Redlands and Park communities and the police:

Traffic Issues - Parking and speeding in residential roads and near local schools
Burglary - Houses with multiple occupants
Anti Social Behaviour - Alcohol related

These are being dealt with by your neighbourhood policing team in partnership with residents and other agencies. Progress will be reported in the Neighbourhood updates.

Neighbourhood updates

Have Your Say meetings

Meet your local neighbourhood officers and have your say on policing priorities and concerns in your local area.

Find out more about Have Your Say meetings.

Type: Have Your Say Meeting
Date: Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Time: 13:00 - 15:00
Venue: Hexham Road Community Centre
Contact: Redlands & Park Neighbourhood Policing Team
Type: Have Your Say Meeting
Date: Sunday, 25 August 2013
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Venue: The Warehouse, Cumberland Road
Contact: Redlands & Park Neighbourhood Policing Team
Type: Have Your Say Meeting
Date: Sunday, 25 August 2013
Time: 15:00 - 16:00
Venue: The Arch, Cemetery Junction
Contact: Redlands & Park Neighbourhood Policing Team
Type: Have Your Say Meeting
Date: Tuesday, 03 September 2013
Time: 14:45 - 15:45
Venue: Exbourne Road, outside the schools
Contact: Whitley & Church Neighbourhood Policing Team
Type: Have Your Say Meeting
Date: Wednesday, 04 September 2013
Time: 13:00 - 15:00
Venue: Hexham Road Community Centre
Contact: Redlands & Park Neighbourhood Policing Team
Neighbourhood officers
  • Inspector Lindsay JamesInspector Lindsay James
  • Sergeant Marie MathiesonSergeant Marie Mathieson
  • PC Richard AngellPC Richard Angell
  • PC Richard BrazellPC Richard Brazell
  • PC Becky PackerPC Becky Packer
  • PC Mandy GibsonPC Mandy Gibson
  • PCSO Sue RoffPCSO Sue Roff
  • PCSO Carla IrvinePCSO Carla Irvine
  • PCSO Rafal GorniakPCSO Rafal Gorniak
  • PCSO Steve PengillyPCSO Steve Pengilly

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Reading In FA Cup Action Today

Yes, it is August and no, there's no goal line technology, but FA Cup action is back in Reading today.

Unbeaten Reading Town FC take on Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division rivals Wantage Town in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.

Kick off at 3pm at Scours Lane.

twitter: @OfficialRTFC

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Celebrating Eid In Reading

Cumberland Road and Alexandra Road mosques are observing Eid-ul-fitr - also known as the breaking of the fast - today. South Street mosque celebrating Eid on Friday "due to the moon not being sighted today".

If you are supporting any of these events (or none at all) Happy Eid.

Hope Not Hate: send a card here.