Wednesday, 26 February 2014

1984 - 99 Red Balloons

Nena's "99 Red Balloons" reached No.1 in the UK pop singles chart on this week in 1984.

Mike Orton was patiently teaching me the craft of election organisation in Whitley on the way to me replacing the "Father of the Council" Jack Price (from Dowlais originally) as a Labour Councillor in the ward.

Good to sing along to (sometimes only in my head!) as we delivered the Labour message in the dark streets before the clocks changed.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Tackling The Nuisance Of Estate Agent Boards

ESTATE agents who transform whole neighbourhoods into ‘eyesores’ by putting up scores of sales or lettings boards and leave them in place for weeks or months may have their signs removed and banned in parts of the town as part of tough action being considered by Reading Borough Council.
High levels of student accommodation and shared properties make certain parts of Reading a hotspot for unscrupulous estate or lettings agents who flood streets with ‘to let’ or ‘for sale’ boards. Some boards are left in place far longer than necessary and sometimes boards are on display to attract potential student tenants well in advance of the next academic year.
Both of these things have the effect of spoiling the appearance of some of the town’s streets and conservation areas, much to the annoyance of local residents.
Signs also contravene the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007 where they are left in place longer than allowed by the Regulations, leaving estate agents at risk of prosecution.
The Council wrote to estate and lettings agents in June 2009 and December 2011 asking them to take action, but those requests have failed. The Council is now writing to estate and lettings agents again, this time with a warning that a range of tough measures are being considered by Reading Borough Council. These include:
• enforcement action including prosecution
• removal of illegal signs
• a Direction under Regulation 7 of the Advertisement Regulations which would remove the right to display agents’ boards in designated areas of Reading .
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Residents in parts of Reading are quite rightly angry about estate agents who believe they are above the law and think they can flout existing regulations. It is something the Council is regularly lobbied on by residents and it is unfortunate that previous requests by the Council have been ignored. As such there are now a number of options we as a Council are considering and that includes forcibly removing the offending signs and banning them from designated areas.
“Before any decisions are made however, I am inviting representative of lettings and estate agents to attend a meeting next month where this important issue can be discussed further.”
The meeting will take place in the Council Chamber at the Civic Offices at 10.30am on Thursday 20 March. Estate or letting agents interested in attending are being asked to email Cllr Page direct at to confirm attendance.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Daisy, Daisy Give Us Your Answer Do

Lib Dem councillor Daisy Benson used to pride herself on using any and all kinds of social media to get her noticed and get her message over.

How things have changed.

Her official page on Reading Council's website still includes the claim that she is "Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Reading Borough Council" - something the real leader Ricky Duveen may have a view on! 

Staying on that page, no ward surgeries are listed for her.

A bit more googling shows her twitter feed rarely now refers to Redlands ward - more about music, Arsenal FC and the problems within the Lib Dem national party. 

Then there's a redundant .com page from her Reading West parliamentary campaign which redirects to her twitter page, a facebook site (which also still claims her leadership position)  ... and that's about it.

The Daisy of old wouldn't have allowed such sloppiness. 

With Labour's powerful organising team now well established in Redlands, David Absolom is odds-on favourate to take the council seat from the Lib Dems at the next election on 22 May - regardless of whether Daisy stands or not.

It is no surprise then, that word has it she has already given up the game in Redlands. 

It is certainly true that more and more residents say that she and the Lib Dems have disappeared off the scene with virtually nothing seen or heard of them since before the council elections in May 2012.

It also seems to be the case that Lib Dems in Reading are putting all resources into trying to save Ricky Duveen's council seat in Tilehurst - an increasingly hopeless task which could see the Lib Dems reduced to a single seat in May.

Daisy, Daisy give us your answer do.
Redlands no longer crazy to vote for you
It will be electoral carnage
Your reputation can't avoid the damage
Will you still tweet
About defeat
Of a career now in ruins

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Guest Blog: Helping You Recycle More

Guest Blog: Cllr Liz Terry, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods

Reading Borough Council is committed to reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill, and recycling more of the waste that you produce. This is important because it helps to keep our costs down, allowing us to keep council tax as low as possible, and it is better for the environment.

Waste Collections
At the moment, we collect one standard-size grey wheeled bin of general waste from households once every two weeks.  For most households this is enough to meet their needs when used alongside recycling bins or boxes.  However, in some circumstances, a larger grey bin may be approved.

Because people’s circumstances change over time, we want to ensure that households which currently have more than one grey bin or a larger grey bin still need this extra capacity. You can e-mail us at or call us on 0118 937 3787.

Recycle MoreThanks to you, we are now recycling 36.8% of household waste; this represents a big improvement, but there is still more we can all do.  There are some useful tips in the enclosed leaflet which can help to increase the amount of recycling you do and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in your grey bin, and then landfill; you can also visit our website

However, we appreciate that some households may need help with recycling and reducing their general waste, so if you think it could be useful, we can also arrange for one of our Waste Support Officers to visit to advise you about how to reduce your general waste and increase the amount you recycle. 

If you require more advice or a new, or extra, red recycling bin please telephone us on the number above, or visit our website.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

New East Reading Secondary School: 11 to 16 Years Only

New School: Better Here Than RBH
Recent media reports have trumpted the successful bid by Maiden Erlegh School to build a new secondary school in east Reading. 

Now the plans for a 900 pupils school also get Rob Wilson off the hook for his always bonkers plan of siting a new school at the Royal Berks Hospital campus on London Road as this is now, apparently, too small.

However, what has not been widely advertised is that the Maiden Erlegh plan is not for a full secondary school at all, but would be limited to being a school for 11 to 16 year olds only - a fact, which in fairness, is included on their websiteAs this news filters out, it is already causing much disgruntlement in east Reading and a growing belief that Wilson has once again sold the community short. 

Meanwhile Wilson seems to prefer spending his time criticising Reading schools from the safety of Westminster rather than engage with Reading Borough Council in any constructive dialogue. A nice way to represent the town!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Redlands Ward Surgery - Saturday, 8 February

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 Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and the Hexham Road Community Centre.

Jan and I also undertake "street surgeries" on other Saturdays and weekdays - so watch out for the window poster!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Dawlish Railway - Govt Knew Risks Three Years Ago

Here's a YouTube piece uploaded by DEFRA in January 2011, when the then Environment Minister Lord Henley visited Dawlish  to stage a photo opportunity beside the railway line to launch their new strategy on critical infrastructure and climate change. And Network Rail claimed to be "ahead of the game"!

Since then funding was cut - and we know what happened this week. 

Rocket science it ain't..

Benefit Street - A Summary

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Love Clean Reading - In Redlands

During the Spring months Council teams will be out and about armed with brooms, brushes, dustcarts, graffiti cleaning equipment and hedgecutters, and converging on local streets for a concerted clean up. More than 130 streets across Reading will get this deep clean as part of a new initiative called ‘Love Clean Reading.’

Work will include street sweeping, verge edging, gulley emptying, weeding, tree pruning and clearing vegetation. A schedule of works detailing the streets and alleyways being targeted is listed below.  
Signs notifying residents that work in their neighbourhood is imminent will go up one week before the works start. Temporary parking suspensions will be necessary in some instances for the deep clean to take place.Once work is complete, residents and local businesses will then be sent a feedback form to get their views on how effective the work was.

A total of 23 streets have already been deep cleaned throughout January as part of the initial trial of the ’Love Clean Reading’ scheme. By the time the project is complete the total figure is expected to reach 134 streets. As always, scheduling is weather dependent and may be subject to change. 
The work being carried out by the Council as part of the Love Clean Reading initiative is in addition to the Council’s regular street cleaning and maintenance programme


Week Commencing March 17
Northumberland Avenue ( Part)
Corbridge Road
Newcastle Road
Bede Walk
Hexham Road
Addington Road
Redlands Road

Kendrick Road

Week Commencing March 24
Newcastle Road access into Cintra Park

How to Report Streetcare Problems

To tell the Council about any streetcare problems, accumulations of litter in public areas, graffiti, dog mess, overflowing or damaged litter bins, or fly-tipping use the Love Clean Reading website or the Love Clean Reading App (available to download from the website), this will enable you to upload a photo of the problem.