Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hexagon Panto: Cinderella - Mayor's Charity Benefit Performance

I am delighted to announce that the Mayor's Charity has been granted a benefit performance of this year's pantomime at The Hexagon.

This will be the 5pm performance on Sunday 7 December 2014.

Tickets can be booked on-line here.

JON CLEGG (Britain’s Got Talent)
ANNA WILLIAMSON (Splash, CITV, Toonattik)
DAVE MYERS (Hairy Bikers, Strictly)
LIZA GODDARD (Grandpa In My Pocket)

Once upon a time….
Cinderella dreams of escaping the life she has fallen into. With the arrival of an invitation to Prince Charming’s Grand Ball, it seems she may get her wish. However, the Ugliest Sisters in pantoland are determined to keep her as their servant, but with the help of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and a generous helping of panto magic perhaps her dreams will come true after all?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Kendrick Road Tree Pruning

If you live or park in Kendrick Road you will need to be aware that parking rights will be suspended next week in order that tree pruning can be undertaken.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

To Print Or Not To Print: That Is The Question

Guest Post: Steve Dyson

Is Trinity Mirror’s digital experiment in Reading the end for local papers?

Regional newspaper group has abandoned a market-leading print position in Berkshire to chase a low-cost online-only future Photograph:
Trinity Mirror’s decision on Friday to close seven local newspapers, in what it described as a “bold, digital-only approach”, provides much to discuss. The future of local papers for a start.
Let’s take Berkshire, where the company’s market-leading papers, the Reading Post and its free sister title GetReading, have been sacrificed in an attempt to boost its online website.
The two weeklies were direct descendants of the Reading Evening Post, and were created in 2009 by then-owner Guardian Media Group when the daily’s sales fell to 12,979 copies. They were sold to Trinity Mirror along with the Manchester Evening News in 2010.
What’s intriguing is the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ latest figures, which show that the Reading Post circulated 12,389 copies a week in 2013, 50% selling at 70p, the rest free ‘pick up’ copies; meanwhile, GetReading circulated 65,185 a week, 95% home-delivered and 3,319 selling at 70p.
Compare that to the competing Reading Chronicle, owned by the independent Berkshire Media Group – and soon to be the town’s only paid-for paper: last year it distributed 5,981 copies a week, 80% of them paid-for, while its free sister title, the Reading Midweek, reached another 55,449 homes.
Put simply, Reading appears to be a highly competitive newspaper market that until last Friday was led by Trinity Mirror’s titles, with cover price revenues alone estimated to be worth more than £300,000 a year.
At a stroke, Trinity Mirror has willingly given this print position away – Berkshire Media must be rubbing their hands in glee – in order to free-up costs and experiment with a cheaper ‘digital only’ push.
If this ‘closing-costly-print-in-favour-of-digital’ model works, it could soon be introduced elsewhere, as Trinity Mirror’s own statement hinted at last week: “[T]his is an important and pioneering step that might, in time, be applicable to other existing markets or indeed new ones.”
I wanted to explore this strategy in more detail, but my approaches were blocked by Nick Cosgrove, of Trinity Mirror’s PR company Brunswick Group, who simply said: “I’d refer you to the statement issued on Friday.”
That statement has little depth or reasoning. Here are just some of the questions I wanted to ask the company:
• Are the newspapers you’re closing making losses? If not, why are you closing them?
• If profit margins are narrowing, why not simply reduce costs to sustain the businesses?
• Why have you not put these titles up for sale instead?
• Is it because you’re attempting a less costly, ‘digital only’ experiment which, as you say, might be applied elsewhere if successful?
• What does that mean for tens of thousands of traditional readers who want to receive your products in print?
• Your newspaper closures will result in dozens of job losses: how will this affect the reporting of areas like courts and council, and other roles that traditional newspapers play in an open, democratic society?
• How will your ‘digital only’ products still stick up for local people, still investigate rip-offs, misdemeanours, corruption and crime?
Trinity Mirror, of course, is a plc and so is perfectly entitled – some would say legally bound – to employ strategies it thinks will best make the most profits for its shareholders.
But if its ‘digital-only’ gamble is played out across the company’s regional portfolio, with fewer fixed costs, and fewer reporters, and if this is then looked at and emulated by other publishers, it could spell catastrophe for the local newspaper industry.
Whether or not this is the right strategy deserves tough questioning, analysis and discussion – before there’s nothing left to debate.
● Steve Dyson is a former editor of the Birmingham Mail and the Evening Gazette, Teesside, both published by Trinity Mirror. His personal website is here

Sunday, 16 November 2014

General Election 2015: Less Than Six Months To Go


With now less than six months to go to the next General Election, on Thursday 7 May 2015, here's a poll undertaken by ComRes and published in today's The Independent on Sunday.

In a period of intense scrutiny of the national leadership, it is interesting to note that support for the Labour Party remains solid. With an increasingly "Presidential" style of news media coverage I wonder how many people could even name all the party leaders?

In Redlands, as in Reading, we will keep standing up for what matters to residents, street by street, issue by issue.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Eastern Avenue Car Parking

Eastern Avenue: south west end in Redlands

Labour Councillors have responded to concerns of Redlands residents in Eastern Avenue about car parking in the area by calling a meeting next week to discuss options.

The introduction of a successful residents parking scheme in near-by Upper Redlands Road last year (at the request of the residents in that street) as well as the more recent schemes in New Road and the Mount, has undoubtedly placed more pressure on undefended streets to the dislocation of non-residents parking.

With this in mind Redlands Labour Councillors are inviting residents to discuss the current and possible future parking arrangements at a meeting next week:

Date:    Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Time:    7pm to 8pm
Venue: Kennet Room, Reading Borough Council Civic Offices.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Guest Post: "This Is Why I Want To Be Prime Minister"

A guest post from Ed Miliband

People sometimes say that they don't know what we — what I — stand for, so I'll put this in the simplest terms I can, so no one can have any doubts. This country is too unequal, and we need to change it.

So here are the promises I'm making to you about the kind of Britain I will lead:
First, I will undo the damage the Tories have done to our country:
  • I will scrap the Bedroom Tax, which unfairly punishes the disabled and the vulnerable
  • I will scrap the Health and Social Care Act, which damages and undermines our NHS
  • I will scrap the gagging law, which limits our freedom of speech and right to campaign
  • I will reverse the Tories' £3bn tax cut for millionaires, so we get the deficit down but do it fairly
Second, I will take on the powerful vested interests that hold millions back:
  • I will force energy companies to freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017
  • I will give power back to those who rent their homes, by scrapping letting fees and stabilising tenancy agreements
  • I will raise money from tobacco companies, tax avoiders, and a mansion tax to fund doctors, nurses, careworkers and midwives for our NHS
  • I will reform our banks so that they properly support small businesses
  • I will stop recruitment agencies hiring only from abroad
Third, I will start to rebuild a fairer, better Britain:
  • I will raise the minimum wage, to ensure that everyone that does a hard day's work is properly rewarded
  • I will promote the living wage by giving tax breaks to companies that pay it
  • I will ban the damaging zero-hours contracts that exploit British workers
  • I will bring in a lower 10p income tax rate, cutting taxes for 24 million workers
  • I will support working parents with 25 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds
  • I will help more young people get on the housing ladder by getting 200,000 homes built every year
I want to know — is this the kind of Britain you want to see?
Tell me now which of my three promises is most important to you:

Undoing Tory damage
Taking on vested interests
Building a better Britain

Thank you.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Armistice Day

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the two minute silence is observed on Armistice Day, the day which marks the end of the First World War.

Armistice Day 2014 is today. 

"When you go home, tell them of us and say: For their tomorrow, we gave our today."

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday 2014

I am very proud to be the Mayor of Reading this Remembrance Sunday.
Proceedings were moved out of the previous base in Brock Barracks along Oxford Road in to the town centre with a service at the Minister Church followed by the main act of remembrance at the war memorial in the Forbury.
These events were very well supported and the two minutes silence observed immaculately.
Thank you Reading and our visitors from further afield.