Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Broad Street - Cycling Consultation

CYCLING IN PEDESTRIANISED BROAD STREET
Broad Street - cycling consultation
Closing date 31 December 2015.
The Council is seeking your views on cycling in Broad Street.
In the early 1990's, Broad Street was initially partially pedestrianised resulting in the introduction of a cycling ban between the West Street/St Marys Butts Junction and Queen Victoria Street.
When the full length of Broad Street was pedestrianised in 2000, the existing cycle links on Broad Street East were retained to allow access via Cross Street and Queen Victoria Street to the north of the Town Centre. However, the existing moving traffic restrictions in Broad Street West remained, including the cycling ban. 
The Council proposes a review of the current no cycling restriction in Broad Street West and to consider the suitability of permitting or banning cycling for the whole length of Broad Street.
Therefore, please can you complete the online form, confirming your preference on the two proposed options.
The results of the informal consultation will be reported to the Traffic Management Sub-Committee in January 2016, and a further Statutory Consultation will follow which will be based on the most popular option.
Here is the link to the on-line consultation.
Here is a link to the cycle routes in Reading town centre.
My View
My colleague Cllr Tony Page, Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, has said:
"Since the full pedestrianisation of Broad Street many years ago, the Council has put in place more bike racks, including a ReadyBike docking station, in Broad Street East. Cycling facilities have also been provided in Broad Street West, but the cycling ban has been retained." 
"The public consultation which will take place will also make clear however that cycling bans would be retained elsewhere in the Town Centre and will be enforced much more rigorously by Thames Valley Police and Reading Borough Council." 
As a member of the Traffic Management Sub-Committee I have often had to consider reports about cycling in Reading. I believe the record shows I have been consistently supportive of initiatives to make Reading a more cycle-friendly town.
And I agree with Tony Page when he says that the current arrangements in Broad Street "can cause confusion for cyclists and pedestrians and is difficult to enforce. We believe that having consistency along the full length of Broad Street makes sense"
and
"The issue of some cyclists choosing to ignore cycling bans is one the Council and police are lobbied on regularly by the public. The introduction of more logical restrictions would allow this tougher enforcement action where cycling bans are in place".
However, I disagree with Tony's conclusion that we should lift the ban on cycling for the full length of Broad Street.
My view, is that the full length of Broad Street should be pedestrians only and cyclists be encouraged to use Friar Street and Minster Streets respectively as their cross town centre routes.
Let's make Broad Street truly pedestrianised!
Participate in the consultation

Picture courtesy of GetReading





Sunday, 29 November 2015

79%

Reading Borough Council needs to save £39million over the next three years.

Central government funding to the council has been cut by 40% since 2013/14.

This is on top of the £57million cut since 2011.

Many local services can no longer be afforded and are at risk.

Following last week's autumn statement and spending review by George Osborne, the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies has calculated how government spending will have changed over the ten years since the arrival of the coalition LibDem/Conservative government in 2010 and the end of the current Conservative administration in 2020.

  • Local government spending will have been cut by 79% since May 2010.
  • Transport cut by 70%
  • Justice cut by 45%
  • Environment, Food and Rural Affairs cut by 45%
  • Work and Pensions cut by 44%
  • Business, Innovation and Skills cut by 42%
  • Culture, Media and Sports cut by 36%
  • Home Office cut by 26%
  • Defence cut by 12%
  • Education cut by 3%


In July 2007 government debt was at 35.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP). After bailing out the banks following the global financial crisis, this rose to 56.8% by July 2009.

By April 2015 this figure had risen to 81.6% of GDP or £1.56trillion and still rising by £2billion every week.

Osborne's choice of austerity for some, to fix the national economy is not working.





Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Redlands Christmas Gift And Craft Market

Please support this year's Redlands Christmas Gift & Craft Market, which is to be held at Redlands Primary School, Lydford Road, on Thursday 19th Novemeber, 7pm-9pm.

This great event has been organised by the Friends of Redlands School group and provides a great showcase for many local arts and craft makers.

I'm going!


Sunday, 1 November 2015

NHS: Bankrupt It And Then Sell It Off

In the weeks leading up to the last General Election  it is said that one of the most decisive interventions which shaped the out-come was the pledge by George Osbourne to plug the funding gap in the NHS.

In the Guardian on 10 April 2015, Osborne wrote: 

"We back the NHS’s plan, but there’s no point having a plan without the funding to deliver it, so today we commit to deliver what the NHS needs. The Five Year Forward View sets out a projected gap between costs and resources of up to £30bn by the year 2020-21. As the plan says, the majority of this gap, £22bn, can be made up through efficiency and reform, as well as improvements in public health and prevention that will keep people healthier for longer. The NHS will do its part, and we will do ours. So I can confirm that in the Conservative manifesto next week we will commit to a minimum real-terms increase in NHS funding of £8bn in the next five years." 

But the problem with this equation is that the NHS has never made savings of 2-3% ever it its entire history. However worthy or challenging this assumption may be, it is neither realistic nor honest. 

These estimates of the money gap were made after the most expensive and wasteful "top-down" reorganisation of the NHS (which in itself was a broken promise from the 2010 election campaign).

So when Cameron, Osborne, Hunt and others bang on about to "fully funding the NHS budget gap" they know that the promised £8bn is a long way short of what is actually needed.

Many NHS Trusts are now facing crippling deficits leading to staff shortages on wards and in clinical departments - and the employment of expensive agency staff.

What will this mean over the next five years?

It is not unreasonable to believe that over the life of this parliament the government will turn around and say "We gave you all the money you asked for and you still could not make it work ... so we will hand over even more of the NHS to private companies"

And what does it mean in Reading today?

Here is one experience: my own. 

I went to see my GP in late September this year about an on-going health issue who immediately made a referral for me to see a consultant. 

On 1st October I rang the NHS (the on-line e-Referral Service was not working) to indicate that I wanted to be seen at the Royal Berks Hospital (which is at the end of my street). I was told I would be sent a date "within two weeks". 

On 29 October I got my letter (2 weeks later than promised) to say I had been allocated an appointment in the middle of February 2016.

By my calculation my appointment will be 24 weeks after my referral. The NHS Constitution says we have "a right to start non-emergency consultant led treatment within 18 weeks from referral - or where cancer is suspected, within 2 weeks of urgent referral".

When I enquired about this apparent breach of the standards set out in NHS Constitution, I was told "staff shortages".

In the meanwhile deficits across the NHS continue to spiral out of control - the latest reports were only published after the recent Conservative Party conference.

But with a Secretary of State who has co-authored a book calling for the the NHS to be dismantled, this seems to be only heading one way.

Let's hope this winter's weather is not too harsh ...

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

You Can Shed Tears That She Is Gone, Or You Can Smile Because She Has Lived


My Mother died on 10 October and yesterday we buried her near her home in South Wales.

The funeral service was held in Bedwellty Church - the same church where she had married my Father nearly 60 years earlier.

Opposite is a reading from the funeral service.

Mam would have wanted all of us to "smile, open your eyes, love and go on".

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn's Programme For Government

The article below has been reproduced from the BBC News website and is their summary of Jeremy Corbyn's programme for government. 


I agree with pretty much all of it and look forward to taking it to and talking about it on the doorsteps of Redlands.


What is Jeremy Corbyn's programme for government?

Jeremy CorbynImage copyrightAFP/Getty
Jeremy Corbyn says he wants a "fundamental shift" in economic policy and for Labour to be a "credible alternative" rather than "Tory light". To those who say he wants to take the party back to the 1980s, he has said he'd go back a decade further, to the 1970s Wilson/Callaghan Labour government.
According to his critics, the Islington North MP's vision for Britain is so left-wing it would make the Labour Party unelectable. But what do we know so far about the policies he would want to bring in if he did win power?

The economy

Twenty pound notes in a piggy bankImage copyrightPA
There would be an end to austerity, higher taxes for the rich and protection for people on welfare - and a new crackdown on tax avoidance and tax evasion, as well as "corporate welfare", tax breaks for companies. He claims this plan could "double" the NHS's income.
He believes in paying off the deficit but not through spending cuts - and not to meet an "arbitrary" date.
Mr Corbyn has also said he would consider introducing a "maximum wage" to cap the pay of top executives and he would renationalise the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The Bank of England would be allowed to print money - People's Quantitative Easing - for "new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects". Mr Corbyn says this would create "a million skilled jobs and genuine apprenticeships" with knock-on boosts for the supply chain.
A bricklayerImage copyrightPA
Image captionMr Corbyn has promised more apprenticeships
Critics, including Labour's current shadow chancellor Chris Leslie, say this would lead to higher inflation and interest rates, with the poorest households paying the price. Mr Leslie also questions Mr Corbyn's claim that £120bn could be recovered from tax avoidance and evasion. Corporation tax would increase under Mr Corbyn. The government would still aim to reduce the deficit, but at a slower rate and through increased investment and higher taxes rather than spending cuts.

Foreign policy

RAF TornadoImage copyrightMOD
Mr Corbyn has called for a "radically different international policy", based on "political and not military solutions". In the Middle East, Mr Corbyn says you have to "talk to everybody" to secure peace. He would look to withdraw from Nato and is opposed to air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The EU

European Parliament HQImage copyrightReuters
Mr Corbyn says he supports the UK remaining in the EU, but wants to see "a better Europe". He opposes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal outright. He had previously refused to rule out campaigning to leave, and also said he had "mixed feelings" on the issue, leading to criticism from his pro-European rivals.

Education

School classroom
National Education Service, following the NHS model, would be established. State-funded academies and free schools would be forced to return to local authority control. Mr Corbyn would look to end public schools' charitable status, although he accepts this would be complicated and may not happen immediately. Tuition fees would be scrapped, at a cost of £10bn, and replaced with grants. His10-point plan also pledges universal childcare.

Health

Hospital patientImage copyrightScience Photo Library
Mr Corbyn has pledged to eradicate PFI deals from the NHS by using government money to buy them out.
In an article for The Guardian, he vowed to clear up the PFI "mess" created by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which he claimed was costing the health service billions.

Housing

HousingImage copyrightPA
Rent controls in places like central London would be introduced to help families on benefits to pay their rent. Mr Corbyn has also called for the right-to-buy scheme, which allowed tenants in council and social housing to purchase their homes at a discount, to apply to those living in privately-rented accommodation, although it's not quite clear how that would work. By 2025, he is promising "decent homes for all in public and private sectors".

Defence

TridentImage copyrightPA
The UK would not spend 2% of GDP on defence, as pledged by the current government. The Trident nuclear missile system would be scrapped.

The Royal Family

The QueenImage copyrightGetty Images
The royals would be safe for the time being. Although he is a committed republican, Mr Corbyn told the New Statesman: "It's not the fight I'm going to fight: it's not the fight I'm interested in."

Transport

Virgin trainsImage copyrightPA
Britain's railway network would be renationalised. He is opposed to the HS2 scheme linking London with the north of England, claiming it would turn northern cities into "dormitories for London businesses".

Energy

Energy billsImage copyrightPA
Energy companies would be renationalised. Mr Corbyn has said he would be "much happier" with a "regulated, publicly run service delivering energy supplies". There would be a moratorium on fracking, which Mr Corbyn has called "dangerous to the environment".
The Labour leadership contender has also said he would consider re-opening Britain's coal mines.

Political reform

Houses of Parliament
Mr Corbyn wants Labour's new increased following to be more involved in the running of the party and has proposed a review of membership fees to make the party more "inclusive". He would ensure half of his shadow cabinet were women

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

Redlands Parking: Public Consultation Announced

New Ideas For Residents Parking In Redlands
Earlier in the summer we promised to work up some new ideas to deal with the ever growing pressures on residents' car parking in Redlands.

So, we can now publish details of those ideas, together with the date of a Public Consultation event.


SUMMARY OF THE SUGGESTIONS

  1. A Resident Permit (RP) parking is proposed between 8am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, to protect parking for residents in residential streets where the majority of households do not have off-street parking.
  2. Pay & Display (P&D) limited hours parking is proposed between 8am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, in the areas of highest demand near the Royal Berks Hospital and the University of Reading.
  3. Shared use P&D / RP parking where the majority of households do have off-street parking allowing residents’ permit holders to park all day.
  4. P&D parking charges are proposed to be in line with current charges for the RBH multi-storey car park.
  5. No changes are proposed to the current arrangements on roads with existing RP schemes.
  6. It is proposed to incorporate all roads with RP schemes between Redlands Road and Eastern Avenue (but not including Eastern Avenue) into a wider 15R zone.
  7. Limited free waiting parking provision on Erleigh Road (between Alexander Road and Eastern Ave) to enable parking for the local shops.
  8. The provision of on-street parking in the scheme area has been maximised in accordance with highway rules and the requirements of the emergency services.

 Exhibition and Informal Consultation

Monday 28 September 2015   5:00pm to 7:00pm

St Lukes Church Hall, Erleigh Road
Traffic officers, Fire Brigade and your local
Labour Councillors will be there to hear your views.

 Parking Schemes for Residents Explained In A Nutshell

  • Each household is allowed a maximum of 2 permits.
  • Permits will only be issued to cars registered at an owner’s address within Redlands parking scheme area.
  • The 1st parking permit is FREE, the 2nd costs £120 a year.
  • Each household is entitled to 2 books of 20 half-day visitor tickets FREE each year and more books can be purchased at £22 a book.
  • More details of how the scheme works can be found at:http://beta.reading.gov.uk/parkingpermits

Please let us know what you think

Contact Tony:   tony.jones@reading.gov.uk   0771 414 9927 @TonyJonesLab
Contact David:  david.absolom@reading.gov.uk   0777 181 9788 @davidabsolom
Contact Jan:     jan.gavin@reading.gov.uk   0782 886 7950 @cllrJanGavin
Post to: Redlands Labour Party, 34, Morgan Road, Reading RG1 5HG

Tories Break Care Cap Manifesto Pledge

Guest post by Cllr Rachel Eden, RBC Lead Member for Adult Social Care

Only 100 days in but the Conservatives' broken promise on the care cap will hurt people till 2020


With the Labour leadership ballots going out now it’s worth reminding ourselves of the real thing we are fighting.  Only just having had 100 days this Conservative government seems determined to break its pledges in areas from housing to health. 

Focusing on just one delaying the cap in care costs until 2020 is particularly unfair. 

Some people don’t realise adult social care is means tested until they or their loved ones need it for themselves.  How much care you will need is more or less down to luck – bluntly how much of your life you become ill and frail for. 

We all know or have heard of 90 year olds who live completely independently and live fit and relatively healthy lives yet other people may start to suffer from age related illnesses at a much younger age – and no one really knows what will happen to them. 

Because of this it feels very unfair that some people have to spend many tens of thousands of pounds on their care into old age, and it is a real worry for many people I talk to.  This isn’t just about people who are frail now (although it’s estimated that about 23,000 people would have benefited in 2016-17 alone): several older people I know who are fit and well have expressed their concern about the costs if they were to become ill and it is a quiet fear for many families as their loved ones become older. 

The care cap is a widely supported move to reduce that worry so that the cost of this care is limited.  The Conservatives have now decided to not only delay this from next April to 2020 but have also postponed an increase in the savings which people have to have before they start to contribute to their residential care to 2020.

Local authorities like Reading had already done a huge amount of work to plan how to implement this.  Many councillors had concerns about the impact this would have on councils’ finances and ability to implement what was going to be a complicated system I think it’s fair to say this concern was more about the chronic lack of planning about the system as a whole by this government.  Overall councillors, like most people I know, were positive about the benefits it would bring to residents.

As a country we need to start thinking far more seriously about how we help more and more people to continue to live fulfilling lives as they age.  Part of that should be to ensure that there is some certainty about how people will be able to afford the care they need if they need support. 
Instead this government has already started to break it’s promises to older people – both the frail elderly and older people looking ahead to their future needs.  It is fundamentally letting people down by prevaricating and delaying implementation of a fundamental reform.

The Conservative party was the major choice of pensioners at the election and yet they are breaking promises to the very people who enabled them to form a government.

In just 100 days it has become apparent that the Conservatives alone in government over the next 5 years will be even more damaging than the last 5 years.

Over the coming weeks Labour needs to put itself in the best possible position to win the next general election. 

In the meantime many older people and their families will continue to worry about the costs they may incur through no fault of their own.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Reading A Level Students Celebrate Exam Success

A LEVEL students in the borough are celebrating exam success with 85 per cent achieving A*-C grades, early indicators show.

Provisional figures show 70 per cent achieved A*-B grades and 98 per cent A*-E grades, broadly in line with the success in 2014.

Figures from Blessed Hugh Faringdon secondary school, which is maintained by Reading Borough Council, show improved top grades for the third consecutive year with 53 per cent of results at levels A*- B, compared with 50 per cent last year and 40 per cent in 2013.

The numbers achieving A*-C grades remained at 73 per cent and the proportion of A*-E passes increased by one per cent to 99 per cent.

Reading’s other secondary schools - Kendrick School, Reading School, Highdown School, Prospect School and the John Madejski Academy – are academy schools and run independently of the council.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s lead councillor for education, said: “Although it appears that the numbers of students getting top grades across the country has slipped, these figures still represent a consistent performance in Reading schools.

“But of more importance, behind the figures will be so many personal stories of commitment and hard work by young people supported by their families and the great professionalism of our teachers, and I congratulate them all. 


“I would also say to those who may not have got the results they were hoping for this morning, to stay calm, take the advice available to you and you may discover that more opportunities are available to you than you have first thought."

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Redlands: Better Bus Info And Road Markings

Real Time Passenger Information on Christchurch Road
As councillors we sometimes get involved in big issues or grand schemes which grab the headlines - sometimes they are popular and sometimes because they are not!

However, we all have our wards which elect us and we must stick close to residents to understand what they are thinking and feeling and know where their priorities lie. 

Keep Clear Markings On London Rd / Fatherson Rd
And sometimes it is getting something relatively small and absolutely local delivered that people appreciate as much as any of the head-line grabbing things.

So, after much pressing, I am pleased to report that two "local improvements" - which would not have happened without residents and local ward councillors working together - are in place in Redlands.

The first is the "Real Time Passenger Information" board at the bus stop near the Queens Head on Christchurch Road. Evidence shows that if people know they can rely on information when the next bus is arriving, they will use the bus more often.

Secondly, the painting of the "Keep Clear" markings on London Road opposite the junction with Fatherson Road. Residents had told us how frustrating it could be trying to move in to the early morning traffic which would stop bumper to bumper. Though a "Yellow Box" was not allowed under traffic regulations, the addition of the Keep Clear markings is already helping residents.

If you have an idea for a local improvement - get in touch and we can see if we can make it happen.

We will be releasing details of a new set of wide-ranging residents parking protection ideas very shortly - watch this space!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Free Solar Panels Available to Owners of Community Buildings

Reading Borough Council Press Release 

OWNERS of community buildings can take advantage of a new scheme offering free solar panels.
Groups which manage, own or lease a voluntary, community, faith or not-for-profit sector building in Reading could be eligible.
The Reading Climate Action Network (RCAN) will provide and install the solar panels or solar thermal system and the group will benefit from free daytime electricity or hot water for the life of the panels.
RCAN will receive the Feed in Tariff payments made for the electricity generated which goes into the national grid. The money will go into the Reading Climate Change Partnership community fund to help tackle fuel poverty and related issues.
Any groups applying will need to have the permission of the owner of the building, which will need to have a large unshaded south-facing roof.
The group must be confident it will be based at its current location for the long term and be committed to using the opportunity to educate the building’s users on energy efficiency.
Initial applications for the free solar panels must be made by Thursday 27th August and the panels must be in place by March 2016.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“This scheme offers a win-win situation for everyone. The owners of the buildings benefit from free electricity and a reduction in their carbon emissions and the RCAN raises money for the community fund.
I’d encourage organisations to get their applications in as soon as possible.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the scheme can visit:
http://www.readingclimateaction.org.uk/news-events/news/2015/jul/opportunity-free-solar-panels-voluntary-community-faith-sector-amp-not-profit-organisation-buildings/?scmOverrideRecord=220n32DdoQ,
email Summreen Sheikh, Sustainability Partnerships Officer at Reading Borough Council, at Summreen.sheikh@reading.gov.uk or call (0118) 937 2100.

Notes for Editors: 
Reading Climate Action Network is made up of organisations and individuals who are committed to reducing their contribution towards manmade climate change. It was launched in 2013, alongside Reading’s Climate Change Strategy, which was written by the Reading Climate Change Partnership (RCCP). RCCP is made up of representatives from the community, business and public sector. Reading Borough Council is an active member of the RCCP board.


Media Contact: David Millward
Tel: (0118) 937 4289