Sunday, 31 May 2015

Redlands: Labour Membership Surge

I have just posted out the calling notice for the Redlands Labour Party Annual General Meeting.

With a surge of new members joining the party since last month's General Election, up by 30%, it will be great to welcome new faces and new voices to the party.

I'm also very grateful for email - fewer agenda to print, fewer envelopes to stuff and less to spend on postage!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Ex-Mayor: Thank You Reading

Mayor Tony Jones & Mayoress Liz Terry
I would like to say a big "Thank You" to all those individuals and organisations who supported my recent tenure in office as the Mayor of Reading.

Reading is a great town and as the Mayor you get to meet some of the invisible army of so-called "ordinary people" doing extra-ordinary things, who week in week out selflessly give up their time for the benefit of others, but who rarely receive any acknowledgement or publicity.

Should these quiet heroes ever decide to down tools and walk away our society would certainly be all the poorer for it. So I say "thank you" for your work.

I am also grateful to the council staff, local journalists and Reading's burgeoning social media community for providing the publicity on which so many of any Mayor's duties depend.

It has been a huge privilege to have served in the office of Mayor of Reading for a second time and I am also grateful for the support I have been given over the past year by the Deputy Mayor - now Mayor Sarah Hacker - and wish her well in stepping up to the role of the town's "first citizen".

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Europe Referendum: About Time

My 18th birthday was in late May 1975, which therefore allowed me to vote in the referendum held on 5 June of that year. 

But anyone just a few days younger than me will have not had a chance to do so since.

In 1975 we were invited to vote on the country's continued membership of what was then known as the "Common Market" or the European Economic Community. 

Now, the European Union is an all together more sophisticated and encompassing organisation.

I have long argued - and have been on public record since 2008 - that we should be given the chance to vote again on our continued membership. This is not motivated by any strong anti-Europe sentiment, but more that such a fundamental arrangement should have a "sunset clause" which demands that we should always have the opportunity to renew our mandate, say after every 25 or 30 years.

The fact that the 40th anniversary of the last mandate is fast approaching and that a succession of party political general election manifestos have promised to hold such a vote, but then failed to do so, has been damaging to politics generally and governments in particular.

I am therefore pleased that Harriet Harman has now brought the Labour Party better into line with public opinion and committed the party to supporting an "in/out" ballot before the end of 2017. 

And, when the time comes, just as some 58 and 59 year olds will be allowed to vote on Europe for the first time, we should also include 16 year olds in the vote.

We should debate the issues, form the arguments, and not let Westminster tell us they know best!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Hexham Road Estate: The Big Clean Up

YESTERDAY (Saturday) saw the first of Reading Council's "Big Clean Up" events on Hexham Road estate. 

As well as picking the general mixture of rubbish scattered around - discarded bottles, cans and the like - pavements and gutters where cleared of weeds and pavements given a deep clean.

Council staff along with some community-spirited local residents and local councillors all joined in.

Lead councillor for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Liz Terry said "Last year we launched the "Love Clean Reading" project where council staff from different departments all acted as one team. This year we want to reinforce the message that keeping our streets and neighbourhoods clean is everyone's responisibility."

Cllr Tony Jones (right) with the Big Clean Up team on Hexham Road

Redlands councillor Tony Jones said "Most people want to walk out of their front door and see a clean environment

It's always a shame that a few people seem to not care about the mess they make, so these type of events can also serve as a reminder to the wider community that dropping litter for others to pick up is not only selfish but also costs council tax payers money to clear up." 

The council has similar events planned on other areas through the summer.

( Pictures courtesy of Matt Dady )

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Spanish Civil War Memorial

I was so proud to have been invited to participate in the rededication ceremony for those from Reading who had fought facism in the Spanish Civil War Memorial in Fotbury Gardens earlier today.
The sculpture has been moved from it's original location outside the old Civic Offices where it had stood since 1990.