Sunday, 30 January 2011

Forgiveness is quite difficult, sometimes

This weeek has been cold and bitter. Lollipoping has needed the full services of my thickest gloves and my furriest hat. Door knocking and talking to residents has also needed hats and gloves. Fortunately I was also able to meet with local Park residents at the Students' Union and in the Roebuck, where it was a little warmer and the wind doesn't whistle so.

The temperature was also taken down a peg or two, when the liberal democrats own Cllr Swaine decided that this week was the appropriate moment to bitterly attack me. If you want to read his diatribe click here . Regular readers will know I have decided to fogive those that aren't brave enough to tell me their worries face to face, so I remind Cllr Swaine that he is forgiven and I will ask my friends to pray for him.

On the other hand it is difficult to forgive the ruling Conservatives who are fully supported by the Liberal Democrats in their attack on the people of Reading. They claim that we are all in it together. BUT they will effect the poorest more. If you are on a big wage an increase in bus fares probably doesn't need to have much of an effect. But if like me you are financially up against it you have to cut costs as the bus fare hits you disproportionaly. I might need to get in to town with my children as shown above. Its a tadge difficult to get my wife and both my children on my bike.

The ruling Conservatives, fully supported by the Liberal Democrats, have sold the residents of Park Ward down the river by supporting Wokingham's mad plans to change the catchment area for Maiden Erlegh school. They seem happy to cut the funding to schools in the area, despite this effecting parents who, like me, rely on the State system.

They seem happy to cut funding across the town and leave the less well off hanging. They are happy to reduce the Road Safety programme by making the person responsible redundant, they are happy to cut the graffitti service, they seem happy to make staff redundant in Whitley schools. I imagine that Reading's Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat supporters sleep well at night knowing the poorest in Reading are being hit hardest.

It will be the same on the national level. The economy's contracting, mortgage rates look like they are going to increase, Student fees are going to triple. Are we all in it together or are Cameron and Clegg turning the screw on the weakest, while renaging on their promises about equality.

So this is something I can legitimately get excersised about. We have been campaigning hard in Park Ward, and the people who I speak to on the doors all tell me that they feel let down by the Conservatives and their whole hearted supporters the Liberal Democrats. They are frightened about the security of their jobs and the reduction services in the town.

Those Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians who can't be bothered to speak to me face to face will probably remain cowards for the rest of their political lives, but I live in hope that they will pluck up enough gumption to drop me a line, just think of the fun conversation we could have.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Taking Up An Offer

With the Maiden Erlegh Catchment situtation, I have been struck at how the Head of Bulmershe has tried to reach out to the concerned parents of Park Ward. At Wokingham's first public meeting, Bulmershe's Head, Peter Lewis made the offer for concerned residents to come and have an honest look at his school. At the meeting last week, Wokingham's Head of Education made the same offer.

I decided to take up this offer and actually try and see what Bulmershe school is like. On Friday, I met up with Peter Lewis, who was very honest about his school, the schools results and aspirations.

I won't write about my impressions, Mr Lewis was willing to spend nearly 2 hours with me and to take me throw all the years of his school. I found it beneficial and however I would urge any parents and residents to take the Head up on his offer, meet with him and take a tour of the school.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Update about Maiden Erlegh Catchment Consultation

Dear Neighbour

Wokingham Borough Council have just held their latest consultation meeting regarding the Maiden Erlegh catchment changes .It was great to speak to many Park Residents during the march down to the school and I was glad to see that the meeting was made up of residents from Wokingham and Reading. It actually appeared as if the Wokingham residents were in the majority. Both sets of parens were united against the proposals by the fact that it discriminates against residents in Reading and in Wokingham.


Wokingham stuck very strongly to their proposal for entrance to either Maiden Erlegh being decided by the distance from Maiden Erlegh minus distance from Bulmershe as measured from their house measured as the crow flies. They claimed that this represented the best option for the majority of Wokingham residents, this despite the fact that their plan will obviously now exclude a great number of children who live in roads such as Silverdale as well as Park and who would normally expect to get in to Maiden Erlegh.

Responses to questions from the floor

Wokingham’s spokesman stated that while the public meeting was important they really wanted as many people as possible to respond to the consultation in writing. This must be done by the 14th Feb. While I could give a blow by blow account of the meeting, little new information was given by Wokingham and I encourage as many people to write to Wokingham Borough Council as possible. If you would like to see a blow by blow account of the meeting please see my blog , where I have published my Twitter feed notes made during the meeting. The link is here I have tried to keep my notes as unemotional as possible. The address to reply to the consultation is:

School Admissions Consultation
Wokingham Borough Council
Children’s Services
Civic Offices
Shute End
RG40 1WN

You can also email your comments to:

The consultation can be linked to here.

At the risk of repeating myse
lf please write to Wokingham as a matter of urgency.

If you would like help writing to Wokingham Borough Council the Maiden Erlegh Catchment Parents' Group is holding drop in meetings at Lady Of Peace Church Hall, Earley on Friday 21st January from 6pm to 9pm and at Park Church Hall, Palmer Park Ave, on Friday 4th February from 6pm to 9pm.

Way forward

Wokingham will close its consultation on the 14th February. Its officials will collate the comments and amend their proposals in the light of the comments, or not. The final report will be submitted to the Council’s Admissions Panel and then proceed to their Cabinet for approval. Once the proposal have been approved, it can be referred to the Schools Adjudicator. I assume that there will be a chorus of complaint and the Adjudicator will have to review and finally approve the decision.

Wokingham are planning to have the process finished by April

I hope that this brings you up to date on the results of the meeting. It is clear that Wokingham is determined to see the process through and to push ahead with its plan.
Once again the best defence against the plan is to write in with your comments.

New Petition

In order for residents to have the opportunity to express their concerns about Wokingham's plans to exclude South Park's children from the school we have started a new petition. While the most important element is to write directly to Wokingham it would be useful if you could show your support in this way. The petition can be reached here.

Best regards

Reading's Tories Stand with Wokingham's Tories

Reading Tory Cllr Isobel Balsdon supporting Wokingham's Tories
I have just come back from the Consultation meeting which Wokingham Borough Council held to hear residents views about their latest proposals for the Maiden Erlegh Catchment area.

I had a conversation with Cllr Rob Stanton leader of Wokingham Borough Council, who was completely committed to the plan. He really does believe that he is trying to do the best for Wokingham's and Reading's children.

It was a shame to see that Reading's Conservatives were supporting Wokingham Borough Council as you can see in the attached photo, Tory Reading Councillor Isobel Balsdon is see here supporting Wokingham's Tories as they work to exclude Reading's children from Maiden Erlegh.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Campaigning Weekend

Been a campaigning weekend. I was lucky enough to meet Ed Milliband on Friday and spent Sunday with colleagues canvassing in Newtown.

The Newtown canvass was part of a programme that is taking me across Park Ward knocking on residents' doors and listening to their concerns.

We picked up a lot of concerns in Newtown and will be following them up over the next few weeks. It was really enjoyable, apart from being blooming cold, knocking on doors. It was especially fun doing it with a group of dedicated Co Workers from Park and elsewhere.

We are knocking on doors throughout the ward so look out for us in your road. I always enjoy hearing residents' views and discussing with them how we can make Park Ward a better place to live.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Maiden Erlegh Campaign - The Campaign Continues

Dear Neighbour

Happy New Year.

This year sees the Maiden Erlegh campaign enter a critical phase, with the final decision on the school’s catchment being made in April. Wokingham seems determined to push its proposals through despite strong opposition from residents in Reading and increasingly from residents in Wokingham.

There are many rumours as to whether the plans will be carried out or dropped and many neighbours have expressed their concerns about what the final result will be. All I can say is that having played a lot of team sports I was always taught that you need to play to the final whistle and keep playing until the end of the game. The situation is the same here, we need as a community to carry on campaigning until April when we will know whether we have won or lost.

Next Public Meeting

Wokingham are holding a new public meeting to hear the views of those effected by the new proposals.

This will be at Maiden Erlegh school on the 17th Jan. 5.30pm to 7.00pm. It will be held in the main hall and I hope will be better run than the last one. Please come if you can and let Wokingham hear your views.

Wokingham has put a new guide to the new proposals on their website for residents to read. These can be accessed here
. Please respond to Wokingham as soon as possible. The last day to respond is the 14th Feb.

Community Walk to Maiden Erlegh School on 17th January

Please show your support for keeping Maiden Erlegh a school for our children. Join our community walk to the public consultation at Maiden Erlegh. Find out more about Wokingham Borough Council's proposals and ask questions at the meeting which starts at 5:30pm

Meet at Earley fire station at 5:00pm on Wokingham Road to leave at 5:10pm. Please bring your children if possible. Invite your friends and neighbours.
Reading residents can join the walk at the Earley Fire Station and can meet up with those from the other side of the Three Tuns crossroads at Maiden Erlegh Drive at 5:15pm.

New Petition

We now have the opportunity to express their concerns about Wokingham's plans in a new petition. While the most important element is to write directly to Wokingham it would be useful if you could show your support in this way. The petition can be reached here.

Despite Reading Borough Council having welcomed Wokingham's proposals and decided not to take legal action in support of residents it is important that we continue to campaign until the end of the process. I will keep you up to date with developments as they happen and look forward to speaking to you as the issue develops

Best regards

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Does this look right to you?

A very shaky picture I know, but does this look right to you?

The picture shows a parent driving his children to a private school on Christchurch Road, I think the Abbey juding by the green uniforms of the girls in the back. He is taking an illegal left hand turn in to Crescent Road. Unfortunately he has miss judged the turn and is stuck on the bollards. He had to reverse backwards a couple of times to get by. This time he didn't decide to drive through the bollards or try and knock over a child in the process, but he was lucky I have seen a lot of near misses when drivers do this and on one occassion I saw a Taxi drive through the bollards. I see drivers do this at least once a day. It is incredible when you see it.

This cannot continue I have spoken to the local Police Inspector and have asked that the Police take action to stop this. One day someone will get hurt. I will keep pressing the Police to take action and I hope that this photo and others that I have taken an given them will be acted on soon.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Thanks for driving carefully-NOT

As you may have noticed its hammering down with rain outside.

Reading's drivers, at least those along Crescent Road, seem to be reacting with characteristic zeal and verve. So much so that many of them, such as the driver of this 4 x 4 seem to have forgotten about everyone else's safety and comfort.

There's a bit of a puddle just where I lollipop and today saw nearly every driver, apart from a few honourable exceptions try to hit the puddle at maximum speed, causing maximum bow wave and splashing the maximum number of children and parents.

It was all a bit unpleasant for the poor people who were splashed and the drivers seemed to show no interest in the chaos they were causing as 5 year old children were doused in mucky road water. As you can probably tell I am more than slightly hacked off by the behaviour I saw and hope that having seen the picture you share my indignation.

The lesson for us all is, I guess, either be anti social and splash people or have a bit of humanity when you drive and slow down when you hit a huge puddle.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Happy New Year and Watch Out There is a Burglar About

First of all Happy New Year, I hope 2011 is everything you want it to be.

I started the year with a meeting of the Neighbourhood Action Group, where local residents and Neighbourhood Watch coordinators get together with the Uni, the Police and Council to discuss issues that concern local residents.

The Police were concerned that residents are aware of the needs to protect their houses. They advise that E Reading is a bit of a burglary hotspot at the moment, despite other crimes going down. They have asked that residents make sure that their front doors, back doors and windows are properly locked. It sounds simple, however the Police told the meeting that burglars are trying front doors and finding many that are not properly secured. They also mentioned that officers are travelling around E Reading and Park Ward knocking on front doors, during the day, to ensure that the doors are secured.

The message is please, please, please, please, make sure your front door has a decent lock on it and is actually locked. It will cost a penny or two to get a decent lock, however it will save you money in the long run.

Please keep safe in 2011 and remember; Watch Out There's a Burglar about....