Thursday, 28 April 2011

Too Many Takeaways?

There has been an application to site a Burger Van in the car park of the College Arms and I am calling for the Council to reject the application.

The full reference of the application is;Application for Street Trading Consent by the College Arms,Wokingham Road, reference ES/LIC/0050024

I believe that the Council should reject the application for the following reasons:

1. Density of Takeaways.

The Wokingham Road is a awash with takeaways and opportunities for people to get food late at night. In the parade of shops next to the pub there are at least 4 and in the shopping area itself there are countless others. It is already possible to buy food there at 3am if you so desire so adding another food outlet will over power the rest of the area.

2. Anti Social Behaviour

The burger bar will be up off the main road. It will be unpoliced and will of course not have any toilets. There have already been incidents in local takeaways, such as the shooting at the PFC last year. The burger van will be a magnet for potential Anti Social Behaviour and will at the very least lead to an increase in the number of people wanting to relieve themselves in the car park.

3. Nuisance

The car park currently acts as a buffer between residents and the takeaways. A burger van will lead to an increase in noise and rubbish, all of which will impact on residents in the area.

This is the jist of a letter which I have written to the Council's licensing committee and I hope that they will pay attention to my and residents' objections.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Weekend

Its been a hot weekend, I have been out in the sun abit and have caught the sun on my head.....note to self must wear a hat when canvassing and processing.

Although it is a bank holiday weekend we were still out campaigning. On my part the weekend has consisted of canvassing, work, some family time and some time with the members of the local Newtown churches, Wycliffe, my church, and St John's in Orts Road celebrating Good Friday.

It has been a tradition, well at least in the last 3-4 years that the Newtown churches take part in a procession of witness through Newtown, meeting the residents, singing hymns and offering passers by hot cross buns. It is a great way to meet the community with so many Wycliffe and St John's members coming from Newtown and there are always lots of people on the street to talk to, especially when you are giving away hot cross buns.

We processed from the Abbot Cook pub, who kindly provided coffee. We walked along the London Road, down Chomeley Road to School Terrace. Then down to Kennetside and then back to Orts Road via the Fisherman's COttage. It was great in the sun to sing hymns and offer passer s by Hot Cross buns.

The whole procession ended with more Hot Cross buns at St John's and then a church service.

These are my pictures and I hope I have captured the spirit of the event and Newtown in the sunshine. While I am trying to improve my photography, I am particularly happy with the last picture. I saw the poster in someone's window and really liked the sentiment.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I Want To Hear From

There has been a lot of discussion in Park Ward about a possible new Secondary School in East Reading. I know a lot of people are very concerned about the lack of information coming out the sponsors and it seems the moment to canvass residents' views about the school. This information can help inform the debate and I hope we will be able to use this in discussions with the sponsors.

I will publish the results and the more people that fill it in the better the information I will be able to feed back to the sponsors.

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Sunday, 17 April 2011

Reproach to racists- Another Indulgent Article

Time for another self indulgent article. It is Palm Sunday today and I actually managed to make it to Church today.

While sitting in church it struck me what the Kingdom of Heaven might be, what living in Park is like and why I like living in Park. Looking around church there were a mixture of Brits, Germans, Dutch, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Brazilian, Ghanaian, South African, Japanese and people from all over the world worshiping together. When the palm crosses were handed out we all went up together to pick some up and hand them to the congregation. It was very moving to see hands of every colour working together. The message of Palm Sunday was about Jesus' preparations before Crucifixion and his eventual return as Lord of all. If you want to hear the sermon click here.

Just as church ended I had to nip around the corner to the Gudwara to a meeting there. Now this was another eye opening experience, members of the Sikh community meeting according to their traditions. People wanted. Their hospitality is faultless, and you will always get something to eat there. I can recommend it. The Sikh community has been there since the 70's and they are at home.

So the reproach is, a multi cultural Reading is a great place and a strong place to live. All the communities have their own particular issues, but together they make the town a richer place, a more interesting place and a more tolerant place. One where I can where my Palm Cross in the street and Sikh community can hold their festivals. Reading is a town that thrives in its diversity and would be restricted by cultural uniformity.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Only 3 Weeks to Go

Here is a picture of my house in Hamilton Road, decked out for the elections.

After a couple of days in Berlin, doing research, it was good to get back to the campaign. We have been all over the Ward in the last few days talking to residents and asking them about their concerns and worries.

It is great to see the positive reaction the Labour team is getting on the doorstep. Infact as I was putting up these signs someone stopped the car to tell me their concerns and asking me my opinion on the issues that concern them.

On the doorstop residents are still concerned about the Maiden Erlegh issue and worried by Wokingham's attempts to stop Park Children going there. I am very worried by it too and have promised to get my Party to persue what legal action is possible if we take power in May. Many residents were also concerned to hear that the Conservatives had welcomed Wokingham's plans.  To see a copy of the Tories letter click the link here .

Residents are also saying that they cannot believe the vicious cuts that the Conservative and Liberal Democrats are forcing through the Council. It was good to be able to tell them that the way to get rid of the Council is vote Labour on the 5th May. Basically no other vote will bring the Conservatives down, even staying at home is effectively a vote for the Conservatives.

Walking around the streets of Newtown it is great to find people I have worked with, I have studied with and go to church with all stopping to chat. All in all a sunny week, all in all an encouraging week and now there is only 3 weeks to go and then we will know the answer to the question, who will be the next Park Ward Council and which Party will be in control after 5th May.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Is Canvassing Dangerous ?

Fantastically interesting day yesterday. Met lots of residents and all for the price of one bike crash.

Douglas Alexander and the Pakistani Community Centre

I met with Douglas Alexander MP and members of the Pakistani Community Centre at lunchtime. It was interesting to hear his take on Libya, the Afgan conflict and issues of racism. I was asked to make a short speech and asked him how we deal with the attitude of papers like the Daily Express who seem intent on stirring up intolerance in our communities.


We have been out most nights knocking on residents' door for the last few months. It was very nice to be door knocking when it wasn't raining, snowing or dark. The residents were very concerned about many issues, however the main issue was still Maiden Erlegh. I was happy to complete the picture for residents, however they seemed very concerned about Conservative Councillor Wazir's role in supporting WBC's proposals. It was on the way to canvassing that I fell off my bike, so had to do the canvass feeling slightly wobbly.

University and Redlands NAG

Topped the evening off with the University and Redlands NAG public meeting. The Council, Police, University and Students' Union all presented what they have been doing to react to residents' concerns about the area. The police presentation was striking, crime is down in the area, however burglary is an issue. Burglary has become an issue because of the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation which seem to be less well secured. The Police is working with the University and Landlords to make sure that  the Landlords fulfil their obligations to protect their tenants. There was a good mix of residents and officials, unfortunately the Park Councillor who is up for election, Conservative Cllr Wazir Hussain, appeared not to have it in his diary so wasn't there. Shame really...........

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Is it time to persue legal action?

Cllr Wazir's letter welcoming WBC's prosals
I have just sent the below letter to all original petitioners, who had signed the first petition against the Wokingham's plans to stop Park's children attending Maiden Erlegh school.

Many of you will have already been informed of Wokingham Borough Council’s decision regarding the Maiden Erlegh catchment are, however I have been asked by a number of parents to send an email to the original petition list to ensure that as many people as possible know what is going on.

On Thursday last week Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive came to its final decision on the Maiden Erlegh catchment area.

I am sad to say that they decided to support the distance from Bulmershe minus distance from Maiden Erlegh plan that effectively ensures that children from Park will not be able to attend Maiden Erlegh, unless they have a brother or sister at the school already. They have made one compromise of a 600m inner catchment area. This will include houses in Silverdale Road which were going to be excluded by the proposal but will not bring Park Ward in to the catchment area.

This decision is very disappointing and effectively splits the Earley community and favours children from Lower Earley over Park children who will be excluded from Maiden Erlegh from 2012.

These are substantially the same proposals, which were described as “sensible” and “equitable” by Councillor Hussain in his letter to Park residents in November last year. ( For full details click here)

The full details of the catchment area are as follows:

1. Park Ward, Lower Earley, western Woodley and the Maiden Erlegh estate become part of a joint Bulmershe/Maiden Erlegh catchment area. The school which your child will attend will be decided on the basis of your house’s distance, as the crow flies from Bulmershe School, minus distance from Maiden Erlegh, as the crow flies. It is assumed in the plan that Maiden Erlegh will fill from the Shinfield end of Lower Erlegh. There will be an inner catchment area around Maiden Erlegh of 600m from the school, however this will not include any of Park Ward.

2. Siblings of children currently studying at Maiden Erlegh will be able to enter Maiden Erlegh until 2018 as long as the older child is still at Maiden Erlegh. If the sibling is in the Sixth Form this will count as attending the school.

Way forward

The Parents’ Group is considering options around legal action, I am campaigning with Councillor Jon Hartley to make sure that my Party commits itself to persuing legal action against Wokingham Borough Council in its manifesto for the May elections if Labour takes control of Reading Council in May.

Many of you will have read about the proposal for a University Technical School somewhere in East Reading. Many parents have expressed their concerns about the school, they are uncertain and the information released so far is vague and very unclear. Currently there is no information as to the exact opening date, curriculum or even where it will be based. What is clear is that the situation remains unclear.

Wokingham is determined to exclude Park’s children from Maiden Erlegh, I will keep working to ensure that you are fully informed as the issue develops and as the various legal actions come to fruition.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

If Only All Saturdays Could be like this.....

This week has been so busy, lots of street work and lots of things happening in the Ward. Saturday saw the morning spent talking to residents in Park and the afternoon spent at Alfred Sutton's International Fayre.

On the streets residents were concerned about many things but something that particularly raised hackles was the Conservative's changes to the disabled bus pass. Previously if you held a disabled or OAP bus pass you received free bus travel before 9.30. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat council forced the motion through the Council to remove the concession on Tuesday. They gave disabled people exactly 3 days to find out about the change and introduced it on Friday. If that wasn't malicious enough they sent the letters out so late that they didn't arrive until Friday afternoon. If you were disabled and worked you would have already had the humiliation of having your pass rejected in the morning.

Many residents were shocked at the Conservative Council's pettiness and narrow mindedness.

I spent the afternoon at Alfred Sutton's International Fayre. I think this is the third one we've held. The PTA and its Chair should be very proud of what they have achieved. I was on the English stand. There were stands representing: Spain, Wales, Pakistan, Portugal, Iraq, Poland, South Africa, France, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Jamaica and of course England. It was a great afternoon. I am sure that I have missed some of the stands, but the stands represented the breadth of nations that are represented at the school. As with any Alfred Sutton event there was country dancing but the highlight of the afternoon was the competition to carry a basket on your head. One of the teachers, who originally came from Sierra Leone was challenging people to carry a basket of fruit on their heads. This was the star event and hugely amusing especially if you watched. Loved it.