Ash pearce - Labour Church Ward Councillor
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Monthly Archives: June 2020

Reading will unite after the tragedy in Forbury Gardens

The last few days have been an incredibly challenging time for Reading residents, and everyone connected with our great town. The unimaginable horror of this unprovoked, senseless act of violence is difficult to fathom. Three lives have been cruelly cut short and 3 others sustained serious injuries. Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of the victims and hopes for a full and speedy recovery to those that are injured. Huge thanks also go to our emergency services, yet again showing huge bravery to protect our communities and then pick up the pieces after such tragic events as this.

Anyone connected with Reading will know the importance of Forbury Gardens, one of the best descriptions I have read is that it is Reading’s back garden. That’s the thing, it is ours. Each of us will have our own memories and our own stories of the Forbury, which is what makes this tragedy seem so real and so close to home. For me it means teenage cider drinking, picnics on a first date, food festivals, political gatherings with colleagues, meetings friends for lunch and walking through with my kids to just take in the vibe and scenery. It’s a focal point of our town and will continue to be so.

Over the last few days as more details emerge of the victims and the lives they lived, the futures that have been lost I have found myself welling up and shedding tears at various points during the day. I don’t want to see my town on the news or on the front pages like this, because this is not Reading, this is not the Reading I have known and loved all my life. The Reading we all know is the one that cares, the one of great community, the one with great respect for one another and where we all just get on.

In the last few days I have felt grief for those lost and hurt, sorrow for those loved ones left behind, anger-how dare you do this in my town but also strength and pride. Pride in how already this great town and its residents have come together and will continue to do so to not cave in the face of this mindless terror. We have already come together for minutes silences and a more fitting, permanent memorial will come in due course. We will reclaim our Forbury, our back garden as the heart of Reading.

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Education policy headlines and reality

Free laptops for disadvantaged students
This is only for pupils with a social worker or disadvantaged students in year 10. These must be collected by pupils from their school & only recently arrived.

Johnson makes U-turn on free school meals
Hugely welcome (and thank you Marcus Rashford) but we need to make sure that younger pupils especially (who get universal free school meals) sign up for free school meals before the Summer otherwise they will miss out.

Boris Johnson promises huge amount of Summer catch up for pupils
Zero detail has been provided.

Extra £1bn for pupil catch up
This is to be shared amongst the UK’s 25,000 state schools. So far nothing for early years or further education colleges. £350m of this is a discount for tutoring. From the other £650m, some must be used to pay for this tutoring.

All Primary pupils back by July
Policy appears to have been dropped.

Every Child back by September
No detail of how this will be done (although expect the 2m social distancing rule to be dropped) and no mention if that means all pupils in school at the same time every day. Almost certainly not.

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Old Whitley library site proposed sale for community use

The old Whitley Library site will go before Councillors at the policy committee next week, where it’s sale will be proposed to turn it into an area for community use. The bidders can’t yet be revealed due to commercial sensitivity and confidentiality but will be known in due course after the meeting.

The sale of this site ensures that the historical frontage of the building will be maintained, and Tree protection orders will be placed on trees to keep these preserved. Additional parking next to the site will also be provided.

We are pleased that the site will remain in community use rather than being over developed in another way. The purchaser is local, with a community ethos and aspirations to provide education support to the local community. I will be attempting to arrange a meeting with the new owners to discuss how we can work together on this as soon as possible.

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