Author Archives: Ashley Pearce

May events

Whitley art work unveiling: the official unveiling of the new art work in South Reading will take place on Friday 11th May at 11.30am at Rabsons Rec.

Reading Labour students AGM: A meeting of the Labour students society will take place on Friday 11th March at 5.30pm in the bottom floor of Edith Morley.

Whitley for real feedback: The Whitley researchers from the Whitley for real project will be feeding back results from their work on Wednesday 16th May at 5.30pm at the John Madejski academy.

Labour party AGM: The annual General meeting of the Labour party in Reading takes place on Thursday 10th May at 8pm in the civic centre.

Reading Borough Council AGM: The Council’s AGM takes place on Thursday 23rd May at 7pm in the Town hall.

South Reading calendar: Ashley will be collating dates and beginning designs for the next edition of the South Reading calendar to ruin from July to August. If you want any dates included please email them to Ashley.

Ward walk: Ashley will be walking the Ward to spot any issues and speak to residents on Saturday 19th May in the early afternoon.

Youth Council meeting: Ashley will be in attendance to meet and discuss young people’s issues on Monday 14th at the Civic centre.

Church Ward Labour party meeting: members of the local party will be meeting to discuss issues & celebrate the election result on Thursday 17th May at 7pm 103 Northcourt Avenue.

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New art work comes to Rabsons Rec

Some new art work has been erected in Rabsons Rec to help celebrate Whitley’s past. The metal structure depicts the famous Rabsons Rovers football team that used to play in the park. The artwork was from part of the deal that Tesco struck with the Council when building the distribution centre in Whitley and promised to allocate funding to art work in South Reading.

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Two Labour Councillors elected in Church Ward!

Election results in Church Ward for the 2018 local elections.

Church Ward will have three Labour Councillors for at least the next 2 years after Thursday’s local elections. Cllr Ashley Pearce celebrated ‘re-election after first being elected in 2014 and Ruth McEwan will be welcomed onto the Council for the first time. After a positive campaign were hundreds of residents were spoken with and thousands of leaflets delivered, the people of Church Ward responded positively to the Labour candidates with a slightly higher turnout and many Labour votes. A huge thank you to everyone that helped with the campaign and of course our voters. Councillors are here to serve their community and Ruth and Ashley plan on doing just that in the next few years.

 

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JMA confirms its sixth form will continue

Ashley outside of JMA.

JMA Principal Laura Ellener has confirmed that JMA will continue to provide sixth form education to students of South Reading. Ashley recently asked the lead Cllr for education at a Full Council meeting:

Can the Lead Councillor for Education update us on the rumoured possibility that the John Madejski Academy in South Reading is considering the restructure and redundancy programme that would lead to the sixth form being “mothballed” ?

REPLY by Councillor Jones Lead Councillor for Education.

The John Madejski Academy is managed by the White Horse Federation Trust, a multi academy trust based in Swindon.

It has recently emerged that the trust has being considering a range of options to reduce costs. These include “mothballing” the sixth form and ending the academy’s elite sporting programme – a notable strength of the school which has been singled out for praise by Ofsted. Over the last few months, they have been working to plan the very best future for the school.

Despite the serious financial situation facing the academy, the Trust has confirmed that, with support from the government, JMA is going to be able to continue to offer education from 11 through to 18.
Their ambition is to ensure that over the coming months and years, they build on the good recent improvements to enable students to thrive from 11-16. They are also committed to work on enhancing the range of choices for students from 16 to 18 to study a range of academic, vocational, and sport-based education.

The Trust has confirmed its view that JMA’s role in the local community is of vital importance.
Any significant change to provision in the future will involve wide consultation with all stakeholders and, as a Council, we will clearly be central to these consultations due to our statutory responsibilities for pupil place planning.

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Health care in South Reading still underfunded by Tory Government

Ashley asked the following question at this weeks Council meeting regarding health care funding in South Reading:

It was reported last year that the South Reading CCG saw a rapid increase in the number of patients registered at GP surgeries, up from 129,945 to 144,066 or over 10%. With the South Reading CCG still the most underfunded in the whole of the UK, can the Lead Councillor update us with what measures are being taken to help improve health services in South Reading?

REPLY by Councillor Hoskin Lead Councillor for Health.

NHS colleagues confirm that in 2017/18 South Reading was the lowest funded Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area in the country. In 2018/19 the new Berkshire West CCG which covers Reading will be the second lowest funded CCG in the country, with Oxfordshire being the lowest. Berkshire West CCG will also be £25m below its target allocation based on national funding formula. So not only does Reading lose out on a national funding formula that doesn’t properly take into account the health deprivation challenges Reading faces but we are even funded considerably below even that.

It is my view that Reading’s patients and NHS staff are particularly let down by government underfunding. Without action to save money and cut services our local NHS planning area of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West faced a funding shortfall of just under half a billion pounds (£495,176) by 2020. Staffing shortages are another major concern. The impacts of shambolic Brexit negotiations are now being strongly felt across the NHS. In the 12 months following the referendum nearly 10,000 European Economic Area national quit the NHS, up 22% on the previous year, whilst recruitment has plummeted. In our NHS planning area of Oxfordshire, Bucks and Berkshire West there over 1,000 nursing post vacancies.

It is a tremendous credit to the dedication and hard work of local NHS staff that local NHS services perform relatively well compared to the country as a whole. Despite the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) recording its worst A&E waiting times ever, nearly a fifth of patients waited more than four hours for treatment last winter the RBH is rated “Outstanding” by the CQC and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust “Good”. These are tremendous achievements is such difficult circumstances and I am sure the whole council joins me in congratulating local NHS staff.

This council takes very seriously its role in working closely with the NHS in order to support local services to our residents. Working together and with the voluntary sector we are helping to keep people well and out of hospital and for the last two full years, Berkshire West has been in the top 4% in the country for emergency admissions to hospital.

 

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TWO votes for Church Ward residents in May’s local elections

Labour’s two candidates in Church Ward, Ashley Pearce and Ruth McEwan.

On Thursday May 3rd, local elections will be taking place across Reading including here in Church Ward. This is your chance to send a message to the Government to end their reckless Austerity regime. This Government has presided over real terms pay cuts to our teachers, police officers, nurses and care staff. This has seen fewer teachers in our classrooms, the worst winter performance in A&E at the Royal Berks and fewer police officers patrolling our streets. All this whilst the national debt has rocketed and real wages across the country have fallen. Austerity has failed and it’s time to change.

Here in Reading we have seen our Council’s budget from central Government cut by over 90%, stretching our resources to breaking point. The huge majority of your Council tax money goes on caring for our elderly, schooling your children and looking after the most vulnerable in society. It is becoming increasingly difficult to do this with the Government’s severe budget cuts to Reading, whilst wealthier Tory run Council’s such as West Berks and Wokingham see smaller cuts. There are many other things we would love to do as a Council but this Government is making it impossible.
Reading Council still has much to be proud of over the last few years, with a successful school expansion plan including Reading Girls School and Ridgeway Primary here in Church Ward, the works to develop the new community hub on Northumberland Avenue with the relocated library, café and meeting spaces, Academy Sport has seen its facilities upgraded and funding for Green Park station secured. We want to do more but we need a Labour Government to achieve this.
Due to one of our Councillors standing down, you have TWO VOTES in May’s local elections. Cllr Ashley Pearce will be seeking re-election and says “I have been a Councillor for 4 years & it has been a privilege to serve this community. I have engaged with residents, helped residents & spoken up for residents. If re-elected I will continue to be the residents voice on the Council.”

Candidate Ruth McEwan is looking forward to the challenge, she says “I look forward to working with all residents in Church Ward, getting to know people in the area and listening to their concerns. I will use my experience from my community and charity work to build links and relationships across the community.”
Use your TWO VOTES on Thursday May 3rd to elect Labour’s Ashley Pearce & Ruth McEwan.

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April events

  • Councillors surgery: Ward Councillors and the Whitley area PCSO will be at The Whitley Cafe on Saturday 7th April from 10.30am-12pm. Please come along and discuss any local issues.
  • Ward walk: Ashley and candidate Ruth McEwan will be walking the Ward to spot any issues and speak to any residents on Tuesday 3rd April in the early afternoon.
  • Planning meeting: This months planning committee of which Ashley is a member, will take place on Wednesday 4th April at 6.30pm at the Civic centre.
  • ACE (adults, education & children’s services) committee meeting:  Ashley will be in attendance and chairing the meeting on  Thursday 5th April at 6.30pm at the Civic centre.
  • Ridgeway Full Governors meeting: Ashley will chair the Full Governors meeting at the school on Thursday 26th April at 7pm at Ridgeway.
  • Church Ward Rose and Reading Banner delivery: The latest editions of the local Labour party newsletter and the Church Ward Rose will be delivered through doors this month, informing residents about local election issues.
  • Canvassing: Doors on Alandale & Wentworth will be knocked to ask residents concerns on  at 12.30pm on Wednesday 4th April, Shinfield Road on Thursday 5th at 12.30pm, Hollydale & Wheatley on Friday 6th at 12.30pm, Axbridge & Torrington on Saturday 7th at 11am, Windermere on Monday 9th at 12.30pm, Barnsdale on Friday 13th at 12.30pm, Cressingham Road on Wednesday 11th at 5.30pm, Whitley Wood Road on Saturday 14th at 11am, Hartland Road on Thursday 19th at 5pm, Northcourt Avenue on Saturday 20th at 11am and Cherry Grove on Saturday 27th at 11am.
  • Reading youth Council event: Get involved, get voting. Event to inform young people about Reading Youth Council and give an insight into the work of local councils, councillors, and MPs. Tuesday 3rd April, 5.30pm at Civic centre.
  • WCDA: Remember the Whitley £1m- open evening showcasing current and future projects of Whitley community development association and the lottery money on Wednesday 11th April at 6.30pm at Whitley Cafe.

 

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Vote Pearce in Church Ward on May 3rd

I have had the privilege of serving this community for four years, I have met hundreds and hundreds of residents, all with different stories to tell and issues to help solve. I have attended many resident meetings and fun days, as well as knocking on countless doors all year round. Unlike some, we campaign and listen all the time, not just at election time or for a photo. 

I was born in Whitley and being able to give something back over the last few years has brought me great joy. I attended Geoffrey Field Junior School, and worked at Ryeish Green secondary School until a Tory Council closed it to save money. I have been a teacher at a secondary comprehensive for ten years and have been a Governor at Ridgeway Primary School for over 5 years. Education matters to me. Giving kids the best start in life can’t and shouldn’t be done on the cheap as this Government is attempting. We have excellent Primary schools here in South Reading but we know we have work to do with our secondary’s to improve provision. New head’s and sponsors have already started this process and I will do all I can to help this along.

I have been involved in some tough decision making at the Council that this Government’s reckless Austerity regime forced us into. I did not come into politics to cut public services, and a Labour Government will restore public provision to the levels it should be. Nevertheless, we have still managed many improvements in the area, including refurbishing local schools, creating the new Community and library hub as well as the renovations of Academy sport. I also personally oversee the creation of the South Reading calendar every 6 months, which I hope has helped bring people together and keep them informed of local events. Your voice matters and we will do all we can to support it.

I recently got married and like most people my age, will be looking to start a family and get on the housing ladder. Like everyone else I want fair wages and job security for me and my wife. I want more affordable housing that would shorten the time we’ve had to save for a gigantic deposit. I want good local schools and facilities for my family that are funded fairly.

I hope I have done enough over the past four years to merit another four years to help serve your wonderful community. I have enclosed a postal vote form in case you wish to make voting in the local elections easier. Vote Labour and Ashley Pearce on May 3rd.

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Accountability but little control

I asked the following question at this week’s Full Council meeting to Cllr Jones, the lead Cllr for Education:

“It was recently reported that Reading Borough Council will have 1887 more secondary school pupils by 2020 and will need two new secondary schools to accommodate these. Can the Lead Cllr update us on what is happening to ensure future provision?”
Council research shows the projected surplus of 60 year 7 places in 18/19 becomes a deficit of 190 in 19/20. An extra eight form entry school sufficient to accommodate 240 pupils will suffice through the 2020’s. So only one school is needed. The council is currently planning for this. Several sites for the school have been identified and a bidding process will shortly be started to find an academy sponsor. Before the opening of this school agreement has been reached with five local secondary schools to take sufficient extra bulge classes. These must be thanked.
It is the process here I’d like to focus on. I’ve been a teacher for ten years and a Governor for five years. I’ve met many parents and I’ve never encountered one who has asked or cares about who runs their school, they just want the best for their child. But this is where the Tories fragmented education system comes in.
The new school cannot be run or administered by the local authority. All new schools must be academy run.  We, as elected officials, and who parents hold to account, have no say in who gets to run our children’s schools. This is despite the fact that last year, 93% of local authority schools were rated good or better by Ofsted compared to 33% for academies. So who does choose the academy sponsor then….?
The academy sponsor is chosen by the Regional schools commisoner. Never heard of them? Well, that’s probably because our one for the South East, spans an area from Milton Keynes, half of London and across to West Berks. It includes hundreds of schools and there is no way, however good the member of staff, they know and can relate to the schools and areas. They also have a huge remit, from taking action on underperforming schools to finding sponsors. Residents will never meet them but it is these people who hold the responsibility of helping schools. Our new school will be under their remit too.
Lastly, the location of this school. Reading Council and Cllrs know the area and where the need is, so we decide right? Of course not! This is decided by the Department of education, suits in Whitehall with spreadsheets! We can recommend and research areas, but the final decision is not ours. But when it goes through planning, are the Dfe present to discuss? Of course not.
All parents want is the best education for their child, and I wholeheartedly agree. But the local authority is being given less and less chance to make this happen. Cut funding, mix up accountability, split school systems and then what? Privatise? We shall see.
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March events

Councillors surgery: Ward Councillors and the Whitley area PCSO will be at The Whitley Cafe on Saturday 3rd March from 10.30am-12pm. Please come along and discuss any local issues.

Planning meeting: This months planning committee of which Ashley is a member, will take place on Wednesday 7th March at 6.30pm at the Civic centre.

Full Council meeting: A budget for the Council’s next year will be proposed on Tuesday 27th March at 6.30pm at the Civic centre. 

Church Ward Rose delivery: The latest edition of the local Labour party newsletter the Church Ward Rose will be delivered through doors this month and can be viewed elsewhere on this website.

Canvassing: Doors on Cherry Grove will be knocked to ask residents concerns on Saturday 10th March at 10.30am, Foxhays Road on Sunday 11th March at 11am and Winton Road on Saturday 31st March at 11am.

Reading half marathon: Thousands of athletes and fun runners will be running through South Reading for the annual half marathon on Sunday 21st March, starting at 10am.

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Government not interested in Reading’s housing crisis

Reading Borough Council unanimously (all parties, all Councillors) agreed a motion put forward by me in January asking for Councils to be able to borrow to build homes and that all right to buy receipts should be kept to reinvest in housing stock.

I today received this response Reading Borough Council response letter 21 Feb 2018

As expected from this Government, no real response with smoke and mirrors leaving our housing crisis to get worse. Also not a surprise that housing Secretary Sajid Javid, doesn’t really care about Reading’s housing crisis. This is a man who was a director of his brothers £11m buy to let company and who is a landlord himself, he plays an active role on restricting housing supply. His voting record also shows he voted to phase out secure tenancies for the very poorest and voted against a bill that would have ensured properties were fit for human habitation.

The response is short, non specific and dismssisve, much like Tory housing policy. “Local authorities will be able to bid for increases in their caps”. Translated, we’ve kicked this into the long grass and we may help out some of our Tory mates in Surrey. “An additional £2bn to deliver more affordable housing at social rents”. Not quite what Housing Minister Dominic Raab said this week on his “ultras” WhatsApp group when he called for all social housing to be sold off. “You also proposed that local authorities keep all of the money received from right to buy”. At this point the response may as well say F off. But the Tory record on right to buy record is pretty appalling, between July 2016 and June 2017, 12,383 were sold but only 4813 were built. Or in other words, a 62% loss in affordable social housing.

The house price bubble suits the Tories, it suits the landlords amongst them and all of their landlord friends. The entire economic house of cards is built upon the inflated prices remaining high. They have no real interest in increasing the supply via building social housing, ending land banking or speeding up planning permission. Only Labour will do this. Every Tory policy is all about increasing demand (Help to Buy, Cutting stamp duty, help to buy ISA). This may help a few of the current generation get on the housing ladder but more importantly keeps the bubble in tact. A 1945 style approach to our housing crisis is needed, and Jeremy Corbyn will provide it.

 

 

 

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