Ash pearce - Labour Church Ward Councillor
Church's Labour Team, led by our Councillor Ashley Pearce

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Ward News

Ward News

Official opening of Whitley Community hub

The Official opening it the new Whitley Community hub comprising the relocated library, Children’s centre, day nursery, social club and Cafe takes place this Tuesday. 3 guided tours will be taking place with the first being officially opened by Mayor of Reading Debs Edwards.

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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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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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Council listens to residents & asks Uni to be more considerate

The application was seen as an over development.

Tonight at the Councils planning applications committee, Reading Universities application to demolish and rebuild St.Patricks Court with a potential increase of 650 students was turned down.

Councillors and MP Matt Rodda have engaged with local residents and the University over a long period of time to listen to the desires and concerns of each.

Whilst it is understood that the University needs to expand, and Reading wants a thriving University, this should not be at the expense of local residents.
The St.Patricks hall site is ostensibly a residential area. As such, the increase in student numbers would have been an over development that would have exacerbated traffic and parking problems. Added to this was the potential for anti social behaviour and negative impacts on the locally listed Pearsons Court.
The University should continue to engage with local residents regarding the impacts the University is having on the local community, notably parking and noise. If a further proposal for the St.Patricks hall site was to come forward, I hope that the number of students and the issue of parking are seriously considered before any submission.
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Events calendar

The latest edition of the South Reading events calendar will be delivered to thousands of residents in South Reading later this month. The calendar, now into its 3rd year collates events from South Reading into one place. These include schools, arts, football and religious as well as others. The calendar is funded and delivered by Church Ward Labour party and delivered free of charge to households.

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Universal credit set to hit Reading families hard at Christmas

Universal Credit will replace Child Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credits, rolling them into one single payment. It is due to be rolled out in Reading from 6 December 2017.

Matt Rodda MP recently spoke out against it in Parliament which can be read here. Many families in Church Ward will be hit by the clumsy and ill timed nature of these changes and we urge the Government even at this late hour to think again.

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Work to start on South Reading community hub

Eileen, Paul & Ashley at the community centre.

Building works required to create the South Reading Community Hub is about to commence. From Monday 4thDecember 2017 through to May 2018 building alterations and improvement works will take place and include the following:

  • Relocating Whitley Library to the right hand side of the Centre; the existing library will continue to remain open whilst building works are taking place at the South Reading Community Hub to create a new Library
  • Improving access and the  building frontage, signage and forecourt
  • Relocation and upgrade of the Centre kitchen
  • Improve the toilet facilities
  • Modifying the Youth Centre and adding a new dedicated outdoor play area to enable the Children’s Centre to operate from this space during the day (including offering adult learning) whilst still allowing the space to be used for youth/hire at other times. This makes better use of the youth club and makes the children’s centre more visible and provides a better space to run activities from.
  • Maintaining comparable space for hire with a new meeting room formed to compensate for the library moving into a meeting space.
  • Providing a new office for shared use by RBC staff and partners

The Centre will continue to be open over the period of construction for the use of the Nursey, Children Centre and Cafe only where no major building works is scheduled to take place. No bookings will be taken for community hire over this period.

We have worked with the Nursery and Children Centre to provide alternative safe access for its staff and users into the building. Whilst the Café will continue to use its existing main entrance for most of the construction period.

The works to provide 6 car parking spaces at the Well Centre replacing the loss of the 3 car parking spaces in front of the Centre is now complete.

Display boards to inform the community about the start of the works at the Centre and Whitley Library and regular progress updates will be provided to the community over construction period as well.

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Community safety survey

We are delighted to advise that the Community Safety Survey is now open for residents to provide comments to help us prioritise the way Safer Neighbourhood Forums will work over the next 2 years.

Safer Neighbourhood Forums (formerly Neighbourhood Action Groups) are community based problem solving groups to help resolve local Community Safety and Crime related issues.

Whilst we will look at all the concerns, we will not be able to focus on them all and priorities will be decided taking into account not only the survey but the Community Safety Partnership priorities and those of Thames Valley Police.  You can complete the survey here.

The survey opens from 6 November and closes on Friday 15th December.  We encourage you to share this amongst your neighbours and local groups so we can tackle those issues most important to you.  The survey is only available online so we are encouraging the use of the ‘Get Online Reading’ drop in service offered within libraries around Reading.  Visit Neighbourhood Initiatives Officers will be available at a drop-in on at the Whitley Library on Thursday 16th November 2pm-3pm.

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Northcourt Avenue parking consultation

For a long period of time now parking on Northcourt Avenue has been an issue that residents have been contacting Councillors about. Some measures have been taken such as on Wellington Avenue but the issue is not going away. The combination of other restrictions nearby, an expanding University and changing housing conditions means that the road is being used for parking more and more each day.

Councillors have recently met with Transport Officers at the Council to try and develop proposals for a solution. Parking permits appear to be unpopular so an extension of the waiting restrictions already in place seems most plausible. We would like to hear your thoughts. At this stage this just a CONSULTATION. Nothing is assured.

An EXAMPLE of the format the restrictions could take is:
2 hours no return Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
(Times can vary)
Parking bays installed so visitor parking is still possible.

You can see the plans here: Northcourt Ave and  Ennerdale Road

This is currently an informal consultation so we would like you to email any comments in support or against to:

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University of Reading consulting on St.Patricks hall redevelopment

Artists impression of the new halls.

The University of Reading is this week seeking feedback from residents on their proposed changes to St.Patrick’s hall before submitting a planning application. You can also view the proposals and submit comments online from Thursday 26 October to Thursday 9 November at

There will be a small exhibition of the proposal boards in the Lower Lobby of the Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) Building at our Whiteknights campus on Friday 27 October from 11am to 3pm. Students and staff are welcome to come along during the day.

Local residents and neighbours are encouraged to submit their thoughts on the proposal on the above email address. I will be meeting with resident groups, the Council’s planning department and the University before the application is submitted to hear from all sides.

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