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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://go-reading.org/. Neighbourhood Initiatives Officers will be available at a drop-in on at the Whitley Library on Thursday 16th November 2pm-3pm.
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.
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 reading.ac.uk/st-patricks-project/.
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.
A section of Northumberland Avenue between Hartland road and Honiton road will be resurfaced this month. The Highway Maintenance Team will commence a trial of an alternative pot hole repair system on roads where the depth of defects are below the current 50 mm depth investigatory level. The repair system is a quick / speedy solution that will seal the road in advance of the coming winter. It is not anticipated that much disruption will occur as the solution is a quick process and moves along the length of the road fairly quickly. The works will take place sometime during the week starting 2nd October.
Councillors and volunteers after a successful mornings clean up.
Church and Whitley Ward Councillors joined volunteers to help clean up Rabsons Rec. Church Ward’s Ashley Pearce and Eileen McElligott donned high viz jackets and grabbed litter pickers to work their way round the Rec. Half a dozen bags worth of rubbish was collected leaving the park in a cleaner state than before.
Academy Sports swimming pool will temporarily close on October 2nd for urgent refurbishment works. The Northumberland Avenue pool was transferred back into the management of Reading Sport and Leisure this year, after being operated and managed by the John Madejski Academy since 2007.
The Council is now replacing much of the original plant and equipment at the pool as part of a major investment programme which will allow the pool to operate in future years. Work on the site will include fitting a new boiler to heat the pool and installing a new ventilation system. The council has reprogrammed school swimming lessons while it is closed.
Councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for sport, said: There is never an ideal time to close a pool, particularly for this length of time, but I hope regular users of the facilities will appreciate that these are major improvement works, which make a complete closure unavoidable.
“Much of the fabric of the pool at Academy Sport has been in place since it opened in 1983 and now needs complete replacement. Officers are taking the opportunity to carry out a number of improvement works at the same time to avoid future inconvenience. We expect the pool to be open again early in the New Year when swimmers can look forward to a much more pleasant swimming environment and more reliable facilities.”
Church Ward could potentially gain 2 new art installations soon if passed at this month’s planning committee. The art work is part of the funding received from the new Tesco depot in Whitley, part of which promised money for new art in South Reading. The wire structures will be on Northumberland Avenue by Geoffrey Field School, one of a Rabsons Rivers player and the other a set of dinnerladies from the school.
More information on the application can be found here
Reading East MP Matt Rodda with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paid a visit to Reading for the second time in three months to speak to local residents about fuel poverty and the housing crisis in Reading. Mr Corbyn, alongside our new MP Matt Rodda, spoke with homeless charity Launchpad about the acute housing shortage in the South East and the problems it is causing. He also blasted the Government for not allowing Reading Council to build more Council homes. Mr Corbyn said “The root cause of homelessness in places like Reading is expensive private sector houses. Ultimately the answer is investment in council housing, but it is also giving local authorities the power to convert former industrial properties and office properties into social housing.” Mr Corbyn then visited a resident in Whitley to discuss the growing problem of fuel poverty and rising energy prices. Labour would cap energy prices and provide a boost to all households.
The 4 local Clinical commissioning groups or CCG’s that make the decisions on health care planning for the Royal Berks and local GP’s are to merge. This has been done due to Tory Government NHS budget cuts and takes decisions further away from local people. These plans have been drawn up behind closed doors and without any accountability.
The long standing issue of a dip in the road surface of Cressingham Road has finally been repaired after months of Councillor complaints passed on from residents. If there are any issues on roads near you, please let us know and we will do all we can to get the Council to take action.
Reading Borough Council proposes to move to a new model for delivering children’s services in the form of a Council-owned company.
As part of its ongoing improvement journey, the Council is recommending setting up a wholly-owned Council company to build on progress made to date and to deliver long-term and sustainable improvements for children and young people in Reading.
The stand-alone company will focus solely on the operation of children’s services, allowing social workers and other staff to concentrate on their core day to day activity of helping to keep children safe and delivering a range of other services to children, young people and their families.
It would have its own independent board and a decision-making process, separate to the Councils. It would also operate within its own ring-fenced budget. The Council will however, continue to hold the company to account for performance.
Reading Borough Council has been successful in a £2.3m funding bid for the new Green park train station in South Reading. The new station could be up and running by 2019, providing local jobs and improved transport links in the area. More can be read below:
As Councillors we are your representatives to Reading Borough Council. We want to hear your views so we can help shape your community in your vision.
We have created a short survey that will only take a few seconds to fill in. This will help us understand what national and local issues are important to you, and if you are a Labour member, how you may be able to help us.
The survey will only take around a minute and can be found here.
Cllr Ashley Pearce helping to run one of the WhitFest stalls.
This year’s WhitFest (the arts festival for South Reading) was excellently hosted by the John Madejski academy. There were various stalls for kids and adults to enjoy as usual, with charities such as Age Concern and ABC to read represented as well as local crafts people displaying their works. Cllr Pearce and Reading East MP Matt Rodda helped run the WhitFest doodle stall where youngsters were encouraged to write down what Whitley meant to them. The day was topped off with some excellent entertainment in the form of singing and dancing from the JMA students themselves. The event continues to grow every year and I look forward to being involved again next year.