Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Calcot IKEA: Some interesting things came up in a briefing about the planning application

West Berkshire and parish councillors were given a briefing about the Calcot IKEA planning application this morning.

We were told some interesting things by IKEA:

  1. Staff (co-workers in IKEA's parlance) would be allowed to park in customer spaces
  2. A peak of 120 staff would be working at any one time (there would only be 36 parking spaces for staff)
  3. The width of Pincents Lane is now proposed to be increased for the entire length between Sainsbury's and the IKEA site
  4. Traffic was modelled only as far west as the Arlington roundabout, although 13.6% of customers are predicted to come along the A4 from the west (i.e. Thatcham/Newbury direction).
Councillor Alan Macro
29th Feb 2012

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Reading the agenda for tomorrow evening's planning committee

No applications in Theale.

Nothing exciting either (unlike the last meeting, when we decided the AWE Aldermaston application).

Councillor Alan Macro
28th Feb 2012

Fire Service objects to IKEA Calcot planning application

While reading some of the objections to the IKEA application, I found one from the royal Berkshire Fire Service. This was because their new headquarters will be in a building called "Theale Cross", off Pincents Lane. They are concerned that traffic congestion caused by IKEA will delay senior officers responding to serious incidents.

Councillor Alan Macro
28th Feb 2012

Monday, 27 February 2012

£1.2M may not be enough to provide lifts and new footbridge at Theale Station

A representative from First Great Western Trains was also at this morning's meeting with Reading Buses. He thought that the £1.2M awarded to Theale Station to provide lifts and a new footbridge would not be enough. He thought, however, that bids for the new franchise would include improvements to the station. First Great Western Train's franchise ends in 2013.

Councillor Alan Macro
27th Feb 2012

Reading Buses drop proposal to re-route Jetblack 1 bus away from Theale High Street

I, together with parish councillors, attended a meeting arranged by Reading Buses this morning to discuss their proposal to re-route the Jetblack 1 bus service away from Theale High Street. They want to serve Theale station and better serve the Arlington Business Park. However, they are also concerned by delays caused by hold-ups crossing the roundabout on the A4  and in Theale High Street.

I showed them the petition that 305 residents had signed. I then pointed out the difficulties that this would cause people who live in the 500+ homes and the residents in the sheltered housing, in particular, at the east end of Theale. I also emphasised that we need to keep the width restriction under the flyover in Station Road.

As a result of our discussions, Reading Buses are going to drop the proposal. They may resurrect the idea if the bus frequency is increased in the future. This would allow alternate buses to serve the High Street and the Station.

Councillor Alan Macro
27th Feb 2012

Sunday, 26 February 2012

301 signatures so far on my "Keep Jetblack 1 Bus Serving Theale High St" petition

So far a total of 301 people have signed my "Keep Jetblack 1 Bus Serving Theale High Street" petition. 214 signed the paper petition and 87 the on-line version.

I will be presenting the petition at Thursday's West Berkshire Council meeting. However, I have a meeting with the bus company tomorrow morning (Monday). I will show them the petition and would therefore like to get as many signatures as possible before then. This should help convince the company to keep serving the bus stops in Theale High Street.

If you have not yet signed the petition, then please sign the on-line version straight away!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Had a good session collecting signatures for my "Keep Jetblack 1 bus in Theale High Street" petition

I collected 48 signatures for my "Keep Jetblack 1 bus in Theale High Street" today. I will be back collecting signatures tomorrow (Sunday 26th Feb). If want to sign and can't make it tomorrow, then please sign the on-line version.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Thanks to Theale lady helped get more "Keep Jetblack 1 Bus" petition signatures

Collected "Keep Jetblack 1 Bus in Theale High Street" completed petition forms with 43 signatures from a lady in Elizabeth Court. That's 43 signatures from 52 flats - what a star!

I will be in in Theale High Street tomorrow (25th Feb) and Sunday between 11 am and noon to collect more signatures. If you want to sign and can't make it, then please sign my on-line petition.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

RBS don't need to pay big bonuses

The banks say that they need to pay their investment bankers generous bonuses to retain them and to recruit new ones. However, RBS investment banking is not doing very well and they are running this part of their business down. They therefore do not need to retain their investment bankers (or recruit new ones) and do not need to pay them bonuses!

Neighbourhood Wardens started to clear pile of litter in Arrowhead Road Theale


I had the following response from the wardens about my request to clear the pile of litter on the river bank by Arrowhead Road (pictures not attached)

Hi Alan

We looked at this today and cleared 4 bags of rubbish from the roadside by the river on our way to the riverside.

However, when we looked further we noticed a vast amount of litter beyond the location in your picture.

Attached is a map of the area – the attached pics are marked 1,2,3 and 4 on the map.

The Drain, marked X on the map is also heavily littered (no photo).

We estimate to clear this will take 6 to 8 hours for one person.

We would probably do this as a team effort.

We will approach SSE and see if this might be a job for their volunteer team.

We are not sure about the land ownership – the field with crops growing has many items of litter, mostly alcohol bottles and cans – and we would not want to damage crops and would appreciate permission to go on this land.

The ditch maybe British Waterways, and the river bank but the bank top and ditch maybe WBC?

WBC – Would you be able to collect bagged litter from the roadside if we can arrange a date and time?

British Waterways – Do you wish to have an input into this in any way? You may have had a contact from West Berks Council about this.

Alan- Do you know who owns the field?

We will be in contact again after we have spoken with SSE.

Regards

Peter


If your reply is to be shared by the whole team please use this link: westberks.wardens@sovereign.org.uk  Thank you.

Peter Elliott
Senior Neighbourhood Warden
West Berkshire Neighbourhood Wardens
Sovereign South+West
Berkshire House
22-
24 Bartholomew Street Newbury RG14 5LL

Direct line: 0118 945 5286
Mobile: 07831 683414

Enjoyed a visit to Theale Lunch Club

Had a nice time at the Theale Lunch Club today. The club is held at the Kirby Room, next to the Roman Catholic church and gives elderly people a chance to socialise. People were only too happy to sign my petition against the re-routing of the Jetblack 1 bus away from Theale High Street.

Many of the lunchers live in the Elizabeth Court sheltered housing at the eastern end of Theale High Street. They would be very badly affected.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Council want to change the opening hours for Theale Library

West Berkshire Council want to change the opening hours for Theale library. At the moment the library is open 45.5 hours per week when the schools are open and 21 hours per week during school holidays. The council want to change to having it open 26 hours per week all the time.

The council are consulting the public on what opening times they prefer. You can access the consultation on line here.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Trying to set up a new youth club in Theale

Had a meeting today with parish councillors, neighbourhood wardens, West Berks Council youth worker and Berkshire Association of Children and Young People (BACYP) to try to get a new youth club going in Theale. A big problem is finding suitable premises, as storage for large items like pool tables is required.

Looks like we may be able to start a session at the Leisure Centre for older kids to play informal sport, such as five-a-side football.

During the meeting the West Berks Council youth worker told us that "detached" (outreach) youth work will cease in Theale. Apparently, Theale does not have enough anti-social behaviour to warrant it!

If you are interested in helping to set up or run a youth club then please contact Theale Parish Council clerk (0118 930 6592)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Pleased to see the narrowings in Englefield Rd have been narrowed

I noticed today that West Berkshire Council have made the traffic calming narrowings in Englefield Road, Theale, narrower.

This was as a result of a petition I raised.

The work will help slow the traffic more. It will also make it safer for children to cross the road to get to Theale primary School.

Hopefully, it will also reduce rat-running through Theale

The work on narrowing the zebra crossing outside the primary school in Church Street should start soon.

Reported Potholes in Theale High St to West Berks Council

Over the weekend I saw that the pothole problem in the High Street between Hoad Way and Woodfield Way had got a lot worse. I took some photos of the problem and emailed them to West Berkshire Council Streetcare (streetcare@westberks.gov.uk)

Reported Litter in Arrowhead Rd, Theale, to West Berks Council

I was approached by a resident during my regular Theale High Street walk-about on Saturday. He complained about an accumulation of litter in Arrowhead Road, opposite "Heelas" (the John Lewis warehouse). I investigated and saw the problem on the river bank (which comes very close to the road at this point). I reported the problem to West Berks Council Streetcare (01635 519080).

Update 21/02/12: Streetcare have reported the problem to British Waterways, who they say are responsible for the river bank. This did not surprise me. I suspected that British Waterways would not respond very quickly, so I have asked the Neighbourhood Wardens to investigate.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Please sign my petitions to keep the Jetblack 1 bus serving Theale High St & keep the width restriction in Station Rd

I have now set up on-line petitions to stop the Jetblack 1 bus being re-routed away from Theale High Street and to keep the width restriction bollards in Station Road ( please see my earlier post). You can access them here.

Please note that you do not have to give your mobile phone number.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Problems with water supply in Theale last night

There was a sudden, severe, drop in water pressure in Theale at about 12:30 a.m. this morning.

This was caused by a burst in a 9 inch water main in Pincents Lane in Tilehurst. The burst caused flooding to some houses.

Water pressure in Theale had returned to normal by 07:00 a.m.

Travellers at Theale Station

Four or five traveller caravans parked in the station car park early this morning.

The booking clerk reported them to his employers (Great Western Trains) at 06:40 am.

The police spoke to the travellers at about 11:00 a.m.

I informed West Berkshire Council this afternoon.

The council and the train company seem sure that they will leave soon. Let's hope that are right.

Update 22 Feb 2012: West Berkshire Council's gypsy liaison officer told me that the travellers had gone

Update 23 Feb 2012: Visited the station and confirmed that the travellers had gone and that the height limiter was in place.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Fire brigade headquarters in Theale?

I was surprised to hear on Radio Berkshire this evening that the Royal Berkshire Fire service headquarters is to move from Dee Road, Tilehurst, to Theale. I knew of a plan to build a fire station in the Theale/Calcot area, but the brigade headquarters?

I asked a member of the fire authority about this and he told me that the headquarters is likely to move to Pincents Lane, Calcot. He also told me that Theale is the likely location for a new fire station.

Update 23 Feb 2012: The misleading story was aslso published in this week's Reading Chronicle

Update 28 Feb 2012: The new headquarters will be in a building called "Theale Cross", off Pincents Lane

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

West Berks Council rejects amendment to take Sandleford out of LDF

The Liberal Democrat opposition proposed an amendment to remove the Sandleford Park strategic housing site from the Local Development Framework (LDF) Core Strategy at the Extraordinary Council meeting tonight. They proposed to develop "brownfield" sites around Newbury instead.

However, the council chairman refused to take the amendment. Therefore, the site will stay in the Core Strategy.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

West Berkshire Council £400,000 Budget Error

West Berkshire Council has made a budgeting error of £400,000. At its Executive meeting last Thursday, the Conservative administration admitted that they would be getting £400,000 from the government that they had not budgeted for. The money is from the "New Homes Bonus" and they forgot that they would continue to get this year's bonus next year as well as next year's.

However, instead of using the money to stop some of the budget cuts to things like social services to the disabled and old, they have decided to put the £400,000 in reserves - effectively leaving it in the bank.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Very few youth clubs now running in West Berkshire

The answer to my question at tonight's West Berkshire Council Executive showed that there are only five youth club sessions running in the place of the clubs the council used to run. West Berkshire used to run 12 youth clubs, some of which ran several sessions per week.

Virtually every survey carried out by the council and by others has shown that one of resident's main concerns is that there is not enough activities for teenagers. Now there is even less, thanks to the council

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

AWE Planning Application

I was assured at tonight's Eastern Area Planning Committee that no hazardous materials would be used in the proposed Technology Development Centre at AWE Aldermaston that we were being asked to approve. I therefore had no hesitation in voting to approve the application, along with the rest of the committee.

I have voted against some planning applications for AWE at Aldermaston and Burghfield in the past because they had the potential to spread radioactive fall-out over surrounding populated areas, including Theale, in the event of a catastrophic accident.

Update on Sovereign tenant with condemned boiler

I have been chasing Sovereign to get the new boiler installed as soon as possible, The boiler is now scheduled to be replaced on Monday (13th February).

In the meantime, Sovereign have confirmed that they will compensate the tenant for the extra cost of electricity for heating the house (£120 up to yesterday!). I have arranged for a claim form to be sent to the tenant.

West Berkshire Council budget cuts

I have been going though the 2012/13 budget proposals for my opposition portfolio. I am really concerned about some of the "savings" in the Children & Young People directorate. Particularly the proposal to reduce the school improvement team by 3.2 people (saving £185,00), removing the school meals subsidy - which will increase the cost of meals to between £2.15 and £2.30, and reducing the grants to voluntary organisations for respite care by 50%.

West Berks schools have had a lot of problems recently. Theale Green School has been given a Notice to improve by OFSTED and some of the other secondary schools have done less well in their GCSE results. Those school improvement advisors are really needed!

They are also proposing to reduce the budget of the Youth Offending Team by 10%. This will jeopardise the success of one of the best Youth Offending Teams in the country!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Activities for Teenagers in West Berkshire

Took part in the West Berkshire Activities for Teenagers task group this morning. The problem is that all surveys show that residents want more council-organised activities for teenagers but the council has closed all the "open access" youth clubs. "Open access" means clubs to which all young people in the age range can attend. The council is now only providing youth activities for "vulnerable" young people. "Vulnerable" mainly means young people who may cause trouble.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

521 page Executive meeting agenda to read

I have started to read the 521 page agenda. It has three items relevant to my Children and Young People portfolio. I also need to be fully familiar with the 296 pages of budget papers, plus the other items, by Thursday (9th).

I also have the following question down:

How many youth club sessions previously run by West Berkshire Council have been re-provided by other organisations and what percentage of open sessions previously run by West Berkshire Council does this represent?

I believe that the answer is very few!

"Open sessions" refers to the number of youth club sessions which may be attended by any young people who want to attend.

Inconsiderate parking in Theale

I was copied on an email from West Berkshire Council on a response to a disabled resident who is having difficulty getting out of her parking place and using her wheelchair due to inconsiderate parking by neighbours. I checked yesterday and today and saw that one of her neighbours had a car fully parked on the footway. I will campaign to get the council to impose penalties on footway parkers.

A resident in Meadow Way is complaining about drivers picking up students from Theale Green School block his drive. I have checked a few times but have not yet seen anyone do this. Several, though, are parking on double yellow lines or with two wheels on the footway. The affected resident also often has a car completely parked on the footway outside his house and I suspect that it belongs to someone in his family.

Helping Theale Sovereign tenant with broken-down boiler

I was told by the Theale parish clerk on Thursday about a Sovereign housing association tenant whose boiler had been condemned a week before. The husband was registered disabled. Sovereign had done nothing except provide fan heaters. The tenants had a key card electricity meter and it was costing more than they could afford to heat the house - they had spent over £70 already.

I chased Sovereign on Friday and was assured that a survey for a new boiler was taking place that day. I confirmed this with the tenants.

I will check up next week to ensure that the new boiler is installed as soon as possible.

Update 15/2/12: The new boiler has been installed and the finishing touches are being made before it is fully commissioned.

Reading Buses want to re-route the Jetblack 1 bus away from Theale High Street

Told last week that Reading Buses want to re-route the Jetblack 1 service so that it no longer goes through Theale High Street. It would instead go along Brunel Road, stop outside Theale station and then use Station Road to return to it's previous route along Church Street. This would involve removing the width restriction in Station Road under the fly-over.

I have major concenrns about this:
  • The bus stops at the eastern end of the High Street, outside The Bull, would no longer be served by this bus. Routes 101, 104 and 105 would still stop there but these are infrequent and do not go into Reading - they terminate at either Savacenter or Tilehurst Triangle. Residents from the eastern end of Theale, including the Elizabeth Court sheltered housing, would have an extra half mile to walk to catch the Jetblack 1
  • The width restriction stops lorries using The Green and Church Street to get to the industrial estates south of the Theale bypass.
There will be a meeting on February 27th to discuss the proposal. I will be strongly resisting the change!

Council want to turn A4 streetlights off after midnight

I was informed last week that West Berkshire Council want to turn off the streetlights on the Theale bypass after midnight as an experiment. This would also include the streetlights on the A4 between Theale and Padworth. The object is to save money and CO2.

I was concerned that the pedestrian access at the end of Wigmore Lane would not be illuminated but was re-assured by council officers that these lights would not be affected.

Update: resident of Wigmore Lane told me that there have been three collisions with deer in the dark in the existing section of the A4 where lights are turned off at midnight.

Update 2: Council have no records of dead deer being collected from this stretch of the A4.