Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Church St Zebra Crossing Narrowing in 2012/13 Programme

I am pleased to see that the narrowing of the Church St zebra crossing is in West Berkshire Council's 2012/13 highways capital programme.

This is as a result of the petition that I raised asking for the crossing to made safer for children crossing to and from Theale Primary School. I raised this after some parents had expressed their concerns to me.

I believe that work on the narrowing will start soon.

Councillor Alan Macro

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/

IKEA agrees to take part in public information meeting


IKEA has agreed to take part in a public information meeting for local residents about their proposals for the Pincents Lane Retail Park site.

The meeting will take place on Monday 2nd April between 7pm and 9pm at the Beansheaf Centre, Charrington Road, Calcot, Reading RG31 7AW .
Kindly hosted by Holybrook Parish Council, the meeting, which is open to all, will allow local residents to view IKEA’s plans, which will be displayed on exhibition boards and quiz members of the IKEA team.

This meeting will be an opportunity, ahead of the meeting of the Eastern Area Planning Committee on 4th April which will consider IKEA’s application, for local residents to understand IKEA's proposals fully and to ask any queries they have relating to traffic issues and any other matters.

Councillor Alan Macro

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Theale Parish Council's response to consultation on Great Western Trains replacement franchise

I am working on a draft for Theale Parish Council's response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the requirements for the replacement Great Western Trains franchise.

You can access the consultation documents from the DFT website

The consultation finishes on March 31st.


Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

Email: councillor.macro@theale.org.uk
Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/ 

Saturday, 24 March 2012

What activities do you want for young people in Theale?

Theale Parish Council is working with the Neighbourhood Wardens to try to provide activities for young people in Theale. This is to help fill the gap left by West Berkshire Council's closure of the youth clubs it used to run.

I am carrying out an on-line survey for the parish council to see what kind of activities are wanted.  We want to hear what all residents want, but particularly want to hear from young people themselves.

To take part in the survey, please go to http://kwiksurveys.com/?u=ThealeYouthSurvey

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

Email: councillor.macro@theale.org.uk

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/           

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Olympic torch to be carried through Theale

The Olympic torch is to be carried through Theale on Wednesday 11th July. It will be carried through Theale High Street. I think, but am not sure, that it will also be carried along Church Street.

Unfortunately, none of the torch bearers will be from Theale or the surrounding area: one is from Reading, one from Newbury, one from Wokingham and one from Thame.

Councillor Alan Macro

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/         

Monday, 19 March 2012

Traffic to be diverted through Theale?

I have received the following from West Berkshire Council Highways department:

I would like to update you on developments regarding the above closure for Network Rail's electrification works.

Currently the formal signed diversion route for the closure is along Ufton Lane.   Following comments from local residents and observations by the Highway Inspector for that area, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the surface of Ufton Lane will not be able to withstand the amount of traffic using it for the duration of NR's works.  (Sulhamstead Hill is currently programmed to be closed until 11 July 2012).

We are therefore instructing Network Rail that the formal signed diversion route be altered to use the Burghfield Rd through Burghfield Common and Village to Amners Farm, then left into Deans Copse Road past the gravel pits to Sheffield Bottom and onto the A4/Theale bypass.  Ufton Lane would then be signed as 'suitable for Local Traffic only'.  Clearly this will not stop those in 'the know' from using Ufton Lane but at least it will remove some vehicular traffic from the route and limit the damage.

It is intended that Network Rail will have the new diversion signage in place for Monday

I have major concerns about this because the diversion is via Theale swing bridge. I have therefore sent the following response:

this route appears to be via Sheffield swing bridge (Theale swing bridge) over the canal. This bridge has both a weight and a width limit and is not suitable for large vehicles.
Also, the signage at the Theale end of the A4 only refers to Sulhamstead railway bridge. There are no signs mentioning the fact that both railway bridges in Aldermaston are closed. There were major traffic hold-ups last week caused by the closures.
Eastbound on the A4, I have only seen signs saying that the Station Road bridge in Aldermaston is closed. I have not seen signs that the A340 bridge is also closed.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale


19th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/


Saturday, 17 March 2012

Meadow Way garage court

A year or two ago, I chaired some meetings of the owners of the garages in the court between 14 and 16 Meadow Way on behalf of West Berkshire Council. The garages had become very run down and invited low level crime and fly tipping. The council wanted to clear the area to solve these problems

The owners agreed to have the garages demolished and this was organised by the council, thanks to a grant. A builder is interested in buying the site to build two or three houses. Unfortunately, the access to the garages is still owned by a company that took over the bankrupt original developer. This has caused the project to stall.

I have contacted the council to see if there is anything that we can do to re-start the project.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
17th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/         

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Bad enough Reading not getting city status, but Chelmsford?

Just heard that Reading is missing out on city status for the third time and that Chelmsford is getting it.

Bad enough Reading not getting city status, but Chelmsford? I have lived in both and believe that Reading is much more deserving!


Councillor Alan Macro
14th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/

Working on a survey for Theale Parish Council to see what activities young people want

West Berkshire Council closed Theale Youth Club last year (they have now closed all the youth clubs they used to run).

Theale Parish Council have been working with the neighbourhood wardens and the Berkshire Association of Clubs for Young People (BACYP) to get a new club started. However, they think that it would be a good idea to see what kind of facilities young people actually want. I am therefore working on an on-line survey to find out.

I am am aiming to "publish" the survey soon using the Theale's Future next newsletter, this blog, Twitter, Facebook and my list of Theale residents email addresses.

Please look out for the survey!


Councillor Alan Macro
14th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

3 railway bridges closed between Theale and Thatcham

National Rail has closed the following road-over-railway bridges:

  • Sulhampstead Hill
  • A340 at Aldermaston
  • Aldermaston station
This means that the only places where HGVs can cross the railway between Theale and Thatcham are Frouds Lane (between Aldermaston and Woolhampton) and Woolhampton level crossing.

Cars, but not lorries, can also use the Ufton Nervet level crossing (site of the train disaster) and the Padworth Lane bridge. Lorries can use the railway bridge in Theale, but can only access the trading estate as there are width and weight restrictions on Theale canal swing bridge.

This shows very bad planning by National Rail. Apparently, they did not give West Berkshire Council very much notice either.

The bridges will be closed for several months so that they can be raised to provide clearance for the overhead power lines that will be installed when the Reading-Newbury line is electrified.

Councillor Alan Macro
13th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/ 



Mission impossible: Theale to Newbury by public transport today

There were long delays westbound on the A4 between Theale and Aldermaston this morning. This was caused by the fact that both bridges over the railway at Aldermaston are closed (they are being raised to allow for the overhead power lines when the line is electrified). This caused severe delays to the Jetblack 1 bus.

Also this morning, trains between Theale and Newbury were suspended because a train had hit a person in Thatcham. Trains were replaced by buses, but these were delayed by the above traffic jam!

All the problems were resolved by mid-day.

Councillor Alan Macro


13th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/ 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Reviewing tenders for the new school meals contract for West Berks Council

I am about half way through evaluating five tenders for the new school meals contract. I am doing this as part of my responsibilities as the opposition spokesman for Children and Young People on West Berkshire Council.

Some of the tenders show an amazing lack of care by the tenderers. Some companies have not provided required information. Some have obviously modified a tender to another council and forgotten to change all the council names!

Two of the companies already provide school meals in West Berks and have "need improvement" or "need major improvement" hygiene ratings.

Councillor Alan Macro


www.theale.org.uk
Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/



11th March 2012

Reported demolished road signs and potholes in Theale to West Berks Council

Reported the following to west Berks Council Streetcare:

  • Several potholes in Englefield Road, in the section between Deadmans Lane and the A340
  • Road signs on the A4/A340 roundabout (at the end of The Green) that have been demolished by a vehicle.
Councillor Alan Macro
11th March 2012

www.theale.org.uk
Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Crown Lane, Theale: reported potholes & dip in road to West Berks Council

I have reported the dip in the middle of Crown Lane and nearby potholes to Streetcare at West Berkshire Council.

The dip looks like it is caused by subsidence. It has previously been reported by Theale Parish Council, but looks like it's getting worse.

Councillor Alan Macro
www.theale.org.uk
Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
Read my Blog: http://alanmacro.blogspot.com/



10th March 2012

Nine schools, including Theale Green, in West Berkshire have a "Improvement Necessary" food hygiene rating

Nine schools in West Berkshire have been given a "Major Improvement Necessary" or "Improvement Necessary" food hygiene rating by the Food Standards Authority.

It is appalling that children are being put at risk of food poisoning!

Theale Green Community School is one of those with a "Major Improvement Necessary" rating.

Schools with a " Improvement Necessary" rating include Little Heath in Tilehurst and Castle School in Newbury. Castle School is a special school, so many of its pupils already have health problems.

Councillor Alan Macro

www.theale.org.uk

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro



10th March 2012

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Reported fly-tipping in Theale to West Berks Council

A "skip bag" full of rubbish has been dumped outside a garage in Kathleen Sanders Court.

I have reported this to Streetcare at West Berkshire council, though I suspect that it is on Sovereign land.

Update 8th March 2012: Also reported fly-tipping and litter near the bus stop opposite the end of Wigmore Lane.

Councillor Alan Macro
8th March 2012

Southern Electric Power recruiting apprentices in Theale

Southern Electric Power is looking for apprentices at it's depots, including that in Theale.

To apply, go to http://sse-apprentices.co.uk/

Councillor Alan Macro
8th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

New food hygiene ratings published for Theale premises

Three food premises in Theale need "Major Improvement"" and two need "Urgent Major Improvement" to food hygiene standards. Before you buy any food or go out to a restaurant or pub, it is best to check the
Food Standards Agency ratings for Theale

Don't panic though, some establishments in Theale are rated "Good" or "Very Good" (the top rating).

Councillor Alan Macro
7th March 2012

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro

Updated:IKEA Calcot planning application - amended plans received

Additional/amended drawings & plans have been submitted by IKEA.

The main changes include –
  • Internal alterations to the layout of the proposed car park
  • Widening of Pincents Lane
  • Introduction of a ‘safe route’ for horses and riders to the front of the store
  • Amendments to show changes to the westbound off-slip splitter island at J12 & the widening of Pincents Lane
You can see and comment on the plans by going to http://www.westberks.gov.uk/ and searching on the application number - 11/00218/COMIND.

Update: 13th March:

There will be a site visit by the Eastern Area Planning Committee on 15th March. It is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. but may be delayed by visit to other sites. The meeting will start in the Homebase car park. Members of the public may attend but can only speak when invited.

The planning application is scheduled to be decided by a special meeting of the Eastern Area Planning Committee on 4th April. The meeting will start at 18:30 p.m. but the venue has not yet been decided.

Councillor Alan Macro

Follow me on Twitter: @alanmacro
Join me on Facebook: Alan Macro
 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Chuggers - charity collectors - in Theale High Street

Theale Parish Council was told last night by the parish clerk that she had had complaints about "chuggers" from businesses in the High Street on two occasions in the last two weeks.

Chuggers try to sign people up to direct debits in favour of charities. They are so-called because some people who have been signed up feel like they have been mugged for charity.

The complaints were that they were:
  • Obstructing entrances to shops
  • Intimidating people
  • Harassing people
These are all against the collectors code-of-conduct. They do not require a licence because they are not collecting cash.

If this happens again, and you see people being intimidated or harassed, then please report them to the police on the non-emergency number - 101.

Councillor Alan Macro
6th March 2012



British Heart Foundation may be able to collect your unwanted furniture and electrical items for free!

Will you be having a clear-out this spring?

If you’re planning a declutter, your unwanted furniture and electricals could save lives. The British Heart Foundation might even be able to collect your large items for free! Find out more:http://bit.ly/wLmV7A

Councillor Alan Macro
6th March 2012

Used car sales site in Theale High Street

You may have noticed that all the cars on this site disappeared last week and wondered what is going to happen to the site.

According to a couple of people I spoke to on the site, it is going to be a used car sales site... They were producing new signs for the site and said that is is going to be used for selling more up-market cars.

Councillor Alan Macro
6th March 2012

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Updated: Theale Co-op wants to change the hours in which it can sell alcohol

The Co-op in Theale has applied to West Berkshire Council to change the hours in which it can sell alcohol to:

6am to 11 pm

If you want to comment on this, write to:

Chief Licensing Officer
Public Protection Dept
West Berkshire Council
Market Street
Newbury
RG14 5LD

by 27th March

Councillor Alan Macro
4th March 2012

Update 6th March 2012:

The current hours are:

8am to 11 pm Mon-Sat
8am to 10:30 pm Sun

Saturday, 3 March 2012

"Keep Jetblack 1 Bus in Theale High Street" petition submitted to West Berkshire Council

I formally submitted my "Keep Jetblack 1 Bus in Theale High Street" petition to West Berkshire Council at its meeting on Thursday.

I mentioned, of course, that Reading Buses had dropped the proposal to re-route the bus after seeing the petition.

Councillor Alan Macro
3rd March 2012

Friday, 2 March 2012

No democracy in West Berkshire Council 2012 budget "debate"

We in the Lib-Dem opposition on West Berkshire Council are used to our carefully researched and considered alternative budget proposals being rubbished by the Conservative administration. However, last night's debate on them was a farce. A lot of time was taken up on previous agenda items and Conservative Hilary Cole successfully proposed a motion to curtail debate. This meant that several well-prepared speeches by opposition spokesmen were not heard.

This was in front of many members of the public who would be affected by the cuts that we were trying to reverse. Many of them were very annoyed by the silencing of discussion.

Many thought that the "debate" was a negation of democracy.

After the guillotine came down, a Tory councillor spent five minutes talking about staff that had been made redundant. I felt that several of his remarks were very inappropriate.

My speech at last night's West Berkshire Council budget debate

The following is my speech in the debate on the Lib-Dem alternative budget proposals at last night's (March 1st) West Berkshire Council budget debate. Needless to say, it was defeated.
Councillor Alan Macro, 2nd March 2012
In line with our budget proposals to protect services to the vulnerable and encourage community cohesion, I want to restore some of the administration’s proposed budget cuts and to restore some services previously cut.
In survey after survey, both adults and young people have said that there is not enough for young people to do in West Berkshire. So what did the council do? They closed all the youth clubs!
A few youth clubs have been re-opened by local councils and volunteers. However many communities have found many obstacles in the way. I am therefore proposing to re-open six youth clubs that will be open to all young people. This, in conjunction with those that have been re-opened by volunteers, parish and town councils will provide youth club services to a wide range of communities. The cost, as provided by youth service officers, will be £36,000. This allows for a three month period to recruit staff, etc.
The West Berkshire Youth Offending Team has a reputation that is one of the best in the country. In this time of recession, when our young people face many challenges, it seems crazy to reduce the size of this team and jeopardise its success. I am therefore proposing to restore the administration’s £21,000 cut to this team.
We have heard much from the party opposite about the “Big Society”. It is also generally accepted that funding of volunteer services is an investment that makes huge returns in terms of outcomes. I welcome the fact that the cut in grants to Mencap, Dingley, Crossroads, PALS and A2 Dominion is now being spread over two years. However it still seems both perverse and petty minded to reduce the grants to these charities, some of which are categorised as “outstanding” by OFSTED. If just one of the children helped by these charities had to go into residential care as a result of this cutback, it could cost the council several times the so-called saving. I am therefore proposing to restore the £25,000 cut.
The council strategy, that has just been approved, says that the council will challenge and support schools to achieve good inspection ratings. The GCSE results in West Berkshire are a little better than the national average. However, the differential is decreasing. Last year they decreased significantly in two of our schools.  In recent years, several schools have been put in Special Measures or “National Challenge” categories. Schools have been given a notice to improve. For these reasons, it is therefore perverse for the council to cut school improvement advisors further. I propose to keep the threatened school advisors at a cost of £185,000.
The government has recently introduced its “troubled families” initiative. It is therefore certainly not the time to reduce expenditure on family support. I am therefore proposing to restore the cuts in Early Family Support and Intensive Family Support at a total cost of £24,000.
I propose to help pay for these proposals by:
-         Replacing one library assistant in each branch library by volunteers, saving £37,500. This allows three months for staff consultation and volunteer recruitment.
-         Introducing a charge for internet use in libraries of £1 per hour, after the first 30 minutes use, bringing in £15,000. It should be noted that some other authorities charge over £4 per hour.
-         Modestly increasing the income requirement for Shaw House by providing value-added services for weddings, bringing in £20,000
-         Reducing the administration costs of Shaw House by £30,000, out of a total staff costs budget of over £255,000.
One saving that I am not proposing to take is the £81,000 budget cost of subsidising school meals. The administration have decided to stop the subsidy, though did not include this saving in their budget. Finances are tight for families, as well as for the council!
I am therefore proposing to save a total £102,500. However, the savings I am proposing will have a minimal effect on front-line services. These savings will help fund the reversing of £291,400 of the administration’s cuts to Children & Young People’s services of, which would have a severe impact on services to vulnerable children and to schools.