Saturday, 28 April 2012

Reading free "Changing ways of Theale" book

I was given an interesting book: "The Changing ways of Theale" by Theale library yesterday.

It is full of interesting photos of Theale and it is free!

It covers the history of Theale, concentrating on the influence of transport links.

The photos were taken by the Kingsley Photographic Group. This is a group of people with physical and learning difficulties based at the Greenfield House day centre in Calcot.

Publication of the book was financed by the Heritage Lottery fund.

I was also given a booklet commemorating the Theale Community Quilt that was made by Theale villagers to celebrate the millennium. The quilt is on display on the wall of the main hall in Theale Green Community School.

The library still has good stocks of the book and booklet - go in and ask for them!

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Arranged special recycling collection for Alderfield Close tomorrow

An Alderfield Close resident phoned me this morning to say that the recycling was not collected yesterday. This was because inconsiderately parked vehicles meant that the recycling truck could not get into the close.

I have therefore arranged for a special collection tomorrow (25th April).

I have also asked the local police to monitor parking in the close - I have had previous complaints about one of the vehicles involved. They will warn the owner and prosecute if necessary.

Councillor Alan Macro

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Thursday, 19 April 2012

Asked West Berks Council to enforce parking restrictions around Theale Green school

After being contacted by two affected residents, I have asked for "Civilian Enforcement officers" (traffic wardens) to patrol the Meadow Way/Church Street/Volunteer Road area around school leaving times. This is to act as a deterrent against thoughtless parking by parents picking up Theale Green School pupils.

Councillor Alan Macro

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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Theale Primary School to be expanded with two modular classrooms

I attended a West Berkshire Council project board meeting at Theale Primary School this morning. The board agreed to the siting of two modular classrooms at the school.

The new classrooms will allow the intake this September to be increased from 30 to 47. 47 children, all those  who live in the catchment area who applied for the school, have been offered a place this year.

The classrooms will be stacked one on top of the other to reduce the footprint on this cramped site.

The project has been started rather late and there is a risk that the classrooms will not be ready for the start of the autumn term, though temporary accommodation within the school can probably be found until they are ready.

"Modular" classrooms are good-quality temporary buildings.

Alan Macro

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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Pleased to see that you can use PayByPhone smartphone app in West Berkshire car parks

I read about the PayByPhone smartphone app in the Sunday Times Ingear supplement (I read this for the IT news, not the car stuff!). This runs on Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones and lets you easily pay cashlessly for car parking. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can use the app in West Berkshire Council's car parks, though you can't use it in Reading's.

You register a credit or debit card with the app, this is protected by needing to enter the 3 digit code on the back of the card when you park. A great benefit is that you can extend the parking period from your smartphone.

PayByPhone is rolling out the capability to use NFC (Near Field Communications), though this is only currently available in Tunbridge Wells. If you've got this on your phone, you can use that instead of entering the car park location number in the app.

Councillor Alan Macro

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Saturday, 14 April 2012

New opening hours for Theale Library from 7th May


The opening hours of Theale Library will be changing from 7th May. West Berkshire Council surveyed library users and asked them to vote on three options for their preferred pattern of opening, based on a consistant pattern of 26 hours per week throughout the year. The consultation attracted votes from 229 people and the opening times pattern selected is as follows:

Monday: 1pm - 5pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10.30am - 5pm
Thursday: 1pm - 7pm
Friday: 10.30am - 5pm
Saturday: 9.30am - 12.30pm

Thanks to all who voted in the consultation.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

IKEA: Agreed to go to a meeting with our MP organised by the "Save Calcot" campaign

I received a call today from the "Save Calcot" campaign inviting me to a meeting that they have arranged with our MP, Alok Sharma, and people who want to stop the IKEA store going ahead.

The meeting is next week and I have agreed to go.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Asked for the IKEA application to be "called in" for decision by the Secretary of State

I have sent the following request for the IKEA planning application to be "called in" to be decided by the Secretary of State. If successful, the decision by West Berkshire council's Eastern Area Planning Committee will be disregarded and the decision will be made by the Secretary of State after a public inquiry. Please note that this is rather a long shot!


I hereby request that the following planning application is called in for determination by the Secretary of State:

West Berkshire Council application 11/00218/COMIND
Erection of a Class A1 retail store with associated car parking, landscaping, servicing and access arrangements.
Land at the Berkshire Retail Park, Pincents Lane, Calcot, Reading.
IKEA Properties Investments Ltd.

The application is for a 39,612 square metre IKEA store with associated 1,179 space multi-storey car park. The site is close to Junction 12 of the M4 motorway.

Grounds for request:


  • The store would attract customers from within a radius of about 50 miles, threatening the viability of numerous town centre shopping areas.
  • The nature of goods sold in the store would mean that almost all customers would travel to the store by private car. This means that the proposal is not a sustainable one.
  • The site of the proposed store is just inside the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the 22.5 metre height of the blue coloured store would affect views into the AONB from nearby public footpaths, public open space and the M4 motorway.
  • Although it is proposed to extend one bus service to the store, the site is otherwise difficult to reach by public transport. This means that most of the 400 employees would travel to work using privater cars, reducing sustainability further.
  • The large amount of traffic that would be generated would cause congestion on the M4 motorway and on roads leading from nearby Reading, in addition to local roads.
  • The proposed store is not of high quality design, as required by the NPPF.
-- 
Kind Regards,
Alan Macro
Member for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Appeal against planning permission for IKEA?

Several people have suggested that objectors should appeal against the granting of planning permission for the IKEA store in Calcot. However, planning  appeals can only be made (by developers) against the refusal of permission, they cannot be made against the granting of permission.

Objectors could apply to the high court to ask for a judicial review, though this would be very expensive. They would have to prove that the council had acted illegally or against procedure. This would be very hard to do.

One possibility that I am exploring is whether to ask the Secretary of State to call the application in. He will only do this if he agrees that the development is a strategic issue or of more than local importance. If successful, the Secretary of State would order a public inquiry. At the end of the inquiry, the inspector who held the inquiry would recommend to the  Secretary of State whether planning permission should be granted or not. The  Secretary of State would make the final decision.

Information on calling in can be found at http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/pins/gpa_03.pdf. I believe that the application can still be called in because the planning committee did not actually grant permission. They delegated the approval to the Head of Planning and Countryside (a West Berks Council officer), subject to the completion of a legal agreement. This is normal and there is usually a delay before the agreement is signed.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Thursday, 5 April 2012

IKEA given planning permission for store at Calcot

The West Berkshire Council Eastern Area Planning Committee gave planning permission for the IKEA store in Calcot at special meeting in Theale Green School last night (4th April). The vote was 7 in favour and 4 against.

The 39,700 square meter store will be on the site occupied by Homebase, Carpetright and the bowling alley. It will be 22.5 metres (74 feet) high and linked by a footbridge over Pincents Lane to a 1,179 space multi-story car park on the site of the redundant warehouses. The main store will be nearly three times the height of the Homebase building.

Many committee members, including me, were concerned about the amount of traffic it will generate and whether the improvements to M4 Junction 12, the Savacenter roundabout and widening of Pincents Lane (paid for by IKEA) will cope with the extra traffic. Even with the improvements, forecast traffic queues in Junction 12 will increase.

I was also concerned about the visual impact of the blue coloured store on the footpaths, open space and houses around Woodfield Way. It will project well above the trees that shield Homebase, etc., from view.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Queried IKEA traffic forecast figures

I have emailed West Berkshire Council's highway officers querying some of the traffic forecast information given for the IKEA's planning application in the agenda report for next Wednesday's Eastern Area Planning Committee.

Some of the forecasts gave lower traffic congestion figures if IKEA goes ahead than if it did not, which is scarcely credible. Some of the forecasts also appeared to show IKEA-related road improvements making things worse!


Councillor Alan Macro

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Sent response to Great Western Trains franchise replacement consultation

I sent a response to the consultation on the Great Western Trains Franchise Replacement consultation yesterday.

I want to ensure that Theale still has at least the current service of through trains to London Paddington after Crossrail starts. Crossrail will take over the two "slow" tracks between Maidenhead and Paddington and I was worried that this would jeopardise our through trains. I have also asked for through trains in the evening and for a late evening through service for Theale residents attending West End Shows.

I have also asked for the use of Intercity 125 trains on Theale services to be phased out. Reliability and punctuality took a nose dive when these were introduced. They are also too long for Theale's platforms!

I also asked for improvements to the facilities on Theale Station.

Councillor Alan Macro

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