Thursday, 30 May 2013

Project to replace gas mains in Theale High Street CANCELLED

I checked the status of the project to replace two of the three gas mains in Theale High Street with the Southern Gas Networks project engineer. He informed me that the project has been cancelled. The gas company had an obligation to replace gas mains under OFGEM's Price Control Review formula. OFGEM has changed the formula, so this project has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

The gas mains replacement project had caused the postponement of West Berkshire Council's project to resurface the part of Church Street between Englefield Road and Station Road. This was because the gas mains project would have involved digging up part of the Church Street/Station Road junction. This reason no longer exists, so I have now asked the council to start the resurfacing project as soon as possible.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Theale Green School: academy status approved & head teacher confirmed

The government has given approval for Theale Green School to become an academy sponsored by the Bradfield College public school. Government rules forced the school to become an academy because OFSTED had put it into Special Measures.

The Interim Headteacher, David Bromfield, will become the permanent head from September.

Attempted garage break-ins in North Walk and The Orchard, Theale

Received the following today from the Thames Valley Police messaging service:

North Walk
21/22nd May
Offenders have attempted to break into a garage which is part of a block of garages, the lock had been broken but nothing appears to have been stolen.
The Orchard
21/22nd May
A garage has been broken into overnight and the lock had been broken on the garage. A second garage in The Orchard was broken into 19/22nd May, the lock was damaged but again nothing appears to have been stolen.   
If you have any information which can assist the police with their enquiries please ring 101, alternatively you can ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Please help the police if you saw anything suspicious.

Please make sure your garage and sheds are secure.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sewer in The Green and Church Street, Theale, being surveyed

Contractors were surveying the sewer in The Green and Church Street, Theale, yesterday. This is being done on behalf of Thames Water to discover why the pumping station at the corner of Lambfields and Church Street gets overwhelmed after periods of heavy rain.

The sewer has to be pumped out by tankers when this happens and this causes major disturbance to local residents. After pressure by me and our MP, the tankering was replaced by an additional temporary pump this winter and spring.

Bus shelter is to be installed in Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale

I received notification yesterday that a bus shelter is to be installed in Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale. The project is scheduled to start on 29th May and be complete by 30th May.

The shelter will be paid for from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Previously, it was proposed to pay for it from developers contributions for the proposed Lakeside housing development, which I did not think was appropriate.

The sheleter will be cleaned and maintained by Goodmans Business Parks Ltd, who own and run the business park.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Updated: Theft from a BMW parked in The Green, Theale

Received the following from the Thames Valley Police Alert Messaging System 16/05/13:

Overnight between the 13th and 14th May a BMW parked in The Green, Theale was accessed. A search of the glove box was made and a satellite navigation system was stolen. 

In order to help protect your property make sure your vehicle is kept secure when not in use and never leave any items of value in the vehicle.

If you have any information about this incident or see anyone acting in a suspicious manner please call the 24 hour Police Enquiry Centre on 101 and state you are responding to a Thames Valley Alert message

UPDATE 17/05/13

I have been told by the victim that the BMW was in his drive and had been accidentally left unlocked  He suspects that the thief also tried to get into his house. The police told him that a BMW X6 was stolen from Woodfield Way the same night. He therefore suspects that the thief was looking for car keys when he tried to get into his house.

Please make sure that your car and your house are left secure. Also, please make sure that you do not keep your car keys near an outside door.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pleased to see hole in Roundhead Rd has been repaired afer I intervened

There was a deep hole in Roundhead Road for several months. It was obvious that West Berkshire Council were aware of it as it was protected by warning signs and cones. The signs were, however, frequently blown or knocked over:

Image 1

I chased the council on this on 10th May. Today, I was pleased to notice that hole had been filled in.

Monday, 13 May 2013

News re lifts & other improvements to Theale station

I attended a meeting of the "Theale Station Liaison Group" this morning to get the latest news on the project to provide:

  • Lifts
  • New footbridge
  • New booking office

at Theale railway station.

The plans for the lift towers and footbridge have been approved by West Berkshire Council planners and detailed design is in progress. The booking office will be a modular building that will also include a waiting room. This does not need planning permission. It is also hoped that refreshment facilities will be provided, though this has not been finalised.

The lifts, new footbridge and booking office will be at the Reading end of the station car park. There will be a new pedestrian entrance from Brunel Road, to improve access to and from the business parks. This will require a ramp! 

The existing accesses to the platforms from the Station Road bridge will continue to be available. The existing ticket machine will remain and another will be provided outside the new booking office.

The current schedule is as follows:

Start on site: October 2013
Lift span installed: December 2013
Start of construction of ticket office: January 2014
Project complete: February 2014

The following images show what the finished project should look like:

The issue of manning hours for the station has still not been resolved. The train company believes that the lifts will only be available when the station is manned (though there is evidence that this is not the case for stations in other parts of the country). The station is currently only manned from 06:30 to 13:00 Mondays to Fridays and 06:45 to 11:30 on Saturdays.

The project is paid for by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, the National Station Improvement Programme and Access For All.

The Liaison Group consists of:

Alok Sharma, MP
First Great Western trains
Network Rail
West Berkshire Council
Theale Parish Council
Theale's Future
and myself

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Special Meeting of Theale Parish Council to discuss future of North St playing field

There will be a special meeting of Theale Parish Council on Wednesday 15th May to discuss the future of the North Street playing field. This is the field bounded by Englefield Road, the road leading to North Street, the road leading to Theale Golf Club, North Walk and Play Platt.  Please see this satellite image. It is leased from the Englefield Estate.

The playing field was previously the Theale Green School playing field. The field contains three football pitches but could accommodate at least one more. The field has seen less football played in recent years as several teams of the main user, Theale Tigers, now play in leagues that play all their matches on pitches in Reading.

The parish council spends a considerable amount of money on renting the field and on cutting the grass and hedges. The council is under financial pressure because:
  • A change in government regulations reduced the council's tax base (because of the large number of singly occupied homes). This has meant that the council has had to increase council tax although it is not spending any more than the previous year. This problem was reduced this year by a government grant to West Berkshire Council that was shared with parishes. We do not know if this grant will be given in future years and, if so, whether WBC will continue to share it.
  • The government keeps threatening to cap parish council council tax.
These two things mean that the parish council does not know how much money it will be able to spend in the next financial year.

The meeting will be in:

     The Peter Gooch Room
     The Pavilion
     Recreation Ground
     Englefield Road
The meeting will start at 7:30 pm.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Smoke blowing towards Theale from fire at Beenham

Another fire has broken out at the composting plant in Beenham. The smoke from the fire is currently blowing towards Theale.

The fire is being seen as a non-emergency incident by the Royal Berkshire Fire Service (RBFRS).

I am very concerned if the fire is allowed to "burn itself out" as the last fire at this site continued burning for three months.. Although there may not be any immediate threat to life, the smoke may seriously affect those with respiratory problems, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, etc.

I have asked the West Berkshire Council officers concerned if they can persuade the fire service to extinguish the fire.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Plans for lifts at Theale station approved by West Berks planners

I have received notification that West Berkshire Council have "approved" the plans for the lifts and associated bridge at Theale station. This was not an ordinary planning application, because it was on railway land, and the council could only object on specific grounds.

The current schedule is for the lifts to be built by December. I will learn more at a meeting on Monday.

The following are artists impressions of the lifts and bridge. However, the colour of the steel cladding agreed with the railway, planning and myself is "Winter Sky" - a bluish grey.

The impressions include the planned new booking office, but this will the subject of different plans.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Project to improve access to Holy Trinity Church initiated

I attended an event at Tony Roe Solicitors last night to start a project to improve access to Holy Trinity Church, Theale. People attending services and events at the church currently have to climb seven steps into the porch and then a further three steps into the main body of the church. This makes life very difficult for people with movement difficulties and parents with pushchairs or prams.


The problem was brought home at a recent funeral where about a dozen of the mourners used walking aids.

The project was kicked off by the family of Kathy Watson, who died recently, who asked friends and family to donate money in her memory to start the new access fund.

The church is Grade 1 listed because of its architectural importance. Any modifications to the church therefore need the approval of English Heritage.

One of the architects at the Theale branch of the firm Broadway Malyan is giving his services free. He presented several possible ways to provide ways of getting into the church without having to climb steps. Some of these would have little or no visual impact on the church.