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Monday, 19 July 2021

Albert Road burglary

Please help Thames Valley Police by responding with relevant information to their request:


Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses after a residential burglary in Caversham.

It happened between 3pm and 6pm on Friday (16/7) in Albert Road. Entry was gained through the front door of the property, and a wallet was stolen from the hallway.

Investigating officer, PC James Packman, of Reading police station, said: “I am appealing for witnesses to this incident of residential burglary which happened in Albert Road in Caversham.

“I would ask that anyone who was in the area at this time and thinks they may have seen something to please make contact with us.

“Anyone with information is asked to report online, or call 101, quoting reference 43210317252. Alternatively, you can call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

For burglary prevention advice, please visit the Thames Valley Police website.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Watch out for a hole on Mapledurham Playing Fields!

This evening, Friday 18 June, I've been alerted by a Chazey Road resident to a hole which has opened up in the pitch nearest Caversham Trents Football Club's (CTFC) storage unit.


I have alerted CTFC in case they were intending to use the pitch tomorrow, as well as alerting Reading Borough Council. 

However because of it being Friday evening, it is unlikely anyone at RBC will be able to take any action until Monday at the earliest.

In the meantime I've asked CTFC if they might have time to cordon off the area first thing tomorrow to alert MPF users to the potential trip hazard.

I didn't want to ring them in the middle of tonight's England match!

Please therefore stay clear of this area for now, until RBC can sort out the problem. Feel free to forward this warning to anyone likely to be user MPF this weekend.

Thank you.

Update from Reading Borough Council (24 June)

Agripower returned to the Playing Fields earlier in the week to inspect this and have advised that a small seam of gravel underground had washed away which resulted in the hole opening at the surface. 

“They have now reinstated the ground and will monitor for any further movement.”

Friday, 4 June 2021

Emergency road closure Woodcote Way

Emergency Road Closure Woodcote Way , outside no 88

I’ve received the message below from Reading Borough Council this morning: 

 

“The Streetworks Team wish to make you aware Thames Water have informed us of the necessity to close Woodcote Way outside property number 88, with immediate effect.  This is required for an ongoing investigation to establish the source of a leak, initially thought to be within the footway. 


“Unfortunately the leak has worsened causing damage to the carriageway and therefore, for reasons of safety they have informed us of the Emergency Road Closure. Access can be achieved from either end of Woodcote Way, up to the point of closure.

 

“A Thames Water team will continue working throughout the weekend to find and repair the leak and the closure is anticipated to remain in place at least until the end of play on Monday 7th June 2021.  Should the closure need to remain in place beyond this date, the Streetworks Team will provide an updating email. 

 

“Reading Buses have been informed, in order to implement a temporary diversion for Bus services and the Emergency Services and Taxi Associations will be notified imminently.”

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Thank you Mapledurham Ward residents for re-electing me

Thank you very much to Mapledurham Ward residents for re-electing me to serve a further term as the local councillor.

The turnout was 55.15% (the highest in Reading) and more than half of those who voted backed me, for which I am very grateful. 

Thank you also to the huge number of people who have congratulated me since the Count. Receiving this recognition of my work for our community means a great deal to me.

I love helping resolve residents' council-related issues, it doesn't matter how mundane or complicated, do get in touch: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk 

Do send me an email if you'd like to receive my e-Newsletter.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Unlit traffic island concerns on Upper Woodcote Rd

As regular readers of my blogwill know I’ve been keeping a close eye on the construction of The Heights school and the associated works at Mapledurham Playing Fields.

The damaged sign on part of the traffic island

Following concerns about the yet unlit pedestrian traffic island on the A4074, as well as repeated requests for the introduction of a 20 mph limit, I’ve just received the following response from RBC’s Highways:

“I confirm that I’ve been in contact with the contractors today and have agreed that the barriers previously erected on the island be removed so as to not obstruct visibility of the reflective keep left bollard. The developer will also be arranging for additional signage to be placed in advance of the island to warn of the new road layout ahead.

“The pedestrian refuge island is to have an additional illuminated keep left sign erected facing each direction it given delays to the electricity connection, this has not been possible as yet.

“I will be pushing the developer to get this installed as a matter of urgency to reduce the risk of collisions. The crossing will also remain closed until this time.

“In relation to the introduction of a 20 mph speed limit on the Upper Woodcote Road, it would not be possible to include this retrospectively as a requirement of the planning permission for the school.or Highways work agreement, but this could be proposed to the Traffic Management Sub-Committee as a potential scheme in the vicinity and then possibilities investigated by officers.”

I’m a bit busy today as it’s the Elections so I won’t post more. It’s given me the chance though to rest my feet whilst writing on my mobile!

Sunday, 2 May 2021

The Heights school's opening pushed back to September 2021

The Heights primary school has announced that sadly the DfE has pushed back the school's planned opening at Mapledurham Playing Fields (MPF) to September 2021. 

This is a huge disappointment to the children, families, staff and governing body who had been gearing themselves up to move in after half-term this June. It too will be a big disappointment to the residents who live by the temporary building off Gosbrook Road. 

The benefits though are that by September the school will be complete and fully functioning, as should be the surrounding works to MPF.

Kier, the DfE's contractors have cited the following reasons for the delay to completing the build:

  1. Delays in arranging connection for all the utilities
  2. Progress being hampered severely by the temporary closure of the access which significantly impacted deliveries of both labour and materials
  3. Covid-19 social distancing and working hours restrictions have meant they cannot increase labour to levels needed to claw back time lost due to reasons 1 and 2 above
  4. An area in the car park/Early Years Play Area that subsided. This was only discovered when the additional welfare units were removed. An independent report has been commissioned to establish the reason, but quite extensive additional groundworks may be required.
I do not as yet have further information about reason 4 above, but am pressing to find out more as this will be of particular interest to some of my residents.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

A4074 highways safety works for The Heights at MPF, Upper Woodcote Road

Highways works are ongoing to improve pedestrian safety on the A4074 / Upper Woodcote Road in preparation for The Heights school relocation to Mapledurham Playing Fields after half-term.

View up A4074 towards access (24 April)

Following the reopening of the Pavilion's car park, I've received complaints from residents about the latest highways works. I hope the information I've managed to put together from my various requests for information are helpful.

Lack of notification of highways works

I am sorry and disappointed residents were not notified in advance of the current highways works as those next to the works all should have been, out of common courtesy. The Department for Education (DfE) or their contractors, Kier, should have contacted you and other stakeholders to explain what they were about to do and provide timescales.

Timescale of restrictions

I've been trying to find out for how much longer the works and traffic management (ie the temporary lights) are likely to be in place. I had hoped a meeting between the DfE, Kier and Reading Borough Council's (RBC) Highways would have taken place today (27 April). I'll update this post when I have confirmation.

Speed camera

Following RBC consulting Thames Valley Police, it has been necessary for the speed camera to be relocated to avoid the introduction of the school 'keep clear' restriction. I believe this is so that the speed camera's white lines for measuring vehicle speed do not conflict with the zigzag and 'keep clear' markings.

RBC officers have told me the speed camera's new location, after the access to the Pavilion and school, will result in vehicles slowing down as they pass the entrance and approach the camera. They've added that the sight of the zebra crossing and school keep clear restriction should also help advise drivers of the increased pedestrian movements and therefore slow their speed accordingly.

Officers have added that were the speed camera to be located prior to the school it would need to be located 46m east of the proposed 'keep clear' restrictions which would be approximately 63m from the Pavilion / school entrance and is therefore likely to lead to some drivers accelerating as they pass the school.

The speed camera's location does not require planning permission. The decision ultimately is for Thames Valley Police as the infrastructure belongs to them.

Pedestrian refuge

The proposed pedestrian refuge island is to aid pedestrian movements to and from the school / playing fields and this has been designed to ensure that 3m wide lanes are provided in both directions complying with National Standards and that the island is sufficient in size to accommodate a person waiting with a bicycle and /or an increased number of pedestrians.  To achieve this the carriageway width has been increased by 22cm on both sides to provide a taper around the pedestrian refuge island. The granite sett kerbs have been replaced with standard kerbs to ensure that the pedestrian refuge crossing facility can be provided.

Zebra crossing

An assessment undertaken at the planning application stage identified that a signalised pedestrian crossing was not justified and therefore any request for this by the Council would not have met the relevant tests to secure planning obligations.  The scheme does include the provision of a zebra crossing on Upper Woodcote Road east of the proposed school entrance, which was secured through the planning process.  A zebra crossing is regarded as a controlled crossing facility and will aid the movements of children and parents to and from the school in a safe and efficient manner.

Width concerns of access junction's bell-mouth

Having watched vehicles turning in and out of the newly constructed junction bell-mouth, I raised concerns with RBC about the width. I've seen vehicles fail to stay to their side of the access road. The Highway Authority's view is that the current conflict is because of the works not yet being complete. They have reassured me that an officer is overseeing the works to ensure the access road has been constructed to the correct width and officers will request the developer include signage (if possible) so that vehicles exiting the site keep to the left as much as possible.  

Road safety audit

The Heights School proposal has been assessed by Highway Officers and is deemed to meet the appropriate design criteria and standards with a Road Safety Audit being undertaken for the proposed Highway works which found no fundamental concerns with the scheme.  I was asked by a resident why Hewett Avenue, rather than the A4074, had been designated as the access to the school. The RBC response was: it is accepted that Hewett Avenue may be a quieter road in terms of traffic flow however, the Council can only assess the proposals that are submitted at the planning application stage.

A review of the roads will be undertaken by RBC once the school is occupied. It will establish whether changes to the speed limit are required and assessing what parking restrictions may need to be implemented as a consequence of the school opening.

Officers have advised that should a speed reduction be proposed it is likely that this would be in the form of a 20 mph zone which would require the need for physical speed reducing measures, ie speed cushions, chicanes, etc in order to have a direct impact on slowing vehicles. Officers point out that this would have resulted in increased costs for the DfE and also would not have met the planning tests. Any such proposals for a 20 mph speed limit would need to be put forward to the Network Management team for review.

Inspection of highways works

RBC have assigned an officer from Highways to inspect the works to ensure that it is complete to the required standard, should this standard not be met the works would need to be rectified.  In most cases it would not be the developer that would have to pay for the items to be rectified but that of the contractor undertaking the works and therefore there would be no additional public money spent to facilitate this.

Consultation

RBC are having to wait until after the Local Elections before they can go out to consultation on highways works. This is far from ideal but it is not possible to circumvent purdha rules.

I will update this post when I have further information, particularly on when the temporary lights will be removed.