Tuesday, 9 January 2018

MPF Consultation Results: Let's Make It Happen!

I spoke at this evening’s Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub Committee in support of the officer recommendations to follow the Charity Commission’s instructions. 

I welcomed the exceptionally high response level to the consultation (about the ESFA's proposal to pay £1.36 m to the MPF Trust in order to compensate beneficiaries for a long leasehold interest of a corner of MPF) thanking:
  • All beneficiaries who took the time to study the information and respond
  • All resident associations and other community groups including the MPF Action Group and Parents of The Heights for raising awareness of the consultation
  • Ben Stanesby and the other officer for their extensive work processing the consultation responses including much out-of-hours over weekends to deal with the thousands of answers and comments

 As at previous Sub Committee meetings I emphasised that MPF Pavilion users remain desperate for the Pavilion to be rebuilt/refurbished as soon as possible.  I hoped that those opposed would not stand in the way of the process moving forward as this would further delay the rebuilding of the Pavilion.

I said that the community as a whole needs the Sub Committee to agree the officer recommendations and additionally to urge the officers to do the required work without delay.

I said that the time has come for those against the ESFA’s proposal to accept the outcome of this latest consultation, to end the personal attacks and now work constructively to feedback their views on the Masterplan which will be required going forward.  I cautioned them not to miss this opportunity.

As the local ward councillor and chairman of the MPF Management Committee I said that I would be working hard to thrash out how best our community, beneficiaries of the Trust, want the £1.36 million invested at MPF.

I concluded saying “surely the massive support for the ESFA’s proposal makes tonight’s decision absolutely crystal clear?  The beneficiaries want the massive investment for the MPF Trust, so let’s make it happen!”

Earlier in my comments, with my MPF Management Committee chairman hat on, I relayed the responses to the recommendations in the reports to the Sub Committee from the committee’s meeting on 3 January.  In particular I asked the Sub Committee to note that when the draft consultation document was discussed by the Management Committee there were no calls from the User Group or Mapledurham Parish representatives for an independent consultant to assess it.  In fact, the User Group and Mapledurham Parish representatives only raised their strong desire for independent assessment after hearing the emphatic results supporting the ESFA’s proposal.

Outcome of the meeting
I was delighted that the MPF Trustees Sub Committee meeting agreed the officer recommendations so the next steps including for a masterplan to be worked up; that the MPF Management Committee is consulted on the options report and masterplan; and that officers engage with other stakeholders as appropriate including the Caversham Trents Football Club.

NB The MPF Trustees Sub Committee was not allowed to take education or planning considerations into account whilst making their decisions this evening.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Uproar at 22 Bus Services’ Cuts

Reading Buses’ announcement that from February 2018 it will HALVE the 22’s current 30 minute service down to once an hour on Saturdays and off peak Monday-Friday, as well as completely scrap the Sunday service, has infuriated local residents.  I’ve been inundated with correspondence and phone calls from angry and upset people.
Passengers on 22 during day time

If, as residents claim, the buses are well used throughout the day, then it flies in the face of claims made by Reading Buses so questions must be asked about how robust the company's ridership figures (which they will not share) are.  It may be that bus pass holders aren’t properly counted and that would be very concerning from an age equality point of view.

In addition, Labour-run Reading Borough Council (RBC) wants to get people out of cars and onto buses to help tackle congestion.  The Local Transport Plan states that “The challenge is to further improve the reliability, efficiency and coverage of bus services in order to build and maintain current successes and to further increase passenger levels.”  But how is cutting the 22 service going to increase passenger numbers?  Surely the reverse is what is needed to attract more onto the buses, ie increasing the number of buses per hour, is what my residents are telling me!  Particularly odd is that RBC is actually owns Reading Buses and therefore residents feel the council should be duty bound to provide a decent service for all Reading's residents.

Mapledurham Ward residents feel an hourly service is what they would expect in the deep rural countryside: not a prosperous town like Reading.  It is extraordinary that a bus company, which is wholly owned by Reading Borough Council, should be cutting services used by so many vulnerable people, namely children and pensioners.

The cuts will severely impact the many who do not drive (school children as well as a surprising number of adults) and those who cannot walk far.  It will push more into their cars, which in itself will add to Caversham and Reading’s congestion, negatively affecting the reliability of buses, adding more of a deterrent to would-be bus passengers.

As the Mapledurham Ward councillor I, together with others including Fiona Pringle (who set up the community group “Concerned of Caversham”) attended a meeting with Martijn Gilbert, Reading Buses’ Chief Executive, on Monday 20 November.   In advance of the meeting we decided that our top priority was to get the 30 minute service restarted at the end of the school day.  Sadly, although Martijn agreed with me that it is important to get children into the habit of using the bus, he was not prepared to budge.  Martijn said that subject to timetabling the ‘peak’ service was likely to resume at about 5.15-5.30 pm. 

Following the meeting “Concerned of Caversham” has been testing out Reading Buses’ claim that the 22 service is not used very much during the day.  The evidence shows that actually the number of passengers is very healthy, with buses after 3 pm usually packed and standing room only. 

Once I have finished reading all the objections sent through to me I will write again to Reading Buses on behalf of Mapledurham Ward residents to voice their concerns and urge for a rethink on the announced cuts.

Readers may like to look at my previous posts in October about Reading Buses.  In addition there is this GetReading report.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Opportunity to Help Set Your Community's Safety Priorities

Have your say by filling out Reading Community Safety Survey launched today by Reading Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Initiative Team.

The survey asks for views on issues such as crime, parking, litter and anti-social behaviour.  The consultation will be running until Friday 15 December 2017.

Responses will be analysed over the New Year, broken down into area-by-area data and then considered in conjunction with the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) priorities for Reading, along with locally reported crime across the borough, the British Crime Survey and priorities identified by Thames Valley Police.

Priorities will then be fed back to the local Safer Neighbourhood Forums (formerly Neighbourhood Action Groups) and other local community groups, and priorities will then be set accordingly.  Local residents will then be able to attend meetings to discuss their top three priorities and talk about possible solutions or feed in to online discussions.

Anyone without access to a computer can drop in to a session at Reading Libraries during the ‘Get online’ sessions:

Neighbourhood Initiatives Officers will be available at Central Library (no sessions are offered at Caversham Library) on the following dates and times to help residents complete the survey:
  • Thursday 23rd November, 2pm-3pm
  • Tuesday 28th November, 2pm–3pm

The 2015 survey received 1,250 responses across Reading, and showed speeding and traffic issues as the biggest priorities in most areas with drugs and anti-social behaviour also featuring high.

The Safer Neighbourhood Forums consist of representatives from Thames Valley Police and Reading Borough Council and members of the community who work together to tackle specific issues.

More information about the SNFs and how to get involved is available by contacting the Neighbourhood Initiatives Team, e-mail: or by registering interest at

Monday, 16 October 2017

Petition Launched Against Reading Buses' Pink Routes Consultation

The 'Concerned of Caversham' local campaign group, set up last week after Reading Buses launched a consultation on proposed changes to the Caversham Pink bus routes, started a petition last night.

The petition entitled Halt the current Caversham Pink bus route proposals reads:
"We the undersigned urge Reading Buses (and Reading Borough Council who own Reading Buses) to halt the current proposals in their entirety for all Pink routes and to engage with community groups in advance of any future proposed changes."
If you agree and live locally/use the bus services, please sign

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Pink Bus Route 22 Feedback

At Saturday afternoon's meeting convened by Fiona Pringle (who set up the Facebook campaign group Concerned of Caversham Reading Buses Consultation) local residents were encouraged to list out concerns about Reading Buses' proposed changes to bus services across Caversham.

I worked with those interested in Route No 22 as it is the service used by my Ward residents.  If readers know of additional concerns, please let me know by email to and I will pass them on to Fiona Pringle

Cutting out Priest Hill/The Mount/large portion of Albert Road deeply unpopular
  • Priest Hill too steep for many pedestrians (some carrying shopping)
  • The Cloisters’ elderly residents on Priest Hill would lose bus access
  • Extra Care Home on The Mount/Albert Rd soon to open reliant on bus access residents/visitors/workers
  • Access to library and other facilities in centre of Caversham for above residents
  • More direct to walk from southern end Albert Road but pedestrian access down St Peter’s Hill dangerously narrow and steep
  • Tried cutting out Priest Hill before: unsuccessfully
Diversion up Oakley Road
  • Congested road as route to several schools
  • Dangerous junction where Kidmore Road bisects Oakley Road, history of accidents.  Lollipop Lady employed for children’s safety
  • Problematic getting double deckers up Oakley Road’s hill in winter?
  • Parking in level section of Oakley Road congested. This would exacerbate the issue
Cutting out Highmore Road and section of A4074 also deeply unpopular
  • Stay a While club for elderly in Methodist Church Hall reliant on No 22
  • Extra distance and time to nearest bus stop for Upper Warren Avenue/west of A4074 big deterrent
  • Alternative Thameslink service frequently misses out sections of A4074 due to congestion
  • Reading Buses' season tickets not useable on Thames Travel
Diversion along Richmond Road
  • Richmond Road is very narrow, no space for parked vehicle on both sides
General points
  • Consultation too short, web only and its questionable legality
  • Reading Buses should first consult on why more people do not use the pink routes
  • By changing the 11 pm to 10.45 pm, bus pass holders could use it for free. This would align with the usual ¼ to the hour service
  • Reading Buses should take fresh look at pricing. Short distance passengers should pay less to incentivise using the bus
  • Link No 22 route to onwards route to RBH from same bus stop

Friday, 13 October 2017

Have Your Say on Proposed Changes to Caversham's Buses

Reading Buses has launched a consultation about proposed changes to the pink bus routes which service Caversham.  The consultation closes on 31 October.  Details of the consultation can be viewed on Reading Buses' website.

Facebook group has been set up for those opposed to the proposed changes. UPDATE: A drop in meeting has been arranged in St Andrew's hall, St Andrew's Road at 4 pm tomorrow, Saturday 14 October. The purpose is to help raise awareness of Reading Buses' consultation and mobilise helpers.
Proposed Changes to Bus Routes, axing the number 24

The main changes for the number 22 which serves my Ward and the rest of Caversham Heights are:
  • Re-routed away from Priest Hill, The Mount and much of Albert Road, instead going further along Hemdean Road then up Oakley Road
  • Omitting stretch of the A4074 and Highmoor Road, instead turning into Richmond Road to loop back
  • Increased frequency to every 20 minutes (from every 30 minutes)
  • Converted to double deck buses
Revised Proposed Changes to Bus Routes
Further Update: Following critical responses to the above proposals, Reading Buses published a revised proposals.  Also due to pressure, the deadline has been extended to Friday 10 November.

Even if you responded to the original proposals, do please study the revised proposals before responding a second time.

Do either email your views to or put them in writing to: Caversham Consultation, Reading Buses, Great Knollys Street, Reading RG1 7HH.

Requests have been made to Reading Buses to hold a public meeting. If and when a date is fixed I will update this post.

Chance to Win Money by Recycling More Glass

In order to raise recycling rates the re3 waste partnership has launched a prize draw for groups (eg school, local charity or community group) to win up to £1000.  

There will be 5 winners in each area: Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham.  Fill out the application form for a chance to win!

Groups have been asked to commit to taking glass to re3 bring banks, thereby decreasing the amount currently chucked into residual waste which goes to landfill.  Not only is it better for glass to be recycled, but it also saves the tax payer money.

More information can be found on re3's website.