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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Temporary reinstatement by A4074 junction with Shepherds Lane

This morning, following my calls for action, council workers filled in the trench adjacent to Upper Woodcote Road's junction with Shepherds Lane (see before and after photos)
Before (view looking south)

Not only had the red plastic fencing at the junction been causing visibility problems for motorists, but also it had been blocking the pavement.

Poor drainage at the junction had been the reason for the works. The pipes that should be draining the rainwater away from the road are not connected and the road therefore will have to be dug up to sort out the issue.

After temporary reinstatement
I was informed that these works will be timed to coincide with the next half term to minimise disruption. Traffic management will have to be put in place.

In the meantime I'm afraid whenever it rains the water is bound to keep on creating a big puddle, so do drive with care.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Mapledurham Playing Fields: Questions for RBC or Kier?

Got any questions you'd like me to put to council officers or Kier's representative about Mapledurham Playing Fields and the school's construction?
Mapledurham Pavilion viewed from the playing fields

As regular readers will be aware, I'm chairman of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Management Committee. Its remit is restricted to exercising a general supervision over the day-to-day activities at the playing fields to ensure that this is consistent with the objectives of the Trust.

As pre-commencement works are in full swing for The Heights, I've invited along a representative from Kier (who are constructing the primary school) to the forthcoming meeting in the Pavilion.

I've had to change the date to Monday 3 February at 6.30 pm so that Kier's representative can attend. If you have any questions you'd like me to consider putting to Kier or to Reading Borough Council officers, do let me know in advance.

If you have any questions you'd like Reading Borough Council officers or Kier to answer, please send them to me by 5 pm on Sunday 2 February. My email address is: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk

The meeting is open for the public to observe, however due to the need for the 5 committee members to get through the agenda, audience participation is limited and has to go through me.

If you wish to attend, please register in advance by emailing: nicky.simpson@reading.gov.uk to ensure there is enough space and seating in the Pavilion's hall can be set out appropriately.

Currently the Committee makeup is: 3 councillors - Paul Carnell and Jeanette Skeats (both of Thames Ward) and me (Mapledurham Ward); 1 User Group representative and 1 Mapledurham Parish representative.

Community Speedwatch in Upper Woodcote Road

I'd like to thank Thames Valley Police, in particular PCSO Lauren Jerrom, for organising today's Community Speedwatch operation on the A4074. I'd also like to thank the 4 local residents who came along with me to help support the police.

Speeding along the 30 mph-restricted Upper Woodcote Road near the borough boundary is common place. Even though 8 of us were in high viz jackets near the camera, we caught 38 vehicles exceeding 33 mph in only about 45 minutes.

The 38 vehicles included:
* 26 vehicles travelling between 34 and 39 mph
* 11 vehicles travelling 40 mph and over
* Top speed recorded was 47 mph
* Some were commercial drivers, eg heavy lorries and vans

UPDATE: This evening I've been sent Thames Valley Police's official figures
Number of vehicles captured = 83
20 x vehicles travelling 35+ mph = 24%
23 x vehicles travelling between 31-34 mph = 28%
Top speed 46 mph

PCSO Lauren Jerrom has organised a series of Community Speedwatch operations across Caversham.

Do get in touch with me (or, if you live outside Mapledurham Ward, one of your local ward councillors) to get involved. You can also make suggestions of speeding hot spots to be considered for future operations.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Update on Mapledurham Playing Fields

As followers will have noticed, I moved across to using my Councillor Facebook page during 2019 in preference to using this Blog/website. Following a resident's request, I'm re-posting my Facebook post here (which I first published last week):
View across MPF towards orchard
I have been encouraging the council to provide an update on the landscaping and other works they have been making on Mapledurham Playing Fields.
Here it is:
"January 2020 Update"
"In west of the playing fields, the new children's play area successfully opened in its new location for the October half term holidays and has been a popular improvement to MPF. The perimeter wood post and rail fence has been installed along the MPF / Hewett Avenue boundary connecting the breedon gravel footpaths. The highways team will be looking to improve pedestrian access from the highway at the three entrances along Hewett Avenue into the playing fields. A temporary stone path has also recently been installed to connect the breedon pathway on this side of MPF to the new children's play area.
"In the east of the playing fields, the work by Agripower Ltd to form the new sports playing area continued as planned but has been hampered by the large amount of wet weather experienced in late September and throughout October and November. The ground became too wet to continue the work and has meant the installation of lateral drains to one half and seeding of the whole area is yet to be done. Agripower aim to re-start their work once the ground is firm enough to take the machinery to complete this work; which is likely to be in the Spring, weather permitting. The heras fencing is to remain until this work is complete and when the grass has grown and is strong enough to walk on. In the meantime, the Parks team have been placing woodchip around the heras fence line where there has been heavy wear to the grass and become muddy with the wet weather. The Parks team were also going to install the new avenue of trees in December, but due to the delay in completing the new sports area, this has been postponed until next Winter. They will look to install the new central breedon gravel footpath this Summer.
"The pavilion refurbishment works has achieved planning approval and the works are currently out to tender. The tenders will then be assessed and if within the approved budget, the aim is to appoint a contractor to start work in March. Pedestrian access from the community car park to the playing fields is currently by the west side of the pavilion. Once these works start, this side will be demolished and the pavilion slightly extended on this side to accommodate new changing rooms. To do this work safely, will mean pedestrian access from the car park to the playing fields will move to be along the side of the tennis courts."

Monday, 5 August 2019

Informal 'Drop In' this Wednesday at Mapledurham Pavilion

Pavilion's access off Upper Woodcote Rd

Kier, the DfE’s contractor building The Heights School, will be holding an informal drop in session between 3 and 4.30 pm on Wednesday 14 August 2019 in the Pavilion at Mapledurham Playing Fields.

The purpose of the event is for residents to meet representatives from Kier who will have informal chats about the works in the car park and access road area. Plans will be on display of these and also of the school. Representatives from the DfE, Reading Borough Council (RBC) and Agripower (RBC’s contractors) will also be present. The car park works are part of the s106 works agreed between RBC and the DfE.

Any questions relating to the school’s Community Use Agreement will not be covered during this informal drop in session.

The works to the car park have been delayed because of birds nesting in the bushes and the need to carry out further sampling of the materials to the road. The sampling is standard practice before any materials leave a site to check that there is no contamination and will start w/c 5 August. The actual construction works will commence w/c 19 August.

Reading Borough Council has a page with updates about the all the works at Mapledurham Playing Fields. You may also wish to have a look at the FAQ.

I am unable to attend as will not be in the country until later that evening. If anyone wants to raise issues with me please email me: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk 

Friday, 19 July 2019

Works to Mapledurham Playing Fields

SE towards poplars & Hewett Avenue
View west towards St Peter's Avenue
Reading Borough Council's Landscape Plan works to improve the drainage and durability of Mapledurham Playing Fields' pitches are progressing.

A large portion of the pitch area is cordoned off for the works with heras fencing.

Following complaints from two runners I managed to get the positioning of the heras fencing altered to allow joggers access around the perimeter of the fields.

Although it is narrow in three places, at least now it is possible to avoid having to go into the wooded area with its tripping hazards for joggers.

Parallel with Chazey Road looking east
Photo Thursday evening 
I am currently trying to sort out another problem - that of dog poo bin provision.

On one of my visits last week I noticed that the bin next to the hall's entrance door was over the brim, in need of emptying.

The collection regime is meant to be daily during the week, though I'd guess that it hadn't been emptied earlier that day.

Someone at the council removed dog poo bins very recently from MPF without putting up notices informing dog walkers that they should now use the regular bins for the waste, or informing the MPF Management Committee. This may account for some dog poo bags having been tied on the heras fencing, and others having been thrown threw into the fenced off area.

Scabiosa flowers in the orchard at MPF
I have asked officers to review the placement and provision of bins, plus to add signage clarifying that dog waste should be put in the bins. The council needs to make it as easy as possible for dog walkers to dispose of the dog poo as in a responsible way.
Looking west towards Hewett Avenue from next to CTFC's store

New 'trim trail' parallel with Hewett Avenue
A new perimeter footpath is currently being installed along the boundary line adjacent to Hewett Avenue. This is for the 'trim trail' (a fitness trail around MPF) the idea for which was supported by many in the consultation. Heras fencing is around the works area, but as soon as a section of the path is completed, the fencing will be removed, opening it up for use.

Three benches have been removed to fit in a football pitch for use this winter. Officers have said that a temporary bench will be installed by the new footpath at the south end of the playing fields.

During the works to the pitches the range of facilities is temporarily reduced. However once completed there will be a broader range of facilities and activities to support greater use of the playing fields.

One the new central footpath is installed next year together with the avenue of trees, new benches will be installed along it.

Reading Borough Council has a page with updates about the works. You may also wish to have a look at the FAQ.

Update
An RBC officer has responded to my request to assess the provision of bins across MPF and the need for signs. There are 7 bins, two of which were behind fencing for a period (south west corner next to southern most exit on to Hewett Avenue, and the other one is half way along boundary with Hewett Avenue, although the first of these is now accessible).

The bins are now being emptied regularly, with plenty of capacity. Since the bins are being used for general rubbish and also dog poo bags, therefore officers feel there is no need for education of dog walkers, so no signs will be put up.

Mapledurham Pavilion reopen for bookings

View of the southern side of Mapledurham Pavilion
Mapledurham Pavilion will reopen for bookings as from Monday 22 July.

The hall was closed on 21 January 2016 on a temporary basis due to concerns about bowing of the external southern wall. Regrettably and much to the frustration and annoyance of our community, all but the football changing rooms and tennis club room had remained closed until now.

The renovations were funded by the Warren and District Residents Association which has raised a substantial amount of money through various community events and large donations from Festival Republic.

The booking charges remain as follows:

Type of Booking
Rate
Community Group
One hour booking
£13.50
Community Groups

£27.00 for 2-4 hours
+ £6.75 per additional hour
Private Bookings
One hour booking
£27.00
Private Bookings

£54.00 for 2-4 hours
+ £13.50 per additional hour
Commercial Bookings
Set by Programme Manager on request

Bookings should be made through the Programme Manager on 0118 937 5060

The Pavilion will need to close again later this year in order to have further work done. This will be paid for out of part of the money paid to the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trust by the Department for Education for improvements to the Trust's land. These future works will include installing a new kitchen and loos, plus the insertion of windows into the southern wall to reopen views across the playing fields.