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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. 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

How Reading Borough Council will review the Highmoor/Albert Road junction changes

I've blogged before about Council officer feedback following the changes made to the Highmoor/Albert Road junction.

On behalf of several of my residents I asked "if and when officers are going to review the changes and, if the answer is that they have no plans to review it, what would it take for them to change their minds?"

Below is the response:
"Attempts to install potential solutions to the historic road safety issue at this junction have been the subject of significant correspondence, debate, committee reporting and discussion with residents and campaign groups for many years. Proposed solutions have been met with considerable opposition, but we have now managed to deliver a phased scheme to address the road safety issue.

"This is a road safety scheme, so we will be reviewing it on the basis of monitoring a hopeful reduction or removal of incidents involving casualties at the junction, particularly those arising from motorists driving through the STOP on the eastbound Highmoor Road approach – this has been the issue. This will be conducted by using Police-supplied data that we receive for such incidents across the borough. Although some may not like the presentation of the junction and it may require time for people to get familiar with it and overcome the change, if it achieves the anticipated road safety benefits, it will be considered a successful scheme."

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Excavation works at Mapledurham Playing Fields

On Monday, 10 June 2019, Kier Construction Ltd will start "vacuum excavation works along both sides of Upper Woodcote Road to establish/quantify services and depths."
Kier's letter to residents


Kier is the company constructing the new building for The Heights primary school on behalf of the DfE in the north west corner of Mapledurham Playing Fields following many consultations, an unsuccessful legal challenge and successful planning applications.

A letter from Kier has been posted to 94 homes in the immediate area notifying them of the works which "will allow the S278 design to be completed."

The letter continues:
"Implementation of the S278 works are scheduled for the early part of 2020. Date to be confirmed.
"There's also a requirement to carry out a further 4Nr x vacuum excavated holes within the car park through the week.
"The above works were scheduled for Tuesday 28 May 2019, but due to not being able to obtain a road licence the start date had to be moved back.
"It's anticipated the exploratory works will take 3 days to complete."
The second page states:
"Access and egress will always be maintained for the public using the Mapledurham Playing fields car park with a reduced number of parking spaces available. A member of Kier staff will be present on site during these works. The works will take place between 08.00 and 17.00 each day."
Kier apologies in advance for any inconvenience that the works cause.

If any residents have any concerns about these works, or for any other council-related matter, do get in touch with me: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk or 07717 292 003

Friday, 31 May 2019

Programme of Works to Mapledurham Playing Fields


As mentioned on my Facebook page, Reading Borough Council (RBC) officers have helpfully created an information page for residents on the council's website to update residents about the works at Mapledurham Playing Fields (MPF).

letter has been sent to 70 properties around MPF which sets out the two separate pieces of work taking place.

  • Kier Construction Ltd is building the new home for The Heights primary school on behalf of the Department for Education The letter provides the contact information for the project manager, John Hempton
  • RBC is improving the drainage and durability of the pitches so that more football can be played on MPF. This is necessary because Sports England, and by extension the Charity Commission, required that there was no loss in the ability to play football despite of the school's footprint using up over an acre of MPF
On 17 June Agripower Ltd is starting the changes to the sports pitches on behalf of RBC. In July/August the Council will also carry out works to install a new western side perimeter footpath connecting the new children's play area. This work will be enclosed by heras fencing. Prior to this the Parks department will carry out maintenance work to the vegetation along the western side of the playing fields in preparation for the footpath installation.

There is a dedicated RBC email address for all enquiries relating to the landscape improvement works which is: mpfenquiries@reading.gov.uk  Do copy me in so that I can help follow up your queries: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Precursor for a Work Place Parking Levy in Reading?

Exhaust fumes to justify tax on work place parking?
Reading Borough Council's Labour administration this week has launched a survey of private car parking in Reading under the limited pretext the "results will help inform Reading Borough Council's new Local Transport Plan".

This however does not fully allude to all the contents of the minutes of the July 2018 Policy Committee, nor the resolutions voted through by Labour.

On pages 6-8 of the minutes it says "The report stated that the car parking and air quality strategy would consider the introduction of local transport charging schemes, under powers given to highway authorities in the Transport Act 2000. Charging schemes could take the form of a road user charge and/or a workplace parking levy (WPL), and could be complemented by Clean Air or Low Emission Zones targeting higher polluting vehicles."

Amongst other things the Policy Committee resolved "that officers undertake a borough-wide parking survey and consultation to inform investigations into the potential measures set out in the report."

On the surface it might seem a positive initiative to encourage people out of their cars onto public transport. However for residents in my ward, the bus service is a far cry from the enviably regular Number 17 service that goes across the centre of Reading east/west every 7 minutes. For Caversham Heights' residents the bus timetable simply does not offer a realistic alternative to the car. I myself tried for 6 months.

If the administration is serious about improving Reading's air quality, first it needs to drastically improve the frequency of buses to Wards such as the one I represent. Bringing in a work place parking levy without this would once again * be targeting taxes on my residents.

* The 20% hike in April 2019 of the green waste collection annual charge has hit a large proportion of my ward residents as the uptake for the service is very high in Mapledurham Ward.