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Friday, 24 October 2014

Update on Permanent Site for The Heights Primary School

High Ridge, the site bought by the EFA for The Heights
 I got confirmation from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) this morning that it was having a fence installed within the High Ridge site's boundary - nothing more.

As can be seen from my photo the fencing is being put up several meters back from the site's frontage onto Upper Warren Avenue.

This week both the Reading Chronicle and GetReading have had articles about the ongoing quest to agree a permanent location for The Heights Primary School.

I believe that it will only be a matter of days now before the EFA reports back to Rob Wilson MP the findings of its review into Bugs Bottom, Mapledurham Playing Fields and the Caversham Lawn Tennis Club - plus what ever other sites were either new onto the market, or where circumstances had changed, since its original assessment. [The first three sites were agreed and put forward by a stakeholder group of representatives from local interest groups.]

I have been speaking with lots of residents from across the school's catchment area.  Practically everyone has a strong view on where the school shouldn't go (supported with strong arguments) with no one site gaining unanimous support - which goes to show just how difficult the EFA's job has been.

I attended the Warren & District Residents' Association's (WADRA) AGM in Mapledurham Pavilion on 15 October at which residents expressed their conflicting views.  Some favoured the school going on a part of Mapledurham Playing Fields with others vehemently against.

At that meeting, WADRA announced its committee's preference for the school going down in Bugs Bottom (otherwise known as the Hemdean Valley).  Although opposition to this was voiced, WADRA's chairman said he was aware of few objections.  Since then a Facebook Group has been started called Save Bugs Bottom and apparently a group of residents met on Sunday to protect this meadowland.

I know that the waiting is proving exceedingly difficult for everyone concerned.  I am looking forward to our community being able to evaluate the results of the EFA's report in order to debate where the school will go.  Of course not everybody will be happy with whichever site is settled upon but at least this process should enable our community to understand the challenges each possible site has and the reasoning behind those that are viable.

As an aside, but of course the school and its pupils is what this is all about, I was delighted to look around The Heights' temporary site earlier this month.  It is extraordinary how well established it is after just the few weeks since it opened and wonderful to see so many families benefiting from the tremendous hard work by the founding parents, head teacher and staff team.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Gridlock in Caversham

The traffic signal replacement scheme at the George Street/Gosbrook Road junction which caused last week’s gridlock in Caversham has another 2 or 3 weeks to run.

As the works progress fewer lanes will be closed, however the temporary 3-way lights cannot direct traffic as efficiently as permanent lights, according to an RBC transport officer I spoke with today.

Apparently a workman is manipulating the temporary traffic lights in peak times Monday – Saturday to try to manage the traffic as best as possible. 

After the George Street/Gosbrook Road junction is done, works will move to the Church Street/Road junction which no doubt will cause similar gridlock for a further week or two.

The upgrade works are necessary as over the last 6 or so years, traffic signal technology has come on a lot, our town’s population has increased and businesses continue to bring larger numbers of people to Reading putting greater strain on the road network.

All traffic lights north of the river are to be renewed as part of this Government-funded upgrade.  The new signals will use the MOVA system (Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation) so we should all see an improvement.  MOVA is more reactive to local demands which should help motorists and pedestrians.  Sensors in the road feedback information which enables the optimisation of traffic flow through junctions by dispersing any queues – or so the theory states. 

In the meantime avoid the works as best you can but if not possible allow extra time for your journey.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Appeal for Witnesses to Fight in Caversham

Please see notice from Thames Valley Police:

"Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses to a large fight in Caversham which resulted in a 21-year-old man being assaulted.

"On Friday 6 September at around 12.30am a crowd of around 20 people began fighting in Church Road. During the fight the victim was punched in the head, kicked and hit with a bottle. He sustained head injuries but did not seek hospital treatment.

"The offender is a white male, aged between 16 and 20 years old.

"If you have any information about this incident and have not already spoken to the police then please contact PC Ben Sherry via the Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101.

"If you don't want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court."

Monday, 15 September 2014

Flasher in Balmore Park Today


Please see notice below from Thames Valley Police:

"Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses after a man exposed himself to three young girls in Balmore Park, Caversham.


"Between 8.15am and 8.20am today (15/9), an offender exposed himself to three school children, aged between 12 –years-old and 15-years-old, who were walking to school.

"The offender is white, in his thirties and wore a black hooded top and tracksuit bottoms with trainers and sunglasses.

"Police are appealing to anyone who has any information regarding the incident or may have seen the man in the area to please get in contact via the non emergency 101 enquiry centre.

"If you don’t want to speak directly to the police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers (opens new window) anonymously on 0800 555 111 No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court."

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Reading Festival: Waste Recycled

A sale of the nearly new camping equipment left by revellers after this year's Reading Festival is being held tomorrow, Sunday 31 August from 10 am until 3 pm in Mapledurham Pavilion.  There will also be a tea and cake stall.
GetReading's photo from last year's promotion of the sale

Volunteers organised by the Warren & District Residents Association (WADRA) have worked with Festival Republic to tidy up and minimise wastage by collecting up discarded equipment after the end of the Festival last weekend.

Do come along to the Pavilion and take advantage of the knocked-down prices of tents, sleeping bags, wellies, camping chairs and other equipment tomorrow: All monies raised will go towards the regeneration of the Pavilion!

Note:  The Pavilion is on Mapledurham Playing Fields, off the A4074 (Woodcote Road), Caversham Heights, Reading, RG4 7EZ.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Government Funding to Improve Local Roads

Thanks to the Conservative-led Government’s Local Transport Plan Settlement for Reading, our town’s roads are benefiting from £1.38 million investment.

In lower Caversham earlier this summer, resurfacing took place in Hemdean and Gosbrook Road.  Now in Caversham Heights we are about to benefit from a share of the £368,000 programme of resurfacing residential streets and minor roads (part of the £1.38m).

Twenty-seven minor roads and residential streets' surfaces are to be renewed to improve routes for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The minor roads surfacing programme will begin on Monday, September 8, and is planned to run until Saturday, September 20. Any required road-marking and ironwork adjustment will follow during the two weeks after surfacing work.

In Woodcote Way, between Geoffreyson and the junction with the Upper Woodcote Roads, surfacing work is schedule for Friday 12 September.  This follows the recent work to seal the joints using a bituminous material with fine aggregate over the top to provide grip.  I’m advised that on the 12th a 12 mm thick micro asphalt layer will be used to seal the road, giving a finish similar to the top part of Woodcote Way which was done last year.

Road-marking is due to be carried out approximately seven days later when ironworks will also be raised.  The section of Woodcote Way will be closed during surfacing work with temporary parking restrictions in place.

St Peter’s Avenue, between Highmoor Road and Kelmscott Close is also scheduled to be resurfaced on 12 September though the work is anticipated to take two days rather than just one. Road-marking is due to be carried out approximately seven days later when ironworks will also be raised. The road will be closed during surfacing work with temporary parking restrictions in force.

Work to put right pronounced dip
A couple of months ago I was pleased that my persistence in repeatedly reporting a pronounced dip near number 47 Woodcote Way paid off and the remedial work necessary was carried out. Concrete was pumped underneath the concrete slab which alleviated some of the problem to a point with the slab no longer moving when buses went over it.  This enabled the council's contractors to build up the road and reset the kerbs on the side of the road.  

If you have a particular bugbear with any of the local roads do let me know so I can do my best to exert pressure on Reading Borough Council to sort it out.

A full list of the roads included in this phase of resurfacing works can be found here.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Gates on EFA's Site to Come Down

New gate which is being taken down
This morning RBC's Planning Enforcement Manager responded to my enquiry about the new 2.2 m high gates installed at the entrance to Highridge in Upper Warren Avenue.  On behalf of a ward resident I'd asked RBC's Planning Department to investigate the planning issues as a matter of urgency, as no planning permission had been sought by the EFA.

As regular readers of my blog will know, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) bought the Highridge site in June for The Heights Primary School's permanent location.  The news of the acquisition was of substantial interest to the local community, as evidenced by the hundreds who came to the meeting I held in St Andrew's Church on 17 June, chaired by Rob Wilson MP.

UPDATE: Old gates reinstated
The Enforcement Manager informed me that the new gates will be taken down by the EFA, with the original gates being reinstated.  Inside the site, Heras fencing will be erected to prevent public access for health & safety reasons.

I am pleased that the work is to be carried out imminently.  I hope residents will be reassured by RBC Planning Team's prompt investigation and the resulting actions being taken by the EFA.

I know tempers are running high with the ongoing uncertainty over the permanent location for The Heights Primary School and ask that residents try and remain civil at all times.  It is worth bearing in mind that The Heights school had nothing whatsoever to do with the installation of the gates.

UPDATE:  The old gates are back in place, the 2.2 m high green ones having been taken away.