Friday 30 September 2011

Pickles Enables Return to Weekly Collections

Today Eric Pickles, the Community Secretary, announced a quarter of a billion funding to enable authorities to return to weekly bin collections as a result of a waste review over the summer.

Authorities who believe a return to weekly collections is right for their area may bid for a share of the money as long as they can improve recycling, efficiency and procurement.

Last year, here in Reading, our local Coalition administration identified roads where fortnightly residual waste collections were most problematic primarily due to lack of storage space and/or access problems for bin men. 

We announced a consultation of the first batch of roads.  As long as the majority of residents in each road wanted a return to weekly collections we were going to provide just that.  However in May - with the support of the 2 Green councillors - Labour regained control of the Council and halted the process.

It will be interesting to see whether the Labour minority administration is prepared to listen to those residents wanting a return to weekly collections, particularly in the light of the serious rat infestations the town has suffered from this summer.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Reading Buses' Change of Heart for No 22

Many Caversham Heights residents in my Ward were very concerned at Reading Buses' proposal to divert the No 22 bus to travel via Hemdean Road and Oakley Road instead of Priest Hill and the southern end of Albert Road.

My colleague Cllr Richard Willis (Conservative lead for Transport), together with many local residents attended a meeting on Monday 5th September to which Chairman of Reading Buses, James Freeman, was guest speaker.  Further to this meeting, as well as discussions with Rob Wilson MP, Reading Buses is now going to make a small diversion to its new service, operating via Hemdean Road, the lower part of Oakley Road, Kidmore Road, before resuming its present route at The Mount going on into Albert Road. This means that people who live on The Mount area and the southern section of Albert Road will not after all be losing their service. The new arrangement operates in both directions.

You can see the map here

Rob said: "I am delighted that Reading Buses have listened carefully to the concerns I put to the company and have made a change that is significant in providing a better service to residents in the Priest Hill, Mount and Kidmore Road area. I know that from the huge correspondence I had that many people were concerned about this change and it was important for me to ensure that Reading Buses understood this and reacted positively, which I am delighted to say they have."

Councillor David Stevens said: "I understand the financial pressures on Reading Buses, but it is important that we continue providing a decent service in an area with a significant number of elderly residents that depend on the bus service. I am pleased that we Conservatives have managed to achieve these important changes to the route and that Reading Buses have listened."

Reading Buses registered the change with the Traffic Commissioner yesterday (12th September) using a special short notice provision so that it will come into force on 26th September

“We are pleased with these last minute changes, which show that we do listen and are willing to respond to what people tell us,” said James Freeman, Chief Executive Officer.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Dawn of a New Era

Sunrise, Kithnos Island, Greece 1st September 2011
The Avenue School converted to Academy Status on 1st September.  Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, sent his congratulations, as did Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West.

The Avenue, together with 11 other special schools, are the first to gain Academy status.

I'm fortunate to be the Chairman of the school's Governing Body.  It is fantastic news and is the start of a new era for The Avenue School, one which I am sure will enable us to provide even better care and education for our pupils, as well as opening up further opportunities for staff to share their expertise with others.

Headteacher Sue Bourne commented "I am delighted that the outstanding success of the school has been recognised, and to be one of the first to achieve this status is a real tribute to the whole team.  Aileen McCallion, the school's Finance Manager, has devoted much time during the school holiday to ensure that all the required documents were completed and that the whole team working on the conversion were fully informed, even whilst on summer holiday.  The school's thanks go to her in particular, but also the many people who have supported the conversion along the journey."

Sue added "The school is indebted to the people of Reading and the team at Reading Borough Council who ensured that the school is now housed in a wonderful building.  It values its relationship with the Local Authority with whom it wishes to continue to work closely, for the good not only of the pupils with special needs who attend the school, but also those with special needs in other schools."

Alok Sharma MP said "Congratulations to Sue Bourne and her whole team on achieving academy status so quickly.  The Avenue is a truly outstanding school in every way, and I am certain that, as an academy, it will continue to set the pace nationally as a centre of excellence for teaching students with complex special educational needs."