Monday 31 October 2011

Give a Child a Home

The Prime Minister said "It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care - only sixty were adopted last year".  David Cameron is launching Give a Child a Home today at the start of National Adoption Week.  This campaign aims to encourage people to foster and adopt.

The PM's speech at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month voiced concern that "we've got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families."  This promoted healthy debate with the public supporting interracial adoption.

The need for adopters is vast.  An adoption match should be as good as possible, but surely what the PM is concerned about are cases where a child's adoption is delayed purely because a perfect ethnic match cannot be found.  The search needs to be broadened to include prospective adopters of other ethnicities.  Not every prospective adopter would feel able or willing to do this, but many are and have done. 

Our society, even over the last 20 years, has become noticeably more multicultural.  Mixed race families are common place.  Our education system celebrates the many different cultures and promotes acceptance of people's ethnicity.  It is right for adoptions to reflect this.

Although some will argue the Government's initiative to publish performance tables in itself won't help increase the number of children being placed promptly into loving and nurturing families; however raising the profile of the need for people to become adopters and foster carers is definitely for the good of our country's most vulnerable children.

[FYI I'm Reading Borough Council's representative on the Berkshire Adoption Panel]

Thursday 27 October 2011

Uplands Road Concrete Panel Repairs

Works to repair several damaged concrete panels in Uplands Road is programmed to commence on Wednesday 2nd November.

The work will consist of excavating the concrete panels then re-instating the road using traditional flexible construction materials. The main excavation and construction work will take place outside house numbers 4 and 2A but this work may infringe slightly on the surrounding areas. The road will remain open although a short section of 1 lane will be closed off to traffic for the duration of works. Residents may find that vehicle access to properties might not be available for a short period of time although our contractors will try to accommodate this when practical.

The works are programmed to last for approximately 3 days and the working hours will be between 08:30 and 18:30 but please be aware that poor weather may delay the works. Reading Buses have been informed and their service should not be adversely affected by these works.

Monday 17 October 2011

Replacement Hall for Mapledurham Pavilion: Meeting this Wednesday

At 7.45 pm this Wednesday, 19th October, a public meeting is being held to discuss the future of Mapledurham Pavilion. 

The meeting is the Warren & District Residents Association's AGM, however all residents including users of the Pavilion and playing fields (no matter where they live) are welcome and should attend.

The Pavilion needs replacing as it is not deemed viable to refurbish.  The community values having a hall and changing rooms here and fundraising from a dinner dance, car boot sales and a metal recycling weekend have raised over £6,500 this year. 

The previous Conservative-lead administration committed £100,000 from s106 contributions; and Festival Republic has committed £50,000 for the reprovision of a new hall and changing rooms.

You can read further details about the meeting here including the other matters on the agenda.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

New Secondary School Secured for Reading

Great news was announced earlier this week that a new school has been secured for Reading.

After years of under provision of school places under Labour’s rule, Michael Gove MP (Secretary of State for Education) announced in the House of Commons that a new school will be opened in East Reading. The school will be a new University Technical College catering for 14-19 year olds and will be on Crescent Road.

For further information see my colleague Cllr Richard Willis' article here

Monday 10 October 2011

Jane Eyre

I highly recommend seeing this beautifully directed (Cary Fukunaga's) version of one of my all-time favourite classics. 

The casting is inspired with Mia Wasikowska in the lead role, Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester, supported by Dame Judi Dench as Mrs Fairfax. 

Understandably not all of the novel's scenes are included and I would have preferred a slightly longer finish, but overall it was breathtakingly exquisite.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Schools' Insight: Children's Welfare

BBC News - Rethink on schools' duty to work with councils on welfare
Ministers have abandoned plans to remove schools' duty to work with England's councils to improve children's welfare.

With reference to the above article by Angela Harrison, although it is good the Education Bill will retain the duty of schools, I think a more important issue is for councils to take a fresh look at whether they really heed child protection issues raised by schools.

From what I've seen and read (as a local councillor and school governor) it can be fiendishly difficult for a school to make a strong enough case for a pupil to be protected meaningfully (and promptly) by their local council.  Since school staff do have daily contact with their pupils, they are often the professionals best placed to spot behavioural or performance changes, and the ability to spot physical signs, all or any of which could signal a child protection issue.

It surely must be desperately disheartening and upsetting for school staff when their council fails to take robust action to protect a pupil.  I know a huge amount of time goes into case preparation by schools, so school staff need to see justification for what action their council does or doesn't decide to take - don't they?

Friday 7 October 2011

Immediate, temporary change to Number 22 Bus

As from tomorrow, Saturday 8th October, the Number 22 Bus route will change temporarily to the originally registered route via Oakley Road until Wednesday 9th November.

This means the 3 bus stops in Albert Road between The Mount and the junction with Highmoor Road will not be served.  This is particularly undesirable for residents with mobility problems trying to access the Albert Road Day Centre.

Reading Buses has been forced into tomorrow's change upon the instructions from the Traffic Commissioner for the Western Traffic Area.

You can read more about it here on Reading Buses' website