Friday 27 April 2012

Reading's Roads

Reading's Conservatives are keen to get our town's roads moving.  In the year our Conservative-led administration was in charge of Reading Borough Council our achievements included:
    Location of removed build-out marked in red
  • Took out the unnecessary build-out near RBH on London Road enabling better traffic flow
  • Began taking out unnecessary traffic lights, eg junctions of Westfield & Gosbrook Roads and Meadway/Conwy/Hardwick Roads
  • We scrapped Labour's schemes to remove the roundabouts and replace with traffic lights at Caversham Bridge,  TGI and Norcot Road roundabouts, saving approximately £3.5 m
  • We scrapped Labour's plans to close the Chatham Street slip roads, create a new one-way system and install a new traffic lighted junction on the IDR
  • We protected the budget for Readibus which serves the mobility impaired across Reading
  • We doubled the amount of cycle parking in the town centre and increased the number of motorbike bays
  • New cycle lanes were created with more planned

Below is the record of the current & previous Labour administrations:

  • Failed plan to turn IDR one-way: Wasting over £1 million of public money on the investigations alone
  • Notorious Shinfield Road traffic lights scheme: £1.2 million and rising
  • Removal of A33/Rose Kiln Lane roundabout and installation of traffic lighted junction - £950,000
  • Plans to install traffic lights in place of TGI, Caversham Bridge and Norcot Road roundabouts - yet more public money wasted
  • No proper cycle lane network in their decades of power

On Thursday 3rd May Reading's residents get to choose between supporting the Conservative's proven track record of helping reduce congestion and encouraging more to cycle: or letting Labour waste yet more public money on their hair-brained schemes.  The choice is yours.

Thursday 26 April 2012

The Local Choice

Weather permitting, all residents in Mapledurham Ward will receive one of my leaflets in the next couple of days (if they haven't already).

Thank you to my supporters for helping me get these out.  Constructive feedback is always welcome!

If you have any particular issue you would like me to write about do let me know.  I'm happy to respond privately or here on my blog.

The Bane of all Road Users

A major annoyance for all road users is the all-too-common pothole.

Although the run-up to Elections brings lots of unnecessary nastiness, one benefit is councillors from all parties pound the streets more than usual so councillors can see and report potholes.

In our Coalition year as RBC's administration we put £400,000 budget for road maintenance.  Labour has never made such provision.

The most recent potholes I've reported which are yet to be repaired are: 
207 & 211 Kidmore Road
1 Knowle Close
4 Richmond Road
3, 21, 35 & 53 Shepherd’s Lane
Silverthorne Drive’s junction with Sandcroft Road

Do let me know if you spot any others because the Council can only repair potholes it knows about!

Sunday 22 April 2012

What to do with your cartons

Mundane as it might be, I'm keen to raise awareness that juice cartons (Tetrapaks) are recycled in Reading.  However like glass bottles you have to take them to one of the special bring banks.

For Caversham residents the nearest are either the Milestone Centre in Caversham Park Village or across the river at Rivermead.  The other locations are the main household waste recycling centre at Smallmead on Island Road; Palmer Park and Tilehurst Triangle.

If you would like more information on recycling you can read it on RBC's website here

Saturday 21 April 2012

Why I Got Into Local Politics

In 2001, when my children were 5 and 3, Labour-controlled Reading Borough Council changed the primary school catchment areas in Caversham.  Like now, they failed to ensure sufficient places at all schools.

My children (2001)

My son was at our local primary school but my family, together with nearly 30 others, were faced with little chance of our younger siblings joining them at the same schools.  This was due to the bureaucratic decision not to treat "Now Out of Catchment" (NOOC) siblings equally with those still in the catchment.  To my mind this was barmy.  We hadn't moved, yet our younger children were being unfairly disadvantaged.  How were our families meant to get our infants to two separate schools at the same time?  Why should we have to?

I thought if I spoke to the Cabinet Lead for Education as well as the Director for Education pointing out the injustice they would listen respectfully, agree and make the appropriate amendment.  However I was mistaken so together with another mother, Linda, we mounted the NOOC campaign. 

We lobbied all councillors at their respective ward surgeries.  We had a receptive audience from our (Conservative) ward councillors: Fred Pugh, Jeanette Skeats and Richard Willis.  They encouraged us & pledged their support.  The Lib Dem councillors appreciated the problem but weren't quite so helpful.  Our local MP, Labour's Jane Griffiths supported us, but sadly she had little influence by then over her Labour colleagues who were trying to depose her. When we tried to speak with them [the Labour councillors] the majority refused to discuss our concerns.  In fact one in particular was extremely rude and dismissive - more on this later. 

To cut a long story short, Linda & I campaigned for several months.  We attracted substantial local support and media coverage, so much so Jane Griffiths joked we were in the papers more than her!  Eventually, due to the sheer weight of public pressure, the bad publicity on Labour's administration together with our perseverance, we won.  The NOOC siblings' priority was elevated to be equal with siblings still in the catchment.

However I was very unhappy at Labour councillors' treatment of us and wanted to actively do something to improve the situation for other residents.  My children were too little at the time but in 2006 with both of them settled in school I put myself forwards for selection in Thames Ward and was successful.

Returning to the Labour councillor, I have her to thank for inspiring me to get involved in local politics.  Because of her dismissive response, uninterested attitude and unwillingness to help I thought I could and would do better.  Local councillors have a duty to listen and respond to residents.  They are elected as representatives; not elected to do what they like because they can!

The Minimum Reading's Residents Deserve

Reading's Conservatives are promoting a clean campaign pledge which has been supported by the Lib Dems and Greens on Reading Borough Council.  Whitley Ward's Independent candidate, Jamie Wake, has also added his support.  The Clean Campaign Pledge states:

We, the undersigned, pledge in the Reading Borough local election campaign:

· To show by our actions that politics can be a clean and positive activity, engaged in genuinely for the good of all.
· To tell the truth about what we have achieved and stand for and, and about what others have achieved and stand for.
· To refrain from making personal attacks against, or misleading statements about, other candidates in written literature or verbally.
· Not to mislead the public about who is doing well and about who is likely to win in these elections.
· To make only honest and reasonable promises.
· To fight a clean, positive and honest campaign around the issues that concern the people of Reading
· In particular, to be honest about public spending, and not to scaremonger in ways that may frighten the most vulnerable members of our society, such as children and elderly people.
· To take money only from organisations and individuals whose motives in giving us money we do not have reason to suspect.
Labour however have demonstrated their contempt for this with their disgusting campaign in Church Ward.  The latest you can read here.  I have highlighted another of their leaflets in earlier posts this month in which they used a "racist dog whistle" in an attempt to win votes. 

Church Ward's biggest issue is Labour's Shinfield Road lights.  Last night there was a public meeting to discuss Labour's unpopular traffic scheme organised by STAG (I think) and all councillors and candidates for Church Ward were invited.  Sadly, the only ones to attend were my Conservative colleagues, Cllrs Azam Janjua and Tim Harris.  At least Azam & Tim were able to listen to their electorate so as to fulfil their job to represent residents' views and concerns.

Friday 20 April 2012

Local Election Launch

Conservative Group Leader Tim Harris & Candidates for Reading Borough Council's Local Elections
 We have launched our Manifesto for the Local Elections on 3rd May with a pledge to freeze Council Tax again next year and hold a referendum on an elected Executive Mayor for Reading.

Further significant commitments are to switch to 'all out elections' every four years; to work for a direct rail link from Reading to Heathrow; to increase funding for tree planting; to implement a major bike-hire scheme; and to provide more primary and secondary school places across the borough.

Our Manifesto also highlights key successes from the year when the Conservatives led the Council in coalition with the Lib Dems.  These include: increasing the funding given to the voluntary and community sector; stopping the funding of Trade Union officials from Council Tax; new grants to the Gurkha community and to the African Caribbean community in order to reopen the Central Club; freezing of town centre short-term car park charges and freezing all parking charges in Caversham and Tilehurst; doubling of cycle parking in the town centre; and the doubling of apprenticeships and foster carers.

Recently appointed Group Leader, Cllr Tim Harris, said "This is an exciting and radical Manifesto building on our successful year in control of Reading.  We pressed for the freeze in Council Tax delivered this year but fear what Labour plans to do next year when there are no local elections.  Only the Conservatives are pledged to deliver another freeze in Council Tax next year.  If the people of Reading want a Council committed to quality services and best value for every Pound spent, they should vote Conservative on 3rd May."

You may download our Manifesto here

Monday 9 April 2012

Views on Labour's racist dog whistle

The blogosphere covering Reading’s local politics this Easter weekend has been buzzing over Labour’s nasty racist campaign. 

Warren Swaine (Lib Dem) has posted contrasting Labour’s Battle and Church Ward literature.  Another Lib Dem, ex-councillor Gareth Epps has written reminding readers of the last time Reading Labour launched an unjust, despicable campaign against the same man.

Labour’s ex-councillor Andrew Tattersall has written of his disgust of and contempt for the Group he was once a member.

My colleague, Cllr Richard Willis (Conservative) shares the view of all the above that Labour’s campaign is indeed a dog whistle

However the latest to join in, Adrian Windisch (Green) tries to stand up for Labour and make light of their campaign.  Adrian attempts to justify it by citing literature from other parties also using the “born and bred” phrase.  Jane Griffiths (Labour’s ex-Reading East MP) points out that Adrian “omits to mention that two of those, Twickenham and Peckham, use the phrase precisely to refer to race, and to indicate that the candidate they are promoting is black, without saying so.”

Adrian also misses the fact that all his examples are about candidates who actually live in the constituency they are fighting for – unlike Labour’s Church Ward candidate who lives in Tilehurst, WEST Reading.

One last, but crucial piece of evidence Adrian has omitted is Labour’s use of the phrase “She will fight for us here in Church Ward because she is one of us.”  It is used in conjunction with “she is born and bred”, the two phrases are repulsing residents in Church Ward.  Unlike Adrian, they are not fooled.

Labour's Church Ward literature should be destroyed.  A prominent apology should appear on their replacement leaflets. 

Update:  Unlike the Conservative Agent who wrote direct to Labour's agent, the Labour agent has distributed and allowed Tony Jones to publish his letter.

Tony Jones has published Labour's denial.  The arrogance of Labour is there for all to see.  Not only do they refuse to apologise, they also refer to their previous unjust campaign against the same man. 

Friday 6 April 2012

Reading Labour stoops to new low

With Labour's calling card for Church Ward, Labour has stooped to a new low. 

They state she "...was born and bred in Reading...She will fight for us here in Church Ward because she is one of us."

Unless you are aware that our Conservative candidate is Cllr Azam Janjua, you might not realise Labour's nasty game.  It is a racist attack - a 'dog whistle'.

It is worth knowing why Labour has done this:

In Church Ward (East Reading) the biggest issue is the hated traffic lights on Shinfield Road. Cllr Azam Janjua's re-election campaign states under a Conservative administration, if elected, we will put back the roundabouts: This contrasts with Labour's minority administration's policy that the traffic lights are here to stay.

Azam lives with his wife in the heart of Church Ward just off Whitley Wood Road. He's lived in Reading for nearly 50 years.  He's been a councillor for many years and since retiring from being a Hackney Carriage taxi driver he has been a full-time councillor.  He is well known in the whole community in Church Ward.  He has 3 daughters: the eldest is a local GP, the middle one is a GP in London; the youngest (who got a degree at Worcester College, Oxford University) is a researcher. 

In contrast Labour's candidate lives in West Reading - Tilehurst to be precise.  She has no experience of local government.  She wasn't even born when Azam moved to Reading.

A Labour man who, when living in Reading was one of their councillors, has written a very interesting post on Labour's current Church Ward campaign which you can read here.  His post finishes:
"I am ashamed ever to have been involved with Reading Labour Party.  To have sunk so low as running a racist election campaign is the despicable act of some desperate men.  I know nothing about this candidate but I hope she loses as she deserves to.  This is sick."
 Ask yourself why Labour thought it necessary to stoop so low

Update: A post on the background of the Labour men behind this racist dog whistle campaign is here.  Also you can read what my colleague Cllr Richard Willis has written