The location of the Public Meeting that I and my colleague Cllr Ed Hopper have arranged for Tuesday 17 June has been moved from St Andrew's Hall into the Church next door.
Due to the large number of residents who have told me of their intention to attend, the church wardens have kindly agreed to this change. The church has a greater seating capacity than its hall, plus it benefits from a sound system. The start time remains 7.30 pm.
Ed & I will be listening to you, the people who elected us to our wards (Thames and Mapledurham respectively). To be able to represent you we need to understand your views so that we can work effectively on your behalf, as well as keep you informed on this huge issue for our community in the coming weeks and months.
I trust you will appreciate that we are doing our due diligence, so will not expect us to have answers at this stage to every single issue that you may raise. However we are working hard preparing for the meeting, including firming up the list of representatives who will be in attendance.
So far the following have confirmed:
Karen Edwards, The Heights - Head Teacher
Dan Pagella, The Heights - Parent Group's land expert
Kevin McDaniel, Reading Borough Council's (RBC's) officer in charge of Education
Cllr John Ennis, RBC's Lead Councillor for Education
As it was the Education Funding Agency (EFA) that chose and bought the High Ridge site in Upper Warren Avenue (UWA) I'm keen that the EFA sends a representative. In addition I have asked that someone from RBC's Highways Department attends because of the major challenges that would have to be overcome to ameliorate the school's impact on the roads in the area.
I have been speaking to lots of people since the announcement and I have received many emails and phone calls too. I understand the impact this has had through the heartfelt concerns many have expressed to me. I am glad that the vast majority accept that Caversham Heights does indeed need The Heights primary school.
As one of many whose own children had problems getting a local primary school place I know first-hand what a nightmare the process is. This is why I have been supporting The Heights' Trustees, who are opening this September in temporary accommodation in the old Caversham Nursery site off Gosbrook Road, as without the school even more children from Caversham Heights would be forced to primaries south of the river or, north of the river beyond the established, over-subscribed local primaries.
It is neither within my scope nor expertise to fathom how the EFA can deliver a school on UWA whilst overcoming all the planning issues including impact on the highways: However it is my duty to represent all my ward residents whether they are supportive or not of the EFA's choice of site.
If you are unable to come to the meeting, or feel it would be too stressful to attend, please do feel free to email your views to whichever of us is your local councillor (if you go to vote at Mapledurham Pavilion, I am your councillor). My email address is: email@example.com Ed's RBC email address is: Ed.Hopper@reading.gov.uk