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.