Friday, 21 November 2014

EFA Feedback on location for The Heights

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has asked RBC to help find a community-backed permanent location for The Heights.  Reading Borough Council has published a press release welcoming the EFA's request to help engage with the public.

The facts:
  • The EFA has agreed to Rob Wilson MP's request that there should be a thorough public consultation on where the permanent location for The Heights is built.  Rob's statement can be read on his website
  • The EFA has indefinitely put on hold pursuing High Ridge in Upper Warren Avenue as the solution.  A stated reason is "we recognise that developing the school there would be unpopular with a section of the local community"
  • However the EFA states that "High Ridge presents a deliverable if not ideal solution...We are confident that a good school can be delivered on this site."
  • The EFA states that the "only real alternatives to High Ridge are sites within LA ownership or held in Trust"
  • The sites listed are:  Mapledurham Playing Fields, Albert Road Recreational Ground and Bugs Bottom
  • RBC's Policy Committee will be discussing the report (referred to in RBC's press release), on Monday 1st December. The report has this map of Mapledurham Playing Fields appended
It is important to note that the school's temporary site is incapable of becoming the permanent site as it is not big enough (leaving aside the fact that it is in the wrong location, being outside the catchment area).  However RBC's Kevin McDaniel has clarified with me this afternoon that he believes the school could remain on the temporary site for up to one year more than originally given as the end date in order to deliver the right final solution (ie extending the date of moving to a permanent location to September 2017 at the latest).

You can read the EFA's letter to Rob as well as their letter to RBC.

The Reading Chronicle has published this report and GetReading this slightly longer report.  Other reactions can be read on The Heights' Facebook page.

There is a lot to be worked out and disseminated by the EFA/RBC such as how to carry out the consultation and what information is needed to ensure the consultation will generate meaningful results.  I will be working hard at my jobs as councillor for Mapledurham Ward and Chairman of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Management Committee, studying the matter carefully and updating readers regularly.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Gridlock again in Caversham

This morning the traffic ground to a halt across Caversham, spilling over into Reading, due to the temporary traffic lights near Caversham Bridge at the junction of Church Street and Church Road.  Those drivers who abandoned the slog to cross the river either turned back home or dumped their car by the roadside.

Cars backed up from Caversham Bridge up through Caversham Heights along the A4074 all the way over the Oxfordshire boundary to the turnoff to Mapledurham House.  I don't know how far on the A4155 to Henley, or indeed the Peppard Road the gridlock went, but know that it wasn't until well after 10 am that the Woodcote Road backlog was dealt with.

I spoke with Reading Borough Council's Network Manager Simon Beasley today and he explained what happened.

The temporary lights failed last night and the engineer who came out at about 11.30 pm got them back up, without realising the lights reverted to their default 3-way setting instead of the 2-way setting needed.  This morning when the construction workers arrived they realised and reported the problem.   However gridlock had set in across Caversham long before and by then was well established.  In order to release the pressure, manual control was instigated.  First the traffic from Reading, next the Henley Road approach and finally the A4074 were cleared.

The good news is the works to install the new traffic lights at the Church Street/Road junction are on schedule to finish this Sunday.  Simon reassured me that if the temporary lights fail again in the meantime, the Council has notified the emergency call out engineers to reset the lights on the 2-way setting.

Once the new traffic lights are up and running do let me know if the Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation (MOVA) system makes an improvement to traffic flowing through the junction.

GetReading has the following report

Monday, 3 November 2014

Arthur Clark Care Home Site to be Leased

Arthur Clark Care Home before closure
Tonight, Reading Borough Council's Policy Committee is being asked to agree to the leasing off of the old Arthur Clark Care Home & Albert Road Day Centre site to A2Dominion Housing for the development of an extra care housing scheme.

The Labour administration has been desperate to crack on with enabling the disused site to provide for the needs of older people in order to redeem its deeply unpopular decision back in July 2013 - opposed by Rob Wilson MP and the Conservative Group - to close the much loved local facilities.  Thousands signed a petition against the closure to no avail.

You can read the report going to the Policy Committee tonight here.