Sunday, 22 March 2020

Local charities: information about scaled-back services

I received the information below from the council about scaled-back services from local charities:

Local charities have scaled back or suspended their face-to-face services to protect staff and their vulnerable service users from coronavirus.

However most continue to support people via phone or email services (see below for latest list compiled by Healthwatch Reading and Reading Voluntary Action).

Reading Voluntary Action is coordinating public offers to volunteer during this time.

Age UK Berkshire: All classes, activities and events will be closed from 21 March until further notice. Its office remains open: please phone 0118 959 4242

Age UK Reading:  Has closed all lunch clubs. Befriending moving to a telephone-only service but some vulnerable people are still being visited with agreement from both parties. Happy Feet service suspended but could be brought back in a different way. Information and advice line still open on: phone: 0118 950 2480 or email:

Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Health Equality (Acre): has suspended Rose Centre sessions for victims of FGM, and all other face to face interactions between staff and service users unless absolutely necessary, call 0118 951 0279 and leave a message or email

Berkshire West Your Way (supporting people with mental health needs): has cancelled all groups and drop-in’s and are to triage calls from their 90 existing clients

Change, Grow, Live (Reading’s drug and alcohol service): all groups, assessments and 121 appointments will be moved to telephone or video call. External drop-ins will be postponed and replaced with offers of phone assessments or support. Certain people will get two weeks’ supply of medication to reduce daily supervised pharmacy visits and arrangements will be made for users who are self-isolating.

Citizens Advice: Has closed its Reading face-to-face service until further notice. Advice is available online at or by telephone 03444 111 306.

Communicare (which gives benefits/housing/money/jobs advice): It is working hard to keep its Advice Centre open with limited staff. It will deal with URGENT issues only and will limit the number of clients in the waiting room. Call before visiting. Advice available by phone and email: 0118 926394

Compass Recovery College (offering courses to people with mental health needs): is closed until further notice

Depression Xpression: is suspending all meetings including Friday morning coffee until further notice. It has set up a WhatsApp Group and a Facebook Messenger Group (join their Facebook group and ask to be added to the chat group) for people to keep in touch during this time.

Launchpad Reading: Has launched a ‘here for you’ telephone service ‘for anyone in need of support, whether they have housing or homelessness issues or not. Call on 0118 929 1111 or email

Reading Association for the Blind (RAB): has suspended all clubs, outings, home visits and face-to-face appointments. It is providing a telephone advice, support and signposting service and may set up phone befriending and scheduled group chats.

Reading Community Learning Centre (which runs language, life skills and craft classes for women from black and ethnic minority communities); has closed until at least 27 April 2020.

Reading Mencap: ME Day activity at Alexandra Road & St Paul, Coffee Club, Gateway Club, Disco and Saturday youth club will not be running until further notice. Has provided email & telephone for family support and an Easy read leaflet for service users.

Support U: (Reading’s LGBT+ charity): Is offering a video or telephone call in place of face-to-face meetings (although they cannot offer video or phone calls to people in counselling) and their groups are cancelled for the current month.

Monday, 9 March 2020

March update on works at Mapledurham Playing Fields

As lots of residents are interested in the ongoing works at Mapledurham Playing Fields, so I hope you'll find this update helpful.
One of three Hewett Ave entrances

Notification by entrances
I am pleased to say that following my requests to connect MPF's breedon footpath from Hewett Avenue into Mapledurham Playing Fields, the Council's Highways department have a team starting the works on Tuesday 10 March. The works are expected to take up to a fortnight to complete.

One pedestrian access point will be open at all times (photo above to the right shows the current situation with mud and the grass verge between the road surface and footpath).

Temporary patch to be resurfaced
This is great news, particularly for mobility impaired residents as currently anyone pushing a wheel chair, pushchair or using a mobility walker would find all three access points tricky to negotiate.

Later this week Kier will be closing the access road to the Pavilion from 08.00 on Thursday 12 March until 08.00 on Friday 13 March for resurfacing works. This is to tackle the area near the junction with the Upper Woodcote Road which has had a very temporary patch for now.

Pedestrian/dog and cycle access will be maintained throughout on the temporary path (see above on the left-hand side of the photo and access road).
View towards Pavilion/school

Temporary closure notice
Whilst talking about pedestrian access, please note that the central footpath from the car park to the playing fields between the Pavilion and The Heights school's site has been closed whilst refurbishment works to the Pavilion take place.

For access from or to the car park, please use the footpath alongside the tennis courts. Anybody who hasn't been to the car park for a couple of weeks will be pleased to know that the whole area has been reopened for public use (see photo on the right above).

Meantime construction works for the school are proceeding. I saw contractors carefully cleaning down the mud from construction vehicles in the car park.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Mud tackled at Mapledurham Playing Fields - many hands make light work

On Saturday 1st of February, over 25 residents volunteered their time to tackle two big muddy sections of path around Mapledurham Playing Fields (MPF).
Some of the volunteers (before finishing off this patch)

A huge thank you to all who helped, coming together on just 24 hours' notice: from dog walkers, runners, parents and pupils of The Heights, ESCAPE toddler group, representatives from Caversham Trents Football Club and Mapledurham Lawn Tennis Club, as well as a Reading Borough Council officer. It was a wonderful community effort!

All hands on deck
The idea came about after a Chazey Road resident contacted me offering 10 cubic metres of wood chippings to the Council to recycle on MPF. The wood chippings had been used during building works and weren't needed any more.

On Friday, after an officer turned down the opportunity to use them, I decided to try and organise a community working party to get the job done.

Saturday's weather forecast was good, so although it was short-notice, I thought it was worth a try, never dreaming so many would come to help.
Having cleared the whole quantity

Down went the membrane
It was fabulous having all ages muck in, the atmosphere was great. It was amazing that we managed to move all 10 cubic metres of wood chippings - a volume and coverage equivalent to the footprint of a terraced house!

Subsequently, feedback has been great, with walkers delighted by the improvement. All in all, a morning well spent - thanks again to everyone.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Community working party to tackle MPF's muddy paths

Over recent months, due to the reduced area of Mapledurham Playing Fields being open to the public - as well as the heavy rainfall - areas of high footfall have become very muddy. This has led to a couple of falls on the slippery surface which is putting residents off from walking here.

To date, although I've managed to get Reading Borough Council to put down a large amount of wood chippings, due to access problems and the very wet/soft ground conditions, the council have been unable to get a vehicle onto the fields to deliver and cover the remaining muddy areas.

I'd hoped the council were going to be able to do some today, but since they weren't, I've organised tomorrow's event, hence apologies for the short notice. Please see the poster to the right-hand side for details which you can download here.

If you are able and willing, do come along and help. It will be great to get the job done!

A Chazey Road family are donating wood chippings they no longer need which is fantastic, especially since the council's supply has run out.

The Friends of Mapledurham Playing Fields are supporting and also kindly insuring the event, which has enabled council officers to give me the go ahead.

Thanks to everyone who is helping make this happen.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Temporary reinstatement by A4074 junction with Shepherds Lane

This morning, following my calls for action, council workers filled in the trench adjacent to Upper Woodcote Road's junction with Shepherds Lane (see before and after photos)
Before (view looking south)

Not only had the red plastic fencing at the junction been causing visibility problems for motorists, but also it had been blocking the pavement.

Poor drainage at the junction had been the reason for the works. The pipes that should be draining the rainwater away from the road are not connected and the road therefore will have to be dug up to sort out the issue.

After temporary reinstatement
I was informed that these works will be timed to coincide with the next half term to minimise disruption. Traffic management will have to be put in place.

In the meantime I'm afraid whenever it rains the water is bound to keep on creating a big puddle, so do drive with care.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Mapledurham Playing Fields: Questions for RBC or Kier?

Got any questions you'd like me to put to council officers or Kier's representative about Mapledurham Playing Fields and the school's construction?
Mapledurham Pavilion viewed from the playing fields

As regular readers will be aware, I'm chairman of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Management Committee. Its remit is restricted to exercising a general supervision over the day-to-day activities at the playing fields to ensure that this is consistent with the objectives of the Trust.

As pre-commencement works are in full swing for The Heights, I've invited along a representative from Kier (who are constructing the primary school) to the forthcoming meeting in the Pavilion.

I've had to change the date to Monday 3 February at 6.30 pm so that Kier's representative can attend. If you have any questions you'd like me to consider putting to Kier or to Reading Borough Council officers, do let me know in advance.

If you have any questions you'd like Reading Borough Council officers or Kier to answer, please send them to me by 5 pm on Sunday 2 February. My email address is:

The meeting is open for the public to observe, however due to the need for the 5 committee members to get through the agenda, audience participation is limited and has to go through me.

If you wish to attend, please register in advance by emailing: to ensure there is enough space and seating in the Pavilion's hall can be set out appropriately.

Currently the Committee makeup is: 3 councillors - Paul Carnell and Jeanette Skeats (both of Thames Ward) and me (Mapledurham Ward); 1 User Group representative and 1 Mapledurham Parish representative.

Community Speedwatch in Upper Woodcote Road

I'd like to thank Thames Valley Police, in particular PCSO Lauren Jerrom, for organising today's Community Speedwatch operation on the A4074. I'd also like to thank the 4 local residents who came along with me to help support the police.

Speeding along the 30 mph-restricted Upper Woodcote Road near the borough boundary is common place. Even though 8 of us were in high viz jackets near the camera, we caught 38 vehicles exceeding 33 mph in only about 45 minutes.

The 38 vehicles included:
* 26 vehicles travelling between 34 and 39 mph
* 11 vehicles travelling 40 mph and over
* Top speed recorded was 47 mph
* Some were commercial drivers, eg heavy lorries and vans

UPDATE: This evening I've been sent Thames Valley Police's official figures
Number of vehicles captured = 83
20 x vehicles travelling 35+ mph = 24%
23 x vehicles travelling between 31-34 mph = 28%
Top speed 46 mph

PCSO Lauren Jerrom has organised a series of Community Speedwatch operations across Caversham.

Do get in touch with me (or, if you live outside Mapledurham Ward, one of your local ward councillors) to get involved. You can also make suggestions of speeding hot spots to be considered for future operations.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Update on Mapledurham Playing Fields

As followers will have noticed, I moved across to using my Councillor Facebook page during 2019 in preference to using this Blog/website. Following a resident's request, I'm re-posting my Facebook post here (which I first published last week):
View across MPF towards orchard
I have been encouraging the council to provide an update on the landscaping and other works they have been making on Mapledurham Playing Fields.
Here it is:
"January 2020 Update"
"In west of the playing fields, the new children's play area successfully opened in its new location for the October half term holidays and has been a popular improvement to MPF. The perimeter wood post and rail fence has been installed along the MPF / Hewett Avenue boundary connecting the breedon gravel footpaths. The highways team will be looking to improve pedestrian access from the highway at the three entrances along Hewett Avenue into the playing fields. A temporary stone path has also recently been installed to connect the breedon pathway on this side of MPF to the new children's play area.
"In the east of the playing fields, the work by Agripower Ltd to form the new sports playing area continued as planned but has been hampered by the large amount of wet weather experienced in late September and throughout October and November. The ground became too wet to continue the work and has meant the installation of lateral drains to one half and seeding of the whole area is yet to be done. Agripower aim to re-start their work once the ground is firm enough to take the machinery to complete this work; which is likely to be in the Spring, weather permitting. The heras fencing is to remain until this work is complete and when the grass has grown and is strong enough to walk on. In the meantime, the Parks team have been placing woodchip around the heras fence line where there has been heavy wear to the grass and become muddy with the wet weather. The Parks team were also going to install the new avenue of trees in December, but due to the delay in completing the new sports area, this has been postponed until next Winter. They will look to install the new central breedon gravel footpath this Summer.
"The pavilion refurbishment works has achieved planning approval and the works are currently out to tender. The tenders will then be assessed and if within the approved budget, the aim is to appoint a contractor to start work in March. Pedestrian access from the community car park to the playing fields is currently by the west side of the pavilion. Once these works start, this side will be demolished and the pavilion slightly extended on this side to accommodate new changing rooms. To do this work safely, will mean pedestrian access from the car park to the playing fields will move to be along the side of the tennis courts."