Thursday, 8 April 2021

Delays on A4074 Friday 9 April 2021 on Oxfordshire/Reading border

Tomorrow, Friday 9 April, temporary traffic lights will be put in place on the A4074 Upper Woodcote Road by the Oxfordshire border from 8 am until 8 pm. 

Although I have been chasing for this last section of the A4074 (between Shepherds Lane and the county border) to be completed since October 2020, I was only notified by the council this afternoon.

Please allow extra time as delays are likely. 

NB the temporary lights by the turning for Mapledurham Pavilion on the A4074 are still in place, but at least drivers can avoid this section more easily. 

UPDATE: The western end of Shepherds Lane is closed too so there is no access from it to the A4074.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Know who vandalised trees on Mapledurham Playing Fields?

On Easter Day, did you see two trees being vandalised on Mapledurham Playing Fields? If you did, please report the culprits to Thames Valley Police.

The Liquid Amber specimens are part of the tree-lined avenue footpath leading across Mapledurham Playing Fields to the Pavilion. Council officers had painstakingly planted the trees in perfect alignment for everyone's enjoyment. Especially in Autumn, the avenue was designed to create a stunning landscape feature with the leaves turning orange and crimson. 

It is highly unlikely the vandalised trees can be saved as the trunks have been completely severed and they were coming into leaf, but I will double-check tomorrow with the council's tree officers.

Replacement trees will probably have to wait until at least November when trees are dormant again.

The moronic, criminal damage is incredibly upsetting. I hope the imbeciles are caught and punished.

UPDATE: A resident says there were some loud girls and boys on MPF at about midnight on Easter Day creating a disturbance. Does anyone else have more information please?

Dog owners watch out - I've had a separate report of broken glass on MPF. I haven't been told the location yet but will update when I do. I'll be asking the Parks Department to try and pick up the broken glass as soon as possible to avoid any injuries to dogs or residents.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Government announce Mental Health investment

I'm delighted by the Government's decision to invest £500m to support mental health across the UK.

Last October I wrote about the importance of good mental health including how hard living through the pandemic has been on everyone's mental health.

At a family funeral a week ago, the impact of loneliness on one of my relative's mental health was so sad to see. We talked about the struggle going out by yourself when you are feeling low and alone. Her pets have played a huge part in getting her through the last year. She's had to walk her dogs which has meant she has been able to say hello to other dog walkers so see another human being. She is so looking forward to restrictions easing - as I know we all are!

With the swift and efficient rollout of the vaccine, British Summer Time starting tonight and gardens bursting into flower, life is improving.

If you need help, here is a list of excellent organisations:

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Census 2021 - Today’s the Day!

Today, remember to fill out the Census. Everybody across England and Wales must do so. The results help plan how services are funded in each area.

It shouldn’t take long to do. If you live in Mapledurham Ward and need help filling it in, let me know and I can either help over the phone or in a virtual/online meeting. My contact details are here.

You’ll need your 16-character code from the letter sent to you a few weeks ago. If you’ve lost it, there's a way of getting a new code by going to the Census website.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Forward thinking travel plans for The Heights at MPF

Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of participating in an incredibly positive meeting about how The Heights primary school is going to minimise vehicle journeys to their new building at Mapledurham Playing Fields (MPF). 

The Heights had invited local representatives from MPF's sporting groups,  one of the local residents associations and me to discuss their draft Travel Plan for when they open in June after summer half-term. 

The school has been working up plans to minimise additional traffic to the local area. 

You may say you'd rather watch paint dry, but if you'd been there hearing the school's representatives relate their forensically detailed draft Travel Plan you'd have been as impressed and reassured as those present.* 

Karen Edwards, The Heights' inspirational Headteacher, together with her wonderful governors and parents involved in the Travel Plan, truly have gone the extra mile. They've got a proven track record of sustainable travel which the school community has pledged to improve yet further at MPF. Health and sustainability are truly embedded in the school's DNA.

Measures for minimising vehicles to school include a 'bike bus', a 'walking bus', identifying safe lit walk routes, ensuring all who come to the school are fully aware of the public transport options and minimal on-site school parking. Other initiatives include identifying parents' drives available for staff members to park on and, once restrictions permit, car sharing.

After the initial 3 months of the school being up and running at MPF, there will be an assessment and a consideration of whether any additional measures are needed.

A whopping 91% of parents have pledged to walk, cycle, scoot, take public transport or park and walk to MPF. The school aims to hold a public event to enable local residents to see the new building (lockdown restrictions permitting) and will also be communicating how and to whom any concerns can be raised.

I trust residents living close to the school will feel reassured by The Heights' responsible and considerate approach. I'll continue to liaise closely with the school, the council, residents and MPF user groups to mitigate the impact of increasing numbers coming to MPF. As always do contact me if you'd like some advice or help. 

* Update: Martin Brommell, the Warren and District Residents Association's representative attending the meeting, has asked me to highlight that some WADRA members who didn't attend still have concerns about the potential impact of traffic once the school opens, as does he.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Temporary closure of Mapledurham Pavilion's car park & access

This evening, Thursday 25 February, details of a temporary closure of the access to Mapledurham Pavilion's car park to vehicles* have been sent to the Mapledurham Playing Fields Management Committee, of which I am the chairman. 

The DfE's contractors, Kier Construction, need to close the car park from 8th March until 19th April to carry out car park improvement works. The works will much improve the car park and enable the school to open and function safely from Monday 7th June.
DfE / Kier's plan of improvement works to MPF's car park

* Between 22nd March until 19th April, there will be no access whatsoever from the Upper Woodcote Road access to MPF. Pedestrians, cyclists and runners will all have to access MPF from elsewhere.

Ideally these works would have been scheduled earlier to have them out of the way before the covid-19 restrictions started to ease. Sadly this was not possible. Originally the scheme was going to take only 2 weeks, however because of poor drainage the scheme had to be changed. Although the short notice is regrettable, the Chair of Trustees has given permission to close the car park in line with the officer recommendation because pressing ahead with the works will have less impact on the community than if the works were to be delayed. Kier are letter dropping nearest neighbours and have put up notices in the car park to give warning of the pending car park closure.

The MPF car park's driveway work will be deferred to allow completion of the rest of the school works so the latter can open on 7th June. 

The driveway work is going to be scheduled to take place in the Summer holidays from 2nd August with an estimated 3 weeks of no vehicular access to the car park. 

 As I know residents living around MPF would not welcome contractors parking in the nearby roads, I'm pleased to confirm that Kier are expected to use Rivermead car park for temporary contractor parking. Kier will be providing a shuttle bus to MPF site whilst the MPF car park is closed between 22nd March and 19th April. From 19th April to 6th June there will be an area in the car park by the school site that will still not be available for parking, as it will revert to being Kier's construction vehicle route into the school site. 

In front of the Pavilion there'll be a combined materials storage (block pavings, etc) and vehicle area which will be reduced in size as the build continues. Council officers expect that the car park may well be used increasingly by the public from 2nd April onwards as Covid restrictions start to be relaxed for outdoor gatherings, tennis and football. Kier have given an undertaking that this area in front of the Pavilion would be opened up for community parking if the car park becomes busier. Kier have a member of staff who will be stationed in the car park to manage the parking. 

Through the school build the Council have instructed Kier not to use the car park. No parking will now be available on the school site for the final month or two of the build, allowing some limited Kier parking in the MPF car park is preferred to the alternative of increasing parking on the adjacent roads for the final build period. 

Sports pitch secondary drainage works potential delays 
The Council has delayed this final piece of work until 8th June as regular access throughout is required to complete the drainage. This work is weather dependant, but pitches can be used pretty much the day after the work is completed, officers tell me, so no impact on the following football season is expected. The work includes dressing the surface of the sports turf with sand which will take a short while, and some rain, to disappear into the turf. There is a risk that if there is a prolonged dry spell, cutting the grooves into the ground may need to be delayed until the ground softens. This work will take about 3 weeks but will not require the field to be closed off. 

Area 5 works to main access into MPF's car park 
There is no option but to close the main access strip to install the block paving along this section of the access road to MPF's car park. RBC officers will be liaising with the Tennis and Football Clubs over the next couple of weeks to consider the impact on these clubs. 

If you have any questions, do contact me. or 07717 292 003.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Petition to get Reading BC to improve drainage and the surface of Upper Warren Avenue's dip

UWA's dip February 2021
If you cycle, walk, drive or live on Upper Warren Avenue (or one of the roads off it) and agree with me that Reading Borough Council should fix the drainage issue in the dip and then resurface this water-damaged area, please sign my petition.

After years of lobbying for Upper Warren Avenue's (UWA's) deteriorating tarmac to be resurfaced, finally in November 2020 contractors carried out the work. Within days though, following heavy rain which pooled in the bottom of UWA's dip, the new tarmac surface started to break up.

Late November 2020 (facing east)
The photos show how in the space of just 3 months big patches of the new tarmac surface have been washed away.

I have raised the issue several times with officers and they have confirmed that the surface will be resurfaced in Spring. I however want to ensure that the drainage problems are sorted out first to give the new tarmac a decent lifespan. It simply is not good enough for it to break up within days of being laid.

Mid-November 2020 (after dark)

Do please consider signing my petition.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Please help find 13 year old's killers

Thames Valley Police have reported the fatal stabbing of a 13 school boy earlier this evening in Bugs Bottom. If you have any information please contact TVP. My heart goes out to the boy's family at their tragic loss. It is horrendous, devastating news.

Copied below is TVP's statement:

Murder Investigation Under Way After 13-Year-Old Boy Dies In Stabbing In Reading

Thames Valley Police has this evening (3/1) launched a murder investigation following the death of a 13-year-old boy in Emmer Green, Reading.

Officers were called at 3.50pm to reports of a stabbing in Bugs Bottom fields, near to St Barnabas Road, Gravel Hill, Emmer Green.

Tragically, a 13-year-old boy died of his injuries at the scene.

The victim’s next of kin are aware and are being supported by specially trained officers, but at present, no formal identification has taken place.

No arrests have currently been made.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, head of Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Unit, said: “This is a fast-moving and dynamic investigation, which is ongoing.

“We are in the very early stages of this investigation, but we believe that the victim was attacked by two or three males, who made off after the incident in the direction of Hunters Chase.

“There will be a very considerable police presence in the area of St Barnabus Road and Gravel Hill for a number of days, and we have a very large scene-watch in place.

“I would appeal to anybody who was in Gravel Hill this afternoon and believes that they witnessed anything that could help this investigation to please make contact with police if you have not already done so.

“This is an area that is used extensively by dog walkers, and I believe that there will have been witnesses to this dreadful incident, or who may have seen the offenders leaving the area quickly.

“I would ask anybody who was driving or cycling in the area and has either a dash-cam or a head-cam to please check the footage between 3pm and 4.30pm, and get in touch if it has captured anything that may assist this investigation.

“Similarly, many families walk in the area, and so if anybody has taken photographs within the area around that time to please check these and contact us if you have picked up anything suspicious.

“I would also be keen to hear from anybody with CCTV footage in the area, please can you check this and again contact us with anything that may be able to help us in this investigation.

“You can call the 24-hour number 101, quoting incident reference 1069 of 3 January or call the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“This is a tragic and shocking incident which has resulted in the death of a young boy. We have specially trained Family Liaison Officers supporting the boy’s family and the thoughts of all of us within the force are with them at this extremely distressing time.”

Local policing area commander for Reading, Superintendent Nick John, added: “This is a shocking incident, and I would like to re-assure the community that we are working tirelessly to locate the offenders and bring them into custody.

“Naturally, this incident will cause huge concern in the local community, and I fully understand those concerns.

“I would like to re-assure the community that we are leaving no stone unturned in this investigation and we have deployed a large number of police officers and staff to the area.

“If you have any concerns or any information, please do not hesitate to speak to one of them.

“We are in the very early stages of this ongoing incident, and I can assure you all that we are working to ascertain what has happened and arrest anybody suspected of being involved.

“We have a strong local community, and I would encourage anybody who has any information that would help us to locate the offenders, please contact us, and you can do so in the strictest confidence.”