Here is a link to this online survey. Please encourage friends, neighbours and relatives who live in Reading Borough to complete it too.
Friday 29 October 2021
Monday 20 September 2021
"Thames Valley Police is appealing for information following an incident of exposure in Caversham.
The victim, a teenage girl was walking in Morecombe Avenue at about 3.25pm on Monday (13/9).
A man then approach the victim and exposed himself to her.
The offender is described as a white man and about 5ft 5ins tall. He was wearing a black rainproof jacket with the hood up and dark trousers.
Investigating officer PC Mark Stubbs said: “We are appealing to anyone who may have seen a man acting suspiciously in the vicinity of Morecombe Avenue on Monday afternoon, or anyone with footage, whether that be from CCTV, dashcam or doorbell camera in the area to contact the force.
“You can contact the force via our website or by calling 101, quoting investigation reference 43210412623.”
Sunday 19 September 2021
Below is a statement from Reading Borough Council:Reading will be celebrating National Older People's Day on Friday October 1 with a free fun-packed event at Broad Street Mall, 10am until 3pm, highlighting the contribution older people make to the Reading community.
Older People’s Day coincides with the UN International Day of Older Persons. The main aim for the day is to be a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy. Older People’s Day supports the campaign to challenge negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes, the theme for 2021 is ‘looking forward to the future’.
Older People's Day is an opportunity to celebrate later life and the huge contribution older people make to our communities. This wonderful free event aims to celebrate these achievements and residents are encouraged to come along and join on Friday October 1.
Some people may be feeling anxious and you’re encouraged to come along to the Broad Street Mall on Older People’s Day to meet other people and services who really can help you look forward to the future.
Reading is a vibrant town with a rich array of local services that support residents, come along and find out how they can help you; Citizens Advice Reading, MacMillan Cancer Education, Compass Recovery College, Age UK Berkshire, Age UK Reading to name but a few. Royal Berkshire Hospital will also be offering free blood pressure checks on the day.
The Mayor of Reading, Cllr David Stevens, will welcome everyone at 10am followed by a host of entertainment including; dance, art and crafts and Tai Chi taster sessions. There will be stalls offering information and advice on a wide variety of services from over 20 local organisations. At 11am join a relaxed hour-long guided history walk around Reading Abbey Ruins, weather permitting. Places on the walk can be booked by emailing Reading Museum firstname.lastname@example.org
We have all faced many challenges over the last 18 months and COVID has led to increased loneliness and isolation for older people. This year’s National Older People’s Day event is to demonstrate the resilience of older people in our community and the great work of voluntary organisations and community groups who have supported older people during difficult times.
Tuesday 31 August 2021
Reading Borough Council (RBC) announced today, 31 August, that green waste collections - which had been suspended from 19 July - will restart from 6 September.
Residents have been asked by RBC to put out their green wheelie bins or bags on their normal green waste collection day from w/c 6 September. No additional side green waste will be collected however, with RBC asking residents to book a slot at the Civic Amenity Site at Smallmead.
RBC said the suspension of collections was brought in because of "a significant reduction in waste drivers and loaders and council waste resources needed to focus on priority collections of residual waste and recycling, including food waste collections."
Subscribers to the green waste scheme will not lose out financially. Their subscription period will be automatically extended to cover any weeks missed.
Wednesday 11 August 2021
On Friday 6 August I held a meeting with a Reading Borough Council Highways officer and a local resident to inspect the new pedestrian island in Upper Woodcote Road and discuss concerns.
Vehicles have damaged the island's kerb stones as can be seen in my photo below which has raised safety questions. I wanted to establish whether it was built to the correct dimensions, complies with the prerequisite National standards and what the outstanding works were before it is completed ready for the school opening in September.
|View east showing island's damaged kerb stone|
I'll summarise for readers wishing just the headlines.
- It is usual for tweaks to Highways works after planning permission is granted to be made without reverting back for further planning permission.
- The traffic island complies with National standards
- The measurements have been checked
- It is yet to have illuminated signage and revisions to the road markings after resurfacing of the road
- These items will be delivered after the zebra crossing has been finished
- Reading Borough Council will not be implementing any parking controls prior to The Heights school opening in September, apart from on the junction entrance where School Keep Clear markings will go down
The officer kindly wrote up his notes for me as requested, including information about the zebra crossing under construction. As there is wider public interest, I'm publishing his notes in blue below:
"Following the planning application stage the applicant and the Highway authority engaged in discussions regarding the Highways works associated with the school development and this resulted in some minor changes to the design through this detailed design stage, which is common place in the vast majority of schemes requiring Highway works. Given that the alterations related solely to Public Highway these were not required to go back through the planning applications process.One of the changes to the scheme relates to the dimensions of the pedestrian refuge island which was agreed should be increased in width so that it could facilitate additional pedestrians and would be of benefit to the safety of those utilising the crossing. This design is subject to the S278 Agreement between the DfE and the Council and a copy of the approved drawing can be viewed here.
The retained carriageway width either side of the pedestrian refuge island is 3m, which is in accordance with the National Standards and on site checks have verified that this width is provided.
It should be stressed that the pedestrian refuge crossing facility is not completed with the provision of illuminated signage and revisions to the road markings still to be undertaken by the developers contractor. These works have been delayed given they are to be completed post the resurfacing scheme that is to be undertaken by the developer as part of the wider package of works and as such the road markings would be completed post this resurfacing. These works will take place post the construction of the zebra crossing.
Highway Officers have previously expressed to the contractors that the crossing should not be opened up to the public until the full scheme has been completed and on 6th August Officers reiterated this to the contractor given that the barriers restricting the use of the crossing facility had been removed.
It should also be stressed that the Highway works are subject to independent road safety audits, one of which is completed pre commencement of the works and identified no fundamental issue with the design of the scheme with all areas of concern appropriately addressed. An additional road safety audit would be undertaken post completion of the works and Highway Officers will be requesting that this be undertaken as soon as works are complete given the sensitivities and concerns regarding the scheme.
The existing bus stops on Upper Woodcote Road within the vicinity of the works will be relocated as agreed at the planning application stage and as such will not conflict with the proposed pedestrian refuge crossing as can be seen on this drawing.
A zebra crossing is to be constructed south east of the school access within close proximity to Knowle Close. The crossing will also be provided with independent street lighting columns to provide visibility for those crossing at night and these columns will include shields at the back of the column head to reduce light spillage. The zebra crossing will not be provided with a school crossing patroller.
These two new crossing facilities would be the only dedicated pedestrian crossing facilities in the vicinity, which will not only aid travel to and from the school but for the wider community to travel to and from Mapledurham playing fields, between bus stops and other pedestrian journeys. The only other island within the vicinity of the site is splitter island at the junction with Woodcote Way, which is not designed for pedestrians as its purpose is to keep vehicle traffic on the correct side of the carriageway.
For information the Council will not be implementing any parking controls prior to the opening of the school apart from the school keep clear markings on Upper Woodcote Road (which are provided within the scope of the developers works) but reviews will be undertaken by Officers to establish what measures may or may not be required once the school is operational to ensure that the correct scheme is progressed. This approach was agreed by Councillors at the Traffic Management Sub Committee in January of this year."
As usual, if you have any questions about this, or any other council-related matter in Mapledurham Ward do contact me at: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk
Tuesday 10 August 2021
The Council is developing a draft Library Strategy for the next 3 years. The purpose of the strategy is to guide the service to further supporting our communities, being innovative and providing an excellent experience for everyone.
Unlike many local authority areas where libraries have been permanently shut due to budget pressures, Reading Council has retained all of its seven library branches and is fully committed to maintaining this approach by making the best possible use of its limited resources.
The vision for Reading Libraries is that they are innovative, accessible to all, at the heart of all of our communities and enhancing the lives of Reading people. They inspire learning and enjoyment, provide books, content and activities and help everyone to navigate the digital world.
- The vision is underpinned by five key focus areas:
- Supporting our communities as we recover from the pandemic
- Helping Children and Young People
- Improving access to online services
- Supporting improvements in Health, Wellbeing and Literacy
- Bringing arts, culture and heritage to library spaces
The Council is now inviting residents to feedback on these priorities. Residents are also asked to share how they use the library service, what is most important to them and what they would be most interested in using in future. They are invited to comment on Reading Central Library and the Library’s Home Service.
An online consultation launches today at www.reading.gov.uk/libraryconsultation
There will be a consultation event at Central Library on Tuesday 24 August between 11am and 4pm. This will offer an opportunity for people to feedback in person and the chance to ask questions about the library service.
Alongside the online survey and the library event, several focus groups are being held during the six-week period, with key groups in Reading.
Monday 19 July 2021
Friday 18 June 2021
This evening, Friday 18 June, I've been alerted by a Chazey Road resident to a hole which has opened up in the pitch nearest Caversham Trents Football Club's (CTFC) storage unit.
I have alerted CTFC in case they were intending to use the pitch tomorrow, as well as alerting Reading Borough Council.
However because of it being Friday evening, it is unlikely anyone at RBC will be able to take any action until Monday at the earliest.
In the meantime I've asked CTFC if they might have time to cordon off the area first thing tomorrow to alert MPF users to the potential trip hazard.
I didn't want to ring them in the middle of tonight's England match!
Please therefore stay clear of this area for now, until RBC can sort out the problem. Feel free to forward this warning to anyone likely to be user MPF this weekend.
Update from Reading Borough Council (24 June)
“Agripower returned to the Playing Fields earlier in the week to inspect this and have advised that a small seam of gravel underground had washed away which resulted in the hole opening at the surface.“They have now reinstated the ground and will monitor for any further movement.”
Friday 4 June 2021
Emergency Road Closure Woodcote Way , outside no 88
I’ve received the message below from Reading Borough Council this morning:
“The Streetworks Team wish to make you aware Thames Water have informed us of the necessity to close Woodcote Way outside property number 88, with immediate effect. This is required for an ongoing investigation to establish the source of a leak, initially thought to be within the footway.
“Unfortunately the leak has worsened causing damage to the carriageway and therefore, for reasons of safety they have informed us of the Emergency Road Closure. Access can be achieved from either end of Woodcote Way, up to the point of closure.
“A Thames Water team will continue working throughout the weekend to find and repair the leak and the closure is anticipated to remain in place at least until the end of play on Monday 7th June 2021. Should the closure need to remain in place beyond this date, the Streetworks Team will provide an updating email.
“Reading Buses have been informed, in order to implement a temporary diversion for Bus services and the Emergency Services and Taxi Associations will be notified imminently.”
Sunday 9 May 2021
Thank you very much to Mapledurham Ward residents for re-electing me to serve a further term as the local councillor.
The turnout was 55.15% (the highest in Reading) and more than half of those who voted backed me, for which I am very grateful.
Thank you also to the huge number of people who have congratulated me since the Count. Receiving this recognition of my work for our community means a great deal to me.
I love helping resolve residents' council-related issues, it doesn't matter how mundane or complicated, do get in touch: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk
Do send me an email if you'd like to receive my e-Newsletter.
Thursday 6 May 2021
As regular readers of my blogwill know I’ve been keeping a close eye on the construction of The Heights school and the associated works at Mapledurham Playing Fields.
|The damaged sign on part of the traffic island|
Following concerns about the yet unlit pedestrian traffic island on the A4074, as well as repeated requests for the introduction of a 20 mph limit, I’ve just received the following response from RBC’s Highways:
“I confirm that I’ve been in contact with the contractors today and have agreed that the barriers previously erected on the island be removed so as to not obstruct visibility of the reflective keep left bollard. The developer will also be arranging for additional signage to be placed in advance of the island to warn of the new road layout ahead.
“The pedestrian refuge island is to have an additional illuminated keep left sign erected facing each direction it given delays to the electricity connection, this has not been possible as yet.
“I will be pushing the developer to get this installed as a matter of urgency to reduce the risk of collisions. The crossing will also remain closed until this time.
“In relation to the introduction of a 20 mph speed limit on the Upper Woodcote Road, it would not be possible to include this retrospectively as a requirement of the planning permission for the school.or Highways work agreement, but this could be proposed to the Traffic Management Sub-Committee as a potential scheme in the vicinity and then possibilities investigated by officers.”
I’m a bit busy today as it’s the Elections so I won’t post more. It’s given me the chance though to rest my feet whilst writing on my mobile!
Sunday 2 May 2021
The Heights primary school has announced that sadly the DfE has pushed back the school's planned opening at Mapledurham Playing Fields (MPF) to September 2021.
This is a huge disappointment to the children, families, staff and governing body who had been gearing themselves up to move in after half-term this June. It too will be a big disappointment to the residents who live by the temporary building off Gosbrook Road.
The benefits though are that by September the school will be complete and fully functioning, as should be the surrounding works to MPF.
Kier, the DfE's contractors have cited the following reasons for the delay to completing the build:
- Delays in arranging connection for all the utilities
- Progress being hampered severely by the temporary closure of the access which significantly impacted deliveries of both labour and materials
- Covid-19 social distancing and working hours restrictions have meant they cannot increase labour to levels needed to claw back time lost due to reasons 1 and 2 above
- An area in the car park/Early Years Play Area that subsided. This was only discovered when the additional welfare units were removed. An independent report has been commissioned to establish the reason, but quite extensive additional groundworks may be required.
Tuesday 27 April 2021
Highways works are ongoing to improve pedestrian safety on the A4074 / Upper Woodcote Road in preparation for The Heights school relocation to Mapledurham Playing Fields after half-term.
|View up A4074 towards access (24 April)|
Following the reopening of the Pavilion's car park, I've received complaints from residents about the latest highways works. I hope the information I've managed to put together from my various requests for information are helpful.
I've been trying to find out for how much longer the works and traffic management (ie the temporary lights) are likely to be in place. I had hoped a meeting between the DfE, Kier and Reading Borough Council's (RBC) Highways would have taken place today (27 April). I'll update this post when I have confirmation.
RBC officers have told me the speed camera's new location, after the access to the Pavilion and school, will result in vehicles slowing down as they pass the entrance and approach the camera. They've added that the sight of the zebra crossing and school keep clear restriction should also help advise drivers of the increased pedestrian movements and therefore slow their speed accordingly.
Officers have added that were the speed camera to be located prior to the school it would need to be located 46m east of the proposed 'keep clear' restrictions which would be approximately 63m from the Pavilion / school entrance and is therefore likely to lead to some drivers accelerating as they pass the school.
The speed camera's location does not require planning permission. The decision ultimately is for Thames Valley Police as the infrastructure belongs to them.
Inspection of highways works
I will update this post when I have further information, particularly on when the temporary lights will be removed.
Tuesday 20 April 2021
On Friday 16 April John Hempton, Kier's Project Manager, kindly showed me around The Heights primary school's new building at Mapledurham Playing Fields.
|Pavilion's car park reopened to public 19 April|
The Pavilion's car park has been transformed. Though not completely finished, it looks amazing. As of Monday 19 April the majority of it was reopened to the public, so everyone can see for themselves. It is being block paved - a huge contrast to the old, pot-holed, uneven surface!
It also serves as what is known as a SuDS (a sustainable urban drainage system) meaning rain drains straight through it.
|View from 1st floor room of the Main Hall|
Even though the school is a few weeks away from completion, I could sense what a wonderful building it will be for our west Caversham community. It's amazingly spacious, especially when you consider its small footprint.
The southern staircase benefits from great views of the playing fields, as does the wonderful main hall. It feels fantastic. It has a dramatic high ceiling with expansive, south-facing windows and doors out towards the playing fields. You can get a bird's eye view of the main hall from a first floor room which gives a great alternative perspective. What a contrast from the temporary buildings!
|One of the classrooms|
It was lovely hearing John's enthusiasm for what he and his team are delivering. He reckons the school will blow the children's minds and he's not wrong. They are going to absolutely love it.
Monday 19 April 2021
The Heights primary school at Mapledurham Playing Fields opens after June half-term. I had a look around it on Friday 16 April but haven't yet had time to share my photos. The parking area in front of the tennis courts and the majority of the area in front of the Pavilion has now opened as per Kier promised schedule.
In the run-up Kier, the DfE’s contractors, have got permission from the Trustees for two items detailed below the image to enable the paved access route from the car park to the playing fields to be completed on time to be available for public use when the school opens.
- Temporary heras fencing to replace hoarding line whilst Kier construct the paved access ramp into the playing fields between the school and Pavilion
- Temporary relocation of some welfare units onto a small area of grass at the rear of the Pavilion until 7 June
Thursday 8 April 2021
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
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.
Saturday 27 March 2021
Sunday 21 March 2021
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
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
|DfE / Kier's plan of improvement works to MPF's car park|
Sunday 14 February 2021
|UWA's dip February 2021|
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)|
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
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.”