Councillor O’Connell will not eat cake!

Katesgrove councillor Matt Rodda (Labour) accused Greens and Liberal Democrats of “wanting to have their cake and eat it” in a party political clash over measures to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.

The motion, moved by the Green Party, followed the lengthy discussion of the 2017-20 budget:

This Council resolves to report back to policy committee (or traffic management sub-committee) later this year on a possible workplace parking levy scheme that would match the needs of Reading.

It was castigated by the Labour majority and their Conservative counterparts, but supported by the Liberal Democrats.

The aim of a workplace parking levy scheme, such as recently introduced by Nottingham City Council, would be to:

  • reduce rush-hour congestion and air pollution on Reading’s roads by incentivizing a shift to more sustainable methods of transport; bus, bike, car-share and walking,
  • raise money for increased investment and support for sustainable transport solutions such as public transport and better cycling infrastructure,
  • manage demand for workplace parking provision.

Councillor Tony Page (Labour) countered the motion with an amendment which replaced the wording with four points (in summary):

  • the initiatives already in place such as park and ride, mass rapid transit and Reading’s clean bus fleet,
  • the need for a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme to be introduced by the Government,
  • condemnation of the failure of the Government to give sufficient priority to air pollution,
  • the Council’s commitment to the introduction of a low emission zone.

Councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative) said that he could support the amendment if bullet 3 above were removed.

Air quality and pollution are very relevant to Katesgrove, which is ward on the edge of the town centre. Air quality in Reading is measured by continuous (automatic) and non-automatic monitoring sites. Katesgrove has some non-automatic devices which only measure nitrogen dioxide, on Whitley Street, Southampton Street and Mount Pleasant.

Councillor Rodda spoke in favour of the amendment and addressed each of the opposition parties separately [at 02:29:23]:

In particular I would like to ask councillor Robinson to consider what his own government is currently looking at in terms of the huge issue of air quality and ill-health linked to particulate pollution. Recently, they lost a key court case; they’re under pressure from the EU and there is a lot of speculation in the press that the Conservatives will bring forward a scrappage scheme for diesels and I would think that he would be wise to fully support this amendment which his own Government may be moving towards in its own policy.

He added that the other two “smaller parties”, the Greens and Liberal Democrats, “have demonstrated yet again that they like to have their cake and eat it…”

Liberal Democrat councillor Meri O’Connell said she could see merit in the original motion and amendment, and that maybe it was an example of  “wanting to have her cake and eat it” and said :

There is a lot to the both the amendment and original motion that is worth exploring. They are both good ideas that could really benefit Reading’s health and the well-being of its residents.

However, she decided not to have any cake at all and to abstained from the vote, as did her Liberal Democrat colleague councillor Ricky Duveen.

The Labour amendment was accepted and the amended motion passed.


  1. Reading Borough Council meeting 21 February 2017 – papers and webcast
  2. Workplace parking levy to tackle congestion and air pollution 
  3. Nottingham City Council workplace parking levy
  4. Department for the environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) monitoring networks
  5. Reading Borough Council – Air quality status report 2016
  6. Air quality in Reading