Technical fault at Reading Borough Council

By Scaramouche.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) lead councillor for health, wellbeing and sport Graeme Hoskin unexpectedly started channelling Little Dorrit at the policy committee meeting on 29 October. It is gratifying to know that in this era of austerity RBC can still maintain the high standards of circumlocution and inaction for which all levels of English government are justly famed.

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Could St Laurence’s drinking fountain flow again?

St Laurence’s Church Fountain

Always a nice moment when conflicting agendas collide and something good comes of it for everyone. During the ‘questions from the public and councillors’ section of an edgy and rancorous Reading Borough Council (RBC) policy committee on 24 September, councillor Tony Page seemed to suggest that St Laurence’s drinking fountain could flow again.

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Reading Borough Council accounts 2016/17 expected to be qualified

An Inca quipucamayoc with quipu and yupana

The Reading Borough Council (RBC) financial year 2016/17 ended on 31 March 2017. The statutory deadline for signing off its accounts was 30 September 2017. The report going to the next RBC Audit and Governance committee on 27 September 2018 says that this sign-off is not now expected until October or early November; this is over a year late.

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That’s the way to do it!

By Scaramouche.

The abrasive relationship between Reading’s Green and Labour parties hit another of its troubled patches at Reading Borough Council‘s (RBC) traffic management sub-committee on 12 September. It devolved into the kind of public row that leads to television news stories where neighbours stare sadly at bloodstained driveways and say “they seemed such a nice couple… ”

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Sale of the Central Club

The ‘Black History’ mural

Reading Borough Council (RBC) have agreed to sell the Central Club on London Street in Katesgrove to Red Line. They will develop the site and take over responsibility for the maintenance of the mural. Councillors were at pains to point out at RBC policy committee on 16 July, that the process of finding a new use for the club since it closed in 2006 has been protracted.

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A unifying performance at Rabson’s Rec

By Kira Dixon and Daisy Richmond.

Oi! Who’s nicked the wicker man? (photo: Tommy Robinson).

As the sun set on Saturday 21 April, Whitley lit up with a unifying performance of the Spire at Rabson’s Rec. The piece saw divided sections of Whitley, each with a unique type of ‘power’, come together to build a spire. Three groups of performances represented different types of energy, such as light, sound and mechanical. The young performers each took part in bringing these ideas to life.

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Craft Theory at South Street

By Zoe Andrews.

Chaats Indian Street Food at the Craft Theory Festival, South Street

I missed out on the first Craft Theory festival at Katesgrove’s South Street Arts Centre last year, but I read the reviews with excitement and suffered a major case of FOMO [note 1]. I was in a unique position for the festival on 13 and 14 April this year; not only did I volunteer for Friday behind the jump [note 2], pouring drinks and loving it, but I also arrived bright-eyed on Saturday to spend the afternoon getting merry with my pals.

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Reading East MP Matt Rodda says violent crime is rising. But is it?

Matt Rodda, Katesgrove councillor and Reading East MP

Reading East MP Matt Rodda recently gave his opinion that violent crime was rising and that the government should end police cuts. Mr Rodda used Thames Valley Police performance figures for Reading as evidence for this. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is wary of interpreting police crime report data to show trends in violent crime, and both Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Thames Valley Police (TVP) have suggested that recent rises in violent crime recorded by the police may be due to improvements in police recording procedures.

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Redbrick blackbird

When you hear a very loud, varied, flutey birdsong from your roof or TV aerial at sunset or sunrise in these early months of the year, then you will be most likely listening to a male blackbird. The juvenile first-year males sing in January and February and the older ones follow from around March. Quite why these sentinels of the natural world have such a boring name in English is hard to understand; there are plenty of other black-plumed avians. They are lovingly called merle in French and merl in the old Scottish dialect.

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A portal to a parallel Whitley

Nick Garnett (Whitley Flamboyance Festival)

Last year I got a text from a mate who lives in the flats opposite the John Madejski Academy (JMA). He said that there was some sort of uprising going on and the gates of the JMA had been flung open to unleash an alien entourage, who were now parading through Whitley looking like an escaped troupe of space-age circus performers or an absurdist dream made flesh with dancing, klaxons and odd machinery.

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Happy new year from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal: the Southampton Street bus lane CCTV is useless


A PCN (penalty charge notice) robot at Reading Borough Council issued me with a £30 fine in November for driving in the bus lane at the junction of Pell Street and Southampton Street. I contested this on the grounds that I had wanted to turn left into Pell Street, it was mandatory to join the queue in the left-hand lane to do this, and that queue had already backed up into the bus lane. I claimed it was safer to follow standard – and thus predictable – driving practice at this busy and congested junction rather than cause obstruction and confusion by doing otherwise. I added that forcing drivers to choose between an unsafe or obstructive manoeuvre or a bus lane fine was both unreasonable and unwise.

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Whitley Library: the architecture of hope

Whitley library

Whitley library was built in 1935 in the classical and confident municipal style of the time, and is a stand-alone building in smart red brick, with a lovely scrolled Bath stone cartouche at the top with “LIBRARY” written on it. It stands on Northumberland Avenue next to a roundabout at the heart of south Reading. There is a very similar library building in Palmer Park and the style does seem to project a pride in civic life, education and the burgeoning welfare state with that glorious dawn of the National Health Service just a war away.

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