Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Reading Borough Council cabinet meeting

I went to a Reading Borough Council cabinet meeting last night; they discussed a few matters of interest to the town. Included on the agenda was Reading Station development, the Cow Lane Relief Road, bio ethanol buses, flooding and the M4 junction 11.

As usual only Cllrs were allowed to speak, perhaps 20 people watched in silence. A few questions were allowed at the start, but they needed to be submitted in advance. They included the Cow Lane allotments, the fuel source of Bio ethanol buses; the answers seemed designed to say as little as possible. Mostly it was 'transport supremo' Cllr Crisp answering, he gave nothing away.

We were entertained by a film demonstrating that Reading Station was busy. I wonder how much money was spent on this, paying someone to go there at the weekend to film, the irony being that we were told it was too busy to film during a weekday. I would have thought a time-lapse camera could have been attached to a wall to do this quite cheaply. Almost everyone there will have seen the Station anyway. No mention was made of the real pressure on Reading station, the bottleneck causing delays to Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Wales and the South West to get to London is causing national interest.

More money was spent digitally altering photographs to show how the Oxford Road would look with or without lorries, as they plan to divert them along Cow Lane, as though we couldn’t visualize this without aid. They had a few posters up showing the plans for the new Road, but they were removed during the meting so we couldn’t see them. We’ve heard this sort of plan before, under the Tories it was called predict and provide. It was derided by Labour in opposition, now they have embraced it. There is evidence that despite more Roads being built, there are more than enough cars to fill in any new capacity, just look at the Newbury Bypass. Reducing the number of cars is the only option. They also don’t seem to mind destroying the allotments on Cow Lane, not even considering alternatives such building the Road a few yards to one side.

When it came to the bio-ethanol bus project, they used some money from their access plan and will borrow more. It will cost £200,000 for a new fuel station, and extra £50,000 each for the 12 new vehicles. They claimed that this will be a UK first, but these buses have ben used elsewhere, www.stagecoachgroup.com/scg/media/press/pr2006/2006-08-09
I’m not against buses, but couldn’t some of that money have gone towards cycle paths and cycle parking?

When it came to flooding, Cllr Hanley said a meeting with Thames Water, RBC and residents would reassure them that flooding problems will stop. Cllr Lovelock mentioned global warming and that it would be more frequent, he nodded his head. No mention was made of methods of reducing flooding, such as rooftop collection of rainwater, changing sealed surfaces like car parks to allow rainwater to recharge the groundwater. In addition, they didn’t mention the Council advice during the flood that enough sandbags would be provided to cover the front door, there could not be any other ways water could get into a house after all.

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