Friday, 13 May 2011

One Year In Power Reading Reviewed

After a year in power, its time to look back on the record of the local and national ruling parties. Here I look at Reading Council.

Locally the Tories and LD were in a coalition, just as they were nationally. In return for supporting the Tories the LD were given some power and some cabinet positions.

LD Cllr Daisy Benson was lead Cllr for Community Care, Housing & Health made much during campaigning of her desie to bring empty homes back into use. She proudly states that in that year "12 empty homes were brought back into use". That would be one a month. According to her own figures this number was reduced by 369 in the previous 2 years! Would it be mean to suggest she should thank the previous administration or perhaps she was more effective in opposition that when in power.
Comunity and voluntary groups have seen cuts in funding, including the RCRE.

(ex) LD Cllr Warren Swaine was lead Cllr for the environment and sustainability for most of the year. He says he and his sucessor, LD Cllr Ricky Duveen, have managed to implement:
* First community based compact fluorescent lightbulb recycling scheme in the UK.
* Weekly collections for priority areas.
* Kerbside battery recycling.
In 2007 Reading's recycling rate was 35%
in 2010 it had actually gone down to 31%
It would be interesting to see if this has changed.

Conservative Cllr Richard Willis was lead strategic planing & transport, he has:
*cut free bus passes for the elderly,
*campaigned for less traffic lights yet introduced the Labour plan for them on the Shinfield Road causing an expensive disaster.
He promised this year to "introduce a London-style cycle hire scheme" but we already have such a scheme, indeed we had it before London.
I've been searching his blog for references to transport but have only found one sentence in the last two months. Back in feb he talks about reducing more traffic lights; nothing about cycling (aside from the London scheme), walking, buses or trains. Though bus services have been cut. And free travel for pensioners during peak hours.

The Council is looking to make cuts of £18.8 million in its budget for next year (2011/12 financial year). The cuts package will hit the most needy and least well off the hardest.
*Expect 150 compulsory redundancies.
*Deprive vulnerable pensioners of Council care in their twilight years
*Cuts in front line education posts and buyback of services for schools from the Council will lead to reductions in service to vulnerable families.
*Domestic Violence staff levels are to be cut increasing the risks of domestic abuse and leading to abusers escaping the law.
*Transport services for school children, patients, the elderly, and those in care will be reviewed and cut with Readibus, the NHS, and Reading Buses.

Woop-de-doo they changed the colour of the logo on the website from red to blue on the main page. The other pages still have it in red. No yellow seen so far, is there anything to read in that?

The Cabinet Were
Andrew Cumpsty
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Leader of Council

Daisy Benson
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Community Care, Housing & Health

Ricky Duveen
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Environment and Sustainability

Mark Ralph
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Education & Children's Services

Jeanette Skeats
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Communities, Voluntary Sector and Enterprise

Tom Stanway
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Culture & Sport

David Stevens
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Finance & Service Improvement

Richard Willis
Lead Councillor Portfolio: Strategic Planning & Transport


howard thomas said...

Hi Adrian.
As you note Cllr Willis oversaw the expensive cock up on the Shinfield rd.
I know that RBC knew it would cause more congestion and I know that the incoming administration could have cancelled/altered the contract at little or no cost.
Clearly RBC intend to make things worse . why do you think this is so?

Jonathan said...

A labour council would have had the same budget to work with as the Con Dem council had.

If they didn't want to cut:
Funding to RCRE
3 full time trade union reps
Bus services
Pensioner's peak time travel
Green bin collections
Parking permits
Council staff
Care for elderly
Education spending
Domestic violence staff

Then they would have to find the money from somewhere else. I'm interested to know what labour would do because as far as I can see, they haven't told us.

I'm not saying There Is No Alternative. I'm sure there is. I'm just interested to know what it is going to be.

Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Howard and Jonathan for commenting.

Howard I dont think they planned to make the traffic worse, It was probably just a scheme that went wrong. You seem to be saying that they want gridlock, which has a huge cost to residents and buisness. I want to reduce traffic by encouraging cycle and bus use, spend a little money on that.

Jonathan, I am not and have never been a Labour supporter so I cant answer your question. I suspect you are correct ad that they would have done similar things last year.

Greens have a different agenda, we would raise tax for the rich, cut subsidy for nuclear power, cut trident and stop wasting money on road schemes. The government would then not need to cut grants to councils and so no need for these drastic cuts.

I listsed the other cabinet positions but I dont know what they have been up to. They dont blog and I dont read the paper as much a I did. All the attention seems to be on these three posts. And all were bloggers so I could link to what they have said.

Tony Jones said...

Pretty fair analysis Adrian.

Incidently, some of their claims are bogus ... more of this to come.

howard thomas said...

Unfortunately Adrian we have had a council for some years that have done what they can to create congestion. Nobody could be so bad at their job as to not know what they have done is going to make things worse. We know that they were advised that the Shinfield road scheme was not a good thing to do , but they pressed on regardless.
If you remember they said in some of their early 'consultation' about the scheme that there would be improvements made for cyclists.
So they narrowed the carriageway to give cyclists less road space . Hmmm!
The problem with RBC lies within the transport planning department. There is an agenda deep within this lot that doesn't want things to work. Why is the question.
With regard to transport generally, it is in everyones interest to cut pollution from vehicles, but although the technology exists to do so the government actively discourages this because (presumably) large scale saving of fuel would affect government tax takings.

Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Tony, I do try to be fair. The previous post was on Cllr Maskell and Tesco, as always I try to quote and link to what a person has said.

Unfortunately sometimes people just make up quotes, such as the now ex Cllr Hussein. His leaflet was so poor it probably helped us win in Park.

I look forward to hearing more.