Thursday, 2 June 2011

City Status

LibLabservatives all support Readings bid to become a city. A recent vote on this issue saw all the big parties support this. The Greens are the only opposition on this and many areas. So much for the claim "Greens always vote with Labour".

We Greens support Reading and want to make it Greener so its ready for the future. Wasting time and money on this bid does little for the town. The status of some Cllrs and officials may be augmented but residents see it as irrelevant, some question whats in it for them.

Reading has attempted this before and lost, so chances are we may not win. Most Reading residents are indifferent, some think we are a city already. Thats partly due to a bus destination city centre, which is a bit silly of the bus company. Still if we win many signs and logos will need changing, this bus is perhaps future proof.

Looking at the fuss being made over the city status, most of the arguments in the local media seem to be taken from the website

1 "Close links to Royalty, with Kate Middleton, now married to Prince William being born and lived in Reading." this argument is scraping the barrel, could be used also by her village near Newbury or indeed Windsor and is ridiculous.

2"One of the lowest unemployment rates in the whole of Europe and a high concentration of qskilled workers". So a good place to get work.

3"Largest urban area of the Thames Valley with a catchment area of over 1.7 Million people." People who dont live in Reading, many will commute to London and never even visit us so is it really relevant.

4 "Commercial Centre of the Thames Valley and recently voted in the Top 5 of the “Centre for Cities” in City Outlook and marked as a “City to watch”. Not a city yet so a bit suspicious why we were included.

5 "World Class Education Facilities with Reading University, which is a research intense University." Many a fine Uni is not in a city, so irrelevant and for those wanting to go to Maiden Erlegh school bit ironic.

6 "Location chosen by top International Brands such as Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and Logica CMG due to great transport links and a “Hub of Transport” in the South of England." Not to mention more Tescos than we need. But are theses comppanies here because we may be a city, no, so modtly irrelevant.

7 "Diverse Community and rich heritage and culture with Children in local schools speaking over 120 different languages." at last a reasonable argument, I dare say shared with many other bids.

8 "Home to top sporting teams such as Reading Football Club (The Royals), London Irish, Reading Hockey Club, Reading Rockets (Basketball) and also host to one of the biggest Music Festivals in the UK, The Reading Festival." smaller places have bigger festivals and sports so not really relevant.

9 "Investing heavily in the future and infrastructure with the £860 Million revamp of Reading Train Station, The construction of “Reading Gateway”, and many large Brownfield urban regeneration projects not forgetting the Oracle and Reading as the choice shopping destination in the region." True, though I am suspucious of some of these "brownfields". And we are a cenre for binge drinking, why dont they mention that also.

10 "Reading is the “Capital” of the Royal County of Berkshire, in which there is not 1 City at this time!" good point.

So dear Readers, cant we come up with better? How about the Museum, with a rare copy of the Bayeaux tapestry. Or the location of Jane Austens school. Where Oscar Wlde was in prison (which still exists). Near Roman Silchester. Or the Abbey ruins (closed) kings meadow baths (closed) both alowed to fall apart ta council. Home to the Madjeski academy? Hmmm.

A visit to smelly alley or the shop "but is it art?" will tell visitors all about the heart of Reading. Or that the bus station and tourist office were closed. Visitors coming by train have no informaion but there is a big pub. Priorities are questionable.

If we are awarded city status on merit thats ok, but I dont want to waste the time of council officials who should have far more imporant things to do. Especially in an issue of such indifference to residents. While services to the most vulnreable are being cut.


Sean said...

Unfortunately Reading Borough Councillors are too simple to see beyond the 'Big is Better, Growth is Good, Size is Status' mantra. The real reason that we should oppose Reading becoming a city is that it will increase the town's environmental footprint and result in even more unsustainable high-impact growth.

howard thomas said...

They claim that the costs of the bid are being met by private business , or something down those lines, ie there is no cost to RBC.
I wonder if that same money source will be paying for re-signing and rebranding the new city !
I somehow doubt it, and I wonder how much that would cost.

Adrian Windisch said...

I suspect you are correct Sean. There have long been suspicions that the reason the town planners never seem to say no to big developers is that thyey want to increase the population in order to get city status in and then get some benefit. But I have no proof.

Howard, as I said in the post its officers and cllrs time that is the cost. You are correct the cost of rebranding will be huge, as I pointed out in the post.

howard thomas said...

I wonder how much more city councillors allowances will be compared to town councillors and whether this could have some bearing on the push for city status.