Wednesday, 28 March 2012


This is unacceptable

I took the evening photographs on Thursday 22 March on my way to a meeting. I took the day time pictures on 27 March, during that time the piles of black bags have grown. This kind of thing has got to stop. 

This kind of thing has got to stop
I have written to Reading Borough Council insisting they take strong action to stop this kind of abuse happening. This kind of thing reflects badly on the town and the Oxford Road. Whoever is responsible should be prosecuted, this is totally unacceptable. 

I have also asked for an urgent meeting with the head of service responsible for refuse collection and the lead councillor for the environment to discuss what can be done to prevent this appalling situation occurring in the future.
Budget Bombshell
Bad News For Most In Battle

A budget for millionaires
George Osborne’s budget is a disaster for most people struggling to make ends meet here in Battle Ward. The Tories have let the bankers keep their bonuses and rewarded their rich friends (including their dodgy donors) with a massive tax cut for millionaires paid for with a ‘Granny Tax’ which will rob 4.4 million pensioners of up to £323 a year.

Families trying to bring up children on incomes less than £20,000 a year lose £253 in working tax credits from April and the VAT rise is costing every household an average of £450. Car owners have been squeezed as fuel prices hit a record high under the Tories and the LibDems following the latest tax hike at the pumps. They’ve even slapped extra taxes on takeaway food and caravans and are increasing the price of a first class stamp to 60p as they prepare to privatise the Post Office.

Millions to pay more so millionaires can pay less
The millionaire Chancellor has certainly looked after his own with a budget that will see 14,000 of his fellow millionaires paying £40,000 a year less in tax and substantial tax cuts for other high earners pulling in wages of £150,000 or more. How can it be right to penalise pensioners who have paid taxes all their lives and increase the burden on hard working families just to make the super rich even richer ?
Pensioner groups slam budget ‘stealth tax’
Saga Director, Dr Ros Altmann, said: “This Budget contains an enormous stealth tax for older people. Over the next five years, pensioners with an income of between £10,500 and £24,000 will be paying an extra £3 billion in tax. “In short, this Budget is another shocking example of the Government’s attack on poorer and older people. It is dramatically unfair.”

Local people have been telling me how angry they are that the Conservatives and their LibDem allies seem to be more interested in rewarding the rich than in helping pensioners and hard working families on modest incomes to get through these tough times. Mr Cameron’s claim that, ‘we are all in this together,’ has turned out to be yet another empty promise.”

Labour – on your side in tough times
Labour’s alternative budget includes a plan for real growth with a tax on bankers’ bonuses to fund a real job guarantee for unemployed youngsters, tax breaks for small firms taking on new workers and a temporary cut in VAT to boost spending and get the economy moving. We will fight to reverse the ‘Granny Tax’ and the other unfair measures, all of which could be defeated if the LibDems stopped propping up the Tories in Parliament.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Changes to residents’ parking
Labour keeps its promise 
 Last June Reading Borough Council’s new Labour administration made a commitment to reverse the changes brought in by the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition council, which had resulted in visitors’ permits being cut by half and the time of departure of overnight visitors being brought forward to 8am from 10am.
As your councillor I am writing to let you know that we have kept our promise after I and other members of the Labour group pressed the council to make changes.
Earlier this year we reversed the cut in visitor parking permits – and residents were given an extra book free of charge.
We have also now confirmed that overnight visitors will be able to stay until 10am on the same permit, rather than having to use a new visitor’s permit from 8am. (This will come into effect for new visitor permits issued after April 2nd).
As well as this Labour confirmed in the council budget for next year that the cost of second residents’ permits would remain the same (at £60).
In addition, other changes have been made to simplify renewal procedures for permits. From this year residents will be able to renew permits on line where there have been no changes to vehicle ownership. (The council has asked DLVA to put the process for new vehicles on line as the DVLA currently ask for new ownership documents to be seen by councils).

Friday, 23 March 2012

Osborne's £500 million raid on the NHS

Remember this poster?

If we thought all of the budget nasties were out already with the “granny tax”, we were wrong. Hidden in the budget red book is the news the Osborne has clawed back £500 million from the NHS, and it’s feared the money is going to deficit reduction. Or in other words, that NHS budget looks a little less “protected”.

The HSJ reports: “Figures published in this week’s Budget show that the Department of Health underspent its allocated funding by £900m this year. While £400m will be rolled over for the department to spend in 2012-13, the remaining £500m has been returned to the Treasury.”
Ed Balls has said: “The tax grab on pensioners was not the only hidden bombshell in the Budget. David Cameron and George Osborne have silently taken half a billion pounds from the National Health Service.

“Yet at the same time George Osborne has given a £3 billion tax cut to the richest people in the county – a tax cut worth over £40,000 for the 14,000 people earning over £1 million.

“It tells you everything you need to know about this government that they’re prepared to take money from pensioners and our NHS, while giving a tax cut to the richest people in our country.

“Some people thought the Tories had changed, but with this one Budget we’ve seen their true colour's. It’s the same old Tories – a Budget where millions are asked to pay more so millionaires could pay less.”

Story courtesy of Labour List

Monday, 19 March 2012

Health and Social Care Bill – Guest Blog 

Tom Lake, long time Labour and Health campaigner writes:

Parliament has just published the latest version of the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill.   The Bill starts out by naming a number of highly desirable duties placed on the Secretary of State for Health and then proceeds to deny him any powers to carry out these duties lest he interfere with the autonomy of any provider of the services.

The bill, currently with 472 pages, is substantially in the form of amendments to the National Health Service Act 2006, which currently has 286 pages.  No statement of the 2006 Act as it will be after the application of these amendments is provided – probably for fear that the public might find out what it is all about.

There is no straightforward order in which the present Bill can be read. For example, at section 13, subsection (8) the Bill prescribes a new paragraph (zza) to be inserted before paragraph za of section 272, subsection 6 of the 2006 Act (are you following me?).  But the 2006 Act has no such paragraph. Paragraph za of section 272 of the 2006 Act is actually inserted by section 179 subsection 8 of the present Bill (got that?) . So section 179 , subsection 8 of the Bill has to be read before section 13, subsection 8. In short ,it is a jumble. To place such a muddle before the sovereign and ask for her assent seems the height of disrespect.

The Government’s contribution to the health of the nation is indeed guided by  the maxim, “laughter is the best medicine”. But I fear we shall all be crying before too long.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Vote NHS

Doctors are proposing to stand NHS candidates against the Lib Dems

I have been wondering lately how far the people of this country will allow an unelected, unrepresentative, dictatorial Government push them before they react. It seems that in the medical profession at least that moment is, potentially, not far away!

Click on this link and judge for yourself.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Schools not for profit

Keep Reading’s schools for Reading’s communities, says Labour

The drive by Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove to make schools become ‘academies’, run by a myriad of private organisations and responsible only to him as Secretary of State, has come under fierce attack from Reading Labour Party, with education lead Cllr. John Ennis saying the Government’s aim is to privatise education and destroy the accountability of schools to their local communities.
“Mr Gove started,” he says, “by saying that all schools judged ‘outstanding’ ought to become academies, but his officials are now coming to me and demanding that schools that are not reaching their targets become academies!  What Mr Gove really seems to want by the end of this Parliament is to take over all the country’s 22,000 schools, creating the most centralised education system ever in this country or any other.
“Reading’s Labour Council,” Cllr. Ennis goes on, “is proud of the work we have done in partnership with heads, teachers, Governors, parents, pupils and the wider community to drive up education standards in Reading – our schools are getting their best results ever – and of the huge investment that Labour made in school buildings and equipment.   Of course we know there are some schools where progress has not been as fast as it should. We are committed to working with those schools to get it right.  We believe we can do that better, working locally with heads, teachers and parents than a set of remote civil servants up in Whitehall, and  much better than the various private companies springing up to grab a piece of the action. For all Mr Gove’s spin, there is no evidence that academies as a whole perform better than schools that remain with the local authority.
“At the next meeting of the Council,” Cllr. Ennis goes on, “I will be moving a resolution opposing Mr Gove’s grab on our schools, and as and when he targets individual schools my colleagues and I will meet with Governors and parents in the hope of agreeing a common response.    Like with the NHS, this drive of Mr Gove’s is something that wasn’t in the Tory election manifesto, but that didn’t stop him pushing the legislation through Parliament on an emergency basis, with LibDem support, within weeks of taking office.”
We believe in Reading schools for Reading’s communities – that’s true localism – and will be campaigning on that basis.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Is the Government telling the truth about NHS reforms?

Is the Government telling the truth 
about their NHS reforms ?

Here are some facts from False Economy (the full factsheet can be seen here)

1.  The bill will cost at least £2 billionEstimates of the cost of implementing the Health and Social Care Bill range from the government’s £1.3 billion to Labour’s £3.5 billion, but most independent analysts estimate at least £2 billion. The government claims the bill will save money in the long run but even the Conservative-led parliamentary health committee says this is unlikely unless standards of care are cut. £1 billion is being spent on redundancy for managers, only for many to be rehired as consultants.
2.  The bill will create more bureaucracy

The NHS bill replaces three levels of management (Department of Health, Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts) with seven (Department of Health, NHS Commissioning Board, Strategic Health
Authority clusters, Commissioning Support Organisations, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Clinical Senates, HealthWatch), and creates two unaccountable super-quangos (Monitor and the NHS Board).

3. Waiting times will grow – unless you go private

The bill allows hospitals to fill up to half of their beds with private patients, and waters down guarantees on NHS waiting times. NHS patients will increasingly find themselves at the back of the queue, even for their own local hospital.

4.  Care will depend on a postcode lottery

The bill will break up the NHS and create a postcode lottery on a scale not seen before. With no national standards, there will be widespread variation in the treatments available on the NHS. In some areas, people may have to go private to get services available for free elsewhere. Scotland and Wales, which are not covered by the bill, will continue to provide services denied to patients in England.

5.  Private companies, not GPs, will be in control

The bill says GPs will plan and commission healthcare. But this complex role cannot be done on the side while providing the same level of care to patients. We expect pilots to have excellent flying skills – not
to design and purchase their own planes. In fact leaked papers show the government expects private companies called CommissioningSupport Organisations to take over this role. CSOs will decide how
care is delivered but there will be no democratic control over them.

Street Party

Book Your Summer Street Party - For FREE

Reading residents are being invited to apply to the Council if they want to hold a street party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer, and the good news is that in Reading it won’t cost you a penny to close your street to traffic.

Application packs are being sent out to people who have already enquired about having a street party during this time.  We are hoping that even more streets take part than last year, when Reading saw 16 Street Parties take place across the Borough to celebrate the Royal Wedding in April.

For all approved applications, the Council has waived the usual road closure fee so that residents can celebrate without any extra costs. Any street party in Reading will not be liable for any fee on the following conditions:
  • It is for fewer than 500 people
  • It is only publicised to local residents
  • Any music is only incidental
  • No selling is involved
  • It is organised by residents rather than professional planners

If you want to have a bar where people can pay for drinks or you intend to have entertainment for the wider public or you plan to charge people for entry to your event, you will need a Temporary Event Licence, which costs £21 from the Council’s Licensing Department.

However if organising a Street Party seems a little daunting why not get involved with this year’s ‘Big Lunch’ We are encouraging residents to take part in the forth ‘Big Lunch’ celebration which takes place on Sunday 3 June as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  The Big Lunch is an initiative to celebrate neighbourliness across the UK by encouraging communities to come together for lunch once a year.  Reading communities are being urged to pack a picnic, head to their nearest green space and make friends with each other.  For further information please visit

For more information on the Big Lunch or for your street party application pack call Lucy Burgess on 0118 937 2771 or email All street party applications should be returned by Monday 30 April, at the latest.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Save our NHS

“Drop the Bill, Save our NHS” says Labour
To get your vote he said: "I will cut the deficit not the NHS"
Labour’s campaign against Andrew Lansley’s “reforms” of the National Health Service is the lead story in the party’s latest ReadingBanner, which is now being distributed door-to-door.
Labour Leader Jo Lovelock says: “We promised at the elections last May that we would stand up for the NHS, and we have taken that campaign onto the streets and into the Council chamber.  The Health & Social Care Bill is intended to break up the NHS, to make services compete rather than co-operate, to open the door to ever-increasing privatisation, and to hide decision-making under a cloak of commercial confidentiality, ending any pretence at transparency.
“Every poll shows that the public is overwhelmingly against the Bill, as is virtually every professional body of doctors, nurses, midwives and the rest.  It beggars belief that the Government is pushing stubbornly ahead with this legislation, and has the wholehearted support of Reading’s two Tory MPs, and that local Tory and LibDem Councillors, too, put loyalty to the Coalition before the interests of their constituents and voted to support the Bill in the debate Labour forced on Reading Council.
“Those Councillors need to be sent a strong message on 3 May that the people of Reading value their National Health Service and value the huge investment in our hospitals from the last Labour Government, and know that the Tories just cannot be trusted with our NHS. Nor can the Liberal Democrats– even though they could support Labour MP’s and kill this Bill tomorrow, they seem determined, as ever, to put their alliance with the Tories first. We don’t need political meddling with the NHS and we especially don’t need it now!” 
  Reading & District Labour Party Media Release 27 February 2012