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Lib Dems support calls for justice for Gurkhas

Members of Reading Borough Council’s Council Group have backed calls by Reading’s Gurkha Community for pension parity.

Former Mayor Cllr Peter Beard who has actively campaigned alongside local Gurkhas and their families and is heavily involved with the Reading-Based Forgotten British Gurkha Charity spoke strongly in support of the motion declaring support for the Gurkha’s canpaign for pension parity at the Council meeting on 18 October.

Cllr Daisy Benson has written to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP and Lib Dem Defence Minister Nick Harvey MP calling on them to back the Gurkhas.

Residents are urged to sign the petition on the Direct Gov website.

Lib Dems back calls for Support Centre for LGBT Community

Lib Dems on Reading Borough Council have spoken out in support of plans for a support centre for LGBT community in Reading.

Speaking in the Council debate on 18 October, Cllr Daisy Benson, Group Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Reading Borough Council said:

“I would like to thank Lorna Macardle Chair of Reading Pride for the work she and others including have done behind the scenes on taking these ideas forward

“We in Reading value our diversity. It is therefore important that we value diversity in all its forms and make everyone feel they are welcome in Reading.”

Jamie Wake, local LGBT campaigner and previous Liberal Democrat candidate for Whitley,  said:

“The LGBT community is one that usually feels under-represented and it was a great pleasure to see such a needed project receive full support from all parties on Reading Borough Council.”

Jamie launched the OK 2B GAY campaign at the 2011 Reading Pride Festival in September and received an award from the Reading Pride Charity for the campaigning he does for LGBT Equality.

Jamie added “Whilst this is a step forward for the LGBT Community in Reading, there is a still a lot of work to do to ensure full equality for LGBT people but the cross party support on Reading Borough Council demonstrates how by working together, this can be achieved.”

Save Money, Stay Warm, Go Green

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sk0cPYfbKDQ[/youtube]

Lib Dems welcome £1.5m cash boost for Reading schools

Liberal Democrats on Reading Borough Council have welcomed the news that poorest children in Reading will benefit from increased school funding from the Coalition Government via the Pupil Premium.

News of the extra cash comes after Ministers recently announced that the total funding available for the Pupil Premium in 2012-13 will rise to £1.25bn, double the amount in 2011-12. It will rise again each year until 2014-15 when it will be worth £2.5bn.

Evidence shows children from low income families generally do not achieve as well as pupils from more advantaged backgrounds. Schools receive this additional funding on top of the existing school budget to support them in reaching their potential and help schools reduce educational inequalities.

Figures published today by the Department for Education have confirmed that Reading schools with pupils from deprived backgrounds in will benefit from additional funding of £1,589,000.
3,527 children in Reading qualify for extra support via the Pupil Premium.

Reading’s most disadvantaged pupils are set to benefit from an extra £58 each after the Department for Education announced this year’s Pupil Premium will increase to £488 per child receiving free school meals.

Schools receive the extra cash for every child eligible for free school meals (FSMs). The money has been released because fewer-than-expected children have registered for FSMs this year.
Announcing the increased funding, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather MP said:

‘The Pupil Premium will benefit poorer pupils, providing extra money directly for those pupils who need it the most.

We know that just 27 per cent of pupils on free school meals get five good GCSE grades compared with 54 per cent of non-free school meal pupils. This extra funding will help tackle this inequality and enable schools to provide the extra support they need to reach their full potential.’

Cllr Rebecca Rye, Lib Dem Education Spokesperson on Reading Borough Council commented:

“This investment will help ensure all children in Reading reach their full potential – regardless of their background or financial circumstances.

“It will help to tackle Labour’s shocking legacy where the richest 16-year olds are three times as likely to get five good GCSEs as the poorest.

Reading Liberal Club hosts a Skittles evening

Join Reading Liberal Club as they host a fund raising skittles evening at Woodford Park Pavilion on Sat. Oct. 22nd starting at 7.30pm.

There is a bar on the premises, and excellent parking on site, which is off Haddon Drive in Woodley.

The cost is only £10 per head, including food.

For tickets contact Coling Lawley on 9618536 or by e-mail to Coling.lawley@ntlworld.com

Coalition Government delivers first new council homes in Reading for 20 years

Commenting on the news that new extra care housing has been opened by the Council on the site of former Avenue School site, Cllr Daisy Benson said:

“Reading has a growing frail elderly population and these new homes will help meet this need.”

“Rob Wilson MP and I worked hard over the past year to secure the funding required from the Coalition Government to enable this project to go ahead.”

“The striking fact is that in just one year the Coalition Government and the previous administration of this Council has delivered more new Council housing than Labour managed in 20 years.”

Changes to No. 22 bus route in Caversham

Following a meeting at Caversham Baptist Church organised in early September by Liberal Democrats it was agreed that the route of the Number 22 bus would be altered to better suit the needs of local residents, however, this was subject to acceptance by the Traffic Commissioner. Reading Liberal Democrats have today learnt from Reading Buses that the variation of the route which Liberal Democrats and local residents campaigned for has been rejected by the Traffic Commissioner.

James Freeman, Chief Executive of Reading Buses who kindly spoke with and listened to residents in Caversham about the bus route changes contacted the Liberal Democrats today to inform us of the latest twist in what is fast becoming a confusing situation, he told us:

I think that I may have explained that the last minute change that we made to the route of the 22 to divert it via the Mount and Kidmore Road was subject to acceptance of the short term-variation by the Traffic Commissioner.

We yesterday received a letter from the Traffic Commissioner refusing our short term variation application variation for the diversion of route 22 via Kidmore Road .

This means that we will have to divert 22 back to the originally registered route via Oakley Road until the full 56 days has elapsed, namely on Wednesday 9/11/11.

In addition, the Commissioner has received information from members of the public alleging that Kidmore Road is dangerous for use by buses because of its narrowness and the junctions at both ends.

We are therefore required to change the route of the 22 as soon as possible in order to comply with the Commissioner’s instructions.

We must then revert to the Kidmore Rd route at the conclusion of 56 days’ notice subject to any action that the Commissioner may wish to take as to the suitability of the route in question.

We will do our best to communicate this change to users by means of a door drop, leaflets on buses and e-mails/letters to as many people as we can. The temporary change starts tomorrow, Saturday.

I attach a copy of the notice that we intend to distribute as widely as possible today and over the week-end. In fact, we have staff out in the area as I write and we shall be distributing the attached leaflet door to door this evening in the areas directly affected.

As you may imagine, this is not what we had hoped.

The Community Link service 28, sponsored by Reading Borough Council, is unaffected by these changes and continues to provide a service via Albert Road, The Mount and Priest Hill as it has been doing since 26th September.

Annette Hendry, local Liberal Democrat campaigner said:

“We were delighted that Reading Buses had listened to the concerns of Caversham residents and had worked with us to make adjustments to the planned route of the pink 22. Though this latest development will no doubt cause confusion, we shall continue to campaign for bus routes that are both safe and useful to the residents of Caversham.”

“I’d like to thank James Freeman for his support and for giving us notice as soon as he could of both the concerns of the Traffic Commissioner as well as the changes to the bus route and I look forward to working further on this matter in which many local residents have such a large stake.”

Funding for Station Terminals

Reading Lib Dems have welcomed the announcement by the Dept for Transport of a further tranche of £9.6m which will help fund the north and south terminals of the new Reading station.

Transport Spokesperson Cllr Ricky Duveen commented, ‘this is a key project for the development of our town and the willingness of the coalition government to fund it despite the current economic pressures shows a commitment to revamping the country’s infrastructure after many years of neglect.’

‘For Reading this will be a new entrance to the town and one that will cater for visitors and commuters alike. It is right that we make the station entrances suitable for the public travelling to the capital of the Thames Valley.’

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