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Lib Dem Councillor Rebecca Rye continues high energy drinks health risk campaign

Cllr Rebecca Rye

Cllr Rebecca Rye

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Rebecca Rye, has strongly criticised the way high energy drinks are sold to children.

In a motion that went before the full meeting of Reading Council on 23rd October, she called on the Council to set up a campaign to highlight the issue, and to work with schools and health authorities to promote greater responsibility. The motion was ultimately supported with a report now to be presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board, which is set to become a committee of the Council in April 2013.

Commenting, Cllr Rye said, “These drinks have been known to cause behavioural problems, addiction to caffeine, hallucinations and health risks such as heart palpitations, risk of obesity and diabeties. Therefore there is a great need for more education for children and parents, as many are not aware of the dangers of these drinks.”

She added, “I wrote to all the major supermarkets about my concerns that these drinks were being purchased and consumed by children.  If these drinks are to be sold, they should not be freely available on supermarket shelves to under-age purchasers.

They need to have the same age restriction as alcohol imposed on them. At the very least, everyone should be aware of the downside to drinking these energy drinks.”

Planning our Katesgrove community garden

A guest article from Janel Blattler, a Katesgrove activist and Liberal Democrat Candidate in the Local Elections, May 2012.

Warren Swaine, Janel Blattler, Rebecca Rye

Warren Swaine, Janel Blattler & Rebecca Rye outside the buildings to be demolished

Without a doubt the Katesgrove Community Garden is my favourite initiative in the ward to date. It was one of the main drivers in me seeking to run for council, as I had long wondered why the façades of these derelict buildings were left standing. What made it even more enjoyable was seeing the support from my neighbours and local residents as I knocked on doors seeking signatures for the petition, and in the end collected close to 300 signatures! Everyone was keen to finally see action taken to improve this longstanding eyesore. After all, it has a broad appeal, as it is on Southampton and Crown Streets, one of the main junctions in the ward and an area that suffers from a lack of green space.

There were of course a handful of people that expressed concern that a garden would be a haven for the homeless and the drug trade. But for those naysayers, I refer them to the Forbury Garden, or even Eldon Square which are both thriving green spaces. Fitting a fence and gates around the perimeter of the proposed garden would help to prevent people lingering there overnight.

I’m pleased that others are as excited as I am about the idea of bringing a community garden back to Katesgrove. As you may know, what we’re proposing is a long overdue replacement to the popular Common Ground garden that was on the other end of Crown Street, at the junction of Silver Street.

To help bring the garden to life, we have an architect living in Katesgrove, who has volunteered to design the garden for us! Now that the council has undertaken to purchase the remaining two buildings, all we need is a bit of progress on the demolition of the buildings, so we can move forward with the project.

I hope to have another update in a couple of months, advising when the council has a date agreed for the demolition of the buildings. Watch this space!

Tackling anti-social behaviour with the Katesgrove Lane underpass

A guest post from Janel Blattler, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Katesgrove ward in May 2012 Local Elections.

As I live just off Elgar Road, the Katesgrove Lane Underpass is my usual pedestrian route into town. If I needed to come home after dark, I would intentionally avoid the underpass.

Janel and Gareth in the underpass before the light upgrade… dark even during daylight!

Janel and Gareth in the underpass before the light upgrade… dark even during daylight!

I figured that others would have similar concerns about the underpass, so I spoke to Rebecca Rye and Warren Swaine, our Lib Dem councillors in Katesgrove about the issue. I was pleased to hear the team had already been working on this issue. While he was still a councillor, Gareth Epps, along with Warren applied for a grant from the Safer Reading funding to improve the underpass lighting. But for reasons unknown, there was an ongoing delay in obtaining a quote to replace the lights.

Given the recent crimes in the area, I sought to get an answer to when we could expect the upgraded lighting. So, I submitted a question to the council’s cabinet meeting on 12 March 2012, questioning the delay and requesting a date to install the upgraded lighting: “Would the council please explain to Katesgrove residents when we could expect to see the upgraded lights in the Katesgrove Lane Underpass.”

Councillor Page, the Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, said:

“The replacement of the lighting in the Katesgrove Underpass will be completed by the end of March 2012. The delay has been caused by the need to source a more cost effective lighting fitting and the long lead in times for their supply”

Janel Blattler, Warren Swaine & Rebecca Rye admiring the underpass lighting

Janel Blattler, Warren Swaine & Rebecca Rye admiring the underpass lighting

Much to my delight, the council upgraded the lighting just two days after I asking the question to cabinet! It’s proven to be a popular discussion topic both on the doorstep and at the Katesgrove Residents’ Association.

It’s made a marked improvement on the lighting in the underpass — though now it’s made the graffiti on the mural more visible! Needless to say, the next item to tackle in the underpass is the graffiti that’s ruined the mural.

Tesco Promise Better Community Engagement

Reading Liberal Democrats have gone straight to the top over concerns from residents about Tesco Express planning applications across the Borough after worries that residents’ views are being overlooked.

Celebrating our success Janel Blatter, Premier shopkeeper Mr. Singh, Cllr. Warren Swaine
Celebrating our success (from left to right) Janel Blattler, Premier shopkeeper Mr. Singh, Cllr. Warren Swaine

Councillor Warren Swaine first raised matters in September with David North, Communities and Government Director for Tesco about their Tesco Express store applications in Reading and more recently, after Liberal Democrat success in securing the dismissal of the Whitley Street appeal, with Michael Kissman, Head of Property Communications.

Liberal Democrats have a track record of community engagement over new Tesco stores. Cllr Swaine said: “We held a public meeting in 2008 about the Crown Street application to gauge residents’ views. As a result we raised their concerns over deliveries and noise.

“Unfortunately neither the council or Tesco acted on them, which all too predictably led to a noise abatement order and a new lay-by which is only now being constructed after three years of delivery vehicles blocking a bus lane. It would have been far better for long suffering residents if legitimate concerns raised by ward councillors at the time had been taken into account. This is why I decided to speak directly with senior people in Tesco.”

After Cllr. Swaine, who is also a member of the planning committee, raised concerns about their record of community engagement, Tesco acknowledged that their pre-planning consultations with residents could be better and gave Cllr. Swaine assurances that from now on Tesco would seek the views of ward councillors of all parties at the earliest opportunity in order to reduce potential future problems.

Janel Blattler, the Lib Dem candidate for Katesgrove said: “We have always stood up for the community and won’t sit on the fence and allow things to happen. I’m pleased that residents and businesses across the town will now benefit from our hard work in Whitley Street.”

Labour’s Tesco Town

Katesgrove Lib Dems have been working closely with local businesses and residents over proposals to turn the old HSBC bank into a Tesco Express. The plans are to build over the car park at the rear and into the street at the front to create a shop which is twice the size of any of the existing businesses.

There would be a loss of parking space in an area already beset by parking problems and an escalation in deliveries which will cause serious traffic safety issues and a detrimental effect on the viability of the shopping district.

Katesgrove Councillor and local resident Warren Swaine said: “When Labour were in control of the ward, the Whitley Street district shopping centre was in danger of collapsing.

“Shops were being left empty and trade moving to other parts of Reading. Your local Lib Dem councillors worked hard to change it by standing up for local businesses.

“Lib Dems made the council change parking times in the car park opposite to a more convenient 90 minutes which suited the restaurants, opticians, dental centre and gym far better than the 30 minute restrictions we inherited. When we were in control of the council we ensured that Whitely Street was on the priority list for extra cleaning and moved the shops into the police patrol area for Katesgrove from the university area which has a completely different crime profile.”

Cllr. Warren Swaine also spoke with Tesco’s Community and Government Director David North about the planning application in September.

Yet Labour seem intent on turning Reading into a Tesco town. Their Caversham based ward councillor tells residents “I want to hear residents’ views”. Too late. The boat has sailed as the public hearing was a month ago! Only the Lib Dems were there to speak up for residents and businesses and specifically invited to submit extra details to the planning inspector.

It’s quite simple. Only Katesgrove Lib Dems are on the ball and know what’s going on in the area. Because we live here!

Reading Lib Dems select new faces to join hard-working team

Greater Reading Liberal Democrats have selected Reading residents Janel Blattler, James Moore and Meri O’Connell to stand as candidates in Katesgrove, Redlands and Tilehurst wards in the Reading Borough Council elections in 2012.

Their selection follows individual decisions by councillors Peter Beard , Glenn Goodall and Warren Swaine not to seek re-election in the local Council elections in Reading in 2012.

  • Cllr Peter Beard is retiring in May 2012 after representing Tilehurst since 2001.
  • Cllr Beard represented Norcot ward between 1974 and 1982. His career as a local councillor included a very successful year as Mayor of Reading when he campaigned to improve the lot of the Reading Gurkha community.
  • Cllr Warren Swaine and Cllr Glenn Goodall are stepping down at the local elections in May 2012 to focus on their professional careers after four years serving local people in Katesgrove and Redlands.

New candidates set to make a mark

Janel Blatter, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Katesgrove

Janel Blatter, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Katesgrove


Janel Blattler began campaigning with the Lib Dems in the run-up to the 2010 General Election.

A Katesgrove resident originally from Canada, she works full time as a designer for a local software company and is also pursuing a MSc in Human-Computer Interaction at University College London.

Councillor Daisy Benson and James Moore, Candidate for Redlands

Cllr Daisy Benson and Liberal Democrat Candidate for Redlands, James Moore


James Moore lives in central Reading and works for a major software company in South Reading.

He is no stranger to being involved in the local community, having been a Scout Leader for six years in Runnymede, Surrey and sat on local Council forums and committees to represent young people of the area.

Councillor Peter Beard with Meri O'Connell, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Tilehurst

Cllr Peter Beard with Meri O'Connell, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Tilehurst


Meri O’Connell has lived with her husband in Tilehurst for 17 years.

They have 3 young children and Meri is a school Governor at Moorlands School. Recently Meri has been actively campaigning to stop the proposed changes to the retirement age requirement in Tilehurst’s sheltered housing communities.

Commenting on the news Cllr Daisy Benson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Reading Borough Council said:

“We are very grateful to our outgoing councillors for all their years of service to their communities.

“James, Janel and Meri are energetic, enthusiastic, and committed campaigners who want to make a difference and give local residents in their area a voice on the Council.”

“All of them are already up and running in their wards and working alongside our councillors and I am confident they will make a fantastic addition to the hardworking Liberal Democrat team on Reading Borough Council.

TESCO Public Meeting arranged by Katesgrove Lib Dems

Katesgrove’s Liberal Democrat Councillors have organised a public meeting this Thursday (4 September, 7.30pm in the Conference Room at RISC) as controversy rises about Tesco’s plans to open an Express store at Crown House, on the corner of Crown Street.

Residents and local businesses have been in touch with Gareth and Warren expressing numerous concerns, including:-

  • Parking concerns as Crown House has virtually no nearby parking for deliveries or shoppers
  • Anger at Tesco’s plans to increase their monopoly in retail in Reading
  • Concerns about their record on licensing and socially responsible busines

Tesco has applied for an alcohol premises license for Crown House, the former location of the popular Fun ‘n’ Frolic fancy dress store, and local councillors understand that planning applications are imminent from Tesco, although the use of the premises for retail already has planning permission.

Commenting, Cllr Gareth Epps says:-

‘We have had a lot of feedback from residents and others about this issue. Most local people are not happy that Tesco are seeking to open yet another store in Reading so close to local retailers.

‘I would urge local residents and others with a view to come to the meeting and make their voices heard.’

Upcoming Events

   August  2014 »
Events on August 30, 2014
  • Reading Pride
    Starts: 12:00 am
    Ends: August 31, 2014 - 12:00 am
    Location: Kings Meadow, Napier Road, Reading, United Kingdom
Events on August 31, 2014
  • Liberal Drinks
    Starts: 7:30 pm
    Ends: August 31, 2014 - 10:30 pm
    Location: The Abbot Cook, 153 London Rd, Reading, United Kingdom


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