Another general election is almost upon us and the majority of the candidates have already been announced ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
As most of us know, the general election takes place next month, on December 12. What you may not know, and this is important, is that there will be two elections in Reading, with the town and surrounding areas split into two constituencies. Please note, in this article, we are endeavouring to maintain neutrality – a neutrality which, of course, a writer rarely really feels….
Reading East includes wards in Reading (Abbey, Caversham, Church, Katesgrove, Mapledurham, Park, Peppard, Redlands, and Thames) and Wokingham (Bulmershe and Whitegates, Loddon, and South Lake).
And our fab Reading West, which includes wards in Reading (Battle, Kentwood, Minster, Norcot, Southcote, Tilehurst, and Whitley) and West Berkshire (Birch Copse, Calcot, Pangbourne, Purley on Thames, Theale, and Westwood).
Below are the main candidates for Reading West…
Alok Sharma, Conservative
Alok Sharma (born 7 September 1967) is a British politician, serving as the Secretary of State for International Development since July 2019. He was elected in 2010 as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Reading West.
Sharma previously served as Housing Minister between 2017 and 2018, and as Employment Minister from 2018 to 2019.
Sharma is married and lives in Caversham with his wife and two daughters. His wife is Swedish.
Jamie Whitham, Green Party
Jamie Whitham is the Green Party candidate in the constituency of Reading West in the UK Parliament elections.
Jamie was born in Reading in 1974 attending Coley Park Primary School for a number of years from 1978. After a spell away from Reading in the 1980s he returned in 1995 to study Cybernetics and Control Engineering at The University of Reading.
Jamie joined the Green Party in 2010 after helping Reading’s first Green Councillor Rob White, to be elected.
In 2012 Jamie was elected as the third Green Party councillor on Reading Borough Council. During his four years on the council he sat on the Traffic Management Sub-Committee, Planning Applications Committee, Cycle Forum, Strategic Environment Planning & Transport Committee as well as others.
Jamie is a keen cyclist having recently completed a ride from the equator just north of Quito in Ecuador all the way to Ushuaia at the southern most tip of Argentina. We have to say, knowing this territory to some degree, that this is really, but really far…
Meri O’Connell, Liberal Democrat
Meri has a background in public service, working in children’s homes and as a Youth Justice Worker, helping young people find employment and training opportunities.
Elected as a councillor to Reading Borough Council in 2012, her campaigns have included making Tilehurst Triangle safer for pedestrians, and opposing the closure of the Arthur Clarke care home, where she successfully persuaded the council to ensure the land would only be used for elderly care.
Mr Sharma won 48.9 per cent of the vote in 2017, beating Labour challenger Olivia Bailey by just under 3,000 votes which makes this election much closer. One thing is – who ever you stand for (and think hard about your values and what kind of future you want for your country and all of it’s people), do make sure you vote!
Rachel Eden, Labour and Co-operative
Labour and Cooperative parliamentary candidate for Reading West constituency.
She is a councillor for Whitley ward, Reading and the lead councillor on Reading Borough Council for Adult Social Care.
Rachel Eden has experience of standing as a parliamentary candidate, after unsuccessfully fighting the Tory seat of Wantage last year is back this time moving to Reading west.
Watch this space for more, as we find out more through our investigations, on the above candidates! We will tell you the truths and facts that we find out, in what promises to be a rather, murky and manipulated election.
The nine-car British Rail Class 345 train removed from Crossrail
The nine-car British Rail Class 345 is a type of electric multiple unit passenger train built by Bombardier Transportation for use on Crossrail & currently used between Reading to London Paddington have been removed from traffic due to a software problem, therefore all TfL Rail ‘345s’ in traffic are currently running as seven-car sets.
Bombardier built the trains at Derby Litchurch Lane. Spokesman Will Tanner told RAIL: “A defect has been discovered that affects the signalling system on some of our Class 345s operating TfL Rail services to and from London Paddington. As a precaution, the nine-car units have been temporarily withdrawn from passenger service while we work to resolve the problem.
“All other Class 345s operating TfL Rail services to and from London Paddington and London Liverpool Street continue to operate as normal. I can’t give you a date when we will be able to return to nine-car operation but will do as soon as I can.”
No date has been given for the return to traffic of nine-car Class 345s on TfL Rail trains between London Paddington and Reading.
Resident’s anger over state of Dee Park streets
Reading west were invited by a Dee Park housing estate resident to visit the current state of the area.
The photos below were shot on Sunday 22 July 2020 in & around the kids playground & basketball court next to Glemore Place, Dee park Estate, Reading, and shows shopping trollies inside and down an alley, black bin bags, empty washing, face mask, discarded food containers etc.
The resident, who did not wish to be named said: “Every alley in the area is a mess.
“The streets that are really bad are the alleyways nearby Glemore Place leading to the basketball & playground and around Deveron Dr, Thurso Cl, Strathy Cl”
As we were walking along the streets, we spotted dog poo, dirty nappies, all type of household waste, more shopping trollies from the nearby Morrison store and black bin bags, just to mention a few.
He also said the bin men do not take the “contaminated” bags left out by householders which makes the problems even worse.
“They need cameras putting up. People come from different streets and just dump their rubbish in other people’s alleys.”
“There is an area in Strathy Close that every month fly-tippers dump their rubbish.”
Other resident we came across told us that “the littering has been happening for years”.
In September 2007 Reading Borough council vowed to regenerate the area, It is obvious for us that for many of the residents that announcement means nothing.
The council must take this matter seriously and understand that visible signs of crime, anti-social behaviour, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.
We have contacted the council & Reading West MP Alok Sharma to try to solve the problem.
All littering found during this report have been reported to the council.
Crossrail delayed again as bosses blame Covid-19
Crossrail has delayed its opening again with project chiefs blaming the latest setback on Covid-19.
The troubled railway, from Reading, Berkshire to Abbey Wood, Essex via central London, was originally expected to open in December 2018 but repeated delays have pushed it back.
Crossrail confirmed on Thursday that this is now “not achievable.”
On Thursday evening, Crossrail said: “A programme of this scale and complexity was already challenging, the impact of Covid-19 has clearly made the existing pressures more acute.
“Due to a pause of physical activity on sites and significant constraints on ongoing work – time has been lost, only some of which can be recovered.”
Construction work stopped due to Covid-19 on March 24 and restarted on June 15. Train testing work restarted earlier on May 30.
The rail line was due to open in December 2018 but has been beset by a number of delays and increases to its original £14.8bn budget, which was agreed in 2010.
Crossrail chiefs have not issued a revised timetable but said “a more comprehensive update will be issued in due course.”
They added: “Work continues to refine and validate the remaining work schedule and associated costs.”
Mark Wild, Chief Executive, Crossrail Ltd, said: “We have a comprehensive plan to complete the railway but existing schedule pressure along with Covid-19 has impacted the programme and time has been lost.
“Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, good progress continues to be made with completing the remaining construction works, with much of this work coming to an end along with software testing for the signalling and train systems.
“The focus is completing the outstanding works across the tunnels, shafts and portals so that intensive operational testing can begin and the Elizabeth line can be delivered at the earliest opportunity.”
Andy Byford, London’s new transport commissioner, said: “The news that coronavirus and other factors mean the railway cannot now open next summer is hugely disappointing.”
Last month was announced that Crossrail and the Costain Skanska joint venture building the project’s problem Bond Street project have parted ways. Crossrail will oversee completion of the remaining works in-house.