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Spring 2012

Wokingham Borough

NEWS Your magazine from Wokingham Borough Council

s e d u l Inc tion on a m r o inf ncil tax cou e 15 pag

In this issue... New waste collection service page 4

Jubilee celeberations page 10

Learning together achieving success page 24

www.wokingham.gov.uk


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www.wokingham.gov.uk

Keeping in touch with us Phone: (0118) 974 6000 Fax: (0118) 978 9078 Email: wokinghamdirect@wokingham.gov.uk Text/SMS message: 07786 200 974 Website including webchat: www.wokingham.gov.uk

Welcome

Visit us Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm at the Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. Social networking sites: www.facebook.com/wokinghamboroughcouncil

www.twitter.com/wokinghambc

Looking Local iPhone and Android app – Report abandoned vehicles, fly-tipping and vandalism, or check out events, job vacancies and the latest travel information. Go to app store and search for the free Looking Local app. Email and text updates – Register at: www.wokingham.gov.uk/online Information kiosks – Available at Woodley and Lower Earley libraries and the Civic Offices. Looking Local – Access local information and services using your digital television remote control. www.wokingham.gov.uk/looking-local We’d like to hear what you think of Wokingham Borough News, and in particular if you would like to contribute to future editions. Please also give your views on our social networking sites and what else you would like to use them for – send us a message on Facebook or an email to: communications@wokingham.gov.uk Editorial: Communications Team at Wokingham Borough Council. Print: Herald Graphics Printed on Ability Offset 80gsm FSC. Cost: 7p per person/ 19p per copy.

“Over the past few months we have come a long way in developing a new vision and a set of principles and priorities that will determine and shape our work as we move into 2012 and beyond. You can read more about this on page 19. As well as this work, we have been striving to set a sound budget – a challenge in the current climate as we are required to find savings which equate to £4.5million for 2012/13 (see pages 15 to 18). Despite this, we have much to be optimistic about. We have invested in our schools over the past year – with four primary schools seeing improvement and expansion (see page 9). With the rebuild of Waingels College now complete, we’ve also committed millions of pounds to The Bulmershe and St Crispin’s schools. And it’s not just young people who are benefitting. With an ever ageing population, we’ve now completed an older people housing scheme at Alexandra Place. And Beeches Manor will shortly be completed too. This year, the regeneration of Wokingham town centre will gather

pace (see page 13) and the first development by our housing company will start work in Shinfield (see page 5). Don’t forget next month’s changes to our weekly waste collection service – make sure you are up to speed with how these will affect you (see page 4). We’re also hoping to build on last year’s community spirit of the Royal Wedding as we look forward to this year’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic celebrations. Keep an eye out for events in your local area. I’m always happy to hear from you about how we can improve things for our residents. Please email me at: david.lee@wokingham.gov.uk” Cllr David Lee Leader


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Mayor’s view “Being Mayor of Wokingham Borough is a privilege and, in my second term of office, I’m frequently reminded why our Borough is officially one of the best places in the country to live. “I’ve been lucky enough to visit many schools and have met good teachers and happy, motivated pupils. I chaired a Question Time event for our primary and secondary schools during Local Democracy Week where it was a pleasure to hear pupils asking intelligent and probing questions of businesses, MPs and local politicians. I also attended the Borough Youth MP election where two of our very own aspiring young politicians were voted in by our secondary schools.

ft) iya Karim (le

MP Suma g with Youth in K e n n ia D Cllr gsley Charlotte Pu and Deputy

“Christmas celebrations started with the annual primary schools’ carol concert at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre where the roof was raised by 400 children accompanied by gifted young musicians from the first-class Maestros Corelli orchestra.

In this edition

“I met many of you over the Christmas period at events organised by and for the community; highlights included serving lunch at the WADE day centre for the elderly and attending the launch of the wonderful Giving Tree appeal that saw many of you buying gifts for children in need around the Borough.

New waste collection service . . . . . . . . . 4

“I continue to be cheered and amazed by the wonderful people of the Borough and I look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming months.”

Inspire Wokingham – Living the Legacy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Cllr Dianne King Borough Mayor

e: annmarie.bonwick@wokingham.gov.uk t: (0118) 974 6004

Hillside Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Business is blooming . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 & 7

Parish profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 & 11 Focus on fostering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Council tax info. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15-18

Helping to lower blood pressure Following the festive season’s indulgences, our residents took the chance to have their blood pressure checked for free. The special event organised by the Council and The Stroke Association also provided stroke prevention advice. The Stroke Association’s Peggy Johns said: “We had a really positive day and took 64 people’s blood pressures. It was a great opportunity to kick-start the year.” A stroke is a brain attack which happens to around 1,600 people in the Berkshire area each year. Regular exercise, healthy eating, giving up smoking and avoiding excessive drinking all help to control blood pressure and many other health conditions. Too much salt in your diet can also lead to high blood pressure – six grammes of salt a day is the maximum recommended intake, which is around one level teaspoon. www.stroke.org.uk

Transforming our services. . . . . . . . . . . 19 Learning together achieving success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Elections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Protecting your money from fraud . . . 28 Diamond Jubilee celebrations. . . . . . . . 30 What’s on . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Who’s your local councillor? Check out our website for details about your local councillor. If you don’t have access to the internet, please call us. t. (0118) 974 6053 www.wokingham.gov.uk/cllr-database


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www.wokingham.gov.uk

New waste collection service is coming Next month (April 2), Veolia Environmental Services will be taking over our new waste collection service.

HERE’S A QUICK SUMMARY: Household waste You will receive 80 official blue sacks and an information leaflet including your collection day by the end of March. These sacks are to be used for waste (except green waste) that cannot be recycled, no other bags will be collected

Garden waste The opt-in garden waste scheme will be rolled out to the whole Borough. There’s an annual charge of £60 covering the fortnightly collections from a wheeled bin. Alternatively, you can buy 75-litre compostable sacks for £1 each from your local library or Civic Offices from March 26. Green bags will no longer be collected. Wheeled bins will only be available to those residents who can store them within their property boundary. Register for a wheeled bin by calling Veolia Environmental Services: t. (0118) 909 9360

Recycling Weekly kerbside recycling collections will help you recycle more and divert waste away from landfill.

Recycling will be even more rewarding An exciting change is coming to all residents in Wokingham Borough. You’ll soon be able to earn Recyclebank points every week you recycle. Look out for your registration pack in the post towards the end of March. There’s 300 Recyclebank points up for grabs, just for registering.

How do I take part? Carry on recycling each week as normal, then tell us that you’ve recycled. We don’t need to know what you’ve recycled. By doing this each week you will earn 10 points. Each month, residents who report will earn a bonus based on the amount of recycling collected in the Borough. There are three easy ways to tell us you’ve recycled: online, by phone or smartphone app (both iPhone or Android). Very quickly you’ll soon earn enough points which can be exchanged for rewards online or by phone. Points can be redeemed against special offers and discounts in local shops, cafés, restaurants and leisure facilities. Each year, you could earn rewards worth up to £75. www.recyclebank.com For more details about the new service, visit our website. t. (0118) 974 6000 e. wokinghamdirect@wokingham.gov.uk www.wokingham.gov.uk/waste-changes

Recycle in existing black boxes. Yes please: • All food and drink cans • Paper/card • Plastic bottles (no lids) • Aerosols

No thanks: • Glass • Tetrapak (waxed paper containers) • Carrier bags • Plastic tubs, pots and trays

Collection: Black recycling boxes and blue sacks will be collected at the same time using a special vehicle that keeps waste separate from recycling. You must place your blue sacks and black boxes at the edge of your property by 6.30am on your collection day. Please refer to the instructions on your blue sacks.

Executive view Cllr Gary Cowan, Executive Member for Environment “By extending our kerbside recycling scheme and introducing the blue sacks for household waste, we aim to increase our recycling rates across the Borough and turn more of our waste into a resource. It will also save us nearly a million pounds to invest in front line services.”


Spring 2012

Eustace Crescent update

Hillside Park

These images are computer generated and therefore not necessarily an accurate representation of the final building.

Wokingham Housing Ltd’s first development

The first development being built by our housing company is under way in Shinfield. Wokingham Housing Ltd is a company wholly owned by us, set up to help meet local housing needs. The first scheme will see ten flats for people with learning disabilities and two bungalows for older people built on a former mobile home site at Hillside Park, Shinfield. The new homes, which are to be built to a high environmental standard, will be rented to people we nominate and will be ready in the autumn. In the longer term, Wokingham Housing Ltd will be involved in a range of development and regeneration projects and will offer new housing options for local people. Wokingham Housing Ltd is committed to making a real contribution towards the social and economic wellbeing of the Borough – it’s an exciting future.

Planning for our future Work continues to make sure our plans for the future of the Borough will secure strong and well-supported communities, as well as reflecting the latest national policies. As well as the Strategic Development Locations (SDLs) – the main four areas of development until 2026 – we are developing a document to take forward policies in the Core Strategy. The Managing Development Delivery Development Plan Document will allocate sites for different uses including housing and transport outside of the SDLs. It will also provide policies covering a wide range of issues including design, car parking, size of dwellings and flooding. To make sure you are aware of the latest planning news, register your details with us. e. policyandplans@wokingham.gov.uk

Last September, residents of Eustace Crescent flats gave us their views about the future of their homes. The flats suffer from damp and drainage problems and a survey suggests that at least £1million would need to be spent to resolve existing problems, with any more problems needing even more money to fix. Respondents to the consultation last year showed a preference for demolishing the buildings and work is now under way with individual tenants to discuss their housing needs, with the aim of re-housing all residents by March 2013.

Executive view Cllr Angus Ross, Executive Member for Strategic Highways and Planning “It is essential we maintain an open dialogue with our town and parish councils, residents and other community groups as we consider all development proposals and especially our SDLs. We are considering the best method of establishing a twoway forum for their discussion and believe that this will result in best practice that we can consider employing for any other major developments in the Borough. I look forward to ensuring an active dialogue with communities that will be part of, or affected by, new major developments. My aim is that we can all work together over the life of the projects to obtain the best possible development design and to minimise the impact on existing communities.”

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www.wokingham.gov.uk

Business is bloo Creating opportunities to nurture young talent With more young people chasing fewer jobs, we are looking to raise the profile of apprenticeships through our own recruitment and with partner businesses. We recruited apprentice Laura Pearce last year and are looking to recruit more like her in the future. We’re encouraging businesses to follow our lead by asking companies that we work with to take on apprenticeships as part of their contracts. Some have already done so, including Balfour Beatty which has taken on four young people, and discussions are on-going with other businesses. We will also be holding road shows to help businesses recruit apprentices.

Case Study Customer Service Assistant Laura Pearce joined the Borough Council through an apprenticeship scheme last summer. During her apprenticeship, Laura has helped to manage our email correspondence, resolve customer complaints and gather customer feedback. Laura said: “This has given me the opportunity to work in an environment that I enjoy – helping customers. As a young person it is not easy to find employment in today’s job market and this will give me a step up on the career ladder.” Laura has an external apprenticeship support consultant and training assessor who monitor her apprenticeship regularly and provide access to the Quality Credit Framework (QCF) training that will give her a recognised qualification. e: andrew.nicholls@wokingham.gov.uk t: (0118) 974 6018

Coming soon We’re in the process of producing a Business Directory which will provide a comprehensive list of organisations offering support and advice to the business sector. Want a copy? Register your interest now. t. (0118) 974 6030 e. communications@wokingham.gov.uk


Spring 2012

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ming this Spring Local partnership working together for the local economy The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is one of 39 business-led partnerships across the country and pulls together key players from business, local authorities, education and the community sector. The aim of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP is strong collaboration between these sectors across Berkshire and beyond. It has rapidly built momentum and is capable of informing and influencing national government. By promoting employment and skills, and ensuring the delivery of the infrastructure required to support economic growth, the LEP aims to make our area the best place to live and work as well as an attractive place to do business. The plan is to make Thames Valley Berkshire the most enterprising area in the country, enabling it to compete with the world. The government recently announced details of a £500million Growing Places fund, available to all local enterprise partnerships across England, with an allocation of £10.87million for Thames Valley Berkshire. This will give our Local Enterprise Partnership the opportunity to make its own decisions based on local infrastructure priorities. Discussions are already under way with everyone involved to identify how best to use this funding. www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk

e: andrew.nicholls@wokingham.gov.uk

Wokingham Borough businessman Mark Ashwell who is on the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP’s Executive Board and also Chair of the Wokingham Borough Business Skills and Enterprise Partnership said: “We are collaborating to ensure that the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP remains the engine room of the UK economy by prioritising projects such as investment in jobs and the implementation of superfast broadband across the area. We are also actively working with education providers at all levels to promote the idea of work-ready school, college and university leavers and our Employment and Skills Forum is already up and running.”

New jobs coming to the Borough Five hundred and fifty new jobs are to be created with the opening of a new storage and distribution centre this spring. Food supplier Brakes has confirmed it will be moving into a new 207,000 sq ft warehouse in Suttons Business Park, Earley. Brakes is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers to the food service industry, including restaurants, pubs and hotels, as well as schools and hospitals. The new distribution centre will offer a variety of roles including warehouse operatives, drivers and management and administration positions. This follows Tesco’s announcement that it is developing a dry goods distribution centre at the site of the former Courage Brewery, which should create up to 1,000 jobs.

Executive view Cllr Liz Siggery, Executive Member for External Services “This is a great start to 2012 for Wokingham Borough, bringing a variety of jobs into our community at this economically difficult time. We have worked hard to raise the profile of the Borough through many different routes and that hard work is now showing results.”


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www.wokingham.gov.uk

Inspire, Engage and Involve Inspire Wokingham – Living the Legacy With the Olympics just around the corner, why not get involved in the Wokingham Borough’s sporting celebrations? Getting set The Berkshire School Games is well under way with over 50 schools in the Wokingham Borough taking part. Aiming to encourage more competitive sport and activity in schools and in young people’s daily lives, the Games are being held in recognition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Borough’s winning schools are going on to represent us in the county finals at Bradfield College in April and Windsor in June. Good luck to all the schools involved!

Executive view Cllr UllaKarin Clark, Executive Member for Internal Services “With the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games getting closer, now is the time to get involved. Visit the Inspire Wokingham website and get yourself along to one of the many events taking place as we lead up to this momentous event. These games are a once in a lifetime opportunity and we look forward very much to enjoying the celebrations with our residents.”

Olympic legend

Lisa McGuigan School Sport Network Manager t. 07770 731421 e. lmcguigan@bulmershe.wokingham.sch.uk

Young Ambassadors We’ve 18 young ambassadors in the Borough who are working hard to spread the word of the Olympic and Paralympic values and promote the games in London. Working in their own schools as well as feeder primary schools, they are now planning lots of events and assemblies. They’ll also have a huge role to play at the Berkshire Games.

We were lucky to get a visit from Olympic Gold Medallist Jonathan Edwards who made a special visit to look at how the legacy for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is starting to take shape. Heading to Henley Rowing Club, he joined students from The Piggott, a get set network school, at an indoor training session. Students are being coached by a member of the club.

What’s on? See Inspire Wokingham’s website for all the latest sport and leisure news and events in the Borough. www.inspirewokingham.com


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More than a class act Millions and millions of pounds are being invested in our schools. From primary school expansions and refurbishments to a complete rebuild of a secondary school in Woodley, there’s never been a better time to be a student in the Wokingham Borough. St Nicholas Primary School in Hurst is already benefitting from new classrooms and a school hall thanks to a £2.4million investment. Headteacher Christine Hyatt (pictured below) said: “The new rooms are light, spacious, warm and fit for purpose. The new hall is wonderful – all 136 children can now be accommodated in the same room together for assemblies. It’s been sensitively designed and the original features have been incorporated into the new build including old inscription stones.

Work has started on a new £5.5million science block, a multi-use games area (MUGA) and a range of refurbished spaces at St Crispin’s School in Wokingham. There will be nine new laboratories as well as a lecture theatre and improved teaching spaces. The MUGA, which will be built first, will replace the existing tennis courts and provide students with four tennis and netball courts. Headteacher Alex Biddle said: “We have already created an outstanding teaching and learning environment at St Crispin's and know that we can achieve so much more for our current and future students. The science block and other new facilities will make a huge difference to our school – it’s very exciting.”

“Many local residents were extremely supportive, despite being inconvenienced by the building work, and I’d like to thank them for their patience. Staff morale is extremely high and the children are noticeably happier. They’re all very proud of their new building. Needless to say, they love it!”

St Nicholas Primary School

We’ve also submitted planning applications for expansions of The Colleton, Winnersh and Hawkedon primary schools, which are due to be considered by Planning Committee this month (March). These expansions are required to give every child needing a place the best possible opportunity to attend a school near to their home. More investment is being ploughed into Woodley schools with £6million agreed for The Bulmershe School to help accelerate further improvements in teaching and learning. All building work has been managed by our Property Services Team.

St Nicholas Primary School

Executive view Cllr Rob Stanton, Executive Member for Education Services “We are all aware of the current difficult financial times we are facing. But we have continued to invest in our schools and this is a sign of our commitment to ensuring all our children and young people have the best opportunities available to them.”


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www.wokingham.gov.uk

Doing Her Majesty Proud – Wokingham Town’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations Wokingham has always had a reputation for doing big community events extremely well: just look at the continuing success of the May Fayre and the Winter Carnival, as well as recent additions such as the Food and Drink Festival. But 2012 is set to top it all, with the town’s celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee aiming to be not just the best in Berkshire, but amongst the best in Britain.

For ot her to wn and p arish counc il Jubile e even ts in t he Wokin gham Borou gh see pa ge 30

Wokingham Town Council has been planning events since November. Cllr Gwynneth Hewetson, Chair of the volunteer working party, said: “I’ve been involved with many community events over the years, and I’ve never encountered such a degree of enthusiasm before; support from businesses, charities and churches to private residents and their associations has been astonishing.” The weekend will begin on Saturday June 2 with what will possibly be Wokingham’s largest-ever concert, as the massed ranks of the Wokingham Jubilee Chorus take to the stage in Elms Field performing a selection of works with royal associations and patriotic favourites – we can safely assume that Land of Hope and Glory will be making an appearance. The day of the Jubilee itself will begin with a parade by the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, exercising their right, as Honorary Freemen of the town, to march with drums beating and flags flying. It will be followed by a traditional Civic Parade to All Saint’s Church for a service of thanksgiving. Church bells will mark the beginning of the Big Jubilee Lunch.

e k a m s Let’ n a 3 e Jun o t t n e ev for r e b remem ration! e a gen

Market Place and surrounding streets will be packed with chairs and tables for people to enjoy lunch. Local restaurants will be offering a Jubilee Platter at £5 a person. All you need to do is pick your food and find a place to eat. Restaurants will be spilling out onto the pavements, so there will be plenty of room for everyone. Alternatively, you’re welcome to bring your own Jubilee picnic. Street entertainers, dancers and musicians will be on hand to entertain you while you eat, before leading the crowds – pied piper-like – to Elms Field for a massive free concert. Children’s acts will be followed by top local bands playing sets from every decade of Her Majesty’s reign. So, whether your preference is for Lonnie Donnegan, the Rolling Stones or Queen, you’ll be happy. With more in the pipeline, why not sign up to receive updates? www.jubilee.wokingham-tc.gov.uk

(0118) 978 3185


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Time is valuable and saves lives A real need for a 4x4 response vehicle in rural locations led the Swallowfield and Spencers Wood Community First Responder (CFR) scheme to fundraise for a vehicle that can respond to 999 medical emergencies in the local area in any weather conditions. And since November, the CFR’s brand new BMW X3 vehicle – the first of it’s kind in Berkshire – has responded to an average of eight category A calls each month. CFRs are volunteers who are trained by the ambulance service to act as a first response to 999 emergencies. All are trained in basic life-saving skills, including use of an automated external defibrillator, to provide early and often vital intervention for patients while an ambulance is en-route. CFR kit and training are paid for by donations. We caught up with Ian Hammond (pictured below) who set up the CFR scheme: “We are a strong and diverse team. Some of us are retired, but others are mothers, or working full-time. Our range of skills has allowed us to raise the money we needed for this 4x4 through a variety of avenues including the national lottery and local donations and events. We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support. “It’s a brilliant achievement where community participation effectively works to help that same community. We’ve also been nominated for a Prime Minister’s Big Society Award. We have now acquired a South Central Ambulance Service compatible Terrafix hand held device for use by our responders. This gives us better information on the case and accurate navigation to the address aiding response time improvement. “If you are able to support us, or are interested in volunteering for the CFR, please get in touch!” 0800 587 0207

e. cfr@scas.nhs.uk

www.swallowfieldresponders.co.uk

Street parties For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee many of you will want to have a street party, just like you did for the Royal Wedding last year. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbours and come together to celebrate this occasion. If you intend to hold a street party, please let us know so we can give you the latest advice. Organising small, private street parties is very simple and generally does not include activities that need a licence, such as selling alcohol or providing certain types of entertainment. We will be waiving the Traffic Regulation Order fee – so to close your street will be free! However, safety is paramount. We need to make sure the emergency services can get through. 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations in Lowther Close in Wokingham (Photo courtesy of The Wokingham Times)

www.wokingham.gov.uk/street-parties


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Our pledge to children in care

Changes to the Blue Badge Scheme

There are many reasons why a child may end up in our care. We all have a role to play in ensuring those children have the same opportunities as we would want for our own children.

The Blue Badge Scheme enables people with severe mobility problems to park close to where they need to go. Several changes were introduced to the parking scheme on January 1 this year to reduce fraud and make it easier for blue badge holders to park in designated areas.

A pledge has been developed by our Corporate Parenting Board, Children in Care Council and some of the children in our care. We promise to: • Help children understand their past and why they are in care • Help children keep in contact with their family and friends • Have an up-to-date care plan • Make sure they have a place at a school that will help them do their best • Support their education plan and subject /career options • Involve them in decisions and plans made and make sure they understand them. www.wokingham.gov.uk/pledge

The design of the badge has changed allowing for enhanced security features such as holograms, barcode and a digital photograph, making it harder to forge. It is now possible to check eligibility and apply for new blue badges at: www.direct.gov.uk although residents are still able to apply directly to the Borough Council. There’s a £10 charge for new blue badges and renewals, to partially cover the cost of producing the badges and the administration of the reformed parking scheme. t: (0118) 974 6000 www.wokingham.gov.uk/blue-badges

The future of Fosters residential care home Thanks to everyone who gave their views on the future of Fosters residential home in Woodley. Whilst the highest standard of care and support is provided, the age and poor condition of the building means it requires substantial work to make sufficient improvements for it to meet an acceptable quality of accommodation. Any work would not only cause disruption to the lives of residents but also be limited in terms of what it could achieve. We have an opportunity to offer a much better standard of accommodation to our older residents in the Borough, in a way that meets their needs and aspirations. Over 16 weeks we’ve been speaking and listening to residents, their relatives and other people involved in their care and support. Our Executive will consider all comments at its meeting later this month (March 29).


Spring 2012

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Wokingham town centre regeneration gathers pace

Executive view Cllr Matt Deegan, Executive Member for Community Development “Our vision clearly sets out our commitment to the regeneration of our town centres and increasing the vibrancy of our local communities. We want to help increase trade and support business growth – and we are starting in Wokingham. “Watch out for the planning applications later this year – this will be your chance to have a further say on our plans.”

Your comments on the multi-million pound scheme to regenerate Wokingham town centre are now online. Overall, more than 70 per cent of respondents supported the regeneration concept, with others expressing support subject to reassurance on some issues of concern. The main comments concentrated on: market town feel, traffic and parking, open space, shops and pedestrian access. Work continues apace as we respond to your comments as detailed planned applications are prepared. Applications to refurbish Peach Place will be submitted by the summer, with proposals for the wider regeneration scheme being

Major highway improvements around Wokingham station We’re planning improvements to the road network around Wokingham railway station and you have until April 6 to give us your views. The link road is an essential part of our transport aspirations and another step towards the regeneration of Wokingham. Having the link road in place, along with the new junction improvements around the station, should help to reduce delays at Barkham Road level crossing and the traffic bottle neck that appears daily on local roads.

There’s also a plan for a bus interchange at the station, as well as better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Demolition of 48 and 50 Reading Road would make way for the link road. We’ve regularly been meeting representatives of residents and families to keep them up to date with proposals and this will continue. Check out the consultation documents on our website and fill in our online form. We hope to submit a planning application in July.

www.wokingham.gov.uk/stationlinkroad t. (0118) 974 6000 e. slr@wokingham.gov.uk

submitted towards the end of 2012. You’ll have the chance to give your views on the applications as part of the formal planning consultation process. The recent Portas Review, commissioned by the government to look at how to improve high streets and town centres, highlighted the need for a mix of uses to be brought into town centres to create a long term future for high streets. We’ll work in line with the key recommendations to create a positive future for existing and future retailers, businesses, residents and visitors alike. www.wokinghamregeneration.co.uk

Executive view Cllr Keith Baker, Executive Member for Transport “The link road is an opportunity to improve the road junctions in the immediate vicinity of the station and improve facilities for those arriving on foot, by bicycle and by bus. The link road would make significant improvements to combat congestion in Wokingham, especially at the level crossing.”


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be someone amazing, be a foster carer. Could you offer a warm and friendly home?

be the first to believe in me .

The family placement team plays a vital role in supporting families. It is looking for people interested in fostering older children and sibling groups, and they also have a particular need for respite, parent and child, a supported lodgings and short break carers. People are also wanted as solo carers for young people with complex needs. So, if you have room and are interested, why not get in touch? t: (0118) 974 6204 e: fostering@wokingham.gov.uk www.besomeoneamazing.co.uk

We spoke to two families about their experiences of foster caring Karen and Edward* Karen and Edward have been foster carers for three years. Karen had always wanted to foster because she grew up with her grandmother: “I grew up thinking you don’t need to be blood family to be family.” Large families are part of both of their lives and they have now fostered 13 children, who have stayed between one day and two years. Karen says: “We went into this with an open mind and have done respite and short term fostering, but are now keen to do long term fostering. “We give them a level of stability and make them feel loved, safe and comfortable. And if they can’t go back to their own family, I want to get them as ready as possible for the future.” Edward talks of a normal family life: “Everyone needs to know that nothing is perfect – a perfect family doesn’t exist but a normal family does. You all face joys, disappointment and happiness. That’s life. “I’d advise anyone considering fostering to go ahead. I get great satisfaction from knowing we are achieving what we set out to – they are happy!”

Read the full stories at: www.wokingham.gov.uk /fostering *Names have been changed to protect the families involved.

Janet and Iain* Janet and Iain have been fostering for 12 years and have fostered four children long-term. Janet says: “All are very special in their own way. The thing is to get to know them – what makes them happy, what makes them not so happy. You read the signs and learn so much. “You need to be patient, love children and take pride in what the children do. You also need 100% commitment, as it does come with challenges. “You help them through their difficulties, just as you do all children. Find out what is bothering them and deal with it. Many times, your foster children cannot stand up for themselves and your job is to help them.” But the positives outweigh the negatives. “I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s a privilege to do something I enjoy.”


Information on 2012/2013 Council Tax

Message from the Council Leader Everyone has tightened their belts in recent years. Wokingham Borough Council is no different. We’ve been working hard to set a sound budget – a huge challenge in the current climate as we are required to find savings of around £4.5million for 2012/13. And this is on top of the £6.5million we had to save last year. Whilst the rest of the country is facing significant service cuts, owing to careful financial management, we are able to protect the front-line services that you rely on, as well as supporting the most vulnerable people in our community. Our new vision outlines a set of principles and priorities that will determine and shape our work this year and in the future. And this is reflected in our budget this year with its strong focus on education, highways and Wokingham town centre regeneration. Last year we protected front-line services by increasing efficiency and restructuring services to deliver savings. This will continue this year to secure our long-term financial sustainability. It’s not about cuts and savings but about better serving you and doing so efficiently. It’s these efficiencies that will provide the savings needed to give us financial security. I hope the information in this four-page pull-out helps to explain more about the budget. We can expect further reductions in future from central government. We are the lowest funded unitary authority in the country per head of population. Please don’t forget that as staff and councillors, we do everything possible to keep council tax increases to a minimum.

Cllr David Lee Leader of the Council

Financial Facts ● Wokingham Borough receives £34million in central government grant but residents and businesses pay back over £55milllion in rates and taxes. (This excludes the money that goes directly to schools.)

● The Council has saved almost £20million over five years which includes £4.5m to be saved in 2012/13. ● Each member of staff serves approx 174 residents – one of the lowest in the country.

● The Council receives from central government just £119.9 per person compared with, for example, Slough, which gets £406.7 and Reading £332.9.

● WBC is the third lowest spending unitary council per head of population (£637). Reading spends £844 and Slough £860.

● Approx 22p in every £1 the Council spends comes from central government – other councils get nearer 50p on average.

Wokingham Borough Council’s Budget £103million 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

39

20 12 1 Children’s social care

Adult social service (Community Care)

Housing

Waste and street care services

12

7

2

Highways (Technical Services)

Libraries

Other front line services

What the Council spends its share of your council tax on

5

5

Debt charges and investment income

Corporate and democratic core


WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES Elements of a Band D Council Tax:

2011/12

2012/13

Percentage Change

Wokingham Borough Council Parish Precept (average) Thames Valley Police Authority Royal Berkshire Fire Authority

£1,199.24 £52.35 £154.30 £55.66

£1,199.24 £52.71 £154.30 £55.66

0.00% 0.69% 0.00% 0.00%

The average total council tax bill for a Band D property (which includes the charges made by Thames Valley Police, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and your town or parish council).

£1,461.55

£1,461.91

0.025%

COST OF SERVICES PROVIDED 2011/12 Staffing Costs £000

Other Costs £000

2012/13

Service Income Net (eg fees & charges Expenditure grants) £000 £000

Staffing Costs £000

Other Costs £000

Service Income Net (eg fees & charges Expenditure grants) £000 £000

Schools and Education

83,626 33,316

(116,942)

0

77,082 42,950

(120,032)

0

Children’s Social Care

11,947 16,175

(7,873)

20,249

11,046 17,124

(8,224)

19,946

Adult Social Services (Community Care)

11,687 43,178

(16,263)

38,602

3,861 51,312

(16,541)

38,632

Housing

254 26,797

(26,326)

725

273 26,850

(26,306)

817

Waste and Street Care Services

108 13,297

(1,135)

12,270

109 13,438

(1,678)

11,869

Highways (Technical Services)

1,184

5,573

(209)

6,548

1,086

5,791

(261)

6,616

Libraries

1,264

1,584

(553)

2,295

1,247

1,471

(390)

2,328

Other frontline services (e.g. health and protection services, planning, revenues and benefits, countryside and leisure, rental income etc.)

6,519 12,797

(7,124)

12,192

5,778 12,393

(6,370)

11,801

Corporate and Democratic Core (corporate management and democratic representation)

5,070

0

0

5,070

5,482

0

0

5,482

0

6,149

(1,579)

4,570

0

5,472

(842)

4,630

Debt Charges and Investment Income Total Expenditure on Services Transfer to/ from balances

102,521 (1,314)

102,121 848

Total Budget

101,207

102,969

20,749 0 1,962 0 78,496

18,239 1,175 3,935 595 79,025

101,207

102,969

HOW THESE SERVICES ARE FUNDED: General Government Grant New Homes Bonus Council Tax Freeze Grant Collection Fund Surplus Council Tax for Borough Council

COUNCIL TAX LEVELS AND PARISH PRECEPTS Parishes

Council Tax Levels

Each town and parish council decides what it is going to spend. This is charged to the Borough Council and added to your council tax bill. Your final bill varies depending on how much your parish council charges (or precepts).

The full council tax that you are required to pay covers the precepts for Wokingham Borough Council, Thames Valley Police, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and your parish council. The charge per band in each parish is listed over the page.


COUNCIL TAX LEVELS AND PARISH PRECEPTS cont’d Town / Parish

Precepts

Full Council Tax

2011/12 2012/13 £ £ Band A Arborfield & Newland 80,165 81,800 981.56 Barkham 24,000 34,000 955.18 Charvil 37,618 37,618 957.15 Earley 720,479 721,624 979.96 Finchampstead 106,301 106,630 951.80 Remenham 5,890 6,400 953.41 Ruscombe 10,475 10,475 952.63 St Nicholas Hurst 22,500 22,500 953.92 Shinfield 210,825 212,753 970.67 Sonning 31,317 31,654 965.29 Swallowfield 13,000 13,000 948.55 Twyford 59,552 59,552 952.64 Wargrave 139,995 146,370 985.96 Winnersh 105,880 107,881 957.75 Wokingham 604,777 604,777 968.65 Wokingham Without 121,520 143,382 969.79 Woodley 1,132,410 1,132,983 1,015.90 3,426,704 3,473,399

Band B 1,145.15 1,114.37 1,116.66 1,143.27 1,110.43 1,112.31 1,111.39 1,112.90 1,132.44 1,126.16 1,106.63 1,111.41 1,150.27 1,117.36 1,130.09 1,131.41 1,185.21

Band C 1,308.75 1,273.58 1,276.20 1,306.61 1,269.07 1,271.22 1,270.18 1,271.90 1,294.23 1,287.06 1,264.73 1,270.19 1,314.61 1,277.00 1,291.54 1,293.05 1,354.54

2012/13 Band D Band E 1,472.34 1,799.53 1,432.77 1,751.17 1,435.72 1,754.77 1,469.93 1,796.59 1,427.70 1,744.97 1,430.12 1,747.92 1,428.94 1,746.49 1,430.87 1,748.85 1,456.00 1,779.56 1,447.93 1,769.70 1,422.82 1,739.00 1,428.96 1,746.51 1,478.93 1,807.59 1,436.62 1,755.87 1,452.98 1,775.86 1,454.67 1,777.94 1,523.85 1,862.49

Band F 2,126.72 2,069.57 2,073.82 2,123.24 2,062.24 2,065.73 2,064.04 2,066.83 2,103.12 2,091.46 2,055.19 2,064.06 2,136.24 2,075.12 2,098.75 2,101.21 2,201.13

Band G 2,453.90 2,387.95 2,392.87 2,449.89 2,379.50 2,383.53 2,381.57 2,384.79 2,426.67 2,413.22 2,371.36 2,381.60 2,464.89 2,394.36 2,421.63 2,424.46 2,539.75

Band H 2,944.67 2,865.54 2,871.44 2,939.86 2,855.40 2,860.23 2,857.88 2,861.75 2,912.00 2,895.86 2,845.63 2,857.91 2,957.86 2,873.23 2,905.95 2,909.35 3,047.70

For details of the respective charges made by Wokingham Borough Council, Thames Valley Police, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and your parish council for your property, please refer to your Council Tax Demand Notice.

EXEMPT DWELLINGS Some dwellings are exempt, including empty caravan pitches and houseboat moorings. Other exempt properties are: Properties occupied only by: • Full-time students • Student nurses • Members of visiting forces • People under 18 • People who are severely mentally impaired • Diplomats • ‘Granny’ annexes occupied by elderly or disabled relatives Vacant dwellings which: • Are unfurnished (exempt for up to six months) • Are owned by a charity (exempt for up to six months) • Are substantially unfurnished and require or are undergoing structural alterations or major repairs (exempt for up to 12 months) • Are left empty by someone who has moved to receive personal care in a hospital or home or elsewhere, where the person is unable to manage alone and the move is permanent • Are left empty by someone who has moved in order to provide personal care to a sick or disabled person who is unable to manage alone • Are waiting for probate or letters of administration to be granted following the death of the owner or tenant (and up to six months afterwards)

• Are repossessed • Are left empty by a liable person who is a trustee in bankruptcy • Are empty because their occupation is forbidden by law • Are left empty by full time students or student nurses • Are waiting to be occupied by a minister of religion • Are left empty by someone who has gone to prison for a reason other than the non-payment of council tax or fines • Form part of a single property and may not be let separately due to planning restrictions.

DISCOUNTS The full council tax is charged on the basis of two adults living in a dwelling. If there is only one adult living in a dwelling (as their main home), a reduction in council tax of 25% can be claimed. If a dwelling is furnished but there is nobody normally living in it (e.g. a second home) then the owner will be entitled to a reduction of 10% in their council tax. For certain dwellings, including caravans and boats, this second home reduction increases to 50%. Other dwellings where a 50% discount may apply are: • The second homes of people who are liable for council tax on dwellings provided by an employer (tied accommodation) • A property that remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished. The discount lasts for a maximum period of six months after the statutory exemption has expired.

Certain people are not counted when looking at the number of adults resident in a dwelling. These are: • Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and youth training trainees • Patients resident in hospital • People who are being looked after in care homes • Severely mentally impaired people • People staying in certain hostels or night shelters • 18 or 19 year olds who are still at school, and those who leave school after March for the months up to November • Careworkers working for low pay (below £44/week) usually for a charity • People caring for someone with a disability or long term illness who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18 • Members of visiting forces and certain international institutions • Members of religious communities – monks and nuns • People in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of council tax or a fine). If your bill shows that an exemption or discount is allowed, you must tell the council of any change of circumstances which affects your entitlement to that discount. If you fail to do so the council can impose a financial penalty on you. The level of penalty is fixed by government.


PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

APPEALS ABOUT THE COUNCIL TAX YOU PAY

If you, or someone who lives with you, needs a room or extra bathroom or kitchen, or extra space in your property to allow the use of a wheelchair indoors or has had adaptations to meet special needs arising from a disability, you may be entitled to a reduced council tax bill. The bill may be reduced to that of the property in the valuation band immediately below that shown in the valuation list for your property (e.g the bill for a dwelling in Band C would be calculated as if the dwelling was in Band B). These reductions are available to try to ensure that disabled people do not pay more tax on account of space needed because of a disability.

You may also appeal if you consider that you are not liable to pay council tax, for example, because you are not the resident or owner or because your property is empty, or if a mistake is made in calculating your bill.

If your home is in Band A, the lowest tax band, your council tax will be reduced to 5/9ths of the Band D tax. If your home has any special fixtures which have been added for a disabled resident which reduce the home’s value and you do not think they have been taken into account in the valuation of the property, you should contact the Listing Officer at the Valuation Office. (See section on Appeals.)

COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT Council tax benefit helps you to pay your council tax bill when you are on a low income. Any savings below £6,000 (£10,000 for pensioners) are ignored when working out benefit. Council tax benefit is a means-tested benefit. You will be required to provide originals of all documents needed in connection with your claim.

If you wish to appeal on these grounds please write to the Council Tax Office, Wokingham Borough Council, PO Box 152, Shute End, Wokingham, Berkshire RG40 IWJ. If you are still unhappy with the decision you have a further right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

APPEALS ABOUT VALUATION Valuation of the property for council tax is dealt with by the Listing Officer of the Valuation Office Agency, an agency of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. New taxpayers have a period of six months in which to make an appeal, providing an appeal on the same grounds has not been dealt with for a previous taxpayer for the property. In certain circumstances, a new six month period in which an appeal can be made is allowed. This occurs when: ● The property is structurally altered so that its value is changed. ● The area around the property is so changed that it adversely affects the valuation of the property i.e. major road changes. ● The mix of the property alters i.e. a property comprising part business and part domestic use becomes wholly domestic. ● Where the Listing Officer alters the valuation band for your property without a proposal having been made by a taxpayer.

COUNCIL TAX AND BENEFITS ENQUIRIES How to contact us:

Appeals or queries about council tax valuation should be made to:

If you would like further details about any of the issues covered in this leaflet, or for any query about your bill or benefit, please contact us by:

The Listing Officer, District Valuer and Valuation Officer, Kings Wharf, 20-30 Kings Road, Reading, Berks RG1 3ER. Tel: 03000 501501.

● Telephone on the number shown on your bill or benefits letter

Making an appeal against your valuation does not allow you to withhold payment of any tax owing. If your appeal is successful you will be entitled to a refund of any overpaid tax.

● Writing to us at: Wokingham Borough Council PO Box 152 Shute End Wokingham RG40 IWJ ● Visiting our Reception Desk at the Shute End office. Our office hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. ● Emailing us at: ctax@wokingham.gov.uk benefits@wokingham.gov.uk

REVENUES AND BENEFITS ON THE WEB If you have access to the internet then visit us at: www.wokingham.gov.uk You will find more details about the various discounts, exemptions and benefits mentioned in this leaflet. You can download copies of our forms and other useful documents, so that you can make a claim for any type of discount, exemption or benefit without having to wait for us to post these documents to you.

BENEFIT FRAUD HOTLINE: 0800 454 240


Spring 2012

19

A Vision for Wokingham Borough ‘A great place to live, an even better place to do business’ sums up our vision for the Borough. Developed with residents, businesses and partners, the vision brings together principles and priorities to determine and shape our activities over the coming year and beyond. We’ve agreed to focus on: ● Facilitating the regeneration of our towns and increasing the vibrancy of our communities ● Creating an environment that allows businesses to thrive and provides the conditions needed for economic growth ● Working with partners to maintain our outstanding performance as one of the best authorities in the country for educational attainment ● Delivering well-designed development and strong communities ● Providing you with the most effective services to meet your needs despite the funding cuts ● Investing in prevention services to support more vulnerable residents to become self sufficient and self reliant. We’re committed to making this a reality and have developed a budget in line with these priorities. www.wokingham.gov.uk/vision

Joint Environmental Health and Licensing Service To reduce the cost of services, we’ve combined our environmental health and licensing services with West Berkshire Council. Staff previously employed by Wokingham are now employees of West Berkshire Council. By rationalising functions and preventing duplication, each local authority will save £130,000 a year. The new service will have greater resilience in emergencies and will be able to provide a consistent level of service to those who live, work and visit the area, with the best aspects of each department taken into the new combined service.

Andy Couldrick Andy Couldrick, previously Strategic Director of People Services and responsible for leading the Borough’s Children’s Services through a period of rapid change and improvement, was appointed as the Council’s Interim Chief Executive in December 2011. “The coming financial year promises both opportunity and challenge. You’ll read in the rest of this magazine about the progress we’re making on improving our town centres, delivering new communities with the necessary supporting roads, schools and services, and expanding existing schools to deal with increasing demand from a fast-growing population. “These remain priorities and, as we all continue to face a difficult financial situation, we need to continue to find new ways to provide the services you depend on in a cost-effective manner. “None of this can be achieved without the support and collaboration of our community partners. It’s by making the most of the resources we have between us that we will achieve the very best results for everyone living, studying or working in the Wokingham Borough.”


20

www.wokingham.gov.uk

Executive view Cllr Julian McGhee Sumner – Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing

Royal seal of approval Alexandra Place received a royal seal of approval when Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester officially opened the development of high-quality homes for older people in Woodley. Alexandra Place provides 46 one-bedroom apartments and 18 two-bedroom apartments, including ten apartments for people with dementia. The comfortable homes enable older people to live independently and with their own belongings. t: (0118) 974 6760

We offer support, along with town and parish councils, as well as supplying litter pickers, hi-visibility jackets, bags and gloves. We’ll pick up any litter collected, clear larger items and deal with reported graffiti and fly-tipping as quickly as possible. Volunteers can do as much, or as little, as they want with no set time or schedule for the litter picking they carry out. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours. t: (0118) 974 6491 e: dave.allen@wokingham.gov.uk

Supported living in the Wokingham Borough Beeches Manor specialist dementia care and supported living housing development in Wokingham will be completed this spring.

e: housing.needs@wokingham.gov.uk

Keep Wokingham Borough Tidy – Adopt a Street Local residents are helping to keep their streets and local area free of litter and rubbish through the Adopt a Street initiative.

“Extra care housing is a real alternative to residential care, and is something we’re working with our partners to provide more of across Wokingham Borough. We know most people would rather, given the chance, have their care available to them in their own homes, when they want it. And that's what extra care housing delivers, with the independence and personal choice associated with living in your own home.”

Built by Housing 21 in conjunction with the Borough Council, Beeches Manor will provide 18 specialist extra care apartments for people with dementia. Along with communal facilities including lounge, kitchens and activity rooms, as well as 24-hour care and support, residents will enjoy apartments that are both spacious and comfortable. A further eight apartments for people with learning disabilities will provide independent living together with staff facilities. Housing 21 will provide round the clock care and support for those with dementia. t: (0118) 974 6082 e: carol.lovell@wokingham.gov.uk

Wokingham Borough Council’s Strategic Director of Commissioning Stuart Rowbotham (left), Mayor Cllr Dianne King and David Williams, Head of Strategy and Development at Housing 21


Spring 2012

21

Your services, your say You don’t have to wait for elections to have your say on services in the Wokingham Borough – the Citizen’s Panel and the Youth Panel offer residents regular opportunities to get involved. The Citizens’ Panel was established in 1999, with the Youth Panel following in 2010. Responses from these panels play an important role in helping us shape our services around the needs of local residents. Members of both panels complete a number of questionnaires each year, choosing to complete paper questionnaires that are sent to their home or electronic surveys on our website. Each questionnaire asks for the panel members’ opinions on a range of services which, in the past, have included waste collection, transport and use of open spaces. We’d like to hear from more residents interested in joining the panels. Please complete the relevant registration form: Citizens’ Panel at: http://consultations.wokingham.gov.uk/cp/cp.htm Youth Citizens’ Panel at: http://consultations.wokingham.gov.uk/ycp/ycp.htm t: (0118) 908 8229

Case Study Katie James, 37, a Community Development Worker who lives in the Norreys area, tells us why she joined the Citizen’s Panel: “I became involved in the Citizens’ Panel because I wanted to be more aware of what was happening within my local community and across the Borough. It has enabled me to give my view on a range of services including waste collection, transport and customer care. I feel it’s a great way for Borough residents to give honest feedback and opinions.”

Early Years, Childcare and Play in Wokingham “A child's greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that tomorrow will become her basic level of real action and morality.” Lev Vygotsky Play a valuable role in shaping the lives of future generations – by choosing a career in Early Years Childcare and Playwork you will see that it is so much more than child’s play. Children need a variety of positive role models from all walks of life and backgrounds. Our children’s workforce is made up of a diverse combination of gender, cultures, abilities, age and experience. If you have the right blend of personal qualities and skills, matched with passion, enthusiasm and enjoyment in working with children, this could be a career tailor-made for you. Work as part of a team to support children from birth to five years of age in a pre-school or day nursery. Or, consider playwork with four to 11 year olds at after school clubs or holiday play schemes. Prefer being self employed from home? Then becoming a childminder will provide you with a professional home career opportunity. Continual professional development is available through a varied programme of training and qualifications to ensure you are able to offer the best quality care, learning and play experience for those children in your care.

Speak to the Early Years Childcare and Play Workforce Development Team on: (0118) 908 8260 or email: earlyyearsandchildcare@wokingham.gov.uk


22

www.wokingham.gov.uk

SHINE adds polish Clive and Margaret Boys, a retired firefighter and nursing sister from Woodley, are converted to the benefits of SHINE – an activity programme especially tailored to people over 50. Clive tells us why: “Having retired, we were looking for something to take up. We both fancied T’ai Chi and a SHINE poster caught our eye. We really enjoyed meeting new people and the gentle but extensive exercise for body and mind. Afterwards you feel really relaxed. We are now in the advanced class and feel we would do ourselves proud in any Chinese park. Clive tackles the climbing wall

“We then started Nordic Walking in Dinton Pastures. It’s a great start to the week with the bonus of the water fowl and other wild life. “When Margaret was due a knee replacement, the physio was impressed with her muscle tone and this aided her recovery, back to walking after just three months! She also enjoys Pilates. All the classes are so well run and appropriate to our age group. “The added bonus has been the sociability, as groups often meet for coffee after the sessions. There are meals out and we’ve really got to know and support each other. We all enjoy retirement and this compensates for missing the companionship of work colleagues. “So well done to the SHINE initiative and long may it continue. How did we ever fit work in?” Clive (front) and Margaret (middle row, far right) with friends from SHINE

t: (0118) 974 3726

Three Safer Places Champions Mark Savage, Philip Pearce and John Hennessy have been recruited thanks to funding from the Community Safety Strategic Group. Employed by Support Horizons, their role is to promote the Safer Places scheme at community events and to go on reconnaissance visits to shops and businesses, some of which have already agreed to sign up.

e: shine@wokingham.gov.uk

Safer Places Champions!

Under the scheme, shops and other businesses agree to become havens where anybody who feels at all concerned or threatened can go for a helping hand. Staff in these shops are trained to help vulnerable adults. They will offer a friendly face and, if necessary, can contact friends, family or even the emergency services. The scheme is gaining a national reputation and we are regularly contacted by other local authorities for advice on setting up similar schemes. t. (0118) 974 6976


Spring 2012

23

Improve your skills with Learndirect Learndirect offers courses designed to improve your skills and knowledge, including IT, English, maths and work skills. Some have exams and others earn a certificate. The Work Skills programme helps people looking for work and the short courses include writing a CV, completing application forms and letter writing. All Learndirect courses are free for those in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or with qualifications below a full Level 2, except for the Information Technology Qualifications which have a refundable registration fee. Learndirect is in Wokingham Library and Bracknell Open Learning Centre and has tutors to guide and support you through your learning. t: (0118) 978 8069 e: learndirect@wokingham.gov.uk

Raksha’s story Raksha came to Learndirect in 2010 as she was keen to improve her qualifications and job prospects. She enrolled on the ECDL ITQ Level 2 programme which covers Word, Excel and PowerPoint and passed all the online tests. As a result, she gained a full Level 2 IT qualification which helped her to secure job interviews. She then decided to update her English and maths qualifications. Even after securing a banking job, she continued to learn online at home and passed both English and Maths at Level 2. This meant that she had gained the equivalent of seven GCSEs in less than six months.

Want to get involved? Do you have an interest in your community’s issues? Could you work with young people? Wokingham Youth Offending Service (YOS) volunteers work alongside professionals to ensure residents’ views on crime and disorder are heard. Their work helps young offenders understand the effects of their actions on the local community. Volunteers experience YOS work first hand, provide valued support and gain insight into the reasons young people offend. Wokingham YOS works with young people who are subject to a court order following an offence. It aims to stop offending and re-offending, as well as offering rehabilitation and helping public protection. There are currently 14 volunteers working in a variety of roles, such as acting as an ‘appropriate adult’ for young people who have been detained in custody or sitting on a community referral order panel for young people negotiating a contract of community payback. Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, typically live or work within Wokingham Borough and have a keen interest in addressing the issues that affect the local community. Could this be you? Our volunteers are supported with training and network meetings as well as expenses. Why not get in touch? t: (0118) 974 6672 e: joanne.drinkwater@wokingham.gov.uk

Coming to a place near you The mobile children’s centre has been out and about around the Borough to areas where families find it more difficult to get to one of our children’s centre. And even Peppa Pig dropped in recently to join in the fun! Keep a look out – it’s coming to a place near you very soon. www.wokingham.gov.uk/childrenscentres


24

www.wokingham.gov.uk

Learning Together Achieving Success Shinfield St Mary’s School has come a long way over the past couple of years. Recent SATs results illustrate this. Literacy at key stage two puts the school above average in both Borough and national results, whilst maths is above national averages and in line with the Wokingham Borough. The school’s community links also continue to grow and, with a strong emphasis on music, it recently hosted rehearsals for other local schools in preparation for the annual concert at the Hexagon. Carols in local garden centres were also a hit. All of this is in addition to the routine school day. Eager to learn, pupils have good behaviour and a broad and balanced curriculum is offered. Whilst the school places importance on academic development, social and moral development is also high on the agenda. School trips and after-school activities enrich pupils’ learning further. An active school council is involved in many aspects of school life, including the recent recruitment of Headteacher Clare Wagstaff and improvements to facilities. Clare said: “Our pupils enjoy the friendly atmosphere and there’s an exceptionally good relationship between staff and pupils. Our teachers regularly go that extra mile to help support and encourage pupils on their journey through school life. Everyone who visits the school is impressed with the vibrant approach to learning – please come and see for yourself.”

Year 5 pupil Nyah Paris said: “We have enjoyable activities before and after school where we can learn new skills and meet new friends.” Parent Becky Garroch said: “The transition for my son from the infants has been very smooth and successful due to the commitment of the teachers in making the children and parents welcome and keeping us informed. He enjoys school and is able to share with us the topics he is studying through his homework and targets.” Her Majesty’s Inspector’s letter to pupils: “What a change! This time you all greeted me by name and talked enthusiastically about school life and what you’re learning.” Miriam Rosen, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: “It is good to know that pupils are able to take on responsibilities and make a valuable contribution to school life.”

The partnership between the infant and junior school is very strong with regular open days, as well as joint events including a Jubilee celebration in June. Over the next year, investment by the Council and the Diocese is being channelled into the school which will result in improvements to the facilities. The rate of improvement at Shinfield St Mary’s is fast. Solid foundations are in place and the school is optimistic about the future, and set to go from strength to strength.

Open mornings Come and see the school at work on the first Tuesday of the month (term-time only). t. (0118) 988 3663 e. admin@shinfield-st-marys.wokingham.sch.uk www.shinfield-st-marys.wokingham.sch.uk


Joan Br Brown, own, 80, cancer survivor

1 in 3 women who get breast breast cancer are are over 7 70, 0, so don’ don’tt assume you’re past it. you’re A llump ump iisn’t sn’t the the o only nly sign sign of of breast breast can cancer. cer. IIff yyou’re ou’re worried w orried a about bout an any yc changes hanges tto o yyour our br breasts, easts, ttell ell yyour our doctor d octor sstraight traight a away. way. F Finding inding iitt early early m makes akes iitt m more ore ttreatable reatable an and d co could uld ssave ave yyour our llife. ife.

nhs.uk/breastcancer70 nhs.uk/ breastcancer70


26

www.wokingham.gov.uk

Extended opening hours and new menu at the Rainbow Café There is now even more to tempt you to the Rainbow Café and even more opportunity to pop in and enjoy some tasty treats. The café, which is in the heart of the Woosehill community at the Acorn Community Centre in Fernlea Drive, has launched a new menu and extended its opening hours due to popular demand.

Customers are able to enjoy their refreshments in the modern, bright and colourful café, which is a real suntrap, or outside in the seating area with lovely views over parkland – so why not pay a visit?

Its doors are now open from 9.30am until 5pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

The café also caters for children’s parties held within the community centre and a range of party menus are available to suit most tastes.

Teas, coffee and cake are served at competitive prices and light lunches are available as well.

e. jennifer.harper@wokingham.gov.uk t. (0118) 977 6713

An exciting election year ahead! This year is a busy one for our electorate. As well as local elections in some Borough and parish wards on May 3, there will be a completely new election on November 15 for a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the Thames Valley Police Area. There will be a national information campaign about how to vote for the position of PCC. Poll cards will be sent to eligible voters one month before each voting day. Postal votes will be sent out around 10 days before each voting day. Please make sure you complete all parts of the form and return it with your Ballot Paper. Incorrect or incomplete forms will be rejected. Where more than one person in the household has a postal vote, be sure to complete the right form. And don’t be tempted to sign for anyone else!

New polling stations: ● Woodley: St. John’s Church Centre has moved to St. John’s Ambulance Centre ● Wargrave: Woodclyffe Hall, Wargrave has moved to The Pavilion, Wargrave

Reproduced with kind permission of the Electoral Commission

The annual canvass, where we send a form to every household to check and update the details, will be at least a month early this year. Please look out for it over the summer and return it as soon as possible. Please let us know of any changes to your circumstances. Remember that paying council tax does not automatically register you to vote, as the criteria are different. t: (0118) 974 6522 / 23

e: electoralservices@wokingham.gov.uk


Spring 2012

27

Optalis: improving services for older people New, independent adult social care company Optalis has been working hard to develop and improve services for older people within the Finchampstead area. Both Cockayne Court and Pinehaven Day Centre will be offering new services to their existing customers, as well as potentially opening up access to the surrounding area in order to prevent social isolation and promote a ‘social network’ in the community for older people.

Plans include: ● Optalis’ home care services (currently located in Wokingham town centre) moving to a converted area of Cockayne Court, allowing better support to its residents, Pinehaven Day Centre, and community-based services throughout the Wokingham Borough. ● After seeking the views of their current customers about what they want to see in the future, services will continue to cater for dementia and older people, but will offer more flexibility with a choice of morning, afternoon or all day sessions. The centre will also adjust its opening hours and will trial weekend opening. An Activities Coordinator will source desirable, quality activities based upon customer feedback. ● Refurbishing Cockayne Court’s large, previously underused, communal lounge into a café-style environment where older people can meet. The Activities Co-ordinator will also arrange events to take place here. Building improvements to Cockayne Court are set to be completed by summer 2012. t. (0118) 974 6832

e. info@optalis.org

www.optalis.org

Stay safe The Safe Communities Survey is undertaken every year to give you the chance to comment on crime and disorder and the impact it has on your life. The results are used by the Wokingham Community Safety Partnership to identify priorities for action in order to keep the Borough safer for everyone. More than 800 responses were received in the latest survey. While residents’ actual experience of crime remains low, responses indicated that the top three crimes they experienced were vandalism of property (73), fraud (75) and burglary or attempted burglary (58 instances).

do this and there are still a lot of people who leave valuable items visible in their homes and cars.

The survey asked questions about the safety items people have. Whilst most residents have window locks and smoke alarms and always lock up their house or car, there are still some who never

Wokingham Borough is a low crime area, but it is not a ‘no crime’ area. Residents need to maintain their high standards of safety in order to keep crime as low as possible.


28

www.wokingham.gov.uk

Protecting your money from fraud Focus on the Business Assurance Investigations Team Protecting your money and making sure it goes to the right people and services drives the work of the Council’s specialist Business Assurance Investigations Team. Formed in January 2010, the five-strong team investigates alleged fraud in areas such as housing and council tax, housing tenancy including the sub-let of council properties and disabled blue badges. It also independently investigates any allegations of internal fraud or misconduct. Investigators use different techniques to ascertain if an allegation is true. This could be home visits, surveillance, or using technology to identify undeclared income and capital. If a benefit claimant fails to declare income, savings or assets, either their own or a partner’s, we will find out. Fraud takes money away from vital services for our most vulnerable residents and we are committed to identifying this and prosecuting where appropriate.

Executive view Executive Member for Finance Cllr Anthony Pollock “Making sure that money goes to the right people and services is key to using our resources effectively. People who claim benefits they aren’t entitled to are taking money from those who really need it. Our investigations team works to strict guidelines to make sure these benefits are available to those they are intended for and don’t end up in the wrong pockets. Tackling fraud, wherever it happens, is a priority.”

If you suspect anyone of committing any of the offences detailed above, please call the confidential hotline on: 0800 454 240 or report it online at: www.wokingham.gov.uk (search for ‘report benefit or other fraud’). Any reports or allegations of fraud can be anonymous. When prosecuting cases of fraud, we look at the amounts of money involved and the levels of dishonesty. Investigators follow strict rules to ensure cases are managed in a fair and accurate way from beginning to end. They work closely with Thames Valley Police, The Department for Work and Pensions, Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs and the UK Border Agency and will report other forms of suspected crime to these agencies. This can play a vital role in preventing further crime. Allegations of internal fraud can vary from code of conduct issues to financial irregularities. You can report suspected employee misconduct or malpractice on the confidential whistleblowing hotline: (0118) 974 6550 or by email: confidential.whistleblowing@wokingham.gov.uk.

Since April 2011, the team has identified £353,000 of housing and council tax benefit overpayments. Investigations have resulted in nine prosecutions, six cautions and 12 administrative penalties.


Spring 2012

29

A safe and practical place to change Wokingham is set to open its own Changing Place. This is a fully accessible toilet and personal care facility for people with disabilities and complex health needs.

The Changing Place, located in Alexandra Court in Wokingham town centre, will offer: ● a height adjustable changing bed ● a tracking hoist system to aid transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet ● adequate space in the changing area for a disabled person and up to two carers

Local financial help and support – now at Shute End, Wokingham Community Savings and Loans (CSL) Berkshire offers opportunities to Wokingham Borough residents who need financial support and are unable to get help from high street banks. It offers an alternative to people who may otherwise be forced into considering companies who offer ‘payday loans’ or very high rates of interest. CSL also offers savings plans and provides people with the opportunity to support an ethical organisation owned and controlled by its members. The money is retained locally, supporting the local economy. CSL will be operating from the Council Offices in Shute End every Friday from 10am until 1pm for customers interested in either saving or taking out a loan. t: Jayne Parsons at Community Savings and Loans, on (0118) 958 5803 www.cslberks.org

We’ll be operating a membership scheme so that people who require access to the facility get appropriate training and support to use the equipment. The Changing Place will be available to members seven-days-a-week from 8am to 5pm. You can register your interest in the scheme now using the contact details below. t: Wokingham Partnership Board on 05600 766 114 e: admin@partnershipboard.org.uk www.changing-places.org

Jump into learning It’s never too late to learn new skills – and adult community learning provides the perfect step into education. Funding from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) provides courses targeted at those most in need and we commission expert organisations such as the CResCent Centre in Earley, Bracknell and Wokingham College, the Workers Educational Association (WEA), Dyslexia Action and the Karten Centre at Norwood, Ravenswood Village to provide courses in community venues across the Borough. The programme covers a wide range of areas and includes courses for volunteers, families, parents and adults with learning disabilities. t: Felicity Stevenson on (0118) 974 3703 e: lifelonglearning@wokingham.gov.uk


30

www.wokingham.gov.uk

What’s on? Diamond Jubilee Special Find out how your local community will be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Arborfield

June 4

June 2

Swallowfield Street Party – offers of help to the parish council office.

Jubilee Fete.

Charvil

June 9

June 3

Church Fete at Mead House, Swallowfield.

Picnic in the Park at Charvil Village Hall. Organised by The Village Society for residents and their families.

Twyford

June 9 Parish Council Day of Celebration at Charvil Village Hall. Featuring performances of Fred in The Shed at 10.30am and 1pm. Free for Charvil youngsters. Evening event for adults including band and hog roast.

June 17 5k fun run from 10.30am, followed by Village fete.

Earley June 3

Keep an eye out for the new village sign by local designer Sally Castle. An application has been made to the Woodland Trust for 420 wild harvest trees for the community orchard. If successful, they will be planted in November to mark the Jubilee and first anniversary of the orchard at Stanlake Meadow.

Wokingham Without Community picnic event. Details to be confirmed.

Civic Service at Earley St Peter’s Church.

Shinfield, Spencers Wood, Three Mile Cross and Grazeley A programme of events to celebrate across June 2, 3, 4 and 5, including school tea parties and inter-denominational church service.

Winnersh June 16 Traditional family fete with a Kings and Queens theme. Bearwood Recreation Ground, Sindlesham. 1pm to 4.30 pm. Free entry, parking and many of the attractions.

Woodley

June 4

June 3

Family fun day featuring entertainers, fun fair and stalls for all ages. Culminates with beacon lighting event with live music, BBQ and bar. Details in parish council newsletter and website.

Children’s party in the precinct organised by the Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative. Fancy dress competition rides and farm animals.

Swallowfield

See page 10 for information about street party applications and jubilee events in Wokingham.

May 25 to 27 Jubilee Festival at All Saint’s Church celebrating the link between church and community. Peformances of the original Swallowfield Mummers play, floral displays and a display of historical memorabilia are planned, amongst others.

Information available at time of going to press. See your parish or community newsletter or website for up-to-date details. www.wokingham.gov.uk/tp-contacts

New at the MultiActivity Centre The MAC at Dinton Pastures has introduced a series of new clubs this year. Dinton Discoverers is a programme for young people between eight and eighteen years who want a little adventure in their lives. Exploring their environment, members can take part in activities such as rock-climbing and raft-building as well as looking at their fellow park-users such as amphibians and reptiles. Sessions cost £7 per person and the next planned event is Kata-Kanuing (or £20 for four sessions) to search out hidden Easter eggs on Black Swan Lake (April 14). A new Junior Sailing Club will start on April 22 along with an afternoon club for ladies. For details on any of these clubs and more: t: (0118) 934 4424 e: multiactivitycentre@wokingham.gov.uk www.wokingham.gov.uk/mac www.facebook.com/wokinghammac


Spring 2012

What’s on? Spring into action at one of the many events in the Wokingham Borough

Check out your local countryside April 4 Easter Trail: Navigate a trail around California Country Park with an easy to follow map answering the questions to earn a chocolate treat! Ideal for families and suitable for pushchairs. Pick up an entry form between 1pm and 3pm. £2.50 charge per child.

April 8 Easter Egg Hunt: Find an egg in California Country Park, bring it to the café and see if you are a winner! Children must be supervised. One egg per child. From 12 noon. £1 charge.

May 5 Dawn Chorus: Join the Wokingham and Bracknell RSPB on International Dawn Chorus Day for an early morning stroll during the most energetic and bustling time of day for birds. 5am Dinton Pastures Country Park. £1 charge (all proceeds to RSPB). Accompanied children free.

June 9 Family Fun Day: A chance to see what’s on offer at Dinton Pastures’ Multi-Activity Centre. Try your hand at everything from rock climbing to sailing, canoeing or rowing. Or have a go on a pedalo, Segway or easy glider. 10.30am to 4.30pm. MAC at Dinton Pastures Country Park, £2 a go.

Look up your local library March 29 A Gap Year for Grown-Ups: Tales from Malawi and Nepal – A talk by Marcia Watson about volunteering. £2 charge. Wokingham Library, 6.30pm.

April 3 Discovering Archaeology: Come along and find out about archaeology in Wokingham Borough. Drop-in event for families with children aged five and over. Free. Lower Earley Library, 10am to 11.30am

April 23 Teddybear Storytimes: special storytimes for families with children of all ages to celebrate World Book Night. Lower Earley Library, Spencers Wood Library, Wargrave Library 4pm to 4.30pm and Wokingham Library 4.15pm to 4.45pm

April 25 Book Chat: Come along for a coffee and swap recommendations about your favourite books.

June 30

Wokingham Library, 10.30am to 11.30am

Bug Club (part of the Amateur Entomologists’ Society): Check out moths caught in a moth trap then join the bug hunt.

May 21

10.30am Meet a Moth, 2pm Bug Hunt, Dinton Pastures Country Park. Free.

For details of these events and more, see www.wokingham.gov.uk www.facebook.com/ wokinghamboroughcouncil www.facebook.com/ wokinghamboroughlibraries www.twitter.com/wokinghambc

Broadmoor Revealed: A talk by Mark Stevens about this history of Victorian crime and the lunatic asylum. £2 charge. Wokingham Library, 6pm.

31


Your new recycling and waste collection service is coming… ŬxiaЃb&ʼnuxH[new recycling and waste collection service–H[[*uxi•H&*&…i …E*NJiXHb?EaŗixiŠ?Eœlj*i[HŢb•Hxiba*b…[Ƴ*x•H *|άƹEH|–H[[Hauxi•* x* œ [Hb?x…*| xi||…E*ixiŠ?Eb&…Šxbaix*–|…*Hb…ix*|iŠx *ά The changes will include: σ ƭi[[iŠ…i4?x&*b–|…* i[[* …Hib|*x•H *άƹE*x* –H[[*bbbŠ[ Ex?*i4ϱЇЁΩ–EH E i•*x| …E*–E**[*&Hbb&4ix…bH?E…[œ i[[* …Hib| σ NJ**X[œX*x|H&*x* œ [Hb? i[[* …Hib|Ω*b[Hb? EiŠ|*Ei[&|…ix* œ [*aix*b&&H•*x…–|…* 4xia[b&8[[

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For more information about your recycling and waste collection services please visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/waste-changes

for Wokingham

WBC News - Spring 2012  

Check out the Spring 2012 edition of the Wokingham Borough News to find out about the new waste collection service, businesses blooming this...

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