Your magazine from Wokingham Borough Council
In this issue... Earley matters
Awesome play park at Dinton Pastures opens this spring page 3
Waste & recycling
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Welcome All of us here at Wokingham Borough Council are proud of our achievements in 2013. Despite ever-reducing funding, and being the poorest-funded unitary authority in the country, it’s not all doom and gloom. We have a long list of accomplishments, many of which you will read about in this magazine. We remain an ambitious authority, and while the public purse is reducing year on year, our aspirations only increase. Through our housing company we’ve developed purpose-built and high quality homes for adults with learning disabilities in Shinfield, and we’re regenerating Eustace Crescent in Wokingham to provide a flagship development of social and affordable housing. The scheme is really gathering pace now, and you can read more about both projects on page 20. This month (March) sees the official opening of Wokingham train station, thanks to our £1.5million contribution. We are also well underway with the new station link road, and have completed successful consultations on other new roads to improve travel and ease congestions around the Borough. And this spring sees the long awaited opening of the new play park at Dinton Pastures – it’s looking fantastic as you can see from the photos opposite. We’re planning a really exciting opening of this super new facility in the spring. We are also building strong and vibrant communities across the Borough (see pages 6 to 10). There has been a lot of talk nationally about dementia, and the number of people living with this terrible condition is set to treble worldwide by 2050. Find out more about Optalis’ memory café on page 23, which goes a long way to support people with, and for those who
care for, someone with short-term memory problems. As many of you know, we have taken the opportunity to review some of the detail within our planning applications for the next phase of Wokingham town centre regeneration following your feedback. We are looking at some aspects of the scheme’s design and we thank you all again for your valuable input into this. Public engagement has been at the heart of this right from the start when the Masterplan first set out the strategic direction to breathe life back into our struggling town centre. We are aware of empty units within the town, which are due to several issues, some of which reflect Wokingham’s lack of footfall and need for regeneration, and some due to natural turnover, in part heightened by the recent recession. We want to stop this slow decline and re-energise our town centre. We care deeply about the regeneration and want to make sure it’s right for the Borough and for you. 2014 promises to be an exciting, but challenging year. As ever, I am happy to hear your views and ideas so please get in touch with me at david.lee@ wokingham.gov.uk. Also why not find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for all the latest news? Cllr David Lee, Leader of the Council
New nature play park is fun, and
fun is good During the past six months we’ve worked hard with our partners to create a fantastic play park at Dinton Pastures County Park in Hurst.
In this edition Building vibrant new communities.............................. 6-10 Caring for the carers..............................11 Brilliant times for Bulmershe..............13 It’s been an exciting project; everyone involved has had lots of enthusiasm and drive to build a unique play park that reconnects children with nature through play. It’s been inspired by the local wildlife and landscape, and promises to be fun for all the family. There are giant nest towers, tree top tunnels, a double zip wire, underground tunnels, and much more!
Hopefully you’ve managed to see our regular updates and videos on our website, Facebook and Twitter. We’re just putting the finishing touches to it before it’s officially opened during the Easter school holidays. Keep an eye out for details on our website – we look forward to welcoming you there very soon. www.wokingham.gov.uk
Council tax & budget...................... 15-18 Boosting income..............................20-21 Memory café .......................................... 23 Tackling traffic congestion.................. 24 What’s on..........................................30-31
Spoilt for choice in Earley BMX and skate park, outdoor gym, free running (Parkour) – whatever their ‘thing’, young people have it covered in Earley. Add football and mini-soccer pitches, and a host of activities at the Silverdale and Centrepoint youth centres, and young people in Earley should find themselves spoilt for choice. Sol Joel Park has three football pitches, mini-soccer pitches, a cricket square and several skate ramps for rollerblading, skateboarding and BMX bikes. The equipment has recently been upgraded and a free running (Parkour) facility installed. The next phase of improvements will include more play equipment for children. A major project to rebuild the sports pavilion was completed last year.
Successful cases in 2013 • A barn in Farley Hill was demolished as the landowners didn’t comply with an enforcement notice. He was ordered to pay us costs • Enforcement and stop notices issued to a Basingstoke Road resident for running an inappropriate business
At Silverdale youth centre, the popular Bike Workshop and the Music Fusion sessions are still running after local people and Earley Town Council stepped up to take over its management. The town council says it hopes to also rename them as community and youth centres, and wants to expand community activities and things for young people to do, particularly at Centrepoint, where there is some spare capacity. • www.earley-tc.gov.uk • (0118) 986 8995
Taking action We know planning matters. We receive more than 3,000 applications every year but sometimes people don’t comply with planning regulations. Sometimes this can cause harm, and in these cases we are committed to taking firm and decisive enforcement action if we cannot resolve the issues through voluntary compliance.
Meadow Park boasts a circuit of more than a dozen pieces of keep-fit equipment, known as an urban gym, which appeals to all ages not just young people.
Cllr John Kaiser, Executive Member for General Planning and Affordable Housing
• Walkers Yard owner (Arborfield) received a £124,000 Confiscation Order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, for renting out mobile homes that didn’t have planning permission. We are set to receive £45,880 We’ve recently had an independent report carried out to review our enforcement service and we are in the process of developing an action plan to meet its recommendations.
“There are a number of opportunities and challenges presented by the independent report. It’s a long road to travel to embrace them, but I am confident we will rise to it. The outcome will be a service with greater clarity and transparency, and one that will continue to build upon the more recent robust approaches as highlighted here to resolve ongoing planning breaches.”
New look for heart of Wokingham The heart of Wokingham town centre has a new and improved look as the first phase of our regeneration project continues to be revealed. In December, scaffolding came down on the restored historic façade of 38 Market Place. Further improvements to the north side of Market Place were uncovered in January as we removed scaffolding to show the new frontage above Boots and John Wood Sports. The unattractive pink façade has been completely changed making it more in keeping with the surrounding historic buildings. We’ve changed the window proportions and have moved the buildings forward to improve the setting for the beautiful Victorian town hall. This first phase of our proposals also includes replacing the Clarks’ building façade on the corner of Rose Street. This has been a major piece of engineering work, which has seen the existing building’s external wall cut right back to the framework before being completely rebuilt with a much improved façade and pitched roofline for the corner. At the same time, the open concrete staircase on Rose Street has been replaced and enclosed to create new access to the apartments above.
Work on this section is progressing well, with more of the new façade set to be revealed shortly. The project is on track to be completed by summer. We took the opportunity in December to review some of the details within the planning applications for the second phase of the town centre regeneration. Following some feedback to the statutory consultation process, we decided to withdraw the applications for Peach Place and Elms Field to improve some elements of the design of the scheme. At the time of going to press, we are reviewing the proposals for this phase of the project, including the proposals for Peach Street and Rose Street and the new town park. Further information about the amended proposals and the resubmission of the planning application will be found on our website shortly.
and future residents of the town and surrounding villages. The creation of a new town park will provide an improved play area and seating the whole community can enjoy. The regeneration provides an exciting opportunity for new retailers to come to the town, establishing a greater mix of high street and independent traders which will help keep business and shoppers in the town. More information: www.wokingham.gov.uk/towncentre @WokinghamRegen After
The proposals will help to create a sustainable and strengthened economic future for Wokingham, delivering a range of benefits to meet the needs of existing
Executive view Cllr Philip Mirfin, Executive Member for Regeneration After
“Being a Wokingham town resident, I’m very excited to take on the regeneration project as it’s incredibly important for me to make sure local residents have the town centre they really need and deserve. “Since becoming Executive Member for Regeneration, I have met with many organisations and individuals who are interested in the project. I look forward to continuing these discussions over the forthcoming months.”
Building vibrant One of the underlying principles of our vision is to ensure we have strong, sustainable communities which are vibrant and supported by well-designed development. Read on to find out more about how we are working hard to realise our vision… The Past: More houses, more problems – but no more infrastructure In the decade before 2008, more than 5,600 homes were built in the Borough – but very few new classrooms, roads, sports pitches, health or community centres, play grounds or country parks were built to support them. We were getting short-changed: houses were being built in the wrong places, such as in people’s back gardens, and we weren’t seeing the infrastructure and
service improvements that should come with extra housing. The result was frequent conflicts over planning applications and increasingly over-stretched services and facilities. With the need for more homes in the Borough well-established, this situation couldn’t be allowed to continue and, in 2008, we set out a new vision.
The Vision: High quality homes in communities with soul Our vision was to improve the Borough as a place to live for people now, while creating great places for our children and grandchildren to live in the future. And this vision was set out in the Core Strategy – a detailed planning document with a dry name that nevertheless has people at its heart and a ground-breaking way of working in its veins. The Core Strategy, and the planning policies supporting it, set out where homes can and cannot be built in the Borough and what schools, parks, play areas, sports centres, community buildings, shops and transport links should accompany them. They also set out what we expect to see from
developers in areas such as affordable housing and environmental protection. Central to this vision was the Strategic Development Locations (SDLs) – another dry planning term that hides the ground-breaking nature of what is being done. The SDLs are four areas of controlled, development where real communities will grow within the infrastructure needed for them to flourish. This new vision would now embrace growth – provided it came in the right way – and would enable us to move from being on the back foot with developers towards a much more productive way of shaping development in the way we wanted it to happen.
new communities The Present: Going for growth The vision set out in the Core Strategy is becoming a reality. Building work has started on the ground in two SDLs - North and South Wokingham - with planning applications submitted in other areas. And in terms of transforming the way the Borough grows, progress has been dramatic. As the SDLs are built, the Borough will benefit from tens of millions of pounds worth of new schools, new and improved transport links, sports centres, country parks, play grounds, community and health centres, football pitches, shops, care homes, allotments, orchards and other facilities. Many of these improvements will be paid for by developers and will be specifically designed to serve the new communities. But we are also using the opportunity to invest more money to solve long-terms problems in areas such as school places and congestion hotspots. And, slowly, the vision that collaborative planning replaces conflict is also taking real form. The community forums set up
in each of the SDLs are helping to keep local people informed and involved in the developments and major consultations on the Arborfield Relief Road and North Wokingham Distributor Road (which attracted more than 2,500 responses) have had direct impact on how those roads will be delivered. We aim to also deliver four more roads: the Eastern Relief Road, South Wokingham Distributor Road, Wokingham Station Link Road and Winnersh Relief Road. It also became clear the community favoured the use of land at the former Ryeish Green site as a sports hub and we changed our policy accordingly. We have also looked again at the plans for the village centre in Shinfield, in line with local people’s requests. Planning for the first of the many new primary schools coming (at Montague Park, South Wokingham) is underway and local people have been invited to get involved. We also want to work with keen parents on a new secondary school for the south of the Borough.
Executive view Cllr Keith Baker, Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Highways “As the Wokingham Borough grows, the benefits of careful planning and collaboration will be central to ensure we remain successful in these vital areas. “This collaboration and willingness to embrace growth is linked with economic benefits and is already paying off in financial terms, with the Borough becoming increasingly successful at securing funding from central government and other sources. In total we have secured approx. £20million in grants and loans to help get the right infrastructure in place.”
The Future: A great place to live, an even better place to do business We see the Borough’s future building on its existing strengths: • Our highly educated population and the great schools and colleges that support it • Our economic success – in particular our strong knowledge-based industry, ability to attract major corporations and sustain a vibrant small and medium enterprise sector • Our green spaces: protected, enhanced and accessible for all • Our strong, cohesive, low-crime communities • Our healthy residents – with access to the right care when needed
South of the M4
Update: • Planning applications approved at:
Overview: • Approximately 2,800 homes in extensions to Shinfield, Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood • New village centre in Shinfield • Two new primary schools in Spencers Wood and Shinfield • New nature reserve and other outdoor facilities • New indoor and outdoor sports venue (potentially at Ryeish Green) • Transport improvements including Shinfield Eastern Relief Road • University of Reading Science and Innovation Park
o Cutbush Lane: 126 homes with accompanying infrastructure o Shinfield West: 1,350 homes with accompanying infrastructure including neighbourhood centre, primary school, supermarket and Eastern Relief Road o Croft Road, Spencers Wood: 900 homes with accompanying infrastructure including primary school and nature reserve o Mereoak Park and Ride: Joint funding bid with Reading Borough Council agreed o Loddon nature reserve
o Basingstoke Road (east): 100 homes and accompanying infrastructure o The Manor: 126 homes with accompanying infrastructure
Arborfield Garrison Overview: • Approximately 3,500 homes (various type and size) on existing Garrison site and land to the south
• Two new primary schools and one new secondary school • A district centre with 4,000 sq mt supermarket • Two new neighbourhood centres with health and community facilities and smaller shops • New nature reserves and other outdoor facilities • New indoor and outdoor sports facilities • Transport improvements including new Arborfield By-Pass • New employment space
SOUTH OF M4 SDL
Barkh Update: • Arborfield Garrison Landowners Consortium (AGLC) comprises Crest Nicholson (as development manager for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation), the Kenyon Family and the Aegean Trust (the latter represented by Wates). The Marino Family Trust owns the southern part of the SDL and is not part of AGLC • The AGLC planning application for about 2,000 homes on the Garrison site withdrawn. New application expected
North Wokingham Overview: • 1,500 homes • New primary school, community centre, and neighbourhood centre including shops • Improvements to sports facilities at Cantley Park
• North Wokingham Distributor Road Update: • Plough Lane: 150 homes built • Kentwood Farm East: Approval granted at appeal for 274 homes and accompanying infrastructure including nature reserve and highways improvements
• Kentwood Farm West: Application submitted for 225 homes and accompanying infrastructure • Matthews Green: Pre-application discussions have taken place and application for 850 homes expected including a new primary school and other infrastructure and facilities • Buttercup Close (Plough Lane): Approval granted for 30 homes • Toutley Industrial Estate: Alternative uses of land previously assigned for expansion being considered. Options include noise bund for distributor road, nature reserve and allotments • Coppid Beech Park and Ride: Business case being considered for new park and ride
South Wokingham Hurst
Overview: • Approximately 2,500 homes, two new neighbourhood centres, two new primary schools and children’s centre • Sports hub
nersh NORTH WOKINGHAM SDL
SOUTH WOKINGHAM SDL
RRISON SDL Finchampstead
• Southern Distributor Road linking A329 London Road with A321 Finchampstead Road Update:
• Nature reserve and other open spaces
• Work started at Montague Park, off London Road, including up to 650 homes, a new primary school and nature reserve • South of the Railway Consortium led by Miller Homes and includes Persimmon and Thames Valley Homes/ Kier. Croudace Homes also has an involvement. The consortium’s plan is in its early stages and no application has been submitted
Wokingham Borough: Open for Business Our vision ‘A great place to live and an even better place to do business’ is our recognition that the Borough’s economic success and its quality of life are inseparably linked. The Borough is already a leading centre for knowledge-based industries and this position will be enhanced as the University of Reading’s Science and Innovation Park is developed near Shinfield. The park has been backed by a £50million investment by the university. More at: www.reading.ac.uk A further economic boost has been provided by the City Deal signed by us as a member of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The City Deal funding will be used to reduce youth unemployment. It will offer young people in the area access to high quality, personalised advice and support so that
they have the opportunity to undertake the right training, improve their skills, find an apprenticeship or get a job. For more on the LEP visit: www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk A major new opportunity for young people has been launched at Aspire@Wokingham (see page 12), the new business/education partnership based at Winnersh Business Park (formerly IQ Winnersh). Visit: www.aspire520.org.uk Information and updates on these projects and other business-related news is provided in our bi-monthly Business Bulletin. Visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/ business/advice to see the latest edition.
Executive view Cllr Rob Stanton, Deputy Leader “Our high-quality schools, attractive countryside and cohesive and healthy communities help attract and keep great businesses and entrepreneurs. And these great businesses and entrepreneurs – and the economic strength they bring - in turn help maintain the strong communities, educational standards and quality environment that make this a great place to live.”
Who to contact Strategic Development Locations: • Arborfield: Principal Planning Officer Matthew Melville at: matthew. email@example.com • North Wokingham: Principal Planning Officer Connor Corrigan at: connor. firstname.lastname@example.org • South Wokingham: Principal Planning Officer Emy Circuit at: email@example.com • South of the M4: Principal Planning Officer Chris Howard at: christopher. firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Forums All aspects of the SDLs are discussed at the regular Community Forums. Between now and the summer the following meetings are taking place:
South Wokingham Community Forum • 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday March 25 at Wokingham Methodist Church (Main Church), Rose Street
Arborfield Community Forum: • 7pm to 9pm on Thursday June 5 at Henry Street Garden Centre, Swallowfield Road, Arborfield
• 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday July 8 in the Rose Room, Wokingham Methodist Church, Bradbury Centre, Rose Street
North Wokingham Community Forum: All meetings at Wokingham Town Hall, Market Place, Wokingham • 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday May 7 • 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday July 16
Community Forums: • Partnership Development Officer David Allen at: email@example.com New secondary school for the south of the Borough: • Service Manager Infrastructure Development Children’s Services Piers Brunning at: firstname.lastname@example.org
South of the M4 Community Forum: • 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday May 14 at Shinfield Parish Offices, School Green, Shinfield
Economic growth and business support: • Senior Strategy Officer Rhian Hayes at: email@example.com
• www.wokingham.gov.uk/ communityforums • SDL.Forums@wokingham.gov.uk
• Economic Development Officer Andrew Nicholls at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring 2014 11
Caring for the carers If you are caring for an adult coming to the end of their life, Fiona is here to help you.
Jean - disabled following a bad hip replacement - cares full-time for husband Derek who has had a stroke and has Parkinson’s. “Fiona’s lovely and has helped me in all sorts of ways,” said Jean. “Sometimes just having someone you can sit down and talk with really helps. She doesn’t judge, she just listens and understands how I feel. “Recently Fiona suggested inviting people in for a coffee. When you are busy caring for someone you don’t always think to plan things like that.” Fiona works for Sue Ryder in partnership with Wokingham Borough Council and the Berkshire Carers’ Service. She is based in MacMillan House at Wokingham Hospital, in Barkham Road. The service is free and open to anyone.
Fiona Heston is a Carer Advisor dedicated to making sure carers have the support they need to manage their own health and wellbeing during this difficult time. This pioneering service for carers in Wokingham Borough gives carers access
Read all about it! Find out what our adult social care service has been doing during the past year in the latest Wokingham Your Local Account report, now on our website. By outlining how much we spend, what we spend it on, what we are doing and our plans for the future, we hope to help you understand, challenge and influence what we do.
to emotional support, information and advice, help to understand health and social care services, managing work, finances, and how to keep well. It also helps carers plan ahead with things such as lasting power of attorney and writing wills.
The views and concerns of our customers, their carers and relatives, are vital to shape how we deliver and develop social care - so please do take the time to read the report. Talk to us via the local account email or via Healthwatch. More information: • www.wokingham.gov.uk/ localaccount • email@example.com • www.healthwatchwokingham.co.uk
Fiona is available Monday to Thursday so please call her for a chat. More information: • www.sueryder.org • (0118) 949 5030 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you missing out? Unpaid carers in Wokingham Borough are missing out on more than £1million in unclaimed Carers’ Allowance, according to new figures by Carers UK. It’s estimated that nearly 400 eligible carers in the Borough aren’t claiming it. “These shocking figures show that many unpaid carers are not recognising themselves as such and are not coming forward to seek support,” said Elspeth McPherson, Chief Executive of Berkshire Carers Service. “Carer’s Allowance remains the lowest benefit of its kind, but it can help to offset lost earnings and the extra household and transport costs that caring brings. It also provides National Insurance contributions towards the state pension.” More information: • www.berkshirecarers.org • (0800) 988 5462
Children in our Boro the full, whether at Planning for future talent One of our newest planners wants to inspire the next generation of her profession, but says she’s already impressed by young people in the Borough. In addition to her planning role here at the Council, Alice Suttie (pictured right) has just been selected as a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Ambassador for its Future Planners initiative. The scheme, set up to help mark the RTPI’s centenary, will see Alice and ambassadors like her across the country meet students aged 11 to 18 to motivate their interest in planning as a career. Alice hopes to visit four Wokingham Borough secondary schools this year, but has already taken part in a careers event at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre
Top class secondary schools
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where she says she was impressed by the questions she was asked. “Young people in the Borough are very clued-up about things, and were asking questions about the new Strategic Development Locations and Wokingham town centre regeneration,” she said. “It’s great to see them so engaged. I’m really looking forward to visiting local schools and showing students how they can get involved in their communities; how their voices can be heard in the decision-making process. “And of course hopefully inspire some of them to become planners like me!”
Are you ready for adventure? Young people aged 14 to 24 across the Borough have again picked up the gauntlet of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE). Many schools across the Borough run the DofE, and there are also three open access centres supported by the Council; at Wokingham Youth Centre, Woodley Airfield Youth Centre and Twyford Youth Centre. The next round of DofE applications starts in October. Many adult volunteers also support the young people, helping them learn things such as camp craft and navigation skills for their expeditions. More are always welcome. More information • www.wokingham.gov.uk/dofe • email@example.com
I’m really looking forward to visiting local schools and showing students how they can get involved in their communities
Where you ng people asp ire Aspire@Wo kingham’s fi rst cohort of young pe ople are sett ling in well and enjoyin g the range o f facilities the new £73 5,000 centr e at Winnersh B usiness Park (formerly IQ Winners h) offers the m. Funded by u s and the W okingham Secondary S chools Fede ration, this state-of-the -art learning centre for over 14s, gives them important formal qual ifications, tr aining, skills and attitude s highly sou ght after by employers. www.aspir e520.org.u k
Spring 2014 13
ugh are living life to home or at school.
Brilliant times for Bulmershe 2014 is an exciting and historic time for staff and students at The Bulmershe School in Woodley. Our £6million transformation of the school is taking shape, with work on the new £3.5million entrance block going well and due to finish in November.
Our huge building project will give students and staff the learning and teaching facilities they need to further improve standards.
It’s hoped this new building will be used as part of the celebrations for Bulmershe’s 50th birthday in September, and a time capsule filled by year seven students interred into its floor for all to see.
History, English and geography classrooms as well as a number of corridors have been refurbished. The sixth form centre now has a new roof.
The secondary started the year with a good Ofsted report which describes, ‘the teaching as good and sometimes outstanding’ and the school as having, ‘a high level of care for the individual child’. Examination results are improving year on year with a high number of students going onto university. “There is a real buzz about the place,” said Assistant Headteacher Richard Cornish. “The whole ethos of the school is changing, and students and staff are embracing it.”
Windows in the technology block are being replaced. Work on the school’s new library will start after the new entrance hall is completed, and more areas of the school will also be rejuvenated. Everything is due to be finished by the end of next year. Thomas Hegarty is in year seven, and will experience all the benefits of the ‘new’ school. “It’s nice to see the old version now, and be with it during its journey as it changes,” he said. Thomas is an audio visual technician operating slides and video links during assemblies. He says he’s looking forward to new equipment being installed.
With the layout in some areas of the school being reconfigured, and Wi-Fi being planned throughout, group study pods with internet access will be created across the site. “The modern learning environment needs to be flexible and offer both traditional classrooms, as well as areas where students can study and research by themselves,” said Headteacher Emma Reynolds. “These really are exciting times.”
Olivia Le Croissette, year nine, says the revitalised sixth form means it’s more likely she will stay on at The Bulmershe when she’s 17 and 18. “I want to study graphic design so can’t wait to see all the new ICT,” she said.
More information • www.thebulmersheschool.com • @TheBulmersheSch
Building bridges for happy families It’s the little things that can make all the difference, and for mum Yvonne Thrower it’s a full night’s sleep once a week and seeing son Daniel so happy. 12-year-old Daniel, who has significant disabilities and special needs, is a regular visitor to Bridges Resource Centre in Woodley. He sleeps over at the centre at least once a week and enjoys dinner there twice a week, goes on day trips some weekends and during the holidays, hangs out with his friends, and generally has a blast. “He loves it here,” said Yvonne. “He plays on the computer, likes the soft play cabin and sensory room. He likes helping. Staff here are so enthusiastic.
“He’s made great friends, and everything he does here adds quality to his life. He’s learnt how to sit at a table, clean his teeth, and shower more independently. His sense of humour has developed immensely. He is thriving.” For more than a decade the centre has provided high quality short break care services to enrich the lives of children with special needs, as well as help their families with a wide range of support. And it’s on the lookout for paid sessional staff and regular volunteers to join the team of dedicated full-timers. More information • (0118) 969 5977 • CSBridgesresource@wokingham.gov.uk
Radical SEND reforms From September new legislation comes into force changing how children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) will receive their support. These reforms, under the Children and Families Bill (2013), put in place a new system of help for children and young people aged up to 25. It also stresses new partnerships between education, health and social
care, as well as how young people and their families will have greater control over the help they get. This includes the Local Offer, which will be published online, showing all the support available in the Borough for children and young people with additional needs. We’re busy working on these and the other changes in the new legislation making sure we are ready.
Parents’ homework about new school We’ve been talking to parents about helping to create a new secondary free school in the south of the Borough.
Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Executive Member for Children’s Services “Our focus is on every child achieving their potential. This underpins absolutely everything we do to make sure all our children in the Borough - whatever their age, their abilities, their physicality, their goals - have the right support and the things they need to be happy, to thrive and to grow into accomplished and confident adults.”
They’ve learnt about the way free schools can be set up and run, and looked at ideas for the proposed secondary school in the south, which would take children from Arborfield, Finchampstead, Barkham, Farley Hill, Swallowfield and other south Wokingham communities. With major housing developments coming to the Arborfield Garrison site, the new secondary is needed.
Information on 2014/2015 Council Tax
Message from the Council Leader Many of you will, I am sure, understand the financial pressures we are facing. Every household in the Borough is rising to the challenge of increased living costs, and the Council is no different. The majority of the money we spend goes on statutory services – looking after children and vulnerable adults. However, we also have growing costs year on year because we have more and more residents - and with that comes an increase in demand for our services. Our population is rising while the public purse is shrinking. It came as no surprise to us at the end of last year that once again local authorities bore the brunt of spending cuts. We remain the lowest funded unitary authority in the country, and again had our funds slashed when government announced its settlement funding assessment (replacing the formula grant process) which saw the Borough face a reduction of just under 10% – equating to £3.3million. With approx. £2million inflation, more than £3million statutory spending pressures and a reduction in government grant of more than £3million, this leaves a deficit of around £8million. The average council receives 46.5% funding – almost double what Wokingham Borough receives (24%) – the rest is raised through council tax. Under the new settlement funding assessment, the Council receives from central government just £174.76 per person compared, for example, with Slough which gets £409.92, and Reading £384.67. The unitary average is £395.16.
And because we remain poorly funded, it means we have to increase our council tax levy by 1.9% to allow us to provide the services you need and deserve including the significant investment required in the infrastructure and regeneration of our Borough. We have big plans for the Borough, but our financial position is challenging to say the least and we have some difficult decisions to make in the future. For the past three years we have transformed the way that we work. We will make savings through increased efficiency and restructuring our services. We’ve already restructured our senior management to save £1.4million. We also plan to save nearly £1.4million by improving the way the organisation buys goods and services and just under £0.6million on rationalising our assets. Since 2010, we have saved approx. £25million. We are committed to delivering our key priorities and will continue to invest in the Borough’s long-term future. I hope this four-page pull-out helps to explain more about the budget. Cllr David Lee Leader of the Council 20%
WHAT DO WE SPEND OUR MONEY ON? Did you know the majority of our money is spent on statutory services? We have growing costs year on year because of more residents and increased demand on services. 80%
BUDGET 2014/15 - £113MILLION
DIVISION OF SERVICES Children’s social care
5% 4% 11% 20%
Non-statutory services - £23million e.g. libraries, leisure, parks and open spaces, and bus subsidies
Adult social services (health & wellbeing) Waste and street care services
Highways and transport
Statutory services £90million e.g. adult social care, children’s services, waste collection and disposal, and highways
Other front line services Debt charges & investment income Corporate and democratic core
5% 4% 11%
2% 7% www.wokingham.gov.uk
Information on 2014/2015 Council Tax
WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES Elements of a Band D Council Tax: 2013/14 2014/15
Wokingham Borough Council £1,222.50 £1,246.21 Parish Precept (average) £53.44 £54.38 Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley £157.38 £160.51 Royal Berkshire Fire Authority £60.66 £60.66 The average total Council Tax bill for a Band D property (which includes the charges made by Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and your town or parish council). £1,493.98 £1,521.76
1.94% 1.76% 1.99% 0.00%
COST OF SERVICES PROVIDED 2013/14 Other Costs £000
Staffing Costs £000
2014/15 Net Expenditure £000
Staffing Costs £000
Other Costs £000
Service Income (e.g. fees & charges, grants) £000
Net Expenditure £000
0 24,025 44,069
84,881 11,189 4,157
17,955 14,624 55,862
(102,836) (1,951) (15,506)
0 23,862 44,513
7,775 2,208 10,065
1,696 1,039 5,157
9,413 1,190 12,357
(3,232) (136) (4,975)
7,877 2,093 12,539
Service Income (e.g. fees & charges, grants) £000
Schools and education 70,481 34,141 (104,622) Children’s social care 11,215 14,366 (1,556) Adult social services 3,881 56,457 (16,269) (health and wellbeing) Housing 286 21,816 (21,298) Waste and street 110 13,659 (1,688) care services Highways and transport 1,778 9,157 (3,161) Libraries 1,097 1,533 (421) Other frontline services 4,953 10,067 (4,955) (e.G. Health and protection services, planning, revenues and benefits, countryside and leisure, rental income etc.) Corporate and democratic 6,700 0 0 core (corporate management and democratic representation) Debt charges and 0 5,239 (343) investment income Total expenditure on services Transfer to/(from) balances Total budget
HOW THESE SERVICES ARE FUNDED: Government support New Homes Bonus Collection fund surplus Council tax for Borough Council
33,261 1,750 23 77,551 112,585
29,974 2,773 330 80,379 113,456
COUNCIL TAX LEVELS AND PARISH PRECEPTS
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, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and your parish council. The charge per band in each Parish is listed over the page:
www.wokingham.gov.uk Information on 2014/2015 Council Tax
Council tax levels and parish precepts continued
Town / Parish
Arborfield & Newland Barkham Charvil Earley Finchampstead Remenham Ruscombe St Nicholas Hurst Shinfield Sonning Swallowfield Twyford Wargrave Winnersh Wokingham Town Wokingham Without Woodley
37,142 38,353 711,300 105,955 21,000 9,575 22,500 205,143 31,459 15,000 58,191 147,253 104,606 604,764 138,092 1,059,676 3,390,350
38,342 38,572 735,213 122,408 21,420 9,766 22,500 264,470 31,459 18,303 58,599 152,841 107,801 625,492 143,925 1,030,349 3,507,749
Full Council Tax Band A
1,023.93 1,194.58 996.16 1,162.17 996.87 1,163.00 1,020.28 1,190.31 992.69 1,158.13 1,024.43 1,195.15 991.61 1,156.86 992.93 1,158.40 1,016.66 1,186.09 1,004.89 1,172.36 991.02 1,156.18 991.53 1,156.77 1,027.30 1,198.50 997.17 1,163.35 1,008.92 1,177.06 1,009.48 1,177.71 1,050.87 1,226.01
2014/15 Band D Band E
1,328.21 1,329.15 1,360.37 1,323.58 1,365.90 1,322.14 1,323.90 1,355.54 1,339.85 1,321.35 1,322.03 1,369.73 1,329.55 1,345.22 1,345.97 1,401.16
1,826.29 1,827.58 1,870.51 1,819.93 1,878.11 1,817.94 1,820.36 1,863.87 1,842.30 1,816.86 1,817.79 1,883.38 1,828.13 1,849.68 1,850.71 1,926.59
1,494.23 1,495.29 1,530.41 1,489.03 1,536.63 1,487.40 1,489.38 1,524.98 1,507.33 1,486.52 1,487.28 1,540.94 1,495.74 1,513.37 1,514.21 1,576.30
2,158.33 2,490.39 2,988.46 2,159.86 2,492.16 2,990.58 2,210.59 2,550.69 3,060.82 2,150.82 2,481.72 2,978.06 2,219.58 2,561.06 3,073.26 2,148.47 2,479.01 2,974.80 2,151.33 2,482.31 2,978.76 2,202.75 2,541.64 3,049.96 2,177.26 2,512.22 3,014.66 2,147.20 2,477.54 2,973.04 2,148.29 2,478.81 2,974.56 2,225.80 2,568.24 3,081.88 2,160.51 2,492.91 2,991.48 2,185.98 2,522.29 3,026.74 2,187.19 2,523.69 3,028.42 2,276.88 2,627.17 3,152.60
For details of the respective charges made by Wokingham Borough Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and your Parish Council for your property, please refer to your Council Tax Demand Notice.
CHANGES TO COUNCIL TAX With effect from April 1, 2014 there are changes to the discount for properties that are empty and unfurnished. There will be a discount of 100% for 28 days, or until the property is reoccupied (whichever happens sooner). The full charge will be payable after that period. Also with effect from April 1, 2014 annexes which are used by family members will be entitled to a 50% discount. Visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/counciltax/discounts
DISCOUNTS AND EXEMPTIONS Information is available at: www.wokingham.gov.uk/counciltax for details of council tax discounts, exemptions and reductions for disabled residents
COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION Information is available at: www.wokingham.gov.uk/benefits/tax on our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which is to help those on a low income to pay their council tax.
APPEALS ON PROPERTY BANDING All property bandings are dealt with by the Valuation Office Agency, which is part of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Details on appeals and queries are available at: www.gov.uk/counciltax-appeals. 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.
APPEALS ABOUT THE COUNCIL TAX YOU PAY Information is available at: www.wokingham.gov.uk/counciltax/ appeals if you wish to appeal that you are not liable to pay council tax.
CHANGES TO ENFORCEMENT ACTION FOR UNPAID COUNCIL TAX OR BUSINESS RATES For any unpaid council tax or business rates, once we have exhausted other avenues of debt collection, we are able to pass the debt to enforcement agents for collection. This incurs additional costs which are payable by the debtor. There have been changes to the legislation which govern the fees which can be charged and the way in which the enforcement agent can act. With effect from April 6, 2014 any debt passed to our enforcement agents to collect will incur a fee of £75. It is therefore important that you contact the Council before this stage is reached if you are having difficulty in paying your council tax or business rates. Once the outstanding debt has been passed to the enforcement agent, all negotiations and payments must be via them and not the Council. If there is no contact from the debtor to the enforcement agent, then an enforcement visit will be undertaken which will incur further costs of £235, plus an additional 7.5% of debt value for debts more than £1,500. Further costs will also be incurred if the enforcement agents need to visit a property to remove goods to be sold at public auction to clear a debt.
COUNCIL TAX & BENEFITS ENQUIRIES If you have access to the internet why not visit us at: www.wokingham.gov.uk. If you do not have access to the internet you can contact us by: ● Telephone: using the contact number shown on your bill or benefit notification letter ● Writing to us at: Wokingham Borough Council, PO Box 152, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1WJ ● Visiting our Reception Desk: at our Shute End Office. Office hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. ● Emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or benefits@ wokingham.gov.uk
www.wokingham.gov.uk Information on 2014/2015 Council Tax
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION All major preceptors, as well as town or parish councils with budgets exceeding ÂŁ140,000, who raise money through council tax have a statutory obligation to supply certain financial information with your council tax bill. Since April 2013, this information can now be provided electronically rather than in a paper leaflet. The following have decided that for 2014/15, they will provide their information electronically. Simply follow the website link for each authority, listed below, if you would like to view their financial information.
ROYAL BERKSHIRE FIRE AUTHORITY
WOKINGHAM TOWN COUNCIL
(0118) 945 2888
(0118) 978 3185
SHINFIELD PARISH COUNCIL
WOKINGHAM WITHOUT PARISH COUNCIL
(0118) 988 8220
(01344) 771 425
WARGRAVE PARISH COUNCIL
WOODLEY TOWN COUNCIL
(0118) 940 6084
(0118) 969 0356
If you would like to receive the financial information for any of these organisations in a printed format, you should contact the organisation directly, using the contact information above.
BENEFIT FRAUD HOTLINE 0800 454 240 www.wokingham.gov.uk Information on 2014/2015 Council Tax
Spring 2014 19
Further changes to welfare benefits With a number of changes introduced to welfare benefits in 2013, there are likely to be more to come this year. • Universal Credit, the single replacement for many current benefits, is being rolled out throughout the UK on a trial basis, but this is unlikely to reach the Wokingham Borough until 2016. We will update you when we know more. • We now administer the Local Welfare Provision, rather than the Department for Work and Pensions. This scheme helps residents who are facing a crisis. You now need to speak to us and we will tell you if you can claim from the Council, or should ask for help elsewhere. We have worked hard with local foodbanks and other third sector organisations to get the correct types of support in place.
• Wokingham Borough Council’s council tax reduction scheme – the replacement for Council Tax Benefit – will stay the same for 2014/15. Please visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/reduction for details of our qualifying criteria • If you are struggling to pay your rent because you don’t receive full housing benefit, for example due to welfare reforms, we may be able to offer further financial support. Visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/ housingpayment for more details. More information: • www.wokingham.gov.uk/benefits • (0118) 974 6000
Local and European elections on May 22 Are you registered to vote? • If you did not complete an annual canvass form or have moved since October 1, your registration may not be up-to-date • If you are a registered EU Citizen, you should have received a letter from us asking whether you wish to vote in the European Election in this, or your home country. You must respond to this letter if you wish to vote in this country To check your registration is up-to-date call our helpline: (0118) 974 6522. Want to stand for election as a local councillor? Contact our Helpline on (0118) 974 6522 or visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/ candidates for information about how to become a candidate.
Executive view Cllr Anthony Pollock, Executive Member for Finance “Looking after the Borough’s most vulnerable is an underlying principle of our vision. The recent welfare reform changes have affected a great deal of people in a variety of different ways. Our Local Welfare Provision scheme helps residents in times of crisis or emergency and supports vulnerable people in our communities. It’s a difficult time for many and over and above what we are doing to support them, valuable work is being carried out by the third sector across the Borough to support many of our residents. We want to promote independence; and aim to help people get back on their feet so they are not reliant on benefits.”
Why not head down to the The Rainbow Café in Woosehill for a cuppa or a slice of cake? The Rainbow Café is the heart of the Acorn Community Centre, Fernlea Drive (behind Morrisons) and is open between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. It’s a great place to catch up over coffee or linger for lunch. Our homemade soup, granola bars and muffins are always popular. The café is staffed with volunteers from Optalis, Learning Disability Day Services. (0118) 974 6341
We’re sorry We always strive for the highest standards of editorial and magazine production in Wokingham Borough News. However on page 10, of the autumn 2013 edition, we incorrectly spelt the name of Wescott Primary School. We’re sorry.
Boosting Despite our financial challenges, we’ve set up two trading companies with the potential to bring in additional money for the authority. This ambitious way of working allows us to maintain services and invest in our priorities. Read on to find out more about Wokingham Housing Ltd – our housing company – and Optalis – our adult social care company. Wokingham Housing Ltd – an exciting future Wokingham Housing Ltd (WHL) was set up in 2011 to promote new housing for local people including: • Social rented homes • Shared ownership and intermediate rent homes • Homes for sale and to rent • Homes for older people and those people with specialist needs Hillside Park
Eustace Crescent, Wokingham WHL was selected in 2013 to be the Council’s development partner for this scheme to replace Council-owned flats and maisonettes. For several years Council tenants raised concerns about the general condition of communal areas and state of repair of properties and surrounding areas. People living locally told us they wanted less housing and more parking, so plans have been reworked to now feature 68 flats and 96 parking spaces. This final design and mix of owned and rented homes were agreed by the Council’s Executive in January, after local residents were invited to view the new plans and comment further on them. The planning application is due to be submitted this month (March). Subject to planning approval, it’s hoped work can start later this year.
Highlights so far Hillside Park, Shinfield This is the first development to be built by WHL and people are set to move into their new homes this month (March). Built on a former mobile home site at Hillside Park, the scheme offers comfortable and safe new homes for nine people with learning disabilities, and a flat which can be used by carers. There are also two bungalows for older people.
All the homes have been built to a high environmental standard, minimising costs for residents.
Nearly all of the residents have been rehoused by the Borough Council. Demolition of the vacant block will start when the last residents move out in the spring. This multi-million pound project will transform the estate with spacious modern family homes and flats; green spaces and gardens. WHL is also setting up the contract to build the scheme to allow training and employment opportunities for local job seekers who will be able to work on this project.
The Future Robin Fielder, Managing Director of WHL, said: “The Council has set ambitious targets for WHL and is prepared to invest for the future. New high quality homes will be built for local people and the Council will benefit from the value of this investment into the future.” Now the business plan has been approved, watch out for the WHL Team which will be touring the Borough with its roadshow very soon hoping to meet as many local community groups, parish councils and businesses as possible to promote its work and seek new opportunities. More information: • (0118) 974 6417 • email@example.com Eustace Crescent
income Optalis – choices for living
To better ensure sustainability, Optalis has launched a number of income-generating initiatives to better meet the needs of local residents. These include:
Launched by the Borough Council in June 2011, Optalis ensures its adult social care services remain sustainable, provides greater choice for residents who need these services, and delivers value for money for the Council. Optalis supports councilfunded customers, as well as people who want to buy their own care privately.
• A high-quality, specialist dementia homecare service for those who fund their care privately, including companionship, medication visits, personal care, and domestic care. The service has doubled during the past year
How was 2013 for Optalis? The past year has seen many good news stories emerge from the company’s services. Highlights include: • The Supported Employment Service, whose performance continues to lead the way across the country • Staff at care home Suffolk Lodge being recognised as some of the best in the south east by the Great British Care Awards (pictured below) • Successfully turning around some learning disability residential homes after a local care provider in the Borough was failing to meet the regulator’s (CQC) standards of care. They are now compliant
• A tailored ‘Out and About’ service for those who fund their care privately; allowing people with a learning disability and/or physical disability to go on outings (e.g. bowling, dancing, trips to the seaside) in groups, and with one-toone support. Similarly, this service has grown beyond expectations • An Independent Care Advisory service recently introduced for those who fund their care privately to help them understand what their care options are, and which are best-suited to their specific needs
What is Optalis planning for the future? The company will continue to grow services in the community with a particular focus on homecare, and
Spring 2014 21
Out and About trip to Littlehampton there are opportunities with both local authorities and private funders across Berkshire. Optalis is profitable as a corporate entity and staff are looking forward to an exciting future. Managing Director Andrew Pickup said: “While the economic situation continues to present issues for councils, Wokingham Borough Council has taken a lead role in creating a vehicle that is now able to deliver additional income which will help soften the blow of cuts to central government grants. “Health and social care, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, is a growing market, and Optalis is well-placed to deliver new and innovative services to meet our customers’ needs.” More information can be found in Optalis’ latest performance report at: www.optalis.org/perf-report
Great British Care Awards – (l-r): Director of Health Glen Mason, Optalis’ Rebecca Craker, comedienne Helen Lederer.
More information: • (0118) 908 8420 • Minicom: (0118) 908 8201 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.optalis.org • www.facebook.com/optalis • www.twitter.com/optalis
Your efforts aren’t wasted Thanks to you, the Borough is recycling more, and throwing away less waste.
Blue bags You should receive your two rolls of 80 blue bags by the end of March. If you haven’t, please get in touch because this is your allocation to last until March 2015. Use these bags for household waste that can’t be recycled. We can’t take any other type of bag. You can still use up the last of your current blue bags if you have some leftover. Put your blue bags at the boundary of your property, either on top of your recycling box or with the handles tied in a dustbin to stop animals getting to them. If you use a wheelie-bin for storage, take out the blue bags. We can’t collect bags left inside a wheelie-bin, but a standard dustbin is OK. • (0118) 974 6000 • email@example.com
Garden waste It’s your choice to sign up to this fortnightly collection service. If you want to continue using the brown 240-litre wheelie-bin service for the coming year (until March 31, 2015) please renew your subscription before April 1. Renew or subscribe online: www.wokingham.gov.uk/ gardenwaste or call Wokingham Direct (0118) 974 6000. The annual subscription remains at £60. Alternatively, buy 75-litre compostable sacks for £1 each from council offices or libraries. If you would like to home compost you can buy a 220-litre bin from www.getcomposting.com for £12.47 including delivery.
Love food, hate waste We throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our UK homes every year, and the majority could have been eaten. It costs us £12.5billion a year and is also bad for the environment. Please buy and use food with care. www.lovefoodhatewaste.com
Cllr Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment “Thank you to all residents who continue to recycle and are trying to reduce their household waste. We’re doing well in increasing recycling rates and reducing household waste across the Borough. “Many other items that cannot be recycled at the kerbside can go for recycling at Smallmead, Reading and Longshot Lane, Bracknell. Details can be found at: www.re3.org “There is no limit to the number of black recycling boxes you can have so if you need another one please contact us.”
Recycling You can put food tins, drink cans, plastic bottles, paper, card and aerosols in your kerbside black recycling box. Because there aren’t yet any UK markets for other plastics, such as food trays and yoghurt pots, we can’t collect these because we’re not willing to send them to unknown destinations abroad. Please don’t put your recycling in a plastic bag in your box. This can’t be sorted so it’ll have to be sent to household waste. www.wokingham.gov.uk/recycling
Spring 2014 23
Optalis’ memory café Optalis has introduced a new dementia-focused meeting group, based at Cockayne Court in Finchampstead. Recollections Memory Café is a drop-in service for people with short-term memory problems and their carers. Taking place every second Friday of the month, they meet informally, share their experiences and listen to guest speakers from relevant local organisations. The café is run by a mixture of Optalis’ trained dementia care staff, volunteers and health and social care professionals. Russell Day, Business Area Manager for Community-Based Services at Optalis, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to get people talking about dementia. We want to encourage people who are worried about their memory, or the memory of someone they care for, to come along to the Memory Café. “It’s an informal, friendly place for people to get practical advice and support, and
talk with professionals about their concerns. “It’s often a distressing time for people who may not know who to turn to for support or guidance. We hope to provide a relaxed atmosphere for people to talk and reduce the anxieties and isolation that is often felt when faced with memory problems.” The next meetings take place on April 11 and May 9, 2pm to 4pm, at Cockayne Court, Arnett Avenue, Finchampstead. More information: • Tony Verdugo on (0118) 908 8411 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping our commitment to older people When we took the difficult decision to close Fosters Care Home in Woodley in 2012, we made a commitment to look at using the site for older people’s accommodation. And in January our decision-making Executive agreed to redevelop the site as an extra care scheme for older people, including communal facilities such as a lounge and dining room. Each flat would also have a private balcony or ground floor terrace.
It would also include specialist dementia facilities and 24 hours a day, seven days a week care for those who need more support than our general sheltered housing can provide. We’ve also selected our housing company Wokingham Housing Limited as our development partner and Optalis, our social care company, will provide care for all the residents.
Executive view Cllr Julian McGhee-Sumner, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing “Our population is living longer and the number of people aged over 75 is significantly rising. This scheme will provide affordable housing for frail elderly and older people with dementia. Extra care means people can continue living as independently as possible. Our aim is to support them without intruding, maintaining both their freedom and privacy, and this will be an important scheme to turn our aspirations into reality. ”
Tackling traffic congestion Highway improvements across the Borough are moving along well. Here’s a round-up of the major schemes happening now and coming up… Station link road Wokingham Station is set to be officially opened this month (March). Work continues on the link road and we are on track to create a new signal junction with Reading Road. We’ve nearly finished on the northern side of Reading Road, and are now on the southern side. And we’re erecting the main noise barrier on the link road. Sign up for the regular newsletter: SLR@wokingham.gov.uk More details: www.wokingham.gov.uk/slr
Loddon Viaduct maintenance
Coppid Beech Roundabout improvement
Traffic management plans for this project are nearly finished. Work is due to start on one side of the carriage way at the end of July, and last for the whole school holidays. The other half will be done next year.
Details should be available for you to see in the next few weeks. Work is likely to start this autumn and finish next spring.
M4 (Junction 10: A329M)
What would you do? What could you do?
The Highways Agency says it hopes to carry out this work at night, and says it’s due to start in the autumn.
Let us know your ideas for tackling traffic congestion to help us make it easier for you to get around the Borough.
You can also keep on top of news about these schemes via our Facebook and Twitter feeds, and/or sign up to our live text and email alerts www. wokingham.gov.uk/register All dates and information about these projects were correct at the time of going to print.
Come and help us Since it was launched last November, Healthwatch Wokingham Borough has received lots of comments about how hard it can be to get a GP appointment. And the number of residents going to the Royal Berkshire Hospital A&E Department has risen by 26% in the past year alone.
commissioning and managing services; so improvements can be made. However, with more than 162,000 residents in the Borough - that’s a lot of people to reach to ask for their views – we’re currently recruiting volunteers to help us.
Is there a link? Either way we welcome your comments and views on any healthcare you or a family member has received.
There are three main ways you can help: • Healthwatch Champions – spreading the word within your workplace or speaking to groups you’re part of
Healthwatch is here to make sure your views, concerns and praise about health and social care locally, reaches those
• Information Posties – if you have access to a group of people using local services you could tell them about Healthwatch
• Authorised Representatives - be part of a team that goes and talks to patients, residents or service users about their experiences. Training provided More information: • email@example.com
• (0118) 418 1418 • www.healthwatchwokingham.co.uk/ volunteer-interest-form • www.healthwatchwokingham.co.uk/ content/speak-out
Spring 2014 25
First World War centenary This August marks 100 years since the start of the First World War and fitting commemorations are being planned across the Borough. Plans are being put in place for a series of events for children, young people and adults, and to provide suitable and respectful acts of remembrance.
Grant funding is being sought from the National Lottery Heritage and other funds to support these events, and more details will be published later in the year.
The Borough’s libraries, schools and town and parish councils are set to lead on the commemorations, which will be supported by us. Details are still being planned but some of the ideas being worked on include reminiscence events for older people, library talks, heritage walks linked to war memorials around the Borough and potentially a travelling exhibition highlighting the local contribution to the war and its impact around the Borough.
Anybody who would like to get involved in the commemorations, in particular if you have personal or family links to the First World War, please get in touch.
The Mayor’s Charity says “Yes Minister”! Borough Mayor Cllr UllaKarin Clark’s (pictured left) chosen charity, Building For The Future, was lucky enough to be invited by Home Secretary and local MP Theresa May to a Christmas party at 10 Downing Street. And of course it said yes! Prime Minister David Cameron hosted the event where other notable guests included the stars of Strictly Come Dancing. Charity Chief Executive Jane Holmes (stood left in the Number 10 picture) said: “It was a privilege to be invited to Downing Street. The Home Secretary introduced us to the Prime Minister who in turn introduced us to the Strictly Come Dancing stars. Lots of the children we took are great fans and David Cameron didn’t get a look in after that! Casually chatting to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and Strictly’s Kevin from Grimsby is something I will never forget. What an incredible day.”
Building for the Future was launched in 2007 by parents of disabled children living in the Borough. It’s goal was to raise enough money to provide a community centre for disabled children and their families, because there wasn’t one in Wokingham. It’s goal is now only months away after it secured a single-storey, building in Toutley Road. Facilities will include a sensory room, an area for teenagers as well as space for therapies and for staging performances and play. There will also be a fully-accessible disabled toilet, a kitchen, a parents’ room, an outside area and parking. The Borough Mayor will be hosting a charity ball for Building for the Future on Friday May 2 at Sindlesham Court. If you would like any further information about this, please contact the Mayor’s Office. More information: • (0118) 974 6004 • www.wokingham.gov.uk/mayor • www.bftf.org.uk
More information: • firstname.lastname@example.org • (0118) 974 6016
Improving the customer experience We have set up a new programme of work to improve residents’ experiences when accessing our services. We will be: • Setting new standards for service excellence which we will adopt together with a plan for implementation • Providing ‘first time fix’ for our residents requests and enquiries where possible • Making more services available online 24/7 where this is possible and helpful to residents • Making sure we measure how we perform on all aspects of our customer service so we know where we’re improving and the areas where we need to make improvements Part of our plans will include improving how our website works, and over time we will do this by:
• Making our online services easier to use, once you’ve found them • Adding any online services you want that are currently missing To help us, we want your feedback about our new or improved website pages and online services as they are being re-designed. We think that you should be at the heart of helping us improve our website. Please visit the website and let us know if you’d like to get involved. It shouldn’t take long to sign up and you can tell us how much you would like to be involved in helping us. www.wokingham.gov.uk/testing
• Making it easier to find what you want
What you said about Wokingham Borough News Thanks to those of you who took the time to complete the readership survey in the Autumn edition of Wokingham Borough News. Here’s what you told us: • 96% believe the content is interesting • 90% believe the news is up-to-date • 6% believe it doesn’t keep you informed about council services A small number of you who responded follow us on Twitter and regularly visit our Facebook page. So if you don’t, why not find us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ wokinghamboroughcouncil and on Twitter at: @WokinghamBC. We regularly post news stories, photos and videos on both our Twitter and Facebook feeds. You told us you liked reading about the countryside including Dinton Pastures and California Country Park as well as learning more about recycling. Many said you would like more news about your area and
hopefully you will enjoy reading some of the articles in this edition featuring Woodley, Earley, Hurst and Shinfield. If you have a local story to feature, please get in touch. A few of you also asked for a letters page. We are more than happy to print your letters, so please feel free to email us – contact details below. Congratulations to Mrs May of Lower Earley who kindly gave us her views and scooped a pair of cinema tickets for her efforts! We’ll continue to make sure the magazine keeps improving and keeps you informed. • (0118) 974 6010 • email@example.com • www.wokingham.gov.uk/news
Executive view Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, Executive Member for Internal Services “We take great pride in the customer service we offer you. Involving you in our website is another exciting development in our drive to improve our services to customers. We know that more people want to do things online so we want to work with you to find out what else you think would be useful to see on our website. I would encourage people to log on, take a look and let us know.”
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Reducing crime in our neighbourhoods The Wokingham Borough Community Safety Partnership (WBCSP) is committed to reducing crime and disorder in the Borough, which it did successfully for the third consecutive year last year, helping crime to reach its lowest level for 15 years. One of the strengths of our Borough is its mix of different communities and places. Understanding our areas and the risks they face from crime is vital to ensuring they continue to be safe places to live and enjoy. Urban areas tend to have higher levels of crimes such as burglary and anti-social behaviour. Rural areas often have lower volumes of crime, but the impact of it on residents can be large, especially when offenders target things such as agricultural equipment that affect people’s livelihoods. In all areas, hidden crimes such as domestic abuse and violence against the vulnerable need to be identified and stopped. Each year the WBCSP conducts a comprehensive review of crime and disorder across the Borough and uses this to set its crime reduction priorities for the coming year. However, we understand that looking at crime statistics alone isn’t
enough to get a full picture of people’s experiences, which is why we take the time to consult and listen to you. The results of this survey tell us that most of you feel safe within the Borough and that thankfully people’s experience of crime is very low. This year, in addition to the very successful Safe Communities Survey, we conducted our first Youth Safe Communities Survey in the Borough’s secondary schools. This was developed with the help of the Piggott School and highlighted young people’s concerns around road safety and drug and alcohol use. It also showed how young people were interested in understanding the consequences of crime and the impact these have on areas where they live and visit. This year the Community Safety Partnership hopes to continue reducing crime across the Borough by focusing on the following three key activities: • Planning for known crime risks • Responding quickly to emerging crime issues • Focusing on changing the behaviour of the most prolific offenders In doing this, we will focus on reducing the following crime priorities for the Borough: • Addressing community concerns, neighbourhood issues and rural crime • Managing offenders, preventing escalation of criminal behaviour and targeting those individuals who cause the most harm to communities • Reducing the harm caused by hidden crime and its effect on high risk, vulnerable victims and their families
Meet your Community Development Workers Working with local communities to help them understand and realise their own potential is key for the Borough’s Community Development Team. This work is important because it helps communities help themselves, particularly preventing some residents from becoming vulnerable by preserving an independent, rewarding life. Each member of the Community Development Team is located in a different part of the Borough so they can work closely with local residents and provide a focal point for local activities.
Rose Green, Senior Community Development Worker “I manage the Rainbow Community Centre in Winnersh which provides a location for a broad range of services and activities for people of all ages. Working with local residents we have helped Rainbow Park shake off a lot of its problems from the past to make it a vibrant and welcoming place to live. I also oversee some community development projects across the Borough and support and mentor some of the other community development workers.” firstname.lastname@example.org | (0118) 908 8193 / 07702 557337 Claire McEnoy, Community Development Worker for Finchampstead
Cherish Risi-Elford, Community Development Worker for Shinfield
“I manage the Community House in Gorse Ride and I’m responsible for community development in the Finchampstead area. I work with a number of local groups and individuals locally, enabling them to influence and make decisions about issues that affect their quality of life, and work with the community to make positive change.”
“I manage the Shinfield Rise Community Flat as well as Housing Surgeries, Have Your Say Meetings, and Drop-In Surgeries with local Borough and parish councillors. I also help the community to run events and activities, such as craft courses, healthy cooking projects and community trips.”
Claire.email@example.com (0118) 973 1760 / 07747 638 868
firstname.lastname@example.org 07885 983 396
Catriona Macmillan, Community Development Worker for Wokingham “I was based at the Community Flat in Eustace Crescent but I will operate from Norreys Church in Norreys Avenue during the rebuilding of Eustace Crescent. I help the community organise children’s activities, healthy cooking activities, drop-in sessions and I support the local residents association.” email@example.com | 07785 314 603
The Community Development Team works with residents to: • Help identify their needs, issues and concerns - then find a way to overcome them • Support the development of community groups, activities or projects • Organise learning opportunities, campaigns, focus groups for consultations or forums where members of a community can talk to the Borough Council, police or with other agencies • Support people who are deprived, disadvantaged, discriminated against, or in greatest need
Jennifer Harper, Acorn Community Centre Manager “I manage the Acorn Community Centre in Woosehill which is a community centre and a base for the Learning Disability Day Services provided by Optalis. The centre has a number of large flexible spaces that are used all year by a wide range of local residents and community groups, plus a café providing a good mix of food and drink.” firstname.lastname@example.org 07885 983 398 Ashwani Gupta, Community Development / Social Inclusion Officer “I have just begun to deliver community development within the Woodley area, with an initial focus on the Drovers Way/Southlake Crescent areas. In addition to this, I also support the local Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community within the Borough, including the delivery of the Council’s BME Forum.” email@example.com 07982 250 347
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It’s your business Keeping children safe in the Wokingham Borough is everyone’s business – including yours. If you have concerns about a child or young person not being properly cared for or you are worried they may be physically, emotionally or sexually abused, or neglected, get in touch with our Referral and Assessment Team. Children and their parents may need help urgently. If you don’t feel comfortable about telling us, or you are not sure if you are right, you can also speak to a police officer, teacher, health visitor, doctor or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
Investigating fraud Our Investigations Team investigates various types of alleged fraud including housing and council tax benefit, housing tenancy such as illegal subletting of Council properties, disabled blue badge and council tax discount. The purpose of these investigations are to prevent and detect fraud and first and foremost protect the public purse. In the case of housing and council tax benefit fraud, once investigators have enough evidence, the alleged fraudster is interviewed under caution before the case is sent to an independent sanctions panel, which decides on one of three penalties - a caution, a fixed fine called an administrative penalty or prosecution. All fraudulent claims are passed to the Recovery Team and we seek to recover all illegally claimed benefits. Since April 2013, the team has identified £320,000 of housing and council tax benefit fraudulently claimed. Since April, investigations have resulted in four prosecutions, four cautions and five administrative penalties. The team has also recovered a council house which was being fraudulently sublet – saving us £18,000. Anyone suspecting a person of committing any of the offences listed above is urged to call the confidential hotline on 0800 454 240. You can also report it online at: www.wokingham.gov.uk/benefits/report Anyone reporting any allegations of fraud can do so anonymously.
The most important thing is to tell someone who can help. If you believe a child is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999. More information: • (0118) 908 8002 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.wokingham.gov.uk/childrenscare/ worriedaboutchild
New website for Wokingham Safeguarding Children Board The Wokingham Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) ensures relevant organisations in the Borough co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. WSCB has been working closely with its partners to develop a new website to help people find information in one place on keeping children and young people safe and promoting their welfare. It also provides additional information to support Berkshire child protection procedures, and WSCB will also use the website to share key messages and information following each board meeting or key event. WSCB welcomes your feedback on the website and if you have any ideas for its development or anything you would like to see included, please contact them directly. More information • WSCB@wokingham.gov.uk • www.wokinghamlscb.org.uk
What’s on this spring… There’s no excuse to be bored this spring with activities in your local library, out in the countryside and various places around the Borough. With so much going on for everyone, be sure to check out: www.wokingham.gov.uk/events for full listings of what’s going on in and around the Borough.
...in your local library March 31 Poetry on Prescription Tour with William Sieghart Wokingham Library, 5pm to 7pm. Cost: £3
April 11 The Queen’s Knickers with Nicholas Allan Hear the tale of the Queen’s knickers and decorate a pair of paper knickers for the Queen. For children 4 to 7 years. Wokingham Library, 10.30am to 11.30am; Woodley Library, 1pm to 2pm and Lower Earley Library 2.45pm to 3.45pm. Cost: £3.50 May 12 Women and the Great War A History Wardrobe presentation showcasing the lives of women and their clothes during the Great War. Woodley Library, 7.30pm. Cost: £6
April 5 Ordinary Autism Caroline Hearst talks about how Autism can May 14 go undiagnosed. Eavesdropping on Wokingham Library, 10.30am. Cost: £3 Jane Austen’s England Find out more about how our ancestors April 7 to 16 lived two centuries ago with historians Roy Pant-tastic Antics and Lesley Adkins. Drop-in craft session for children aged Wokingham Library, 2pm. Cost: £3 5 to 7 years. Sessions at all libraries (except the Container Library). Cost: £1.50
May 24 Drawing and Painting Taster Day Adults workshop led by Caroline Crawford. No need to be an expert, come along and have fun! Wokingham Library, 10.30am to 3.30pm. Cost: £28 May 27 Writing Out Loud Open Floor Event for local writers. Woodley Library, 7.30pm. Cost: £3
...opportunities to enjoy the countryside this spring The Countryside Service offers a wide programme of water and land-based activities all year round, catering for all ages from two years to adults. Mostly based at the Dinton Activity Centre, you can take part in a variety of activities. Join as members and receive up to 25% discount on activities and get an annual car parking pass (Dinton Activity Centre / Sandford Lane car park only).
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Making friends the healthy way Step up to good health and make new friends on our Wokingham Borough Health Walks. Choose from more than 17 organised walks across the Borough, ranging from one to four miles. You only need to do 150 minutes of activity a week to keep fit and prevent illness such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. • email@example.com • (0118) 974 3728
...family Fun Day at Dinton!
...school holiday activities Monday to Friday during the Easter holidays and spring half term week! Activity days from £31.50 per day (Easter only) or £142 for a week or book an RYA or BCU junior course for £198.50 per week. (8years+) Join in the fun with our week-long courses in sailing (RYA) and kayaking (BCU) or have a taste of all our activities by taking part in our WILD Days @ Dinton (Easter only). You can book an individual day or sign up for the whole week to get a discount. We are offering a 10% sibling discount on all of our school holiday activities.
...children’s Easter Hunts April 18, 19, 20, 21 Easter Egg Hunt on-the-water One hour sessions between 11am and 4pm. Dinton Activity Centre, cost: adult £12/ child £9 April 19 & 20 Easter Egg Treasure Trail Dinton Pastures and California Country Parks between 11am and 4pm. Cost: child £3/adults and under fours go FREE
Saturday May 31/Sunday June 1 10am-4pm Simply turn up and book activities of your choice. All activities are just £2 per go (15minute sessions) Try your hand at rock-climbing, sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding; take a ride on a Segway or simply enjoy the scenery and a BBQ by the lake side. For complete details on all events and activities on offer visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/dac
...Wokingham town’s month of culture – May Arts and culture will abound in Wokingham town during May with a series of exciting events organised by the Town Council. The event is being held to raise the profile of cultural activities already available in the town and also increase the existing provision. Information will be available in early April, including a What’s On Guide to events in May. Visit the Town Hall Information Centre or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
...for the film buffs Wokingham Film Society shows a broad range of films, catering for all ages, at Bearwood Theatre, Bearwood College. www.wokinghamfilmsociety.com @wokinghamfilm Reading Film Theatre is your local notfor-profit independent cinema, based in the Palmer Building on the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus and it’s open to everyone. On offer throughout the year are independent, art-house and foreign language films (subtitled in English) as well as the occasional blockbuster. For further information and details about upcoming films visit: www.readingfilmtheatre.co.uk
Other useful sources of information: • www.facebook.com/wokinghamboroughcouncil • www.facebook.com/wokinghamboroughlibraries • www.twitter.com/wokinghambc • www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk