Thursday, 13 December 2012

In Memory of Tom Slater 26 02 1995 - 18 05 2012

I met Tom Slater's father Paul at the Henwick Sportsfield, to see first hand the memorial bench dedicated to the life of Tom. The Henwick Management Committee, were honoured to receive a request from Mr Slater to place the bench at the sportsfield. The whole community can now share in this moving and lasting tribute to Tom. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Letter from America

I was delighted to receive a letter from a former resident of Newbury, now living in America, commenting on my proprosal to increase traffic flow on West Berkshire's road network.

I suggested to the Highways Department, that where appropriate and with only minor modifications to the junction layout, left-hand filter lane traffic lights remain on green unless pressed to red by a pedestrian wishing to cross the road. This would increase traffic flow and reduce pollution from vehicles stopping unnecessarily. 

In the letter the writer highlights some effective ways the motorist in America benefits from innovative thinking.

I quote: Generally a right turn (UK left turn) is permitted on a red traffic light if the road is clear and if it is safe to proceed. In the event this is not permitted a sign 'No Turn on Right ' is clearly displayed.

Four Way Stop: This is indicated by a flashing red light against all four cross junctions. 
The procedure is that all traffic stops at the intersection and the first vehicle arriving at the junction is clear to proceed.  If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, drivers give way to the vehicle on their right (left in the UK). We have practical experience of this system as an installation close to our home has considerably reduced waiting time at a busy junction.

It was very refreshing to hear how juctions are configured in America to increase traffic flows.
We can learn from the success and experience in other countries. But are we ready in this country to take on the challenge of additional traffic congestion and deal with it?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Family pets killed on Bowling Green Road


My close neighbours are holding four caskets containing the ashes of their family cats, all sadly killed on Bowling Green Road. 

Whilst the families grieve for their loss, they told me of their real concern for the safety of pedestrians and especially children walking to school along this busy road. A lack of driver concentration or simply speeding has contributed to so many vehicle accidents in this area. 

I will continue to pressure West Berkshire Council to install speed cameras so that we all have a chance of crossing the road safely.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Find the Adult Gym at Henwick Sports Field

Just beyond the pavilion on the Henwick Sports Field, there is a row of strange looking adult gym aparatus. I tried this one which is said to be good for the hips. A passer-by took the photograph and kindly helped me down to planet earth after about 5 minutes of swaying happily back and forth. Actually, I did feel better for it!    

Friday, 14 September 2012

125 train overhanging Thatcham level crossing!

I took these pictures early on Thursday morning (13 September) of two different trains stopped at Thatcham Station bound for London. If only the 125 trains could move a few feet into the station the barriers could be raised and the traffic could flow again. Is it not that simple?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Ufton Nervet Level Crossing - Petition

I met train commuters outside Thatcham train station at 6am on Thursday morning (13 September), to get signatures for a petition to install a full width barrier and CCTV cameras at Ufton Nervet level crossing.

A full width barrier would stop people going around the barriers and CCTV would be linked to a signal box. The operator can then check whether the crossing is clear before dropping the barriers. Therefore, If there is a problem, they can alert the train driver and take action.

This should help to prevent a further tradgedy like the rail crash at the Ufton Nervet level crossing in 2004 that killed 7 and in May this year when another person died.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

New Play Area at Henwick - Official Opening

The new play area at Henwick Worthy sports field was officially opened on Wednesday 22nd August.

Hamish Hearn, a local school boy, was invited to cut the ribbon and officially open the new play area. Hamish approached the Henwick Management Committee last year with photographs of state of the art play equipment he wanted to see installed at the sports field.

The Henwick Management Committee were so impressed with the presentation by Hamish, that councillors worked hard to find funding through developers' contributions and a grant from West Berkshire Council to purchase the new play equipment. 

Pupils from Whitelands Park Primary and Parsons Down Schools were then invited to vote on one of three play equipment designs and I am pleased to say that the winning entry has been a hit with mums, dads and more importantly the children!    


Monday, 3 September 2012

'Merge in Turn' - Please

Following a collision between an articulated tanker and a sports car, just after the traffic light junction on the A4 & Hambridge Road westbound, I have asked the highways department at West Berkshire Council if they will install a ‘Merge in Turn’ road sign and lane markings.  This will assist both traffic flow and road safety.

Police Point the Way

This is the police van that draws driver’s attention to the 30 mph speed limit in Bowling Green Road. As soon as it has gone, speed is back up to 40, 50, 60…..

I am still trying to persuade the highways department at West Berkshire Council, that we need 24hr speed enforcement in the road though! 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Cabinet Reshuffle on Bowling Green Road

It was a simple task.  Replace the old rusty green telecoms cabinet (23) with a brand new one in the same place!

So how did we end up with three cabinets you ask?  The replacement cabinet was positioned on the footpath close to the junction of Bowling Green Road and Mersey Way. Motorists coming out of Mersey Way, quite rightly complained that the cabinet was blocking their view of traffic from the right and there had been some dangerous near misses. Meanwhile a new even larger cabinet appeared close to the fence!

I have emailed the contractor regularly over the last four months, pressing them to remove the offending cabinet on the footpath.

One day we will come home to find the reshuffle has taken place and the junction will be safe for traffic again. But why is it taking so long? Only a private contractor will have the answer!

Cut Engine - Cut Pollution

If you get caught up in a queue, waiting for the barriers to open at the Thatcham level crossing, you will now see green signs strapped to lampposts inviting motorists to 'Cut engine - Cut pollution'.  There are two green signs on both approaches to the crossing.

I spoke to one motorists who kept the car engine running and pointed out the signs to her. She said that the signs were so small that she had not seen them.  So, please look out for the signs on your next trip and tell all your motorist friends.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Greenfield site saved from development -Tull Way

I have just seen a report from our planning officer refusing outline permission for a 90 home development, just north of the Thatcham garden centre with access off Tull Way. 

I presented a 424 signature petition against the development, to the West Berkshire Council Executive meeting on the 14 June, on behalf of the petition organiser Mrs Lisa Burgess. 

The petition header commented 'The views across farmland to the rolling hills are outstanding and maintain a green lung between Thatcham and Newbury. If allowed to go ahead the homes would increase the pressure on doctors, dentists, schools and the local road network.' 

The petition organiser has worked tirelessly on behalf of the community to keep this greenfield land from being developed.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Olympic torch lights up Thatcham

I joined a huge crowd of flag waving mums, dads and children, to watch the Olympic torch procession go by. We got a good view standing in the line just south of the Henwick sportsfield. I heard one excited child shout out to her mother "mum, they are selling flags for free" and an older lady told me that she didn't realise Thatcham had so many police officers!

This was a really memorable occasion for the town.       

Call for safer crossing on garden centre roundabout

In recent months, I have taken photographs of vehicle crashes on Tull Way & Bowling Green Road.
I have asked the council to take urgent action to reduce the danger this poses to pedestrians, especially for children walking along the A4 to Trinity School, using the garden centre roundabout. 

A Thatcham resident has raised concerns about this issue, in the NWN 21 June 2012 on the Thatcham page. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Petition Against Housing Development

Residents living in Bowling Green Road Thatcham, have collected signatures for a petition against a 90 house development north of the garden centre, with a single road access off Tull Way.

The petition refers to several aspects including; 
  • The land that the developer wants to build on has a designation of Important Open Space,
  • Thatcham already has a five year supply of housing development
  • There will be more pressure on local doctors, dentists and schools.
  • The housing development will also blight views across the open agricultural land to the distant rolling hills and farmland.
I will be presenting the petition on behalf of the residents to the Executive meeting on Thursday 14 June.     

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Bumper to Bumper

It is quite rare to be on hand to witness the aftermath of a vehicle accident these days.  The emergency services and contractors are so efficient at taking details and cleaning up, you may not have known the crash had taken place at all.  In recent months a car demolished a lamp post on Tull Way; a car overturned outside the Regency Park Hotel and later, a three car pile-up took place in the same spot.  Two separate crashes have taken place on Tull Way and Turnpike Road just off the Garden Centre Roundabout.  When you talk to local residents you hear about even more crashes in the area.

I am asking West Berkshire Council to look into the issue, to see what can be done to slow cars down in the area.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Motorists fume - waiting at level crossing!

There appears to be no immediate plan to construct a replacement bridge at the Thatcham Station level crossing.  

In May, with a heat wave rising to 27c, the conditions for motorists waiting in long queues for the level crossing barriers to open must be intolerable. If you don't have the luxury of air conditioning in the car, your windows will be open and exhaust fumes will be drawn in.

I have asked West Berkshire Council to erect posters at either side of the level crossing, asking motorists to switch off their engines whilst stopped to reduce pollution in the area.

Friday, 25 May 2012

You've made my Maltese Cross!

Since the family has taken ownership of a Maltese puppy, I have joined the friendly circuit of neighbours walking their dogs along Bowling Green Road. I should say, braving their walk along Bowling Green Road!

Most motorists are oblivious to the 30 mph speed limit.I have taken photographs of 4 separate car crashes from Tull Way to Bowling Green Road, with my mobile phone. Residents have made me aware of many more crashes in the area. 
After a long campaign I got the grasscrete laid just west of the turning to Ashmore Green Road,
to park the police camera van. Amazing how the traffic calms down when the van is there once or twice a month.  Bowling Green Road has now become the most attractive route for all traffic wishing to dodge all the speed cameras and traffic lights spread across the rest of Thatcham.

It is now time to demand 24 hour speed cameras for Bowling Green Road.
I have submitted a question on this very matter to the next Executive meeting of West Berkshire Council.  


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Twenty Is Plenty!

I got up a petition for a 20 mph speed limit in Derwent Road Thatcham.

The new speed limit was introduced recently, with repeater signs and a large ‘20’ roundel painted in the road surface at the entrance to the housing estate.

The 20 mph speed limit is clearly signed for motorists to see. Parents and children will now be able to cross the road more safely to local play areas.

Friday, 11 May 2012


I often walk around the north of Thatcham inspecting the open ditches that take water from the surrounding hills. In Florence Gardens there are a series of ditches and drains that link to the pipe network.The ditches were full of tall weeds and litter, including cans, crisp packets and other items.

During the recent heavy rains, the weeds and litter in the ditches reduced the flow of water into the pipe network and I was concerned that this could  have resulted in local roads and properties being flooded. I met a member of staff checking the area for flooding and I suggested to her that the ditches should have been cleared when it was dry. Perhaps we could see a Community Payback scheme being used in this area?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Muddy Car Park - Fit for Porpoise?

Last week I stood in the rain outside Parsons Down Junior School in Derwent Road, Thatcham handing out leaflets to parents encouraging them to use the recently opened Park and Stride facility at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.  Not surprisingly a number of parents emailed me later to say that the surface of the car park had turned into a series of muddy puddles and they refused to park there.  Several mothers told me that if it rains their children's clothes get covered in a wet, sandy mud.  Also many mums go straight to work after the school run and dont want to turn up at work in 'clothes that look like they have been on a ten mile ramble through the countryside'.

The response from the West Berkshire Council's Conservative member for the Environment reiterated her view that the surface was 'fit for purpose'

See the lovely photo of the Park and Stride car park under water in the NWN of 26.4.2012

Thinking outside the Pot Hole!

I was very pleased to see my comments in the Newbury Weekly News (May 3rd)  'Potholes: the fix first time solution'. The council pothole inspectors and contractors could carry a bucket of quality filler on board and repair potholes as they see them. This would reduce the costly damage to vehicles and cut claims against the council.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Pot Holes

This morning I visited Mark Taylor, a reporter with the Newbury Weekly News to talk about my ideas for improving the way West Berkshire Council repairs pot holes.  The method I would like to see the Council adopt would be more cost effective and the repairs would be longer lasting.

I also spoke to the Thatcham reporter on the NWN, Tanya Haji, to explain my reasons for requesting that the Council urgently install a 'Slow Down - 30mph' vehicle activated sign (VAS) on Bowling Green Road.  This is following a series of serious road accidents in this area.