There is no place for racism in our society, and Wokingham Borough Council has a long-standing commitment to tackling the problem and will be increasing its efforts in response to recent global events.
The borough has an active BME Forum that is supported to be a critical friend and advisor to the council and a strong voice for the black, Asian and minority ethnic community. This forum has been in place for about 18 years and is regularly consulted by the authority.
But in the light of the international outcry over the killing of George Floyd and the protests in the UK, the council is strengthening its commitment to tackle racism. The council will be wanting to hear from residents across the community about experiences of race and racism and also asking if there are any monuments, places or road names which cause offence.
Council leader John Halsall said: “We have a proud record of tackling racism through our work with the BME Forum and of celebrating the BAME community’s contribution to our society and history during the annual Black History Month events.
“But we recognise that, like others across the world, we can do even better and we are committed to doing so. We will do this with our established BME Forum and by listening to everybody in our community.”
Ramnik Saund, chair of the BME Forum, said: “The tragic slaying of the unarmed black American George Floyd by police in Minneapolis has once again raised the inequality and injustice that exists in society. This has provoked anger around the world. Wokingham BME Forum has worked in partnership with the Council to encourage the adoption of policies that treat everyone equitably, fairly and without discrimination.
“This sad event has created an urgency to act and the Forum is encouraged by the Council’s commitment to removing racism. It welcomes the initiative to remove such relics in public, which may cause offence to the heritage of BME communities. The Forum supports the Council in its endeavours to promote equality and remove racism. It is committed to working with the Council to achieve this.”
The council will work with the BME Forum to make sure it hears all voices and engages with the community and have created an online portal for people to give their experiences.
The comprehensive survey of black and minority ethnic people’s experiences of life in the borough will be used as a starting point to tackling the blight of racism head on.
The survey invites all people to share their experiences of race and community cohesion in the borough and detail any specific racist incidents.
We will use the information collected, with representatives of the BAME community and the Wokingham Black and Minority Ethnic Forum, to create a comprehensive action plan that will provide real change where necessary.
Cllr Parry Batth, vice-chair of the BME Forum, said: “The BME Forum has been a strong champion for the community for more than a decade and I know we will be able to work with it and other groups in the community to gather a wide range of experiences and views. We are particularly interested to know if there are any monuments, places or road names that cause offence so we can open up a proper debate on this issue.”
With many local retailers set to reopen from Monday (June 15), including Woodley town centre, the Town Council, Wokingham Borough Council and Woodley’s Town Centre Manager Brian Fennelly have been working together to ensure the town centre shops can open safely.
The team have provided a range of activities and resources to support local shops and businesses to open safely whilst still adhering to the latest government guidance such as social distancing and safe queuing.
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “It’s great to see our local businesses start to reopen again as they are such an important part of our local community. By shopping local, whether in one of our great independent stores or in our local markets, you are helping our businesses to survive and thrive.
“We have been working with our business community throughout the pandemic to support them by distributing £17.3million in grants and £17.5million in business rates relief. Now, that non-essential shops are allowed to open from next week, we are working hard to support our town centre businesses welcome residents back onto our high streets in a safe way.
“But it’s incredibly important that people continue to observe the rules and follow advice on how to shop safely. Everyone must take responsibility, respecting the people around them and the place they are in. We need to make sure we limit the risk of infection spreading as, if a local outbreak occurs, there is a risk that a localised lockdown may return. This is something we can all agree no one wants to see happen.”
Key changes taking place around the main shopping area in Woodley include:
- Clear signage across the towns to make sure people remember the importance of requirements such as the social distancing rule, sanitizing hands and queuing safely
- Increased marketing and social media campaigns to keep shoppers and businesses up to date with useful information and latest updates
- Temporary changes to local roads and footways to help maximise space for pedestrians and manage movement safely
- Clearly marked areas for queuing outside shops
- Support packs for local retailers and businesses including a range of useful resources, such as posters, signs and floor stickers to help encourage safe distancing.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport, said: “Whilst we know some of the changes may seem strange at first, we know from our discussions with residents and businesses that creating safe spaces is incredibly important to everyone. All the changes being made are temporary, and we will continue to monitor them over the coming months and adapt them as required.”
While traffic changes are being implemented in Wokingham town centre, there are currently no plans to change anything in the Woodley precinct, unless there becomes a need.
“We are not currently proposing changes to the roads or footways in Woodley at this time but are continuing to work closely with them to monitor the shopping areas and will take action if required. We will continue to keep resident’s updated if there are any changes.”
Wokingham Borough Council is committed to continue to support all businesses across the borough, whether town centre based or not.
“But it’s not just about our main retail areas as we want to make sure our shops and businesses are supported across the borough. Many of the ideas and improvements agreed for Wokingham town centre, Woodley and Twyford are applicable to all our retail businesses and we’re keen to work with them to offer support where we can,” adds Jorgensen.
Retailers in Wokingham town centre, Woodley and Twyford will be contacted directly to organise access to support packs. Retailers outside of these areas, but interested in finding out more should contact Economicdevelopment@wokingham.gov.uk.
Funding towards these activities is coming from the European Regional Development Fund which helps local areas stimulate their economic development.
The Just Around the Corner youth charity, who provide outreach youth work in the town on behalf of Woodley Town Council, are carrying out a survey to find out what young people are doing in their free time and what they would like to see provided for young people in Woodley. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and will help JAC and the Town Council’s Community Youth Partnership to consider and develop youth activities and provision for the future.
Direct link to the survey – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/H952ZYV
Alternatively, please use the QR code.
Construction work to create a new community tree garden in Woodley precinct has been completed, with a raised brick wall installed around the four trees outside Waitrose, near the Crockhamwell Road car park.
The completion comes just in time for non-essential shops to reopen, with the Prime Minister announcing more retail outlets will be able to open from 15 June, providing social distancing can be maintained.
The paving slabs around the trees have now been removed, which should solve the problem of the roots dislodging the slabs and creating a potential trip hazard. The project was a joint initiative between Woodley Town Council, the Town Centre Management Initiative and Wokingham Borough Council. The brick wall was the preferred option following feedback from residents to the town council.
New seating will be installed in the area for visitors to the town centre by the town council, as well as a notice board in the same style as those in Woodford Park. It’s hoped it will help smarten up the town centre and help boost the local economy as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pedestrians will still be able to walk on either side of this new garden to move between shops.
Now the site will be handed over from the borough council’s contractor to the town council, which will plant up the area. The plants and vegetation to be installed in the garden has yet to be decided with current thoughts of a school community garden, a variety of grasses or even the use of moss to absorb carbon from the atmosphere or a mixture of both. Whatever is chosen will be easy to maintain.
“For many years the beautiful tree area at the Crockhamwell Road end has been marred by the serious trip hazard caused by their roots,” said Cllr Keith Baker, Leader of Woodley Town Council. “Several residents experienced shocking injuries as the roots grew and we got to a position something had to be done.
“We ended up with two choices, remove the trees or remove pedestrians from the root areas which are quite extensive. For the town council and many residents, removal of the trees was simply not an option so the concept of surrounding the root areas with a community garden started to emerge.
“As we move into the final stage of this project we need the community to get involved and there have been several suggestions including setting up a Friends of the Town Centre group and involving schools. Climate Change related options are also being considered. The area is sufficiently large enough to cater for all of these three. This has been a highly imaginative solution to a serious injury issue, which not only deals with that issue but is a highly visually pleasing feature. A classic win-win situation.”
“I hope this change will help encourage more people to visit the town centre as more and more shops reopen in the weeks ahead,” said Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport at Wokingham Borough Council. “This solution by our highways team for this historic problem in the precinct should make it safer for pedestrians as well as providing an attractive area for our residents.”
“We have been concerned for some time about the dangerous tree roots causing some very nasty accidents in Woodley,” said Brian Fennelly, Woodley Town Centre Manager. “The new Tree Garden will address this issue and has the potential to be a very attractive feature in Woodley Town Centre.
“We are delighted to be receiving lots of great ideas on how best to landscape the new garden from local residents. Suggestions for a community garden, wild grasses and a moss covering are all very interesting and we look forward to developing these ideas quickly.”
⛔️⛔️⛔️ MILES WAY IN WOODLEY CLOSED TODAY AND TOMORROW 08.00-18.00 FOR REPAIRS ⛔️⛔️⛔️
Miles Way, Woodley is closed between its junctions with Spitfire Way, Comet Way and Viscount Way.
The alternative route for all northeast bound traffic affected by the restriction shall be by proceeding via Comet Way, Hurricane Way and Spitfire Way or by this route in reverse.
The alternative route for all southeast bound traffic affected by the restriction shall be by proceeding via Mohawk Way, Hurricane Way and Comet Way or by this route in reverse.
The alternative route for all northbound and southbound traffic affected by the restriction shall be by proceeding via Colemansmoor Road, Vauxhall Drive, Loddon Bridge Road, Headley Road East and Spitfire Way or by this route in reverse.
For any further enquiries please contact Wokingham Borough Council who have organised the works.
Roads across Wokingham Borough will have speed limits reviewed this year, as the council works to ensure our streets are as safe as possible.
This will focus on the major transport routes across the area, with residents and town and parish councils being able to nominate roads where they think changes are needed.
Residents’ concern over traffic speeds has been significant in recent months due to the COVID-19 situation, due to low traffic volumes and restricted movement as well as more pedestrians and cyclists being on our roads.
Lockdown saw very quiet roads nationally and some authorities reported instances of extremely excessive speeding.
In Wokingham Borough, thousands of pounds has been spent fixing roads, signage and other street furniture, which has been damaged in recent months due to speeding – as well as injuries to drivers.
The announcement of this review aligns with the National Police Chiefs’ Council ‘Slow Down, Save Lives’ campaign, running from 18 May to 7 June, which highlights the devastating impact speeding can have, not only increasing the risk of a collision but the severity of the impact at higher speeds.
Figures show that on average 17 people are killed and 126 are seriously injured every month in the UK, where speeding is believed to have been a significant factor.
“We are reviewing our speed limits to ensure that they are appropriate for the level of development, both completed and planned, as well as the number of vehicles and pedestrians using them,” said Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport.
“We want to hear from local groups, residents and business who would like to see changes to speed limits on roads near them to ensure they are safe.
“Traffic speeds and speed limits on Wokingham roads often divide opinion. Our team will review requests, alongside our data and with our partners at Thames Valley Police to decide whether these are appropriate.”
Each time we receive a request, officers undertake a formal review of the legal limit, current speeds and collision history before deciding whether a new speed limit is appropriate.
Any changes must be based on a robust and evidence-led approach. Officers evaluate all the available data alongside supporting information, environmental impacts and road characteristics, as well as consulting with Thames Valley Police, which enforces speed limits.
The council identifies roads where changes to the posted limit may be required through data collection and analysis, both directly and in partnership with parish councils operating Community Speedwatch.
These are schemes which allow volunteers to monitor the speed of passing vehicles using a hand-held speed detection device
In this review, the council welcomes comments from residents and businesses about their speeding concerns, suggested locations for speed limit changes and requests for information about the speeds measured on their roads.
Through the traffic regulation order process, where the formal change of speed limit will be consulted on, anyone can make comment upon or object to any proposed changes, before we implement changes to speed limits.
Residents should send their comments and requests by email to TM.Consultations@wokingham.gov.uk, clearly identifying ‘SPEED REVIEW’ and the roads affected in the title. Results will be published in the autumn.
Wokingham Borough Libraries Newsletter June 2020
For information on the latest guidance and advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/health/public-health-campaigns/coronavirus/
At present Wokingham Borough Council has taken the difficult decision to temporarily close all of its libraries.
A large number of online library services are still available, including ebooks, enewspapers and audiobooks. While the libraries are closed we have suspended the fines so there is no need to renew or return your books. Please look after the books, until such time as the libraries reopen, then you will be able to return them.
New Digital Services
- Sign up for free library membership by visiting the Spydus website to join our libraries online.
- Freegal Music – Access 15 million songs from thousands of artists. You can download 3 songs per week, and listen to streamed content for up to 3 hours per day. Login to Freegal Music with your barcode and PIN, or download the Freegal Music app from the App Store or Google Play Store, then select your library and log in with your barcode and PIN. Please note: Some of the titles may contain content of a more adult nature. As with all library usage we recommend parents and carers give their child support in choosing appropriate items to match their needs.
- Ancestry Online website – is a family history website with access to census records, births, marriages and deaths records, and much more. Available at Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley libraries. Access to this resource has been temporarily expanded to library cardholders working remotely, courtesy of ProQuest and its partner Ancestry. To log in from home, visit the Spydus website.
To view the full newsletter please click HERE.