Recent news

Emmett McKenna's letter to Whitley residents

posted 1 Apr 2016, 03:42 by Rachel Eden

Dear Resident,

 I am standing for election to continue the long record of service to the  community in Whitley ward provided by its Labour councillors. I care passionately about improving the life chances of people through education and want young people to be able to a get a decent home that is affordable, whether for rent or to buy.


 It is really important to give young people the opportunity to see just what is available and possible for them. I am involved with projects with local schools to encourage children to engage with science and to show them how many different and varied careers are available. As a scientist working for a company based on the university campus, I run  work experience sessions to show in practical ways what it means to work as a scientist.


The government says it is making more affordable housing available. This is simply not true. The reality is that the government’s talk of “affordable” is out of the reach of too many people, and it is enabling those with the money to take up new housing for buy to let. At the same time the government is attempting to kill off social council housing for rent. If elected I will do everything I can to highlight  and change this whilst working with other councillors to provide as many truly affordable homes as possible.

Developments in south Reading 

There are some big developments being proposed, such as Worton Grange and the stadium area.  I will work to get the maximum benefits for local people in terms of facilities and much needed housing.

 I am also committed  to continue the work of the local councillors in taking up problems and issues on behalf of individual residents. I ask for your support on 5th May.

Yours sincerely,

Emmett McKenna to stand for the council

posted 1 Apr 2016, 03:40 by Rachel Eden

Emmett McKenna moved to Reading five years ago, has been working with local Labour councillors and  lives on Basingstoke Road. He works as a research scientist for a company based on the University campus.

 Emmett was born in 1984 and grew up in Northern Ireland. He worked as a brick layer on building sites in the summers to support himself through university, where he obtained a degree in Chemistry.

 His work in south Reading includes building links between commercial companies and local schools. He has started projects  with local schools to promote a practical interest in science by work place experience.

 Local Labour councillor Mike Orton, who is retiring this May, says,

 “I have been working with Emmett McKenna for several months now.”

 “I know he is very hard working and cares passionately about giving young people every opportunity to have a good education and to be able to get decent affordable housing.”

Mike Orton stepping down - his view

posted 1 Apr 2016, 01:16 by Rachel Eden   [ updated 1 Apr 2016, 01:17 ]

I am retiring from the council at this local election. I was first elected for Whitley ward in 1975 and I would like to say thank you to all those who have supported me. The time is right for me to stand down now.

 Emmett McKenna has shown that he is very hard working and cares about the issues that affect local people and communities. He is involved with several projects that will benefit the local community, including his work with schools. Emmett has my full support and I ask you to support him on 5th May.

 The government has been cutting benefits to the poorest people and those with disabilities to pay for tax cuts for the better off. This was finally exposed as just too much in the March Budget and has caused a major split in the Tory government.

 We shouldn’t think that is all, though. The government is still cutting funding to urban areas with the greatest needs, like Reading, to protect better off areas. We need councillors that will stand up to this.


South Reading Over 50s Social Club Celebrates its First Anniversary on Wednesday (24th Feb)

posted 23 Feb 2016, 05:34 by Rachel Eden

Members of a popular South Reading Over 50s Social Club that launched in 2015, are celebrating the club’s first anniversary next week.

The event, at Whitley Wood Community Centre on Wednesday 24th February from 11am to 2pm, includes a buffet with refreshments, live entertainment, games with prizes, alongside cake and craft stalls.

Entry is just £2 and new members are always welcome. The social club is open to everyone over 50 and is run by local volunteers and supported by Reading Borough Council.

To find out more call Sarah Hunneman on 07580 870 945 or email

Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care, Rachel Eden, said:

“For older people in South Reading, this club event is a great opportunity to socialise, try some new activities and meet new people. Come along and join in the fun!

“The South Reading Over 50s Social Club is one of a varied programme of events that celebrate the contribution older people make to our community and help older residents to live fulfilling and active lives.”

Flood prevention workto start in Whitley

posted 18 Feb 2016, 12:25 by Rachel Eden

PEOPLE living in Harness Close will become the latest Whitley residents to benefit from work to further reduce the risk of flooding in South Reading.

Works begin on a local flood alleviation scheme for Harness Close on Monday next week (Feb 22) and are expected to run for four weeks.

The project involves installing new drainage kerbs, which will run into a new drainage ditch from the parking area east of Harness Close, through to a path at the rear of the park. A drainage pipe will then link to an existing culvert under the B3270.

Harness Close was one of a number of roads affected in South Reading when an estimated four inches of heavy rain fell in the space of just a few hours on July 20th 2007, creating substantial surface water flooding in the South Reading area. This was compounded by further heavy rainfall over the days which followed.

Since that time Reading Borough Council has successfully bid for a number of funding opportunities for local flood alleviation works. So far, these have included the included installation of a new flood water attenuation tank in the Vernon Crescent open green area, extensive ditch improvement works along the A33, the installation of The Cowsey flood attenuation basin, the Property Flood Level Protection scheme in Kingsley Close and other minor flood reduction works in Merrivale and Templeton Gardens.

Harness Close residents will be the latest beneficiaries, after the Council was awarded £33,000 as part of the Environment Agency’s Local Levy funding scheme. The Council will be match funding the scheme from revenue funding allocated to works to reduce flood risk in Reading.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“Many residents in South Reading will clearly recollect the intense rainfall of July 2007, particularly those whose homes were affected. The Council has carried out a number of flood alleviation schemes across Whitley over the last few years and the work due to begin in Harness Close next week is the latest of those schemes.

“The rainfall of July 2007 was an exceptional event and whilst nobody can guarantee properties will not be affected in the future, hopefully the works carried out by the Council over the last few years will bring a level of reassurance to local residents in the Whitley area.”

Advance notice boards are going up in the Harness Close area this week and letters have been delivered to local residents advising them of the work. Working hours will be between 08.00 - 18.00 hrs daily, excluding weekends.

Council and fire service work together to keep people safe from fire

posted 16 Feb 2016, 05:17 by Rachel Eden

Care workers, carers and people that work in the care sector are receiving new training in a bid to keep vulnerable residents safe from the risk of fire.

A new joint-initiative is now in action with Reading Council working closely with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) and the local NHS to keep vulnerable adults safe.

The initiative comes in the light of several recent potentially avoidable fire deaths, a predicted increase in adult care demand, combined with a significant rise in those suffering with dementia.

In response, the council’s adult safeguarding team has been at the forefront of co-ordinating the multi-agency work to share best practice, resources and training, with the aim of promoting safety and minimising fire risk.

There has been a big drive on awareness training, information and resources for staff involved in care of adults in the community.

The aim of new training is to help workers identify who is more at risk; to know what protection measures and fire prevention equipment is available, and to provide guidance on when and how to make a referral to the Fire Service.

Vulnerable adults are often more at risk from fire in the home. Those more at risk include people who:

  • are over 65 years of age
  • live alone
  • have mental health issues (including dementia or memory loss)
  • have mobility difficulties or sensory needs (hearing loss or visual impairments)
  • suffer from alcohol or drugs dependency
  • have a learning disability
  • have evidence of previous fires at their property
  • are smokers – in association with one or more of the vulnerability indicators above will significantly increase the risk of fire

If the person falls into one or more of these categories they are likely to be a priority for referral to the Fire Service.

RBFRS is providing training to care workers, enabling them to carry out a fire risk assessment of the resident’s home.

There is a range of assistive technologies available designed to support an individual identified as potentially more vulnerable from fire, allowing them to remain independent in their own homes. The equipment available ranges from flame retardant nightwear and bedding, to safety ashtrays and cooker guards. In some locations sprinklers can be installed.

Reading’s Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care, Rachel Eden, said:

“I’m pleased the council, our local Fire Service and NHS partners are working together to help protect our most vulnerable residents against the risk of fire. The Fire Service has already highlighted Reading’s joint approach as an example of good practice they would like others in the area to consider.

“We can all play a part in looking out for vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who may be more at risk. By carrying out safety checks and installing simple fire safety devices, we can help save lives.”

Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Reading Borough Council and the NHS on this initiative, which we hope will be instrumental in reducing the numbers of incidents involving vulnerable adults.

“Working in partnership in this way has given us access to a wide range of service providers who work with the more vulnerable members of our community. We have been delivering training and resources to these providers to help them gain a better understanding of the fire risks faced by vulnerable people and the measures that can be put in place to overcome them. The feedback for this to date has been really positive and we are really pleased that it has been so well received.

“A major challenge for us is the ability to identify who these vulnerable individuals are and where they live. Once identified, with their consent we can support their independent living through a range of services, including Home Fire Safety Checks and assistive technology where appropriate and supported by partner agencies.

“We would urge anyone who cares for, or is a friend or relative of, a vulnerable adult to contact us, as we can help them to reduce their risk of fire in the home.”

For more information, visit and select the Home Fire Safety Check icon.

Plié, Pirouettes and Pas de Deux for South Reading Schools’ Ballet Workshops

posted 1 Feb 2016, 04:10 by Rachel Eden

    Reading Borough Council Press Release

YOUNG dancers will be perfecting their pirouettes at ballet workshops held this week.

Three south Reading primary schools and a Reading Performing Arts School will benefit from free ballet workshops this week, run by a prestigious national dance company.

Taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Northern Ballet, an internationally acclaimed dance company renowned for its magical story telling repertoire using classical ballet, will work with Reading school children at Christ the King Primary, Geoffrey Field Infants School, The Ridgeway Primary School and Dancercise Performing Arts School.

School children in reception and year 1 will be put through their paces by a dance artist from Northern Ballet to mark the performance of their children’s ballet, 'Tortoise & the Hare' which is currently touring the country and playing locally at the Hexagon on 9th February.

Bringing this much-loved Aesop's fable to life, 'Tortoise & the Hare' is the perfect opportunity for little ones to enjoy live ballet, music and theatre. Tickets are available at

During the workshops the children will explore the story of 'Tortoise & the Hare' and learn some of the characters’ steps from the show. Tickets for the production are reasonably priced to enable children to go to the theatre with their whole family.

The workshops are funded and organised by Northern Ballet’s Learning team and are aimed at introducing local children to ballet and preparing them for seeing the show.

Jo Dean, Northern Ballet Learning Manager, said:

“We are very excited to offer our workshops to the children of Reading. Children always respond really well to dance and these sessions help deepen their understanding of the performance.”

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Mayor, said:

“As a huge ballet fan myself, I think this is a fantastic opportunity to engage young children in the cultural experience of dance and for them to learn new skills from a professional artist.”

Cllr Tony Jones, Reading’s lead member for education, said:

“I’m really pleased Northern Ballet approached us to run these workshops. They are a great extension to the curriculum in our schools and also an excellent way to get kids active.”

Tortoise & the Hare performance details:

Tuesday 9th February
2pm & 4pm
The Hexagon
Tickets £7, Groups 1 in 10 free, Schools £5
All tickets are inclusive of booking fee. Book tickets on the Reading Arts Website

Council will support improvements in John Madjeski Academy

posted 12 Jan 2016, 10:43 by Rachel Eden

THE council has pledged to work with the John Madejski Academy and education bodies to improve standards of education for school children in South Reading.

The independently run academy was put into special measures this week following an OFSTED inspection in November 2015.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“We are obviously disappointed with the outcome of the recent inspection of John Madejski Academy and the council is determined to see action taken which will provide the quality of education children in South Reading deserve.

“The council will work closely with the academy and the Department for Education Academies Division alongside OFSTED to create an effective and long-term solution to the current unsatisfactory situation.

“We are adamant all students in Reading should be provided with the opportunity to succeed and that any gaps in achievement are narrowed and closed, particularly for our more vulnerable children.

“The local authority is committed to ensuring John Madejski Academy makes fast and sustainable progress towards these aims and we will work closely with the Regional Schools Commissioner and the DfE Academies division to ensure that whatever support is required will be put in place.

“Although John Madejski Academy is not a maintained school controlled by the local authority and is guided by the DfE Academies Division, the council is keen to work with all parties to ensure that the students obtain the education that all of our children in Reading deserve.”

Happy Christmas

posted 23 Dec 2015, 03:10 by Rachel Eden

The Whitley Labour party and Councillors wish all residents a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Christmas events for older people in Whitley

posted 30 Nov 2015, 03:47 by Rachel Eden

A range of events for older people in the Whitley area are being organised by community groups and the council in the run up to Christmas and people are being urged to go along and enjoy them - and alert freinds, family and neighbours to them too.  

Whitley councillor Rachel Eden, said "Christmas and winter should be a happy time and by having a good mix of events in December organised by a range of community groups hopefully we can make sure noone is lonely.  I know many people in Whitley make sure they check on their older neigbhours particuarlly at this time of year and I'd also encourage people to spread the word about the activities available. 

South Reading Events

St Agnes Church Hall

Free cookery demonstration- gifts to make for Christmas

Saturday 5th December 2pm to 3:30pm


South Reading Community Café – Clare McEnoy 07496154842

Tues 8th Dec Christmas Carols 10:30am to 11:30am

Sat 12th Dec Christmas Craft fair 11:00am to 3:00pm

Sat 12th Dec Christmas Family Party 1:30 to 4:00pm


Three Cooks – Brenda Neale 07961945030

Fri 11th December 12:00pm onwards Christmas buffet at Cintra Park

Sat 19th December Christmas dinner with live singing for Lynne Turner at Christ The King Church Hall, Whitley. Please call Brenda in advance to book


Whitley Library – Jackie Perrow 01189375117

Thurs 6th December Christmas computer sessions, send E cards and messages and find out how to get bargains on the internet!

15th December 

The World Turned Upside Down, public house, Basingtoke Road, South Reading – Good Friends Christmas Meal 12.30pm  £5.00 

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