Thursday, 9 April 2009

Of strawberry flowers... and colourful hours

Reading Tories have developed a rather peculiar method of local campaigning... ambulance chasing. First Mapledurham Pavilion and now Kings Meadow Baths.

I should say at this point that I have the utmost respect for Tom Stanway and the reasons for his decision to back Askett-Hawke's proposal because I know he arrived at them after much thought and deliberation.

However, Rob Wilson's attempt to ride in like a knight on a white charger to the rescue is a tragic symptom of the bandwagon hitching he is so fond of. He perhaps should have shared his concerns about how the community can take part in and gain use of King's Meadow Baths with his fellow Conservatives before the committee met.

The maths were quite simple. If the Conservatives had all voted for the King's Meadow Campaign, Rob Wilson wouldn't be having to furiously back-pedal to save face now. His call for a call-in by the Corporate, Community and External Affairs committee of a decision that two of his own councillors dodged is pretty desperate.

Mr. Wilson should maybe also have had a word with one Tory member of the committee who did not appear to have read the briefing papers, asking a question the answer to which was quite clearly in the report before us. It's just not good enough to turn up and skim read the papers during a meeting and not have a good enough grasp of the matters under discussion to vote one way or the other. It is perhaps why we are sent them in advance? The people of Reading deserve better from their councillors.

It's a matter of public record that both myself and Peter Beard voted for the Kings Meadow Campaign proposal. As I said at the time, it was a tough call. I wasn't happy with some parts of the KMC bid, but then I wasn't happy with parts of the Askett-Hawke bid either.

Since it was a public meeting, I don't think I'm out of order for reiterating why I voted the way I did. The Askett-Hawke plans, in my opinion, overdevelop the waterfront and reduces the amenity of Kings Meadow - that hotel is going to cast a long shadow over the park in the summer evenings. In the current market, I also wasn't happy that all the integral elements would be viable and a partially completed project would do no one any favours. It was my opinion that there were pluses and minuses to both plans and in the abscence of a clear winner, the community option was always going to get my vote.

What can be said is that the planning committee is going to have to be pretty damn careful either way. Some members have probably overstepped the mark in what they have said about the two bids and will find it difficult to avoid accusations that they haven't predetermined a decision before the facts are presented before them.

I don't think this is the last we have heard of this by a long chalk!


Andrew Waters said...

This is rich.

For years now the Reading Liberals have hitched their wagon to any campaign that will get them votes regardless of the cause or the rights & wrongs of the issues.

The conservative position on Kings Meadow remains unchanged, in other words supportive of a scheme which preserves the park, restores the pool and makes economic sense.

What happened at the meeting on Wednesday was basically a ‘ lets bash the council session,” with Cllr,s Skeats & Stanway, very professionally fending off public wrath, whilst Cllr Epps spent most of the meeting skulking in the background.

When he did speak, we got the usual Liberal line of, ‘vote me in as your MP and Ill tell you whatever you want to hear.’

Rob Wilson’s address really put things in perspective and won applause from the audience. Not only was his message measured & consistent, it also highlighted the naked truth. In Rob Wilson we have a person who acts, speaks & looks like an MP, with Cllr Epps I am afraid very little has changed. A second rate politician made to look good only by the third rate party he represents.

Was said...

Ah, so the Conservative position is officially to face both ways at once. Thanks for confirming that and from a Tory activist at that.

And also for the admission that there was public wrath with the Tories stance. You didn't need to let that slip as it only confirms the emails I've received from wrathful members of the public.

Andrew Waters said...

Well Warren, didn't see you there. Least I had the balls to go to the meeting, tell people who I was and what I thought.

Anyway, if I do stand for Abbey again, just to be clear. Here is my view on a way forward.

Bob's plan is not a bad one, but we do need to do something about the Island and ensure that Council Tax payers don't get hit with the whole bill.

That's what I will be working on.

Cllr Gareth Epps said...

Andrew Waters really does like making cheap shots. I said at the Kings Meadow meeting that Katesgrove Residents' Association met that evening, and it would not have been sensible for all 3 ward councillors to be at a Kings Meadow meeting instead.

Andrew, you have a lot to learn if you want to get involved in politics. Telling the truth would be a good place to start.

Andrew Waters said...


You lecture me on telling the truth:

Warren was not at the meeting ( Fact )

He had a choice to attend or not ( fact )

Yes you did say he was at another meeting & I have never said that you did not. ( Fact )

Now when we come to cheap shots, I felt the comments about Rob on this blog were pretty cheap.

As a good Tory I responded in kind & you didn't like it.

In future if you stick to the issues so will I.

Anonymous said...

good grief - this is an edifying exchage. How old are you, 10?

Gareth - ambition to be be an MP is not aided by these ill tempered 'you said, I said' exchanges. You really are as irascible as people say you are. Not very Liberal then after all.

And Andrew, you little attack dog you! Which side of the local Tory divide are you on then - the Young Turks or Old Guard.

This and the stuff on Reading Forum is probably why people are turned off politics. 6th form debating society at best. Reading deserves better.

Andrew Waters said...

Fair Play, all said - war over.

Gareth, may I wish you a very happy Easter.

Was said...

I'm just left wondering, which side of the chocolate fire-guard is Andrew?

Anonymous said...

And there I was thinking there was only 2 ten years old according to
Anon 00.13!!..Get back to your Choccie Easter Egg Was and don't smear the carpet, yu naughty boy!

Andrew waters said...

Well Warren

Guess we all need to maintain our standards.

Or we may get board, sorry I meant bored.