Jamie Wake 2014 Independent Candidate for Whitley ward in the Reading Local Elections
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    On Wednesday evening, I was asked to accompany a resident to a meeting with developer, ST James, regarding residents concerns over the ever increasing service charges imposed by management agent, Hallmark. It is quite apparent that residents do not feel they are getting value for money and feel that they are being overcharge as well as being charged for services that they do not receive. The resident that had arranged this meeting was frustrated as she had contacted her elected councillor for help and she felt she was palmed off without any support. I was only too happy to help when other options failed her. The resident also invited a member of the Kennet Island Residents Association to the meeting as they hadn’t met with St James regarding the service charges and to avoid duplication over this issue.

    The meeting did seem proactive and I’ll update residents when agreed actions have been carried out. I will be meeting regularly to pursue the issues surrounding service charges plus any other issues that arise. During this meeting, the issues surrounding broken street lights on Kennet island have been raised. The lack of lighting in areas such as Gweal Avenue have created pockets of darkness by bike sheds and alley ways and seem to be hotspots for burglary. I anticipate ST James resolving this very quickly.

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    I have just got home from the Annual Kennet Island Fun Day and I can honestly say that the day was a roaring success.  The day is a community day in the purest sense of the word and is organised by a small but hardworking residents association that I once had the privilege of chairing before deciding to stand in Whitley as a Local Councillor.

    Jamie Wake manning a stall at the Kennet Island Fun Day

    Jamie Wake manning a stall at the Kennet Island Fun Day

    Being a resident of Kennet Island, Elections came secondary to me today.  When I wrote the constitution for the Kennet Island Residents Association that became adopted by the officers, I ensured that the association remains impartial politically.  Today I was just a resident who had a stall that represented his Travel Agency.  The Labour Candidate, Kelly Edwards, was on site and I got to meet her with Mike Orton and Rachel Eden.  Understandably, I could only make small talk as today was about the Kennet Island Community – not politics or the elections – and besides, I had a stall to run!

    As well as stalls, there was entertainment for the children and a fancy dress competition.  There was also a raffle and me and my partner both won prizes.  I won a set of wine goblets and my partner won 2 return train tickets on First Great Western to anywhere between Reading and Penzance.  I chose not to talk about the elections with residents when approached as I wanted to enjoy the day with the community.

    Then again, Local Politics is all about the community and I am standing to serve that very community in Whitley.   I think it’s telling that I am the only candidate in this election that actually lives in Whitley and I think all political parties should really take localism on board when selecting candidates.  At the end of the day, who else would understand the area except the people that live there?

    One of the things that we’re reminded of at the Fun Day is the growing number of Children on the development and lack of amenities for them.  KIRA Kids Club did well to get the play area installed earlier and having spoken to the technical manager at St James, the park and Boules Green are set to open Mid August.  With the addition of the reopening of the cafe as the Island Lounge (and applying for an alcohol license), that means all parts of the community are starting to be catered for.  So, on the island we currently have:

    • Cafe / Bistro
    • Hair Salon
    • Convenience Store
    • A Meeting Room
    • 2 Gyms (one on piazza and one in the Hilton)
    • A bar (in the Hilton)
    • A Restaurant (in the Hilton)
    • A Hotel
    • Kids Club
    • A Travel Agency

    Soon we’ll have:

    • A Pharmacy
    • A Hospital
    • A Play Area
    • A Park
    • A Boules Green

    Then think of all the people who are self employed from home who can also provide services!  Photographers, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Recruitment Consultants – to name just a few that I know of.

    Kennet Island is a thriving community within Whitley and I’m proud and privileged to live here and I’m proud to stand here as a candidate in the local elections.  As my partner said yesterday – Local Issues = a local candidate and as many people in Whitley have told me, they agree and I agree with them too.

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    April 22nd, 2011jamiewakerdgcycling, kennet island, kira, local candidate, six to fix, whitley

    For those of us who don’t always explore our backyard, I was almost dismissive when the Chair of Reading Pride suggested a bike ride through Whitley.  Knowing that she rides a bike, I sent her an innocent text to ask where to go for a bike ride.  Having brought a bike recently in an attempt to start a keep fit regime without the costly expense of a joining a gym, I thought today would be the perfect day to ride it.  Within seconds of sending a text message, I received a call describing a route that she and her partner had cycled last week and I had not expected her to suggest a route within the ward of Whitley.

    Cycling in WhitleyRather nervously I set off via the Piazza on Kennet Island and I was rather pleased to see the buzz that the new cafe has created on there.  Members of the Kennet Island Residents Association greeted me as I cycled through and told me more about the May Day Celebrations that are coming up.  As a resident I will be of course be going and whilst I understand that other parties may be distributing ‘non political’ literature, I personally would not use this community event to seek voters.  Mainly as KIRA can not be compromised politcally and as the previous chair, I helped write the constitution to ensure that the association always remains impartial.

    Listening to what the new Vice Chair, Gavin Turner has achieved for the event so far, I also put them in touch with someone that might be able to help with gazebos for them too. 

    It was also nice to bump into the person behind KIRA kids club who has been campaigning for the Kids Play Area on the island.  She said she was disappointed to read in recent literature that had arrived through her door that others were taking credit for the play area and I assured her that residents of Kennet Island knew it was KIRA that pushed for the play area.  She’s not the first person to tell me that they were a little annoyed at the literature and I have blogged about my disappointment previously.  Once everyone had had a laugh at the idea of me with helmit going on a bike ride, I set off in search of adventure!

    Within minutes of Crossing the A33 and following the pathway running alongside the canal, I found myself in a beautiful natural surroundings viewing boats, swans and locks – how comes I had never discovered this before?  I’m rather cross with myself that having lived in Whitley for a number of years that I had never realised how close I was to this and I would recommend this little trip to any other resident – either walking or on a bike.  I guess we all miss what’s beyond our backyards and unless you live in an area, you don’t always have the opportunity to discover more.  This is the same with local issues.  Thankfully, living in Whitley, Im aware of many of the issues that residents face and I have made a promise that I will Continue to Listen to Residents and be accessible at all times.  This is a promise that lasts all year around – not just at election time.

    I could tell a porky and state that the cycling was a deliberate act of mine as part of my launch in Whitley of one our ‘Six to Fix’ – ‘A Cleaner and Greener Reading’.  It wasn’t but it does tie in rather nicely!

    • This year 12 local centres will receive a deep clean after years of neglect. Going forward we will ensure that local shopping areas are not overlooked in favour of the town centre.
    • Reducing fly-tipping, litter and graffiti remains a priority for the Lib Dems and we will use the tools and powers available to the Council to keep local areas clean and green.
    • We will look to increase the range of materials residents can recycle on the doorstep wherever possible.
    • We will promote schemes and initiatives that help residents cut carbon emissions and fuel bills in their own homes.
    • We will actively promote walking and cycling to reduce carbon emissions and ease congestion.
    • We will work and improve rail transport, including Reading Station upgrade.
    • We will fix pot-holes and continue to invest in improving roads and pavements in Reading after years of underinvestment.

    Well, having only cycled to Burghfield and back (right up to the Cunning Man but I forgot my wallet!) my body is starting to ache.  I have just called Lorna of Reading Pride to thank her for the route and to confirm that I will be there tonight at the Fundraiser held at the Granby.  In the meantime, I think I deserve a nice soak in the bath!