Jamie Wake 2014 Independent Candidate for Whitley ward in the Reading Local Elections
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    April 15th, 2014jamiewakerdgcycling, kennet island, reading, whitley

    Cycling in WhitleyWidely advertised, it seems we have our very own bike hire scheme coming to Whitley.  Labour’s Whitley News (Posted 25th March 2014) states that the ground works for the hire locations are programmed to be undertaken over the next 5 weeks which I make as being completed by 29th April 2014.  The site also confirms that the locations in Whitley will be on Basingstoke Road, Kennet Island, Green Park and at the Madjeski Stadium.

    The docking infrastructure has already arrived in Reading and Whitley News confirms that it will be installed in a rolling programme throughout April and Early May

    Having seen Reading Labour and Reading Conservatives both claim this a victory recently, I was intrigued by the scheme and started to look at the facts to share with residents.

    The first report on the Get Reading Website dated 18th September 2013 announces that the council has been a procurement process and will be announcing the successful bidder soon.  The second report dated 16th October 2013 announces that Hourbike are the successful bidder.  It confirmed that Annual Membership will be £50 per year which includes the first 30 minutes free as part of the rental.  The price will then be £1 per hour.  The next article dated 27th January 2014 gives the name of the scheme as readybike confirming that 200 bikes will be available across 29 docking schemes.  Then on 29th January 2014 Reading Tories announce that they welcome the scheme and remind readers that they proposed a cycle hire scheme for the Greater Reading area in 2008 in their Cycling Strategy which was published before the 2008 local elections.  Their scheme was to be called Readibike.  The same article reminds readers of the price and that all they need to do to rent a bike is to tap in their membership number and PIN at a docking station, select a bicycle and peddle away.

    The articles refer you to the webpage where you can find further details of the scheme here.  The locations in Whitley are listed as:

    • Academy Sport on Northumberland Avenue (to the right of the main building though this is technically in Church Ward)
    • Basingstoke Road (Just outside Morrison by the Bus Stop)
    • Green Park – Brook Drive (Opposite building 300)
    • Green Park – Lime Square (Just off South Oak Way in front of Lime Sq)
    • Green Park – Longwater Avenue (Outside entrance to building 100)
    • Kennet Island – On Rushley Way (side of Circle Hospital)
    • Madejski Stadium – In corner of car park on Hoops Way

    The website also states that helmets are not available “…Helmets are not provided as we are unable to guarantee the safety of the helmets provided. We do however encourage cyclists to wear a helmet and safety equipment and will be teaming up with local bike shops to help make purchasing any equipment easier…”

    Whilst I havent been on a push bike since my accident (Compound fracture with fractured spine and now left arm not as long as my right arm) I can see how a cycle scheme is both good for the environment as well as assisting the issue of congestion on our roads – though its unlikely to do anything for Junction 11!  It’s a shame the docking stations are not located near places where you can get cycle helmets as well.  I worry that people will use them without suitable protection otherwise.  I’m guessing that the dock on Kennet Island would be more suited for those working at the Circle Hospital though I’m yet to see how much space the dock will use up – especially as residents there are crying out for parking spaces.  I also note that there are no docking stations in West Reading.

    I guess we will have to see how successful the scheme is when it is launched.  I personally would be put off by the annual price of £50 when I see that at Halford that you can get a basic bike for £79.99.  Also, what happens if the Bike has a puncture?  I’m guessing like many of the things that the website states, it’s the hirers responsibility whilst they are hiring it. I am concerned about the safety of users with limited access to helmets by the docking stations and hope that Hourbike and Reading Borough Council work with local businesses to provide a supply of helmets.

    I of course do wish the scheme the very best and look forward to some of my concerns being addressed.

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    Reading Vigil Against Hate Crime

    Leading the Reading Vigil Against Hate Crime

    Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of organising (and obviously attending!) Reading’s Vigil Against Hate Crime which was held in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk.

    It was a great turn out and it began with a short speech from myself (Transcript below) followed by a candlelit walk, 2 minute silence and a balloon release. Balloons had to be released one by one to abide by Reading Borough Council Regulations (no string either!) but that added to what could only be described as a magical moment. As the balloons were released, they formed a spiral as they headed up into the sky and then formed a star. If that wasn’t magical enough, the precision timing of a huge flock of white birds flying above only added to the magic. It was a poignant moment that I don’t think you could create again if you tried.

    Here is the Transcript of my speech:

    Tonights vigil is the first in Reading and joins the many others taking place at this very moment in time.

    To remind you, tonight is about tackling the issue of hate together – taking a moment to stand with those who have lost loved ones and giving our support to those that need it. Our message is a simple one – it’s one of Hope, Remembrance and Positive Action.

    So why are we here? Because people are still being attacked on our streets and extremist propaganda encourages people like David Copeland to try and hurt so many in horrific attacks.

    Even this week, we have heard about the horrific murder of Stuart Walker and the hospitalisation of two men in Leicester.

    These vigils have been organised for the 17-24-30 campaign. Their name represents the days that the 3 London nail bombs were planted:

    17th April – Brixton Market

    24th April – Brick Lane

    30th April – The Admiral Duncan, Soho

    3 people were killed and more than 130 injured during Copelands 3 bomb attacks including a 23 month old baby with a nail in his head.

    Please follow me on a candlelit walk to remember those we have lost to hate crime, to put our differences to one side and work together in unity to give Reading a voice to say No to Hate Crime.

    Although a symbolic event, I see Reading’s vigil growing each year and perhaps next year we can organise a choir and some speakers to address the crowd. Sadly, only the LGBT Community came to the event including representatives from Reading Pride and SupportU. It was also great to see members of Reading’s Political Parties in attendance including Cllr Daisy Benson, Group Leader of the Reading Lib Dems, Cllr Tim Harris from Reading Conservatives and Richard Wood, LGBT Officer for Reading Labour. Everyone sharing a common cause. I had invited the Reading Council Racial Equality but I don’t think they were able to attend so hopefully next year they’ll be able to attend.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that did attend.

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    Yesterday I learnt that Lorna McArdle, chair of the Reading Pride charity, is to present a petition to Reading Borough Council that reads:

    We the undersigned believe that the residents of Reading would significantly benefit from a LGBT support centre in the town centre open at accessible times to provide health, relationship, employment and legal advice and offer counselling and other services.

    We call on Reading Borough Council to acknowledge this need and offer genuine assistance to establish and maintain an LGBT centre within Reading.

    There is currently a paper petition and an e-petition which can be found at http://www.supportu.net/survey/index.php?sid=15698.

    A motion is also tabled by Cllr Tim Harris that reads as follows:

    SUPPORT CENTRE FOR LGBT COMMUNITY

    Councillor Harris to move:

    “This council believes that the residents of Reading would significantly benefit from a support centre in the town centre open at accessible times to provide specialist services such as health, relationship, employment and legal advice and to offer counselling and other services to the LGBT community.

    This Council undertakes to provide genuine assistance with accommodation and £10k in start up costs for “Support U” to establish such a centre which once instigated should be self-financing and run by local LGBT community members.

    Both the petition and motion are to be presented at a council meeting on Tuesday 18th October 2011.

    I’m pledging my support for this centre for a number of reasons. I make no secret of my sexuality or the way it has been used against me in the past. It was the recent homophobia that I encountered that encouraged me to launch the OK 2B GAY campaign in Reading. The SupportU centre will provide a central base for Reading LGBT groups and organisations and most have received little or no funding from Reading Borough Council who have historically allocated higher funding to organisations that represent religious or racial groups rather than those discriminated against because of sexuality. Some organisations have even had funding decisions reversed by the new administration and there is speculation that this happened after a particular organisation was seen supporting a political group canvassing in the Redlands Ward of Reading!

    That aside, Reading Borough Council does not do very much for the LGBT community. There are committees that represent Ethnic Minorities and religious groups and yet there are none established for the LGBT Community. I have raised this with Reading Borough Council but have never received a reply as to why.

    SupportU aims to provide the following services:

    Family help groups
    Drop in days and nights for the family unit to discuss issues arising from children and/or grandchildren being in same sex relationships.

    Gay parents advice, people needing advice regarding access to their children due to their sexuality and conflicts within the family unit.

    Transvestite Groups and Transsexual Groups
    A relaxed meeting place for those seeking advice for changing sex or cross-dressing. This will be run by people already going through the process or considering it with guests from the NHS or private hospitals. With the inclusion of a hairdresser on the premises it will not just give TS and TV’s a safe place to feel welcome to get their hair done, it would also alleviate the fear of discrimination and intimidation.

    20-25 group
    A social club for the over 19′s so they can meet others in a safe place. This will also be in association with local LGBT venues.

    Educational Services
    Classes in the arts, literature writing, dance, theatre and other recreational activities.

    3rd Party reporting
    Support U have had confirmation that Thames Valley Police would use the facilities as a 3rd party reporting centre.

    They also wish to house the following services within the centre:

    BeYou – Helpline – They would be looking at supporting and improving the service as they have seen a 40% increase of calls in the past year.

    BOLGaF – Berkshire Older Lesbian, Gay Forum
    A social group for the older generation to meet up and support

    Reading Pride – An organisation that provides an annual festival to celebrate acceptance

    Broken Rainbow – Domestic Violence help for same sex couples

    Kenric – A social group for lesbians

    Gay Berkshire – This group is made of a network of governing and voluntary organisations regarding Housing issues, Police advice, NHS advice and support, and voluntary help organisations.

    NHS – advice and support

    TVPS – An informal HIV advice provider for the Berkshire area.

    LGBT Disability Network – A social network for the disabled that are LGBT

    Albert Kennedy Trust – working with 16-25 year old lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people who are homeless or live in a hostile environment

    Plus:
    Support U would provide a referral service to other local businesses to assist the community with enquiries relating to services that the charity doesn’t provide directly. Some of the examples of these are:

    Council – Benefits and social housing advice.
    Solicitors and Lawyers – Offering a business opportunity for solicitors to advise on Civil Partnerships, Wills, and Gay Fathers or Mothers Advice, people needing access to their children due to sexuality.
    Job Agencies – Offering advice on CV writing and how to approach looking for a job.
    TVPS – HIV testing and advice
    Unions – offering union representation and advice
    Doctors
    IVF Clinics
    Fostering Services
    Faith provisions

    As you can see, these are very much needed services that are needed by the LGBT community that also compliments services that are being cut and I hope you will show your support by signing the petition above and coming to the Civic Centre in Reading on Tuesday.

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    Well, bloggers all over Reading have given their opinions and analysis of the Reading Elections and put forward theories as to why some parties did well and others not so well.  Some say that many people in Reading were using their vote to protest against the coalition nationally whilst other talk of dirty campaigns.  Unless we’re knocking on voters doors to ask, I guess we’ll never know the real reasons why and I’m sure that we’d get a multitude of answers too.

    What is clear from looking at the turnout, is that the public are still disenchanted with local (and national) politics.  In Whitley for example, the average turnout has been around 25%.  I was pleased to see an increase this year to 30% but I’m still keen to see why 70% of Whitley residents chose not to vote?  That will be my pet project over the coming months.

    I don’t want to over analyse the results here in Reading.  For those who didn’t know, I came 4th with 140 votes with the Labour Candidate, Kelly Edwards, winning with over 56% of the vote.  I wish her well and I hope that she puts the needs of Whitley before her own political career.  I also hope she considers moving into the Whitley ward.  That way she’ll be able to understand Whitley a lot more. 

    A lot of residents here have approached me to tell me that they voted for me and one told me that regardless of the result, I am still a winner because I’d been making differences locally and then went out and tried to make a difference by standing for council. I will still continue to make a difference here in Whitley and time will tell whether I get selected by my local party to represent them in next years election.

    My views have not changed.  I still believe that the Lib Dems are the best political party that can make a difference both locally and nationally.  I still agree with Nick and I still say Yes!  I also believe that there’s too much time wasted on blaming people and being negative rather than getting on with the job in hand.  I’m proud to be a Lib Dem.

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    April 30th, 2011jamiewakerdgcommunity, honesty, jamie wake, local, local candidate, reading, whitley

    Having just been out delivering leaflets about my standing in the election in my ward (Whitley), I’m continually amazed by the positive reactions I’ve been getting from residents. 

    I was under no illusion as to how difficult the whole process of standing would be and the attention it would draw but I believe it will all be worth it!  Having people wish me luck on the street has motivated me at every step and I believe residents care because I’m local.

    One of the things that many people have found it difficult to grasp is that I have a different approach to politics and quite frankly, I don’t blame them!  I have vowed to never waste time criticising other parties as that’s valuable time that can be used in solving our problems.  Of course, there will be times when I may have to defend myself and only recently I have been attacked for having been an actor!  Even today a resident has informed me that there is also a leaflet circulating in Whitley about me but I am yet to see it.  Of course, if it is found to be of an unacceptable nature, it will be handed over to the appropriate people.

    Whilst delivering by Swallowfield Drive, I got chatting to a few people who were fixing a car.  These guys apparently never vote because all politicians are the same.  The opinion that they had is that all they do is argue between themselves and forget about the people at the bottom.  I could see where they were coming from as I felt the same until a few years ago.  Handing them my leaflet, I assured them that I was different and shared the same issues that they did.  Whilst they told me that they wouldn’t promise to vote, they wished me luck and I left them to tinker with their vehicle.

    Another resident told a similar story and thanked me for standing but was bemused that I wouldn’t be critical of other parties! She asked me about the national debt and I said to her the same answer I say to everyone!  There is a huge debt and we’re way past playing the blame game when we can all work together to solve the problem. Laughing she agreed with me that I was different and I left her to get on with her day. 

    I believe that I can make a difference in Whitley – and It’s reassuring when residents tell me that they believe I can too.  Even the Kennet Island Management Company, Hallmark, wished me luck in their newsletter last week which bowled me over!  We”re in the final few days now where you have the opportunity to make that difference in Whitley so when you look at the names of the candidates standing on Thursday’s elections, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Which candidate actually lives in Whitley?
    • Which candidate is actually going to spend their time representing their community rather than being critical of other people?
    • Which candidate wants to deliver a difference to all members of the Whitley Community?

    I’m proud to be standing in Whitley and I’m proud to be the answer to each of those three questions.  It’s our Whitley – don’t lose your voice – use your vote!

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    Jamie Wake Pledging Support to Lorna McArdle from Reading Pride - eliminating discrimination

    Jamie Wake pledging support to Reading Pride

    I was privileged to attend the Reading Pride Burlesque Fundraiser last night which took place at the Granby.  The club transformed itself for the night allowing the Reading Pride organisers to literally take the club over for an evening!  Even though I got outfit suggestions on Facebook and Twitter, the heat finally prevented me dressing up in a tail coat and I opted for the garish trousers I could find and yet I still seemed under-dressed!

    For me, whenever I think of Reading Pride, I can’t help but reminisce over the years I spent on it’s committee.  Not many people know that I one of the founders of the festival with Lorna, Selwyn and Laurence.  I guess that’s because as the face of Reading Pride for the first two years, my alter ego’s name was used to promote the festival throughout the town.  With that history, you can’t help but feel that their is an invisible attachment that keeps you attached!  Even now, I can still recall walking out on to the main stage to host it for the whole day on September 4th 2004 where I was gobsmacked by the number of people including families with children there to greet me and the acts we had booked.  It’s a WOW feeling that I don’t think will ever go.  Running a pride festival is not about receiving an award (although all but one of the founders have – wink wink lol) it’s about seeing the way people attending are relaxing and being able to be themselves.

    One of the things any Pride goer is normally asked is ‘why do we still need pride festivals?’ I’m sorry to say that homophobia, like many other forms of discrimination, is still not eliminated from society.  Events such as the Reading Pride Festival work towards educating the general public and what is great to see, is the number of heterosexual people that come to Reading Pride that want to see an end to discrimination too.  Even now, many people would not feel comfortable holding their partners hand in the street and I see it regularly in social care where older people worry about being disciminated against for not being a husband or wife. 

    Last night I pledged my support to Reading Pride to stamp out discrimination and chatted to the chair of pride, Lorna McArdle, about ways in which I can support.  We taked about discrimination in all it’s forms and I’m reminded that only recently, I have faced discrimination myself.

    Homophobia is a hate crime and should be reported to the police and Thames Valley Police is committed to tacking homophobia and Sexual Orientation is one of their ‘six strands of diversity’.  In our ‘Six to Fix’ in Reading we’re working on cutting crime in Reading

    • We will work with local Police teams, Neighbourhood Action Groups and residents to keep cutting crime in our neighbourhoods.
    • We will invest in the voluntary and community sector to build capable communities.