Bell Tower Community Association

Sizzling in the sun: Newport Road street party 2017

Saturday 17 June 2017 – another excellent street party for the Big Lunch weekend, and with the temperature reaching 29 degrees this one was our first real scorcher!

Splat the Rat and Readipop’s drumming workshop, both favourites from last year, were back again, and we had much more live music – this time from an acoustic band from New Hope, a capella singing from the Voices of Reading community choir and an excellent set from covers band Sunday Replay. Plenty of activities for the kids with loads of help from New Hope and another fiendish quiz courtesy of David and Jonathan with prizes provided by the Standard Tandoori and Tesco.

Many thanks to everyone who helped and the residents of Newport Road for hosting. And special thanks to the Moderation for the delicious free barbecue food and Thai curry.

Residents campaign to save old street lights

The Bell Tower Community Association is urging the council to keep the cast iron lighting columns in the area, as the LED street lighting replacement programme sweeps across the town. The lights in the area are all due to be converted to LED technology in June 2017.

There are more than 20 cast iron lamp posts in the area, most of which are original Victorian gas lighting columns.

Bell Tower secretary David Neale, who has been researching the history of the lighting columns, said: “As well as being attractive, the old cast iron lighting columns are also a valuable part of our heritage, and many of them have an additional local connection, having been manufactured by foundries off Caversham Road. The area consists mostly of Victorian terraces, and has one of the largest clusters of original lamp posts in Reading. It would be a great shame to lose them.”

The association believes that the columns can be refurbished economically and fitted with new LED lights, and is happy to offer to paint them to keep them in good condition.

“In its local plan the council describes Reading as ‘a city which has rediscovered and embraced its heritage and landscape’. We hope the council will show it is in tune with the city it describes and commit to preserving our heritage,” Bell Tower chairman Jonathan Dart said.

Mr Neale added: “We think the parts to refurbish an old street light will be cheaper than installing a new column, and they are likely to last longer. We hope the council can preserve them, and that the old lighting columns in other areas of Reading will be saved too.”

We’re looking for old pictures of the foundries that made cast iron lamp posts in Reading – among these was H C Goodman next to Caversham Bridge, which was still trading as recently as the 1980s. Do you know anyone that has any pictures of any local foundries? We’d love to share them – please contact us at

Reading’s draft Local Plan includes developments for our area

Reading Borough Council has been developing plans to help guide future developments up to 2036. The plans set out how the council will tackle the need for substantial new development over the next two decades, including up to 700 new homes each year.

The former Cox & Wyman works in Cardiff Road is included in the plan (labelled WR3a on the map), with a proposal for between 70 and 110 new homes on the site, and this development is likely to start within the next 2-3 years.

Included for the first time is the area incorporating the Manrose Manufacturing factory in Meadow Road and the Ayres Removals site at the end of Ross Road (WR3b), which is also earmarked for housing. There is also a proposal for more housing in Richfield Avenue (WR3c) and another (not shown on the map) for housing on the Carters site off Caversham Road. These three sites are unlikely to be developed in the short term.

The council is looking for comments on the proposals – the complete draft plan, supporting documents and instructions for giving feedback can be found at

The deadline for comments is 5.00pm on 14 June.

(Map courtesy of Reading Borough Council)

Flats proposed above former bike shop

A planning application has been submitted to the council for change of use of 163-165 Caversham Road, the former Caversham Bridge Cycles shop, along with a ground floor extension to the shop.

The proposal shows a conversion of the upper floors to three flats. The shop area will be retained and extended to the rear.

Details and an opportunity to comment can be found on the council’s website at

Local surgery in special measures

Priory Avenue Surgery in Caversham has been placed into special measures after being deemed inadequate by healthcare watchdogs. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticised Priory Avenue Surgery staff for being unable to provide knowledgeable and effective care. Circuit Lane Surgery in Southcote was placed into special measures at the same time.

Ruth Rankine, deputy chief inspector of General Practice, told the Reading Chronicle: “Patients were at significant risk…we will return in due course and if satisfactory improvements have not taken place we will not hesitate to use further enforcement measures.”

Staff displayed a lack of knowledge and experience at Priory Avenue, while CQC inspectors identified a significant backlog in patient correspondence.

Both affected surgeries are run by OneMedicalGroup, whose chief executive Rachel Beverley-Stevenson said: “The team have been working hard to make positive steps to improve the service and there has been a notable improvement in patient satisfaction and those who would recommend the surgeries to friends and family.”

CQC inspectors found a number of areas where both practices were failing, including patient interaction, staffing levels and learning from complaints to ensure improvements were made.


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