News related to the area in which we live
1/2 Term report since the declaration of a climate emergency
Half-Term Report since the Climate Emergency. ‘A’ for the Officers, ‘D’ for the Conservative Administration
Highwood Copse Set to Open September
Highwood Copse schools Opens September
Whilst I'm happy to say the school will finally open I can't say I've been impressed by the delivery. This all started way before I became a Councillor so I've not been able to change the result even though I've been asking from the leader of council to the officers I could find and the project team to do better.
They have a website which is here https://www.highwoodcopse.co.uk/
Please let the Council and Government know that it's just not right.
You decide, but here are some facts
First Environmental: -
Highwood Copse School in Wash Common was meant to have high environmental standards, a connected travel plan and solar energy (or panels) as it's a new school for the future.
A drop from ‘excellent’ to ‘very good’ as its core environmental standard (BREEAM standard), removal of solar energy and a travel plan that's just not connected.
Why, given the decision to remove the solar panels was made after declaring a climate emergency, does this administration not admit the mistake and fund installation (the building was built with it in mind – it just need funding and fitting). You will likely hear that it's because it's an academy and they would all have to be treated the same. This is a brand-new school! Built with public money! Project managed by West Berkshire council!
Second the competence of the Conservative administration: -
This came to Western Area planning for final approval, so the school can open this September. Why did it come to planning as it's already built you might ask?
Because this council not only chose a builder that went bust, but approved and carried out a huge number of changes to the approved plans without getting permission and so had to submit for retrospective planning permission!
How is that any different than travellers buying a field and just starting to build and then also doing a retrospective planning application?
Also, how on earth do you contract with someone and then not bother to keep copies of the paperwork? This is the main reason why they asked to drop the requirement from ‘excellent’, to ‘very good’ as a standard.
I could go on, but urge the public to take note as a pattern has emerged.
Cllr Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem)
Sign the Petition
You can make a difference - Sign the Petition if you are against the development at Sandleford
West Berks Budget Speech and ideas
As some of you might know, I currently represent the Wash Common Ward at West Berkshire but also hold the Shadow Portfolio position for Environment and Public Protection. In that capacity I lead the amendments put forward by the Lib Dems at the West Berkshire Budget meeting on this subject area. Rather sadly the Conservative leadership decided to again rejects all amendments on block. Meaning no matter what the idea, just a dogmatic rejection of everything.
This year I was bringing forward concepts that can lead to around £4 Million of net revenue to the council whilst helping all residents and business’s get lower energy costs (down to approx. 11p per kW hour, rather than the national average of 16.6p.
As you can see from the speech below, I was simply asking to investigate potentially useful things.
I wanted you all to know I am doing my best to achieve what was promised when you elected me.
Cllr Adrian Abbs B.Sc.
The amendments proposed build on previous proposals put forward for solving the energy side of achieving carbon zero.
The “keystone” is to investigate becoming an energy supplier. Something in line with the Energy motion bought forward by myself originally and then again by Cllr Steve Ardagh Walters and approved by council unanimously.
Therefore, we suggest setting aside £100K to allow the detail to be scoped on exactly how we would do this. Estimates shared with our section 151 officer and our new director of place show the potential to fix energy costs significantly lower than current market averages for residents and businesses whilst generating approximately £4 million of net revenue that can support other green initiatives.
Last year we suggested following Warrington’s Council example of building a large solar farm. The welcome stake in the ground that has followed, Grazely, is a good “statement of intent” however the site can be at least 6 times larger than is currently planned. So, 60MW rather than the current 10MW. If Grazely is not a suitable location and to avoid an “all eggs in one basket” scenario alternatives sites may be needed. We, therefore, propose a budget of £100K to carry out this work and ensure we have enough locations to build what is needed.
Third, we’d like to propose £150K so that West Berkshire can focus some efforts on micro-hydro projects. We are lucky to have good candidates for this, including The Kennet, Dunn and of course River Lamborn. The fall across the county leads to an estimate of approx. 60 locations which can run all day and night. They could therefore provide up to another 10MW of power. FYI. Micro Hydro uses around 6% of the land compared to the same power from Solar. This investment of officer time, allows us to fully explore the proposal and even seed some initial projects as location have been previously identified.
The next amendment is for £50,000 pounds worth of officer time to rework all supplier contracts and include the parameters laid out in the Energy label (a copy of which you have all been sent). This gives all our suppliers a clear visual of parameters that will be considered when responding to briefs.
We next move on to Viable Villages. This requires part of an officer’s time to work with parish councils and village communities to truly understand their needs and support things such as energy projects, but also to understand how we might support say the local pub, shop etc. We propose £40K to this end.
Important to us is removing the green bin charge for those in receipt of council tax benefits tackling the poorest first. It would cost just £100K.
Finally, we are proposing to make all the officer expertise available through our community hub so residents and businesses can take advantage of the public money spent evaluating the solutions above and more.
The total cost of these amendments equates to just a fraction of the net revenue from the projects once deployed.
Thank you for listening
As part of the SMATE (Save Money & The Environment) series please find a link to a general guide on how to ensure a good outcome when switching lights at home to LED.
Members Bid Ideas
Every Year in May your ward members have the chance to put proposals forward that then go to a panel.
If successful a grant of up to £5k can be available. This is how I arranged the funds for DeFibs which is still in progress.
If you have any ideas that could benefit the community of Wash Common please contact me to discuss.
Cllr Adrian Abbs
Latest Warren Road App
20/03041/FUL - The application can be viewed on the West Berkshire portal
Happy New Year Wash Common
Here's to a better 2021
Still a long way to go but hopefully we are heading in the right direction
Cllr Adrian Abbs
Saying Goodbye 20 Hello 21
I think we can all agree that 2020 was a bit poor
However, My company is running a campaign that starts Boxing day that offers 25 chances to win some great Alexa Devices and 11 chance to win the grand prize of a yet to launch Alexa Echo Show 10 3rd Generation.
It easy to enter. Just enable an Alexa skill called KickFire (FYI. anyone can have Alexa voice assistance as long as they have a Smartphone, Tablet or PC)
This QR code, if scanned by your smartphone/tablet, will enable the skill. If your looking at the barcode on any touch screen device then just touch the QR code to activate the link.
Once enabled just say to Alexa
"Alexa - Ask Kick Fire to tell me about Goodbye 20 hello 21"
The voice assistant will prompt you to enter and that's it. You might win an instant prize but you will be in the prize draw for sure.
Hope you have fun entering.
I just wanted to wish everyone in wash common a Merry Christmas
I hope you find a way to get some cheer in these oddest of times.
Cllr Adrian Abbs
Update - Sandleford Park App in for 1000 homes goes to appeal
UPDATE - Bloor Homes takes app to appeal
Bloor has formally lodged an appeal on this application that was refused by West Berkshire Council
Sandleford Park App in for 500 homes
Donnington New Homes have an amended app in
Joint working groups are looking at it with Urgency and meet on 26th November
I will be representing the ward along with Tony Vickers as members of the Joint working group
Do contact me if you have input on this particular application.
Easy to use planning map
To try and help the community I'm pleased to say that I have been able to add a planning map for both Wash Common and Greenham to this site. It's there so that people in the ward can check out applications that have been made to West Berkshire.
Just go to the Planning Apps tab to see all local applications as a list or on a map.
Feedback most welcome
Abject Failure of LRIE project
Existing, business, residents and community groups are in near-unanimous agreement about the abject failure, by the Conservative administration, of their last proposals to redevelop the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE).
We have this one last chance to ensure the development becomes something of real value to the community.
I now watch with dread as the current administration starts the next push without really listening first.
Why am I so nervous? First the head man is the same person (Nick Carter), The administration is still run by the same party who's executive seem driven by the same ethos (money above community).
They are still ignoring the wishes of the residents and business there, they won’t even listen to perfectly valid options from business people.
Add that they can’t say sorry, because I assume they don’t think they did anything wrong means it is a recipe for another million of waste.
Who will end up picking up the pieces – We the council tax payer.
Achievements year 1
Things I managed to get done in the first year
- Got up to speed on planning matters and became a member of Western Area Planning
- Became shadow portfolio holder for the environment and public protection
- Joined the West Berkshire Environmental Advisory Group contributed a wide range of practical ideas for immediate action
- Had success with my members bid for more defibs within wash common
- Got Newbury Town Council to add extra defibs to their strategy to enable support of my member's bid
- Contributed ideas to Newbury Town Council on Alternative energy solutions
- Support several residents with the council matters
- Kicked off ward surgeries and help face to face meetings ar the Falklands Memorial
COVID-19 If I can help
Please do give me a call if you need some help during this time. If I can't help myself I'll be sure to connect you to the right person or people who are offering assistance.
Even if it's just a chat feel free to call me on 07768998370.
Wishing you all the very best as the world faces this Pandemic.
Your ward councilor
Environmental Strategy Feedback
Our feedback and proposals are aimed at tackling the biggest issue, but also the ones we can do something about quickest. We are also urging West Berks Council (WBC) to do things in parallel, rather than the current approach which appears sequential. Our feedback covers Energy, Transport, Offsetting, Waste, Building (Planning), Speed of delivery and Finance. The full response and explanatory background can be found here.Summary of proposals
We urge and suggest West Berkshire Council adopt the following:-
- The Executive to work with all parties in order to define a clearer vision and allow us all to achieve the needed goals.
- Reworking of the whole strategy to embed the philosophy of o Use less o Increase efficiency o Find carbon-friendly alternatives o Offset what’s left
- Working cross-party and with the public to ensure improvements in the key targets area. We have provided some detail about how to ensure the correct energy requirement is calculated for instance.
- Take advantage of many of the concepts already provided to EAG by the Lib Dem Group.
- Alter strategies to focus on Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (RRR) in parallel with the longer lead time renewable generation projects.
- We propose again that the green bin charge is removed (as per our standard policy)
- That the recycling centres become non-permit centres, allowing a much wider range of recycling and possible reuse of products (as per our standard policy).
- To embed ethical finance sources for all environmental related funding.
- That the Council begins looking at employing parallel activities based on proposals already delivered to EAG for consideration from the Liberal Democrats and others.
- Move to ULEV as a minimum whenever a vehicle is replaced and beyond this to zero-emission as soon as lifetime costs become with 5% of each other (this should happen within 3 to 5 years).
- To ensure a parking strategy must be associated with any deployment of EV charge points, we propose that reserved bays are immediately created next to all existing EV charge points.
- Stopping any further cuts to transport and that an increased emphasis is placed on improving existing services to promote better use and therefore viability.
- That the council reinforces the need in planning to establish passive house standards for new builds and that commercial builds requirements be lifted to BREEAM Outstanding immediately.
- Identify land immediately for use as carbon sinks.
- Create EPC linkage to business rates – Incentivise landlords to improve the environmental credentials of existing properties and stop penalising them for making improvements that benefit the environment.
- Undertake a rapid expansion at all WBC buildings in their use of renewable energy.
- Undertake a rapid reduction of energy used by WBC buildings for lighting and heat.
- Undertake rapid improvements in the insulation of WBC buildings to promote more efficient heat energy use.
- Using near free renewable energy during the night by storing and time-shifting the energy to when needed during the day on WBC assets (schools, offices, etc).
- Working with the National Grid, Tesla and others to create a grid of batteries that can then time shift near free renewable energy at night for commercial and home use during the day.
- The promotion of concepts outlined in the Lib Dem SMATE (Save Money And The Environment) document.
- The promotion of concepts outlined in the Lib Dem SMATE-4Biz document.
- Launch a public information campaign highlighting the savings associated with reusable cups and the availability of free water.
HELAA Use your voice
West Berkshire HELAA Out
This is a very important piece of public information to review! It shows where new land for development is being considered.
HELAA stands for Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment
There are a significant number of sites coming forward that will impact Wash Common, so please look and get your feedback into the council asap!
This is not a consultation but the next steps will use this information to justify why certain sites are thought as as OK. NOTE the additions at Sandleford in particular!!
Tackling Climate Change
The Lib Dems are the first to provide a detailed and realistic plan to get the UK to carbon zero whilst influencing the rest of world to the same end game.
It's not easy and not as quick as some would want, but finally a major party has provided a how to guide to get there.
Environmental Impact Label
Environmental Impact Label Proposal
Understanding the impact on what you buy on the environment can help the UK influencve the world and how it produces goods. I'm proposing that the UK introduces a labeling scheme silimar to the food labeling scheme so that people can see at a glance 4 key criteria that will help environmental impact.
Coffee Bonanza Update
COFFEE SAVINGS! Update
I've added in another 4 Independent coffee shops in Newbury to the 5 that were in the original. The independents seem to focus on the environmental side of one use cups as well as allowing you to bring your own cup in.
Original Blog Post
It turns out one of the ways you can help the environment also helps your pocket. If like me you enjoy a coffee on the way to work, then you’re more than likely to have switched to using a reusable cup. The great news is that there's no extra reward for doing that from lots of coffee shops.
I conducted a quick survey of coffee shops on Newbury High Street last Friday (19th July 2019). I was staggered to find that one of the largest providers has no way for you to use a reusable cup! To name and shame them, it’s our ever-present McDonald’s. The reason they gave was safety, but it’s really because their machines can’t accept anything but their own sized cups. A bit lame if you ask me. The good news is that everyone else would at least let you use your reusable cup.
Out of the 14 places checked, here are the best and the worst in terms of coffee in a reusable cup (it’s probably similar throughout West Berkshire).
The cheapest coffee was from Greggs at £1.70.
Pret, Paul and Waterstones offer the best discount for a single cup at 50p off when using your own cup.
The best discount against an original price was with Café Nero, as combining a reusable cup with their stamping scheme means an effective 25% off your annual coffee bill – i.e. a saving of £150.
Greggs is also best overall, as long as you use their app-based loyalty scheme: this is £346 assuming 5 cups a week and 50 weeks a year.
The most expensive coffee was from Costa at £2.75. Also, given that their loyalty scheme is quite bad compared to others, that same per annum consumption is a whopping £600 vs £346.
My tip! Avoid coffee shops that won’t let you use your reusable cup, and don’t have a loyalty scheme.
FYI. The average saving per annum across all those I checked that had an offer was £79.65 – an improvement on the £65 noted in my SMATE document.
The survey criteria used a Latte as the drink, and assumed you are using a reusable cup at the same location each working day. All the loyalty schemes gave a stamp or points no matter what drink you purchased so the result should be similar for your favorite drink. I did not take into account the size of their standard Latte or the number of shots of coffee included.”
SMATE-4Biz Save Money and The Environment
Save Money and The Environment the business edition. To help West Berkshire business as a whole get started I've bought together some information on various ways business can save money whilst saving the environment and reaching the goals of carbon zero by 2030. You can download or read the document using the link below
West Berkshire DeFibs
West Berkshire DeFibs.
As a Trustee of Stroke Care Newbury & West Berkshire I'm aware of how life changing this event can be. I'm also well aware of how important it is to have access to a Defib as quickly as possible when the event occurs.
To that end, as a Greenham Parish councillor we started looking at this some months back (and are deploying Defibs shortly). Now as a Wash common District councillor I want to ensure there are no gaps for people in the ward.
I first needed to plot where all the current DeFibs are in West Berkshire and the NHS have made that data available to me. My colleague at TEEC (Dan Megarry) was kind enough to do the programming and now you can check whether one is near you yourself using the link below.
The circles show the 400M radius around each DeFib. You need to be within 400M of one to be directed there by he NHS. The colours tell you if it's 24X7, down for repair or only available during certain opening ours. Just click on a pin to get the location address and details.
Free Tap Water Survey
And Now the Good News!
Having just surveyed 14 cafes in the centre of Newbury its really great news. Every single place I asked confirmed that Free Tap Water was available and that anyone can pop in and fill up their water bottle. Even better, Coffee#1 in parkway provided iced water and Pret on Northbrook street offers Filtered water.
So, no need to buy bottled water and a very easy way for anyone to help the environment.
Of course, there are apps you can download that will give you official locations, but if my survey is anything to go buy, the whole of the business community in Newbury is already on board.
Top tip of the week to save money! Carry that reusable water bottle and use it
Save Money and The Enviroment
Save Money and The Environment. To help West Berkshire as a whole get started I've bought together some information on various ways we can all save ourselves money whilst saving the environment and reaching the goals of carbon zero by 2030. You can download or read the document using the link below
Climate Change Principles
Climate Change Principles.
I was asked to be the shadow spokesperson for climate change and wanted to share what I believe to be the guiding principles against which idea's, solutions and strategies can be measured to ensure success. These are:-
- First that all solutions should be carrot-based. They should deliver benefits to the people implementing them, be that Businesses, the Public or the Council.
- Second that the solutions take into account whole energy principles – i.e. They are carbon positive schemes that ensure a net benefit – We must avoid making things worse in the hope they will be better later.
- Third, that they are practical & cost efficient. So the Community, Business and Council can implement the ideas very quickly, with everyone saving themselves money whilst saving the planet.
I'm currently trying to persuade the council to adopt these principles.
Action and Appointments
We are off and running.
It's been a month since the election results and I'm pleased to say myself and my Liberal Democrat colleagues are up and running having done all the required induction training. I’ve been chosen for some additional roles which I’m really looking forward to helping with. Obviously my first duty is to you as the people who voted for me, however, I’m (as expected) on the Western Area Planning (WAP) Committee as well Licensing Committee and as a sub for District Planning (DP) Committee, Personnel, plus Governance & Ethics (G&E). Finally, I’m honored to have been selected as Shadow Portfolio holder for Climate Change and Public Protection. I gave my first speech on this at the Climate Emergency Petition extraordinary meeting on 30th May. Fingers crossed we can start to make a difference for Wash Common and the people of West Berkshire.
Thanks for Your votes
20 mph and idle-free zones
Having 20mph and idle-free zones outside schools to improve safety and air quality.
Anyone on the Andover road knows there's an issue with speeding outside of the schools. That's why I and the Lib Dems want to ensure a 20mph zone is created outside of them. We also want to encourage parents who collect kids from school by car to be “idle aware”. It's one of the simplest ways to improve air quality around schools and even saves money for parents.
Flawed LRIE project
£500,000 of taxpayers' money in flawed LRIE project.
For some years West Berks Council has been trying to regenerate Newbury’s London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE) and this month the council have finally revealed £5,665,181.08 of public money has been spent on the project to date. Investing in West Berkshire's towns to create new homes, and develop employment opportunities is a good thing, but the way this has been handled by the current council has meant all West Berks taxpayers have had to foot the bill.
The council claim most of the money has come from government grants and other contributors. However, it has now been revealed that, at the very least, £523,000 of West Berkshire taxpayers’ money has been thrown at the scheme.
This project has been full of calamity with £109,000 being spent on entering into an agreement with a private developer that has since been ruled unlawful and spending £363,545 on defending itself against a legal challenge that it has ultimately lost.
The Liberal Democrats have asked the Conservative-run Council to explain how it could spend over £350,000 on a legal case which it lost, especially in a year when it announced it is cutting funding to vital services for the elderly and vulnerable in a bid to save £295,000.
We are committed to finding out the truth behind the incompetent decisions that led to such a waste of money as we care about how our taxpayers’ money in being used, when there are so many other priorities that we could be investing in.
We want to know what you think the council should be funding, so please let us know using our contact page.
We look forward to hearing from you and we will, as always, report back in the regular Focus newsletter and here on our website.
Can You Help Us?
Can you help us?
As your Liberal Democrat candidates for the upcoming local council elections (May 2nd). Adrian Abbs & Tony Vickers need to ensure we get the message to as many people in the Wash Common Ward as possible. Are you available to help? Our intent is to ensure we restore some balance to West Berkshire Council by being elected and providing some due diligence on any proposals coming to and through the council. With 7255 people to talk to and 3624 doors to knock on any help would be most appreciated.
Call me on 07768998370.
As your Liberal Democrat candidates for the upcoming local council elections (May 2nd). Tony Vickers and myself would love your feedback on installing solar powered motion sensitive lighting using CIL (Community Infrastructure Levey). We have identified 3 paths in wash common. One between Newton Road and Paddock Road, a second that connects Andover Road with Culver Road and a 3rd that connects Andover Road with Sidestrand Road. Please drop us a note via the contact us form if you know anything about the ownership of the land
Scrap the Green Bin Tax
I’m totally against the Green Bin Tax. I really don’t see the sense in introducing green bins to encourage us to separate our waste and then slapping an aggressive charge on its use. The liberal Democrats have a campaign you can join to have this tax scrapped.
I believe that recycling shouldn't be a hassle or cost. It should be encouraged by our councillors in order to protect our green spaces
Speeding on the Andover Road
Whilst canvasing over the weekend it became very clear why residents are asking for the speed limit on the Andover road to be reduced to 30mph.If elected I will be pushing for this change on your behalf.
Deciding to run for the Wash Common Ward
I first joined Greenham Parish Council early in 2018 and it's become clear that there is a need for fresh thinking on the District council level given what appears to be some very poor decision making related to Sandleford Development by Bloor & Donnington New Homes.
So, I decided to run as a candidate for the Wash Common Ward which is most affected by this development and hope you will support me when it comes to the voting on 2nd May 2019.