Saturday, 11 April 2009

King's Meadow Campaign Gets Contentious

As the decision over what to do with the dilapidated King's Meadow pavilion meanders its endless path towards a decisive conclusion, it appears that confrontation rather than agreement will be the most likely result.

RBC's Sport and Leisure Scrutiny Committee on March 25th voted to recommend proposals for redevelopment which include demolition of the historic buildings and their replacement with a hotel, bars and restaurants.

Although the voting split mainly along party lines with councillors Jim Hanley, Shirley Merriott and Richard Stainthorp (Labour) in favour and councillors Warren Swaine and Peter Beard (LibDem) against the proposals by Askey Hawke, the result was swung by the decision of the Conservatives to split their votes. Councillors Jennifer Rynn and Tim Harris abstained, while Cllr Tom Stanway voted in favour.

This gave a majority decision of 4 for and 2 against, with 2 abstaining.

The proposals will now be submitted for formal consideration by RBC's all-Labour Cabinet on April 14th, where it is expected to pass unopposed, although it is still several stages away from an actual planning application yet.

King's Meadow Campaign group leader, Bob O'Neil, who has lead the community activist group opposed to the commercialization of the river front and loss of green space says now is the time for the public to be listened to - with actual proposals on the table residents now know the choices to be faced.

LibDem Cllr Swaine and Green Party campaigner Adrian Windisch explain the ins and outs of the politics behind the debate.

Both describe the incoherence of the larger Labour and Conservative parties.

Warren questions why Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East, has moved to get the decision overturned through the 'call-in' procedure when it was the votes of his Conservative colleagues which were decisive, and Adrian pours scorn on the behaviour of Labour's parliamentary spokespeople for campaigning to save the site while Labour councillors voted against saving the site.

Meanwhile the Green Party's Rob White gets in on the act.


Update: RBC minutes of the meeting.

Cllr Richard Willis tries to defend the Conservative party split.

He highlights a press release stating there is "no change in the Conservative policy" in which Conservative councillors Jeanette Skeats and Mike Townend both make the case for 'appropriate' regeneration, while avoiding taking a view on the specific proposals under consideration.

Howard Thomas is astonished by the ability of the Conservatives to make sudden policy reversals.

Linda Fort catches up on last Wednesday's public meeting.

Auntie says it's D-Day for the lido.

Reading Chronicle reports Labour's Cllr Hoskin accused the Conservative opposition of "trying to dodge the decision".

Oranjepan asks:
The debate continues over at Reading Forum: what would your policy be?


  1. To be clear, there are 3 Tories on this committie, only 1 voted in favour. Hence to try & frame this as a Tory plot is wrong.

    As I understand matters, there are only 2 development proposals on the table and the Cllr,s concerned simply opted for what they saw as being the best from the Sport & Leasure view point.

    Does that mean they voted for a massive hotel on Kings Meadow - No.

    Does it mean that the Conservatives would support a planning application for such a construction - Not from what I hear.

  2. Hi Andrew, I notice you've been taking quite a close interest in this subject.

    First of all, I have not suggested any sort of plot existed, only that the sums are plain and the nature of the split in the Conservative party has consequences for what happens on the ground.

    The problem is that it is hard to know what the Conservative party stands for when they disagree amongst themselves, or (as here) in public.

    Whether the Conservative split runs deeper and carries across other issues will prove whether there was indeed a stitch-up. I guess we'll just have to wait and watch.

    Labour is another matter altogether. They're just pretending to stand for something, when in fact the tail is wagging the dog.

    Whether anybody agrees or disagrees with the proposals is up to them, but nobody should be bullied into accepting sub-standard choices for any reason whatsoever. It is therefore perfectly right that questions should continue to be asked until all sides are satisfied.

    Secondly, and on a broader scale, Reading wishes to style itself as a regional capital. Therefore extreme care should be made over decisions regarding locations as prominent and special as KM - the pavilion has been on that site for a century, so I doubt there will be any second chances to decide what happens there during my lifetime. It's important we don't waste an opportunity to create something everyone can be proud of.

    KM has been left to rot for so long I don't understand any sudden urgency to move ahead while such strong vocal disagreement remains.

    So really the only option is for the planning brief to be modified and the tender process reopened.

  3. Oranjepan

    I am in line with your last paragraph & think that a little cross party consensus around this idea would make sense.


  4. The Tories seem to be so busy spinning that they have no idea which way they are facing anymore.
    By claiming not to want massive eyesores and multi storey parking and then to vote in such a way that they have effectively recommends just that is cras stupidity.
    Then the Tory MP says the exact opposite to the way in which his colleagues have voted for.
    Secondly --does anyone know if Askett Hawke can raise the money for such an ambitious development, which is certain to be expensive,especially if the size is knocked right down in the planning stage!
    I have a feeling that this has a long way to run yet.

  5. Kings Meadow Latest

    It would seem that the paramilitary wing of KMC, Continuity Kings Meadow. made landings on Lock Island tonight and a full military stand off with the Peoples Republic Army is now underway.

    The raid led by the Continuity Kings Meadow crack 1st Zimmer Frame Airborne Division, and supported by the local Mother & Toddler group took over the island at 20:30Hrs this evening. They are now apparently well dug in, establishing a small herb garden and a compost heap in the centre of the island.

    According to sources in the Reading Kremlin, a Senior Officer of long standing has been placed in charge of the recapture operation and has set up his HQ in a nearby public lavatory. We understand that he has already dispatched two of his largest Cruisers to the waterfront.

    It is also understood that the local Liberal group have been asked to mediate and a call from the Supreme Soviet Leader was put through to their new BT sponsored HQ this evening requesting help. Apparently the call had to be curtailed when a lady standing outside the Liberal HQ protested that she wanted to make a call herself and had been waiting half an hour.

    There is apparently now some confusion in the Kremlin, a well defined plan detailing how to deal with an incident such as this was in existence but was shredded by mistake in an unrelated programme to preserve shelf space.

    The only option now left on the table is to call in the 2nd Tory Methane Fired Balloon Division to press home and aerial assault. However it is feared that under it’s present command, it will run out of hot air & bullshit early in the operation and even if they got there, would not be able to do the slightest bit of good.

    More on this story as it happens.

  6. This is really rather funny - more please!

  7. Glad you liked it more coming soon.


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