Newsletter (original version)

  • Three new playgrounds open in Reading

    22 September 2023

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Reading Council’s ongoing major investment in children’s play areas continues to deliver for communities across Reading.

    -Lulworth Road Playground
    -South Whitley Recreation Ground
    -Coley Recreation Ground Play Area

    Playgrounds are an important part of our communities and Reading Borough Council is committed to a widespread programme of improvements.

    Outdoor play is vital for children’s health and wellbeing and high-quality equipment accessible as possible for all children and their carers is a key priority ensuring Reading’s neighbourhood playgrounds are providing accessible opportunities for all for local children to enjoy for years to come.

    The new play area at Lulworth Road, Whitley, is designed for younger children and includes a multi-unit, play house, spring rides and play panels. The project also redesigned the approach to Lulworth Road bin store to deter fly-tipping, with new paths to the rear and front. There are more improvements to come, with the Council working with an artist to further improve the look and appeal of the area.

    South Whitley Recreation Ground’s new toddlers play area at Farmers Close includes swings, multi units, a toddler trim trail and slides – all on a safety surface. The much-loved concrete animals have benefited from a repaint and have had a new safety surface installed. Additional improvements in the park include re-surfacing of the ball court with new goal ends with sports markings for football or basketball, and new paths into the park. This work is in addition to the community orchard that was planted early this year.

    In Coley local residents helped choose the design of the popular Coley Recreation Ground play area. It includes an exciting mix of equipment, including equipment accessible to all ages and mobility levels. The refurbished play area also has a new surface to enable access for children and carers using mobility aids. Equipment offers challenges for children of all abilities include swings, a toddler and junior multi play units, play panels, an accessible see-saw and a Base Climb play unit.

    Reading Borough Council’s investment for these exciting projects comes through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding – which is from the contribution paid by developers as part of the conditions attached to the granting of new planning permissions.

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  • Saying Thank You on BBC Radio Berkshire

    22 September 2023

    BBC Radio Berkshire wants your help.

    They are creating a brand-new afternoon show which will cover both Berkshire and Oxfordshire. This will be featuring a segment offering thanks to a person or people who have made a difference in someone else’s life. If you would like to thank someone who has inspired/impacted your life, and would like to talk about it on air then please get involved as BBC Radio Berkshire would love to hear from you.

    If you are interested in taking part please email Natalie Harris, Assistant Producer, at

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  • Household Support Fund

    22 September 2023Household Support Fund

    News from Reading Borough Council

    As part of the council’s Household Support Fund scheme this year, any Reading borough resident can now apply for financial support. Priority will go to low-income households who are struggling financially. That primarily means those in receipt of low-income benefits or other related state benefits, and residents who are not in receipt of those benefits but have specific circumstances that have negatively impacted their overall cost of living, such as unexpected or increased expenditure.

    To find out more about eligibility and what information you will need to provide, go to the council’s Household Support Fund page, and if you wish to apply you can do so through the online application portal.

    The deadline for the first phase of applications is the end of November, with a second phase starting in December and running until the end of March 2024 (households can apply in both phases). Households whose applications are successful will receive an initial payment of £125, although please be aware this figure may change depending on take-up.

    Whether you are eligible or not, remember that the council’s Money Matters web pages bring together useful advice and resources on coping with the cost-of-living crisis, from dealing with your housing and utility bills to looking after your welfare and mental health.


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  • Help make Reading greener – sponsor a new tree

    23 August 2023Help make Reading greener – sponsor a new tree

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Residents can now help to make Reading greener by sponsoring the planting of a tree in the street of their choice. Reading Borough Council has teamed up with charitable enterprise Trees for Streets to work with residents either individually or in a group, so anyone can apply to have a tree planted on their behalf as close as possible to their chosen location.

    The initiative comes in response to frequent requests from people wanting trees planted near where they live. The Council hopes it will be welcomed by residents, especially those who don’t have their own garden.

    The one-off fee to sponsor a tree is £395, or £295 if the residents commit to watering the tree.

    The process is simple:

    1. Visit to request a location for a new tree, answer a few simple questions, and submit your sponsorship details.
    2. The Council will survey the location to check for suitability.
    3. If acceptable, an ‘instant-impact’ tree (normally 5-7 years old and 3-4 metres high) will be planted, during the November to April planting season.

    Since the Tree Strategy was published in 2021, Reading Borough Council has been on a positive drive forward to achieve the planting of 3,000 trees on Council land by 2030. This is part of an ongoing commitment to increase tree canopy cover and make Reading greener.

    Reading’s Tree Strategy, adopted in 2021, sits alongside the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy and plays an important role in responding to the climate crisis. The Council is aiming to achieve overall canopy cover of at least 25% across the borough and at least 12% in each ward. It is particularly keen to plant trees in Abbey, Katesgrove, Whitley and Battle wards, where canopy cover is below the target.

    Trees help to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, as the Council works towards achieving net zero carbon by 2030. Street trees act as natural air conditioners, providing shade on hot days and cooling the air through a process called evapotranspiration, helping to combat rising summer temperatures. They also protect from flooding, as their roots absorb huge amounts of water, and their leaves and branches collect rainwater as it falls.

    Trees tackle noise and air pollution and improve wildlife habitats, as well as greatly improving the character and colour of the town, making neighbourhoods greener, more attractive and more welcoming.

    They offer many benefits for health and wellbeing too, making people feel better, encouraging exercise, and bringing communities together.

    The Council is delighted to have this new opportunity to work alongside communities to improve the town through this initiative.

    To sponsor a tree or for more information, visit

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  • Caversham Court Gardens wins Green Flag award

    23 August 2023Caversham Court Gardens wins Green Flag award

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Caversham Court Gardens has been confirmed amongst the best parks and open spaces in the country by being awarded a prestigious Green Flag award and Green Heritage Accreditation for 2023.

    The Green Flag award recognises high-quality maintenance and excellent wildlife and climate-friendly practices, with winners having to demonstrate that standards are being maintained and continuous improvements are being achieved.

    The Green Heritage Accreditation is for parks that have conserved their historical features to a high standard and maintained their historic character and appearance. Green Heritage Accreditation is made to sites that have particular local or national historic interest, and only 17 were awarded in the South East this year.

    In the wake of national Love Parks Week (28 July – 6 August), Reading Borough Council is encouraging residents to get out and explore the award-winning Caversham Court Gardens and the borough’s 50+ other parks and open spaces, which it continues to invest millions of pounds each year on preserving and improving.

    At Easter the Council opened Prospect Park’s new £530,000 playground, boasting facilities that cater for children of all ages and abilities, complementing the new Ranger Station there which provides mini golf, a climbing wall and Sky Tykes low ropes activity centre.

    Residents are also being asked to play their part in keeping Reading’s parks and open spaces in award-winning shape, by using the waste bins provided or taking their rubbish home with them.

    Those keen to play a bigger role in keeping Reading clean and tidy can do so by taking part in the popular Reading Adopt Your Street (RAYS) programme. This enables individuals, community groups or groups of friends, companies or organisations to select a street, open space, footpath, park or shopping area to keep tidy through regular clean-ups. The Council supports volunteers by providing them with equipment such as litter pickers, gloves, hi-vis jackets and recycled bags. You can find out more about how to join RAYS here:

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  • Revealed! The names of Reading’s new waste trucks

    22 August 2023Revealed! The names of Reading’s new waste trucks

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Five electric bin lorries will be cleaning up Reading emblazoned with new names given to them by residents after a borough-wide competition.

    The competition, launched in June, celebrated yet another milestone in the Council’s ongoing commitment to tackling the Climate Emergency by letting residents name the Council’s first five electric bin lorries, otherwise known as electric refuse collection vehicles.

    The naming was shared between residents and schools, with the winners announced as:
    -Boom Boom (Hannah Niazi, Alfred Sutton Primary School)
    -Dusty Binfield (Antoine Ifill, The Lodge Day Nursery)
    -Bincent Van Gone (Edward Day)
    -John MaWasteSki (Emlyn Jones)
    -Bin There, Done That (suggested by Erin Gray)

    Reading led the way in introducing Berkshire’s first electric bin lorry in 2021 and has since built on that by increasing numbers to five fully electric vehicles amongst its fleet, plus a sixth for trade waste. This is another way that the Council continues to look to lead by example in pushing Reading towards its target of being carbon net zero by 2030.

    The contest follows a successful competition last year to name Reading’s food waste trucks, which now sees Ricky Gerwaste, Waster Taster, the Bindalorian, Hungry Hippo, Trashosaurus and Bin Truck McBinFace collecting food waste around the borough.

    Reading boasts the 4th largest cut in its carbon footprint of all 374 local authority areas in the UK, and the transition of the Council’s fleet from fossil fuel to electric, particularly waste collection vehicles, is a key element of the Council’s Carbon Plan 2020-25. The switch from diesel to electric collection vehicles saves 32,200kg of greenhouse gas emissions.

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  • New secondary school to open in 2024

    21 August 2023New secondary school to open in 2024

    A new secondary school, River Academy, is under construction in Richfield Avenue, near the Rivermead leisure complex. The school is due to open for Year 7 students in autumn 2024.

    When full, River Academy will cater for 1500 students between the ages of 11 and 18, of all abilities and backgrounds. The school will be an academy run by the Maiden Erlegh Trust, which already runs schools to the east of Reading. River Academy will join a community of schools ranging from primary to sixth form, and from mainstream to special and alternative provision.

    An event will be held on Wednesday 20 September for parents of prospective students. As the new school is still under construction this event will be held at Rivermead Leisure Complex and will be an opportunity to hear from the headteacher and staff about what River Academy has to offer. The event will take place between 5:00pm and 7:30pm with presentations from the headteacher at 5:15pm and 6:45pm. Please register in advance at

    (Image: River Academy)

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  • Have your say: alcohol licensing

    18 August 2023Have your say: alcohol licensing

    The council is required to review its licensing policy every five years, and this is the latest draft: Draft Statement of Licensing Policy. A consultation is now running for this new draft of the licensing policy and will expire on 12 September 2023.

    In addition, where an authority is concerned about the number of licensed premises in an area and its effect it needs to publish a Cumulative Impact Assessment. The council has concerns about the town centre and Oxford Road area and will seek to publish a Cumulative Impact Assessment for the area to be known as ‘The Town Centre and Oxford Road Cumulative Impact Area’, as its view is that licensing in these areas needs to be reviewed.

    For more details on the proposed assessment please visit

    If you wish to make comment on the assessment or the council’s updated licensing policy then you can do so via email to on or before 12 September 2023.

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  • NCVO Time Well Spent 2023 report released

    14 August 2023NCVO Time Well Spent 2023 report released

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have released the latest report in the Time Well Spent series. Exploring what volunteer participation and experience looks like in 2023, against a backdrop of five years of significant external change, there is a lot to interest anyone seeking to involve volunteers in their work.

    You can find the report online at

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  • Hexagon Theatre revitalisation reaches first major milestone

    18 July 2023Hexagon Theatre revitalisation reaches first major milestone

    News from Reading Borough Council

    Reading Borough Council’s £13.7 million project to revitalise the town’s much-loved and popular Hexagon Theatre reached its first major milestone this month. The ambitious Hexagon Theatre project will see the creation of an attractive, flexible and exciting new space for performances and community use.

    On Monday 10 July the council announced the official appointment of the internationally renowned professional team who will support this major project moving forward. This includes Haworth Tompkins as lead architects and Equals Consulting as the main project management company.

    The latest announcement follows the news in January 2023, that the council has been successful in its bid for ‘Levelling Up’ funding, and had been awarded £19.1 million to revitalise Reading’s cultural offer – which includes both the Hexagon project and an £8.6 million development at the Council’s civic offices to create a new Central Library and redesign the customer reception and service areas.

    The plan at the Hexagon Theatre is to extend to the right-hand side of the existing building with an entrance directly off Queens Walk. This will offer much-improved accessibility and a new multi-function community space. The space will provide for a wider variety of performances and uses. This will form the first phase of a longer-term regeneration of the 1970s-built Hexagon.

    The theatre development is part of an ambitious and wider plan to create the ‘Minster Quarter’. The Minster Quarter plan will include building hundreds of new homes in a significant area of the town centre, creating a vibrant thriving new community at the heart of the town. A lot of the housing will be much-needed affordable housing. It will bring new jobs and growth which will benefit local residents and the local economy.

    The council is also planning to extend the Civic Offices in Bridge Street to deliver a new Central Library and redesign the customer reception and service areas.

    Find out more and follow this massive transformational project’s progress here:

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Upcoming events

  • Sat
    11:00 - 13:00Reading Central Library

    Abbey Square, Reading RG1 3BQ

    Reading Central Library is holding the next Welcome to Reading Coffee Morning on Saturday 30 September from 11:00 to 13:00.

    If you are new to Reading or have lived here a while, please come and join us for a free and friendly cuppa.

    This month it is an opportunity to meet organisations and find out more about their services in a sociable atmosphere.

    We look forward to meeting you!

  • Mon
    09:30 - 15:00Broad Street Mall

    Broad Street, Reading RG1 7QE

    Reading will be celebrating National Older People’s Day on Monday 2 October 2023 with a free fun packed event at Broad Street Mall highlighting the contribution older people make to the Reading community.

    Older People’s Day coincides with the UN International Day of Older Persons. The main aim for the day is to be a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy. Older People’s Day supports the campaign to challenge negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.

    The selected theme for Older People’s Day 2023 in Reading is ‘Ageing Well Together’. Reading is a vibrant town with a rich array of local services that support residents, come along and find out how they can help you:

    • Reading U3A
    • Age UK Berkshire
    • Age UK Reading
    • Public Health & Wellbeing Team
    • Winterwatch Service
    • Reading Voluntary Action
    • Get Berkshire Active
    • Berkshire Vision
    • Older People Mental Health Team
    • Healthwatch Reading – The Advocacy People
    • Thames Valley Pensioner Service
    • Blandy & Blandy Solicitors
    • South Reading Patient Voice
    • The Crown Prosecution Service
    • Sheltered Housing
    • Firtree/Tilehurst Welfare Community Group
    • Reading Community Learning Centre
    • SSE network – Priority Registers
    • GLL Sports & Leisure
    • Oddfellows
    • Readibus
    • Citizens Advice Reading
    • Silvers Workshop
    • Bowling Club – outdoor and indoor
    • Macular Support Group
    • Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
    • Talking Therapies

    Royal Berkshire Hospital will also be offering free blood pressure and wellbeing checks on the day.
    The programme will include:

    09:30 Market place of local service providers opens
    10:00 Opening remarks by The Mayor of Reading
    11:00 Bowling demonstration
    12:30 Singing for pleasure by Age UK Berkshire
    13:30 First Aid Skills and CPR demonstration

  • Thu
    10:00 - 12:30RISC

    London Street, Reading RG1 4PS

    An opportunity for voluntary and community groups to come together to explore social issues that impact on the people of Reading.

    Join us to hear: How to engage with and influence your local statutory organisations e.g. Reading Borough Council, NHS, primary care. Who are they? How are they governed? How can you and your organisation connect?

    Join us to participate: Opportunities for your organisation to shape and participate in a VCS inclusion strategy for Reading.

    Plus refreshments, information and networking.

    Free event, but please register at to confirm your place.

  • Tue
    10:30 - 12:00Reading Voluntary Action, Community Place

    Third Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading RG1 3BQ

    Are you a small community group based in Reading and mainly volunteer run?

    If yes, this network is for you. It is an opportunity for you to learn, share and grow stronger together with other similar groups and access support from Reading Voluntary Action and partners.

    The topic for this session will be confirmed shortly but as always it will include top tips to help grow your group, as well as networking.

    This session will take place in-person in our training room, Third floor, Reading Central Library.

    Free event, but please book online at to confirm your place.

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