The new Chancellor of Reading University invited me in for talks about the future of the University and his plans as Chancellor. I will not presume to summarise his thoughts as he is still consulting on the best approach.
In response to his ideas I made the following points
1. As a past entrepreneur he should play to his strengths. He could encourage more spin out businesses from Reading research. He could work in partnership with more local companies. Business can bring money, practical challenges and experience to add to University research equipment and staff insights. He could build on Reading’s strengths in food science, land management and meteorology. The theme of encouraging more film and entertainment businesses to locate here could be reinforced.
2. He could increase University engagement in the local area with more joint use of facilities, more open lectures, more courses tailored to local skills needed.
3. He could fund raise especially through stronger past alumni groups to build a larger Endowment fund.
I also pointed out that as a specialist academy for farming and land management the University should not sell off all its farms for housing development.
I met Mike Freer, the Minister responsible for Probate, following several constituents’ case of delay in processing applications. The Minister confirmed that the office had been taking many months to determine a range of probate cases, and he was working with officials to shorten delays and improve processes. He agreed we should expect a better service. He promised to review personally a couple of cases that are still outstanding for Wokingham constituents.
I was the guest of honour at the opening of the new premises for M2M, an expanding small business undertaking contract scientific research. Now based at Winnersh Triangle, the company specialises in particle analysis for use in the pharmaceutical industry. In my speech I praised them for their work and growth so far and wished the seven employees well in developing new clients and new ideas that will help in the fight against disease.
I have received the following reply from NatWest in response to my letter about the closure of the Wokingham branch in February 2023.
They have set out the measures they are initiating to assist customers who prefer not to use online banking. NatWest has also confirmed that everyday banking services can be transacted at local Post Offices.
The government has allocated an additional £334,658 to Wokingham and £417,415 to West Berkshire Councils to help with the social care costs of people being discharged from hospital. The Berkshire West, Oxford and Buckinghamshire Integrated Care Board will receive £7.7 million to facilitate the timely release of patients from hospital.
This is part of a concerted government drive to free more hospital beds to allow prompter treatment for those on the waiting list. Some patients are having to stay in hospital for longer after their treatment owing to difficulties in providing the social support for them to be discharged safely.
I have been making this case with other MPs to do more to cut waiting lists and waiting times and to ensure safe care for people after their operations.
On Friday Wokingham Conservatives welcomed Sir Edward Leigh MP to lunch. Sir Edward gave a talk on the Autumn Statement and the need for Conservative values in the months ahead. He stressed the need to keep taxes lower, to allow people to keep more of the rewards for their work, their investments and their savings. He urged the Home Secretary to take the measures necessary to stop people trafficking across the Channel.
I gave a vote of thanks and updated members on my work representing Wokingham.
I put the case to the Chancellor before the Autumn Statement for more money for Councils like Wokingham where social service demand has been exceeding available grant aid and tax revenue. I was pleased to see he has agreed and provided £2.8bn more for next year and £4.7bn the following year. I urge Wokingham Borough again to send in the detailed case for more money so the Council can get its fair share of these substantial new resources.
Dear Councillor Jones
I am very willing to represent the Council to government where it has a good case, and think we would serve Wokingham better if the Council consulted me before sending letters to Ministers. Ministers are busy people who do not have continuing conversations with every Council in the country issue by issue. They are my colleagues where I am in regular contact with them over Wokingham issues in the context of national policy.
I see you have recently written to the Health Secretary proposing a pausing of the social care plans. I have been recommending to Ministers that they put more money into social services in Councils like Wokingham where a case is made based on need, and have proposed a rethink of the social care policy. I wish to see the extra money concentrated on providing better services for those who are in need of social care support and wish them to improve the quality and range of service provision.
If you wish to influence government over a local matter it is best to concert efforts with local MPs, to have a well researched case for more money based on need and existing financial provision where money is involved, and to only seek a meeting with a Minister where there is some new issue or new way of thinking the Minister needs to understand through a meeting.
I continue to receive complaints about the money being spent on closing and narrowing roads and the plans for more restrictions of traffic on main roads.
Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP DPhil FCSI
I am grateful to the British legion and all who organised the Remembrance Day services and wreath layings.
On Remembrance Sunday I joined the British legion at Arborfield in the morning. We marched to the War memorial, where I laid a wreath and joined in the service.
In Wokingham during the afternoon I attended in the Town Hall where I and others laid wreaths before marching to St Paul’s Church for a service. I read a lesson from the Gospel according to St Matthew.
Both events were well attended. Uniformed services presented their standards.
We did remember them
I visited the Royal British Legion shop in Wokingham to thank the organisers for helping the charity. They have a good range of items that can help us remember the great wars and sacrifices made. The money raised goes to such a good cause. I bought some historical items for my family to help them understand and remember what their grandparents and great parents went through.