Have you noticed how much building work seems to be going on in the town at the moment? Ever stopped to think how many of these buildings will actually benefit the lives of the people living in Reading?
Millions of pounds have already been spent on the station redevelopment, and millions more are set to be spent in the coming years. There’s major work going on in the Station Hill area, there’s the new R+ building being built on Blagrave Street, and new offices are being built opposite the Forbury Gardens, to name just a few.
But is this what we in the town really need or want? Most of these developments focus on the town centre and most of them are building more offices. All of this will increase pressure on an already over-burdened road network. Whilst at the same time, the areas where we live are being left to rot.
And what little culture and community buildings we have are being shut and left empty.
What little accommodation being built is aimed at encouraging people from outside of town (read: London) to move here. All the while rents go sky-high, and people who already live here are moved further and further out of the town centre and are forced to live in smaller properties, all the while struggling to make ends meet.
So, what do we want? No-one seems to have asked us, the residents, what we want to happen in our town. Well, we at ACORN think that even if they’re not asking, we can and should tell them and make them listen to us. ACORN is a new organisation in Reading, locally based in Katesgrove but concerned with the whole town, which organises residents to take power and get our voices heard about the decisions and issues that matter to us. If the things that worry us most are high rents and poor housing, ACORN can look into tackling that. If we’re more concerned about the cost of providing care for the elderly and vulnerable, ACORN can campaign about that. If we’re most worried by the fact that our communities are left dirty and un-cared for, with litter and fly-tipping everywhere, ACORN can force action on that.
But we can only do these things with people getting involved and becoming members. We need people to tell us what they want to take action on, people willing to step up to the plate and organise the actions and people to join as members to support the organisation. We build organisations locally so communities can become more powerful and as such need people to get involved. Already, people are responding on their doorsteps (all of the examples given above of issues are things that have been said to us by residents), but we need as many people as possible on board to make real change happen. ACORN groups have already been organised in Bristol, the London borough of Newham and Edinburgh, groups are starting in Birmingham and Newcastle, and we have thousands of contacts elsewhere. Let’s join together to create a real movement for change, both in Reading and nationwide. Join with us and 100s of your neighbours to build a better future. You can also link up with our facebook and twitter account.
So, what do we want to do?