Richard Willis's Blog

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Kings Meadow Development

kingsmeadow_0059With the massive spin operation that is underway from several sides regarding Kings Meadow and the historic baths, I thought it would be informative to reproduce in full the Conservative Group press release that has been issued this weekend:

Conservatives on Reading Borough Council today emphasised that there is no change in their policy regarding the King’s Meadow baths.  With potential development ideas for the area being debated once again, the Conservatives today committed to work with any viable partner to restore these historic baths and to achieve the best possible outcome for the people of Reading.

Conservatives will support:

  • restoration of the baths with no loss of green space
  • development of the area that is of an appropriate size and scale
  • working with a knowledgeable and viable partner
  • making the baths accessible for community use
  • accessing the resultant section 106 money for the replacement of the Mapledurham Pavilion


Conservatives will not support:

  • any scheme that is an unnecessary burden on the council tax payer
  • a towering eyesore
  • multi-story car parking


Councillor Jeanette Skeats, Conservative lead spokesperson for culture and sport said, “King’s Meadow and the baths are very important to the people of Reading. Any restoration or development around that area must be in keeping with the surroundings.”

Cllr Skeats continued, “I’m committed to retaining as much green space as possible in Reading and King’s Meadow is no exception.  I will fight for and support a viable approach for the re-generation of this area that will be of benefit to the town and the people who enjoy King’s Meadow.”

Councillor Mike Townend, who speaks for the Conservatives on re-generation, commented “Kings Meadow and Lock Island are right at the heart of Reading and our fantastic river frontage. There is a definite need for the regeneration of this area that is sadly looking rather un-loved right now.  However, I believe that any high-rise development is completely inappropriate.”

Conservatives have always supported the preservation of the baths but it is just a question of how this can be achieved without a heavy burden falling onto the Council Tax payer.

What do you think is the right way to save this part of our history?

UPDATE: For those readers linking from Oranjepan’s inaccurate and misleading article please note that this article was posted in 2009, as were the comments! So all the rubbish from him about “KMC locking horns with Tories” can be seen for the spin it is.

Conservatives were delighted with the KMC victory and it wouldn’t have been possible had we Conservatives not called in the Cabinet decision at CCEA, giving KMC another chance to make their case and Labour a chance to reverse their decision. The spin referred to comes almost entirely from Oranjepan and the Lib Dems.


April 12, 2009 - Posted by | Local


  1. Richard

    A well delivered message if I may say.

    It seems others are very keen to pick holes in us, but lack any clear position on the subject themselves.

    Comment by Andrew Waters | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  2. If the Conservatives are really against “towering eyesores and multi storey car parking” and for “restoration of the baths with no loss of green space” then whyever did their members on scrutiny vote in the opposite direction or abstain—–I’m puzzled!
    The Conservatives had a chance to vote for a scheme that was not going to ask the council for any money, but was to restore the baths and include winter time facilities like an ice rink.
    There is a desparate shortage of leisure facilities in Reading,this was an ideal opportunity to do something positive.
    It would be better for the council to back the KMC scheme and help them by way of one of those famous ‘partnerships’ to obtain the nessessary funding by way of applying for a lottery grant for example.
    There is always the question of whether ,in the current economic climate Askett Hawke could actually raise the money to fund their very ambitious multi storey eyesore in one of Reading’s green areas.

    Comment by Howard Thomas | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  3. I can’t resist the invitation to contribute – especially as it’s been implied that all I do is stalk Cllr Jones!

    “King’s Meadow and the baths are very important to the people of Reading.” Says who? Where is the evidence for this stupid statement. I’m a long standing resident of Reading (and was forced to use these ‘facilities’ as a schoolboy) and I can say that they are an eyesore and, what’s more, a testament to 1950’s and 60’s sadism when school children were forced (yes forced!) to swim in unheated pools. They should have been pulled down years ago and anyone who thinks that they have any intrinsic value is an idiot as far as I am concerned. Phew!

    Where is the value – they look like a neglected row of victorian public toilets (as indeed they were). What monument to architecture to they represent? Has any body of independant authority sought to value them or protect them for the nation? Please do tell.

    I suspect the entire thing has become a political football and I would suggest that the people who want to kick this particular ball take care. It is already developing as a trap for politiicans of all colours as the latest exchanges make clear.

    As for Mapledurum Pav – why are we still seeking public funds for this middle class obsession? If it’s so important have a whip round in Caversham as the rest of us in Reading don’t give a rats arse frankly. Why is public money being sought for an obsession of a few old crusty tories, eh? Put the money into childrens services I say and let the Pav rot!

    There – you asked for an opion and you got one. Got to take my meds now…..

    Comment by Jorry | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. Tories can apparantly ‘U-turn on a penny’
    Probably such a tight turn accounts for the spinning!

    Comment by Howard Thomas | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  5. Mr Thomas, is this “bash the local Tories” week for you?? Am glad you got this one out of your system. And by the way, what would you like to happen to Kings Meadow, now.. no copying Jorry who is for total mass destruction of Ye Olde Reading!

    Comment by J.Waters | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  6. Most of ‘ye old Reading’ went during the years of the last tory administration – do you need a list? Some of us lived through it! Worse than the blitz old boy.

    Anyway, just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s automaticly worth saving – most people would have me condemned for a start.

    Comment by Jorry | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  7. Jorry Well you might have heard of reversal operation, they have a high success rate so there is hope for you mate..

    Comment by J.Waters | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  8. 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.

    Comment by Tyler | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  9. Answer for J . Walters
    Firstly this is a listed building ,like it or not , so demolition is not an option. That said the best way forward is to let KMC , preferably with the councils help apply for the funds to bring it back into use—-not just as a swimming pool but the plans include a retractable floor that would enable ice skating in the winter months plus cafe facilities and so on.( things that you might have noticed are in short supply in Reading)
    Secondly this is not nessessarily ‘bash the Tories week’—they are quite capable of doing that to themselves as you should be able to see by the fact that they are saying one thing , but actually doing the opposite. I am just pointing that out. When ( and if ) they get their act together you can be sure that I will sing their praises,although I am not holding my breath!

    Comment by Howard Thomas | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  10. There are 4 swimming pools in Reading (!), more cafes that you can shake a stick at and why do we need public money invested in something that converts to an ice rink? Please! I’ve heard of bread and circuses, but really…

    It may be listed, but it looks like a bunker. If it’s so precious, dismantle it and errect it somewhere else, preferably where we don’t have to look at it each time we go to Tescos or Coopers.

    This issue is going to be as relevant as two bald men fighting over a comb soon enough.

    Comment by Jorry | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  11. Jump to conclusions jorry,why don’t you, public money has not been reqyested by KMC—and where in Reading is the icerink?
    It may or may not be pleasing to your eye,but are you seriously telling people that you prefer multi storey parking and a possible 11 storey hotel to look at by the river?

    Comment by Howard Thomas | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  12. Richard, May I say that it is highly misleading to bring in Mapledurham Pavilion regarding Section 106 money when the issue is King’s Meadow and Lock Island. That is at least misleading if not worse…. S106 money is given by development for assisting councils with meeting their geographically immediate needs and is portioned for categories including leisure. These two locations are miles apart and S106 money would have and will be been collected from the development of neighbouring flats and offices to benefit leisure… Am I correct too that you mean your Conservative policy is focused on selling that remaining land to fill an existing hole in your budget; which you would only get from a developer such as Askett Hawk…?

    Comment by Bob | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  13. Is this really worth saving?

    Surely something that generates revenue for the local economy is better than tatty old baths that no-one is likely to use. Is the KMC proposal really viable? Do they have the funding? If so why don’t the Council just hand the site over to them and let them refurbish and run it with a clause that if they fail, the building returns to the Council?

    Comment by Doodlebug | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  14. This type of project has worked perfectly successfully with open air baths in other parts of the country ,so why not here? The council would do well to let KMC have its chance to prove that they could complete the project.
    The other issue is whether Askett Hawke will find their proposals unviable once the scheme has been cut down in size by planning—this could well be the case as their current proposals will never pass.

    Comment by Howard Thomas | April 14, 2009 | Reply

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