Wednesday 30 June 2010

Road Repairs in Priestwood and Garth

I am told that the dates for resurfacing roads within Garth have now been finalised. The following will also be advertised in the local paper.

1.         Shepherds Lane, Bracknell – From its junction with B3018 Binfield Road to its junction with Folders Lane. The anticipated start date for the re-surfacing is 10th August 2010 for a duration of 3 days.

The diversion route for this closure will be via B3018 Binfield Road, A329 Millennium Way and Bull Lane, or by this route reversed.

2.         Merryhill Road, Bracknell – From its junction with Shepherds Lane to its junction with Horsneile Lane. The anticipated start date for the re-surfacing is 9th August 2010 for a duration of 2 days.

The diversion route for this closure will be via Shepherds Lane and Horsneile Lane, or by this route reversed.

3.         Bull Lane, Bracknell – From its junction with Shepherds Lane to its junction with A329 Millennium Way. The anticipated start date for the re-surfacing is 2nd August 2010 for a duration of 2 days.

The diversion route for this closure will be via Shepherds Lane, B3018 Binfield Road and A329 Millennium Way, or by this route reversed.

4.         Folders Lane, Bracknell – From its junction with Shepherds Lane to its junction with A3095 Warfield Road. The anticipated start date for the re-surfacing is 3rd August 2010 for a duration of 2 days.

The diversion route for this closure will be via Shepherds Lane, B3018 Binfield Road, Harvest Ride and A3095 Warfield Road, or by this route reversed.

5.         Dukeshill Road, Bracknell – From its junction with Shepherds Lane to its junction with A3095 Warfield Road. The anticipated start date for the re-surfacing is 2nd August 2010 for a duration of 1 day.

The diversion route for this closure will be via Horsneile Lane, Shepherds Lane and B3018 Binfield Road, or by this route reversed.

Details of local Road Works can be found HERE

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Unplugging the vuvuzela with a plugin.

I have been following the debate about the vuvuzela on several blogs, including: Blowing the trumpet - Vuvuzelas

The New Scientist asked Trevor Cox, president of the UK Institute of Acoustics and an acoustic engineer at the University of Salford, UK, to explain. (more at Basically he said that our hearing is an early-warning system: we listen out for sudden changes in the sounds around us which might indicate threats, and ignore benign, persistent noise. When noise becomes as loud as a vuvuzela, however, it becomes impossible to habituate to the sound.

If you are watching the match on a computer, you could try a handy application, from the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London. Here they say that the vuvuzela has been badly received by some television viewers, who have complained that this magnificent pipe, after transmission, comes across as a resonant buzz which the sensitive listener may find hard to tolerate.

The site goes into some complicated stuff about  time-frequency plot and the difference between a voice and the vuvuzela. You can read about all the gubbins at the site linked above.

For Windows users who would like to remove some of the sound generated by these things,  Stardock have made an application which wraps around the above plugin and automatically filters your web browser's audio output. Get it at .

Monday 14 June 2010

What shape will the Town Centre of the future take?

Recently, I have been looking around to see if there was any more information available on what is happening to the town centre. “Delicate negotiations are still in progress” I am told. Releasing any information could prejudice any of the schemes envisaged. As we all know it will now be “demand led” rather than a “big bang” build.
Whilst nearly every major town centre redevelopment in the country has been hit by the recession, it seems that Bracknell is in a much stronger position. What I am told is that the council is working closely with BRP who are continuing to spend a lot of time and money on the plans, and is totally committed to delivering regeneration as soon as economic conditions allow.
The Council is well positioned with planning permission and compulsory purchase orders in place. It is now able to look at redeveloping the town centre in smaller phases, rather than all in one go, to make sure that the plans are deliverable. This will also have the effect of making the redevelopment more organic - It won’t all wear out at the same time.
All over the country we hear of projects that are abandoned or are on hold. Some like Hatfield will continue, but at a slower pace.

There is an interesting line in a Telegraph article  by Mick Brown from Rob Hopkins, who  sees the present recession as the first step in the total unravelling of the idea of perpetual economic growth, 'and the beginning of many chickens coming home to roost. The idea that the way we get ourselves out of this economic situation is by doing more of what got us into it in the first place – taking out more cheap credit, buying more stuff we didn’t need in the first place – more and more people are starting to see the flawed logic in that.’
Mick Brown visited both Chester and Totness and found that the recession was biting.  The article was written a year ago, but is still quite informing.

Andy McSmith writing in the Independent 18 months ago wondered  “Does the high street have a future, and if so what shape will it take? “
A big growth area, which is making life harder for high streets, is online shopping. Ordering your weekly groceries over the internet is no longer the novelty that it was less than a decade ago, and has become a popular time-saver. And what about other things like an intelligent fridge which monitors what you are using and draws up a shopping list?

In the original Bracknell plans one of the first buildings to be constructed would have been the new council offices. People would have been justly annoyed if just that had been built, and the rest of the centre put on hold. Yes Easthampsted house would have been freed up, but there would be no returns from the investment. Having to keep using Easthampsted house though, will be providing the council with logistical problems. The new phasing could have many benefits, but also give us a few headaches. Many people are speculating about what future High Streets and shopping centres will look like. We have a pause where we can second guess what the future holds.

Some time back Hannah Fletcher asked “As retail monoliths crumble around us, whither our faithful old high streets?

By the end of the recession, whenever that may be, what will the retail landscape look like?
She looks at the following:
Pubs and bars - So many are closing…
Pharmacies - Increasingly about health services as much as about products and will offer optical, dental and health facilities?
Supermarkets - fragmentation as discount food shops take their share?
Music, games, DVD shops - Will these disappear from the high street as we turn to the internet?
Charity shops - How will they evolve?
Mobile phone shops - And the like - move out of town?
Off-licences - So many are closing.
Clothes stores - What impact the internet and supermarkets.

Meanwhile, in Bracknell we have seen around £100 million being invested in regeneration projects that are already underway, planned or newly completed in and around the town centre:

- Bracknell Train Station forecourt
- New Garth Hill College
- New Bracknell and Wokingham College
- Berkshire East Primary Care Trust Bracknell Healthspace
- Celsius Housing Development
- Major improvements to the Peel Centre.

Let’s hope that confidence and money to lend improves and we get the next step in the regeneration in place.

Residents of Priestwood will also be hoping that if they are not going to do anything with it yet, that Comer Homes at least make Winchester  House look a bit nicer. Or is it now "The Crystal"?
I blogged about this before:
Perhaps everyone should write to Comer Homes, and ask them to Remove The Blight of Bracknell?

Sunday 6 June 2010

Country Air, take a good long sniff of that whiff

It appears that smelly country air may be good for you. The Saturday issue of the Telegraph has an article about how Pungent country air does you good .  Researchers fed live bacteria to mice and assessed their ability to navigate a maze compared to control mice that were not fed the bacteria."We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice," says Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York.

Mycobacterium vaccae is a nonpathogenic species of the Mycobacteriaceae family of bacteria that lives naturally in soil. Its name is derived from the Latin word, vacca (cow) as the first described strain was isolated from cow dung in Austria. Prof Dorothy Matthews, who led the new research, says it “suggests that Mycobacterium vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals”, testifying to the fact that “we evolved with dirt as hunter gatherers”. In other words, cowpats fertilise minds as well as fields.
Next time I am walking the dog through Larks Hill, and the cows are there maybe I will sniff the air that bit better.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Health, well-being and council spending.

An article in the LGA First magazine caught my attention this week. It was about spending on learning, and the knock on effect of lowering heath costs. We have to meet the challenge of an ageing population. The article goes on to say that local authorities can help by helping people maintain their mental and physical resilience and by building networks within communities, so that the first call for support are friends and family, rather than the state.
Helping people and communities to help themselves extends the independent phase of peoples lives. If successful, it is not just the quality of lives that are improved, but also some of the estimated £77bn that mental illness costs the economy each year.

This followed on from something that I saw on the BBC about green exercise.  Researchers claim that just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health
Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said "A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely."

All of this fitted in with something that I read in the New Scientist and other places some time back: People who exercise tend to be more socially active, which enhances cognitive activity. When the article was written 2 years ago, it sad that we need randomised trials to establish the relationship, but nonetheless exercise undoubtedly has extensive health benefits" This appears to be born out in the recent research.

This fits well with the Bracknell Forest Council Priorities 2 and 3. “Protecting and enhancing our environment” and “Promoting health and achievement”. It just goes to show how spending a relatively small amount of money in the right areas, can have the knock on effect of not only helping people, but saving money.