Minutes of the 2003 AGM

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The meeting was chaired by Mr Paul Gallagher, and 58 others were present, including local ward Councillors Bob Green and Annette Hendry

Jill Verran, Joy Lowther, Marie-Christine Weeks, Susie Downer, Eddy & Noreen Hooper, Geoff Goldsmith, Mr & Mrs Houlder, Mrs Marina Miles, Rev Derek Chandler, Sadie Cooke, Barbara Tee, Sue Ballard, Julian & Carol Pearce.

2. The minutes of the 18th AGM held on the 18th April 2002 had been circulated and it was agreed they were an accurate record of the proceedings. The date at the top had been wrongly recorded and the year was subsequently changed to 2002. They were signed by the Chairman.

Topics other than those covered in the Chairman's report were raised as follows:

Heathcroft Home
The original application for 35 dwellings had been rejected, but the developer was appealing against the decision at a public inquiry on 10 June. He had simultaneously submitted a plan for 13 houses, but that too had been turned down on a minor technicality regarding layout.

Highdown Recycling Site
The temporary repairs seemed to be holding out.

Caversham Park Open Day
The second Heritage Open Day had been a great success and a recent event at the Museum to celebrate 60 years of monitoring indicated that there would be more involvement with local people (security permitting) including schools.

Planning Applications
The two plans for dwellings behind Grove Road had been approved and work was underway to clear the land leading off Unity Court.

The Chairman reported that it had been a particularly busy year. Copies of his report had already been circulated to all members and they were also available on the Association’s website. The following lists the topics where additional comments were noted:

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee
It was hoped to participate at the St Barnabas Garden Party again this summer (12th July 2003).

Kerb-side recycling
The Council would be asked about their intentions regarding the kerb-side collection of glass bottles and other items currently not collected.

Tree replacement
The trees in question along Peppard Road had been removed and replaced with tiny saplings. It was hoped these would be able to survive both the elements and the threat from vandals.

Emmer Green Book
Work on the revision was now complete and it was due to be dispatched to the printer for a late May publication. Copies could be obtained directly through MAP READING (Tel:9470922) or Blackwells.

Emmer Green Precinct car park
In addition to the parking restrictions there was very poor lighting and a couple of fallen trees in need of clearance.

Despite the fact that the wet weather had long since passed the Council had still not undertaken their promise to clear up the mess created in redefining the size of the plots. Individual allotment holders had been left to manage as best they could.

Transco work in Surley Row
The verges had now been levelled and reseeded.

“Question Time”
Thanks were given to Derek Bartlett of CADRA for organizing the evening which had been a victim of its own success. Only a handful of the 70 odd questions that were submitted could be addressed on the night.

Village sign
Members were able to view the progress of the sign from the samples of the carved panels displayed on the night. Not all the work had been plain sailing because a panel with the name on had unfortunately split and had had to be reordered. The carvers were thanked for their skill, dedication and time. Funding of the sign was still being debated, but the Association had the reserves to cover any shortfall if necessary.

North Reading Youth Project
It was noted that sufficient cover at the Milestone Centre in Caversham Park Village had been obtained to keep it open.

Safer Caversham Forum
EGRA’s term of office as Chair and vice-chairman was due to end in April with another group taking over the Chair for the next year.

Association’s website
Members were reminded of the web site address at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra and Clive Ormonde was thanked for his diligence in maintaining the site on behalf of the Association.

North Area Consultative Committee/ Reading Borough Council
Despite the sudden termination of the ACCs by the Reading Borough Council and withdrawal of ward grants there was still a possibility that the Emmer Green village sign might be funded. Other local projects in contention were the cleaning up of Caversham Library frontage including the clock, and the skateboard facility at Clayfield Copse. However, the manner in which the ACCs had been suspended had brought to a head the dissatisfaction of the Association with the rôle of the Council and their attitude towards local voluntary groups and the process of consultation. Over the years committee volunteers had put in many hours of work in the interests of the community, including sending representatives to a number of Council initiated committee / consultative meetings etc. In return the Association expected the Council to respect and respond to the input and observations. Because the EGRA committee felt this was no longer the case, a proposal was put to withdraw from formal consultations, until the Council had put their house in order. Reading Borough Council had been made aware of this intention and had expressed their concern that matters had reached such a state. However, the consensus was that we should go ahead with the proposal but leave the door open for future negotiation if the Council were seen to be engaging in an open and honest process of consultation.

Cllr Hendry interjected to say the funds from the NACC were not lost and there had even been proposals to transfer the unspent money to the Safer Reading Fora (Caversham was one such Forum). At this point Derek Bartlett was invited to say a few words about the small grants committee process of the Caversham Safer Forum. He mentioned that grants could only support projects that reduced crime or the fear of crime and that community projects did not fall within the committee’s remit. In consequence, they had difficulty spending their existing budget let alone any extra transferred from the NACC. The Chairman observed that attendees from Thames Valley Police might take a dim view of the Fora being hijacked by the Council to cover non-crime related issues.

A copy of the treasurer's report had been circulated showing that a balance of over £3,800 was held in the Portman Building Society. There was a surplus of £1,095 for the year. Thanks were given to auditor Julian Pearce for his continued work. The adoption of the accounts was proposed by Hilary Gallagher, and seconded by Owen Jewiss.

All but two of the committee had agreed to stand for another year. Geoff Goldsmith was leaving after a spell of three years. Sue Ballard was also stepping down and was thanked for all the work she had done on both the exhibition and the book, as well as her involvement in the North Reading Youth Project. Committee officers were all remaining in their current posts. Julian Pearce had offered to continue auditing the accounts. The committee and auditor were proposed by Bob Green and seconded by Lady Audrey Durant. The Chairman invited any members who wanted to join the committee to speak to him afterwards and said that anyone was welcome to attend a committee meeting to see how things worked and what was involved.


The first point raised was the fact that the driver of the 44 bus was sometimes taking a break on the Peppard Road, posing a danger to other traffic and pedestrians. Reading Buses were to be contacted to get their drivers to stop at safer places.

There was a request for a pedestrian crossing on the Peppard Road, south of the petrol station. Cllr Hendry said the Council had agreed to this in principle and the project was on the pending list for when funds became available. It was possible that funds might come from Central Government.

Problems were still being experienced when insensitive drivers parked at the post box outside the church restricting the flow of traffic past the nearby island.

A suggestion was mooted to ask for the post box to be relocated and, although it was felt this would be unlikely, Royal Mail would be approached with this idea.

The Chairman announced that there would be a second Woodlands Day at Clayfield Copse on Saturday 31st May 2003.

The path outside the White Horse Inn had been the cause of several accidents since the bollards had been removed. Although the Council had promised to paint white lines along the inside edge action was particularly slow. An urgent reminder was to be sent.

Graham Horn gave an enlightening talk on his expedition up Mt Kilimanjaro in support of two charities – over £6,000 had been raised to date. He had chosen the more challenging route to the summit, pitching tents every night. A series of slides showed us the stunning scenery and the people – including a whole team of porters who, among other skills, were particularly adept at cooking fresh eggs in the middle of nowhere.

The meeting closed and was followed by wine and nibbles.