Minutes of Committee Meeting
Winter 2004/05

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Thursday 24th February 2005

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, David Miles, Anne Ayres, Jill Verran,
Diana Hartrup, Brenda Deller, Bill Harper, Bob Cruickshank, Vera Bodman

1. Apologies Brian Warren, Tara Taylor, Mark Hutchings

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Thursday 25th November 2004) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

Since the last committee meeting volunteers from the EGRA committee had twice helped to clean paintwork off the changing rooms in the recreation ground. There were still frustrations that the Parks Department took so long to set up a session after the vandalism had been reported, but it was hoped things might improve.
The other area of progress was with the Street Cleaning department of RBC. About a dozen volunteers had completed a form to accept an anti-graffiti kit and a training day was arranged for the 23rd February. As it was during working hours, many were unable to attend and so it was hoped other arrangements could be made. Unfortunately there seemed to be some misunderstanding as to the purpose of the kit. Unfortunately Tracey Ward who had been involved in the earlier discussions was not at the training day. Chris Camfield seemed under the impression they were solely for residents to clean up their own properties, but with the chemicals given out being solely for use on non-porous materials and for small items only, removing from brickwork or fences (the most likely subjects fro private graffiti attacks) their usage would be limited. In fact the idea was that volunteers monitor an area close to their home and remove with speed any tags and suchlike that appeared on street furniture such as lampposts, bollards, road names etc. It was appreciated the Council had graffiti team tackling this, but such was the scale and extent of the problem they could never expect to keep up with it all. Another stumbling block was the progress made with NTL and other utility companies. Although we were already in contact with representatives from NTL, liasing with them and the Council to make progress had been notoriously slow.
And last but not least, we got more than we bargained for at that training day. Despite the fact we hope to keep this whole exercise quite and low key, we arrived to find the room filled with television crews, microphones and cameras at the ready. Perhaps our broadcasting efforts will encourage other communities to follow.

Community Notice Board:
The board had now been finished and erected. The original marine ply, which had weathered and become stable was rescued and surrounded by a solid oak frame with lettering at the top. Unfortunately it is still very difficult to stick pins into it, but a staple gun is apparently very effective. Thanks to local wood carver Andrew Noyes for his craftsmanship and efficient handling of the job.

Street Cleansing:
Chris Camfield and his team were very responsive when it came to requests to clean up specific areas. We had also had a personal meeting in January with Trish Haines, chief executive of Reading Borough Council and Mark Ralph, local Councillor. The issue of litter was brought up then, particularly with regard to areas that needed to be treated by hand. Brenda Deller had noted the worst of these areas and offered to contact Chris Camfield to resolve things. It was also noted that a team had been very efficient cleaning round the shops area.

Woodlands Day:
Saturday 4th June
Volunteers were still needed to help out on the day and anyone interested should phone Anne Latto on 9484454.
EGRA were supporting the installation of a carved seating area, close to the car park area, and although the chainsaw carvers had already been booked for the day, we had funding available to extend their time and finish the job. It was necessary to arrange for big logs to be moved into position before the day itself.

Budgens Car Park Lights:
It was noted repairs to the tarmac surface had been undertaken, but the lighting still left a lot to be desired, even after constant reminders. Cllr Mark Ralph was to be contacted to see if he was able help.

Licensing Laws – re White Horse
It had been brought to our attention in early January by Cllr Hendry that the White Horse had applied for both a public entertainment license and an extension to opening hours on Friday and Saturday nights to 12.30am. There followed a vigourous consultation with surrounding neighbours to oppose particularly the noise pollution and extended hours. It is reassuring to report that all our concerns have been taken into consideration and a letter has been received confirming that another application will be made with the hours reduced to 11.00pm and an assurance the external speakers will not be used and there is to be no music in the garden.
NB with regard to the White Horse, the paving that was broken and dangerous on the forecourt, has been replaced. The bad news is that the new slabs have already broken up, and had done within days.

4. Treasurer’s Report:
The Association had an end of year balance of over £5500. Ideas for future projects were to be welcomed. Membership was continuing to increase with current numbers standing at 404. 147 of these had e-mail addresses, which helped enormously in circulating news. Recent distribution of extra copies of the newsletter had resulted in 15 new members.

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project
This was a very well attended meeting and EGRA was represented by Tara Taylor and Paul Gallagher.
Dr Simon Bradford, and Cllrs Annette Hendry and Sue Stainthorpe were also present.
Lee Middleton had now resigned after 3 or 4 years of excellent work. Another senior assistant had resigned too, but the two remaining trainees were very competent, and the centre had recently had a complimentary Ofsted report. Lee had left a very clear handover package and the Council were actively recruiting replacement staff.
In future, the budget responsibilities were being taken over by the Council to centralise that activity.

Safer Caversham Community Forum
Meetings were now held every 10-12 weeks; the last being was on 6th December in the Mayor’s Parlour. Bob Cruickshank continued to represent EGRA, but again Emmer Green statistics showed it to be the safest area north of the Thames. Unfortunately there was still resistance to siting CCTV in the locality, partly on the grounds that the footage was difficult to monitor, with current police staffing levels. There was also discussion on the change to the licensing laws and Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).
Subsequent EGRA discussion on crime related issues, included the link with Neighbourhood Watch. The fact we had so many members now on e-mail, it was hoped that certain crime information/statistics in the hands of NW could be passed on. Liz Herbert, the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator was contacted with regard to this and it appears for security reasons (‘Ringmaster’ messages covered by the Data Protection Act) this is not possible. However Liz Herbert said she would be more than happy to help anyone to set up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme if one did not exist in their area.

6. Planning Consents
Infill development continued, with little regard for the collective impact on the area. The Highdown Hill Road development had been rejected on the grounds it would destroy the character of the road, but it was fully expected the developer would re-submit plans with alternative access. An application had been received to build flats on land at 19 Buckingham Drive.
Unfortunately an unwelcome impact on the area was the proliferation of developers’ signs, most of which were illegal. The chairman Paul Gallagher had been very active in making objections known to the Council and they were hoping to remove the signs in the near future.

Every household in the South East had received a questionnaire ‘Your Shout’, and invited to respond with views on continued development in the South East. A more ‘in-depth’ letter was to be sent on behalf of EGRA expressing all our concerns, particularly with regard to the South Oxfordshire countryside and the impact on infrastructure/amenities etc. The chairman agreed to circulate a draft.

7.Forthcoming AGM
A draft copy of the Chairman’s Report was circulated and approved. St Barnabas Church Hall was booked for Wednesday 20th April at 8.00pm. It was hoped the speaker would be a representative from the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance organisation. A donation would be made from EGRA and it was hoped there would be an opportunity for others to follow suit. Wine and nibbles would be served.

8.Any Other Business

Community Policing
Unfortunately the Church House Police Office, a drop in centre in the middle of Caversham was closed due to lack of manpower. PC Stratton had retired and PC Chris Manetta was off sick.

We had been very lucky in the past, getting all our newsletters etc printed off at Emmer Green School. But it was time to seek an alternative arrangement. One option would be to offer some members them in electronic form, so they could print off their own. Investigations were also being made to source the cheapest printed copies. Jill Verran would email members and Paul Gallagher would contact RFTRA to see help could be provided.

Telecommunications Mast
The one near the reservoir (Kiln Road) was being replaced, but as this was away from housing and any buildings and was not considered a problem.

Village Sign
In order to preserve it, the oak sign needs regular maintaining. The south facing side was particularly vulnerable. Andrew Noyes was to be contacted to see if he was interested in being employed to do this.

Committee Members
Two of the committee were standing down. Anne Ayres who had served for a number of years and had recently moved to Caversham Heights. David Miles had given remarkable service for 21 years, including an 11 year stint as Chairman. Both would be missed, but would hopefully stay in touch. This gave an opportunity for last year’s co-opted new members to become fully signed up.

9.Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Tuesday 10th May 2005. 37 Kidmore End Road