Minutes of Committee Meeting
Spring 2005

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Thursday 10th May 2005

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Diana Hartrup, Bill Harper, Bob Cruickshank

1. Apologies Jill Verran, Tara Taylor, Vera Bodman, Brenda Deller, Mark Hutchings, Brian Warren

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Thursday 24th February 2005) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

The changing rooms in the recreation ground had remained clean since the last clean-up in February.
Those who had undergone training and received the kits had also been active on the streets. Although a promise of another training day was announced, nothing had been arranged by the Council. The Northern Housing Association had also been contacted with regard to the graffiti on Unity Court, Grove Road and work was underway to remove it. Unfortunately no such progress had been made with NTL who has responsibility for the green cable boxes. They were having to negotiate through the Council, and the current situation, despite repeated reminders could only be described as stalemate.

Street Cleansing:
Certain aspects of street cleaning were definitely improving, and one area of outstanding concern had received a positive response. It relates to the concerns over litter/rubbish in and around Highdown School and was from Tracey Ward in answer to our letters/ e-mails:
“ I have passed these to my colleague who is in the process of setting up a schools initiative programme of cleansing issues (which we are going to try to roll out shortly). He will contact the school direct, but I will keep you informed once contact has been made. This way we get the children on board and involve them directly with cleaning up the school area rather than other people cleaning up the mess that they may have made in the first place.”
Grass-cutting had now been reduced to perhaps a more realistic 10 times a year, but the problem often lay with the frequency of the cut. In early spring when the grass on the verges was lush and fast growing, it was often neglected.

Woodlands Day:
Saturday 4th June
Volunteers were still needed to help out on the day and anyone interested should phone Anne Latto on 9484454.
The area EGRA were supporting, the installation of a carved seating area, close to the car park had been earmarked and bark chippings strewn down in preparation. Big logs were to be moved into position before the day itself, and Jason Trewinnard had some interesting suggestions, like a caterpillar and a dog laying on its back with its legs in the air. A fish was also a possibility. Jason would be providing plasticine models to show visitors what the finished product would look like.

Budgens Car Park Lights:
The lighting problem was still unresolved, but Cllr Mark Ralph had been in contact with the manager of Budgens who promised to reminded the owners of the site. Also, the last remaining tree in front of the shops had died, and should probably be removed on grounds of safety.

Licensing Laws – re White Horse
The hearing (April 13th) for the new license application was postponed due to the health of the licensee. Clyde Masson, the Council’s licensing officer, promised to inform us when the next hearing would be taking place. It appeared at that point there would be nothing to worry about anyway, because the brewery seemed prepared to listen to the concerns of local residents. However an unfortunate incident shortly after, whereby a live band was playing inside the pub, causing excessive noise in the area, had created an air of distrust and several complaints to the Council.

We had been fortunate enough to procure use of RFTRA’s photocopying facilities. The limitations were that we provide our own paper and someone to operate the copier. But our output was likely to fall within the number of free copies of A4, namely 500 per annum.

Village Sign
There had been no response yet from Andrew Noyes who had been offered a yearly contract to maintain the sign. Paul Gallagher had, in the interim, given the vulnerable south facing side another coating of oil.

4. Treasurer’s Report:
The Association’s funds continued to rise and now stood at over£5600. There was also the reimbursement due from the Council for the community notice board, and £100 had also been received in royalties from sales of the Emmer Green book. A couple of suggestions for future projects included an outside seat in a suitable location and a sound system for the Church Hall (see later).

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project
Tara Taylor attended this meeting, which was the same night as the EGRA committee meeting.
These are extracts from her report, which are particularly pertinent to Emmer Green:
Skate Board Equipment;
Lynne Reynolds attended the meeting, as a one off, to update the committee on the skate board equipment (formerly at Whitley). There have been several possible sites looked at locally for the equipment to be placed. These are: Milestone Centre, Dumbarton Way, Buckingham Drive, Emmer Green Recreational Ground and Clayfield Copse.
Some were deemed unsuitable, leaving Emmer Green Rec. and Clayfield Copse as options. Lynne is open to either of these options and is happy that they would both be suitable for the equipment. She does, however, feel that the elderly residents living next to Emmer Green Rec. would be disturbed by the noise as the equipment would have to be sited just the other side of the hedge from their gardens. ROSPA would prefer Emmer Green Rec on the grounds of safety, but as the equipment currently at Clayfield Copse does not meet current Health & Safety Standards and is need of re-vamping, the general consensus was that this would be the best site. The youths in the area have been consulted and they prefer Clayfield Copse rather than Emmer Green Rec. Over the next 4 weeks they will be assessing the location and gauging local reaction. The Chair added that historically the NRYP committee has favoured Clayfield Copse as the best location for the equipment. It would also help alleviate the youth problems at Buckingham Drive and Farnham Drive.
A youth shelter is also being considered to draw the youths away from the shops. This could possibly be funded by Safer Caversham Community Forum. If this was the case, lighting would need to be installed, which may result in opposition from local residents.
The consultation process will begin shortly and letters will be put through doors etc. Ben Stanesby will speak directly with those residents who will be affected and as mentioned earlier, Lynne will speak to dog walkers etc. EGRA will also be consulted. The young people in the area are to be involved by asking them to help design the layout.

Safer Caversham Community Forum
Policing in Caversham:
There was no further news since the AGM. Crime statistics still showed Emmer Green to be the safest area in Reading, with all reported crime over the last six months, except violent crime, down.
It was hoped that the new office which had been set up in Church House at the bottom of Prospect Street, Caversham, last year, would be opened in due course, with the promise of a Neighbourhood Police Initiative, due to take place in 2006.
Cllr Mark Ralph had met with the new Police Inspector Graham Dix, who had some constructive suggestions, including parental responsibility for wayward youngsters. This had already begun with Inspector Dix circulating a letter in the area, inviting people to report graffiti tagging to the Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 0845 8505 505. Information should be left for beat officer PC C Manetta.
Another area of concern was often the elderly – and the work undertaken by Derek Bartlett, former CADRA Chairman was discussed, whereby they were offered advice and help on security.

6.Planning Issues

Several proposed development were at the stage of being withdrawn/refused and were being re-thought for further submission. These included 1 Rosehill Park, 91 Peppard Road, 9 Buckingham Drive and Highdown Hill Road and 161-163 Old Peppard Road. The Highdown Hill Road proposal was being monitored by an active campaign group who would continue to voice objections.

The Council had made a good job of removing developers’ signs. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t be too long before another rash of them appeared. South Oxfordshire District Council had also been contacted with regard to the signs at Playhatch and had responded positively.

EGRA Chairman Paul Gallagher had received an acknowledgement for his letter setting out EGRA’s concerns over planning in the South East development plan as a whole (part of the ‘Your Shout’ questionnaire).
However there was disappointment at the lack of response from the Strategic Planning Meeting which Paul Gallagher had attended in January. Despair at the lack of communication between different Council departments. It was hoped Cllr Bob Green could table them in the Council Chambers for specific answers. Pressure also needed to be put on Central Government and MP Rob Wilson was the best contact for this.

7.Any Other Business

E-mail list
We now had about a third of our membership on e-mail, and it was making a big difference to the newsletter circulation/distribution, if it could be sent in electronic form. But it was important we arranged to send receipts electronically too – the membership secretary’s signature could be scanned in if necessary.

The Air Ambulance, whose representative had spoken at our AGM, were happy to collect empty computer ink cartridges to help their fund –raising initiatives, and it was agreed that EGRA would promote this initiative.
St Anne’s Church, Caversham had recently recycled old spectacles and various opticians also sent these to third world countries. Again it was agreed that EGRA should promote this information.

Sound System
It was possible some people who attended the EGRA AGM had difficulties hearing what was being said at times, particularly if they were near the back. Possibilities were being investigated, into either something portable, for use by EGRA, or a more permanent arrangement for the church hall, to be used by the wider community.

Electricity Suppliers
Residents needed to be warned against pushy salesmen who used unwarranted tactics to try and get electricity users to change suppliers on the doorstep, with seemingly untenable financial offers. EGRA would publicise this problem in the next newsletter and on the web update page.

8.Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Tuesday 23rd August 2005 at 18 St Barnabas Road