Minutes of Committee Meeting
Spring 2006

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Thursday 8th June 2006

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Bill Harper, Brenda Deller, Vera Bodman Tara Taylor, Brian Warren Jill Verran, Diana Hartrup, Bob Cruickshank, Mark Hutchings

1. Apologies: None

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Tuesday 7th March 2006) were approved.

3. Matters arising

Woodland Carvings :
Steps would be taken to source suitable logs, so the project could be resurrected. Anne Latto (FOCC) to be contacted.

Village Sign :
It was hoped maintenance of the village sign could be carried out soon. The Berkshire Woodcarvers had been consulted and emphasised that it was important to remove/bleach out discolouration before applying stain/preserver. (The Berkshire Woodcarvers currently have a display of their work on the Civic Offices, Reading).

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road
The situation remains the same with yet another withdrawal and re-submission by Coral to extend into a prime open space. Any suggestion of alternative premises, including taking over the now empty Balfour store, have been firmly rejected.

Post Office Closure :
This had been the main on-going concern since the last committee meeting with lots of activity to seek alternative premises and encouragement for residents to bombard PO Headquarters with letters. Cllr Mark Ralph had also organised a petition. Despite this, the premises were now shut and boarded up. It is a facility in Emmer Green, which is very sorely missed and pressure needs to be kept up for a speedy re-opening.

Highdown School Award :
Deputy Head, Mr Loveys, had responded enthusiastically, and details were being put before the school’s committee. It was thought an annual sum of around £50 would be appropriate – either one bigger award or several smaller ones.

A write-up and photo were in the current edition of The Caversham Bridge

4. Treasurer’s Report
The Association’s funds continued to rise and currently stood at £6315. Suggestions for minor projects included some which were already in the pipeline (Clayfield Copse log carvings, Highdown book award) and new suggestions under AOB.

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project:
Tina Heaford continues to be very positive and proactive. This included going out and talking to youths on the streets, and would welcome feedback of where youngsters are ‘hanging around’ particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. The shelter near the skateboard facility in Clayfield Copse was now installed and it was hoped the lighting would be incorporated soon. It was felt there could be more for youngsters of all ages in the locality and possibilities included a basketball goal or football net. Younger children would enjoy the logs once carved, but for health and safety reasons, the choice for this age group was limited.

The sports field at Clayfield Copse had unfortunately been home to an impromptu BBQ. Although much of the debris had been cleared away, there was an unwelcome charred patch of turf. It was a difficult scenario and obviously illegal, but not something high on the police agenda.

Apparently there had been problems by the river for young canoeists because of use of a personal helicopter. Hopefully it would be resolved soon.

Safer Caversham Community Forum :
Bob Cruickshank has decided to relinquish his role attending forum meeting. Vera Bodman was happy to return to the task. Thanks to Bob for his participation and regular feedback in recent times.

Paul Gallagher had attended the meeting. Pat Baxter was the guest speaker – the subject being Reading’s proposed changes to the IDR. Wokingham want to take Reading to judicial review over transport issues which will have knock on effect on their area – IDR and the 3rd Thames crossing.

6. Planning Issues & Consultations

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road :
See Matters Arising above.

84 Kidmore End Road
A planning application for 5 houses had now been submitted. EGRA had no objections.

Highdown Hill Road
Building of the houses was nearing completion. This lead on to a discussion about the proliferation of illegal signs in the area. At one time over 50. The Council had removed them – at taxpayers expense of course.

CADRA welcomed our support and two ongoing concerns were the old laundry site in George Street and proposals for a five storey (inappropriate for the area) residential home in School Lane, near Waitrose.

7. Any Other Business

Proposals to replace the rifle club (which it is understood had already moved) between Jefferson Close and Russet Glade, with three houses, were still being monitored to ensure the retention of the established footpath.

Welcome Pack
This was printed copies of some of our website information which could be given to residents new to the area, together with an invitation to join the association, plus the history leaflet which was printed for the millennium exhibition. The newly updated EGRA tradesmen’s list would then be given to anyone parting with the annual subscription.

Open Spaces Society
Old maps already designated the recreation ground and the allotments beyond as ‘The Common’, but with so much infill development it may be worth double-checking the legal aspect and re-inforcing that position, through the society.
Another area that needed protecting was the path and its surroundings between Surley Row and Stuart Close. The area had been subject to a government initiative during the early 1980s, but the path (laid with hoggin at that time) had received no attention since. Adjacent land continued to gather rubbish/litter etc. It had been the subject of a spring walkabout by Councillors and RBC, but no-one could quite decide which department was responsible and if there was funding available to improve the well used path. EGRA saw it as an important right of way, which needed official protection.

St Barnabas Garden Party
EGRA would be having the usual stall on Saturday 8th July 2.00pm – 4.00pm. The theme this year was football, and one of the ideas was a guess the celebrity game – living or dead.

Grove Road Planters
Tara Taylor was worried about the dangerous state of planters in front of houses along the southern section of Grove Road (near Highdown School). The problem was that trees had been planted in them and the roots were now pushing out at the brick walls. It seems it had been an ongoing concern over the last few years, to the frustration of nearby residents. The subject was discussed in depth at an RBC/Councillor walkabout in early March – ideas included replacing the brick walls with railway sleepers, or similar. However things remained the same and EGRA felt the need for them to be resolved on safety grounds, with the possibility of some financial assistance.

Starter Homes
With all the new infill building in Emmer Green, there was still a distinct lack of ‘starter housing’. It appears any development of less than 15 properties did not have to consider this, so of course the builders were cunning in organising things to suit themselves and their profits. It was hoped this loophole in the law would shortly be changed.

The Queen
To celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday, Diana Hartrup suggested EGRA plant a semi-mature tree in the locality – with perhaps a plaque alongside it. The location had to be decided – perhaps near the pond or the church, or in the recreation ground.

Emmer Green was so much cleaner since our volunteer initiative. It was a great relief that so much had remained clean since removal. However one or two bits had crept back, including some in Brooklyn Drive. A lot of committee members had kits and were trained, so it was important to report any new ‘artwork’, so the nearest person could deal with it.

Brenda Deller reported dead Cherry Trees in Surley Row. Hopefully these would be removed and replaced by the Council. A detailed map of the area showing all trees assigned a Tree Preservation Order was also available for inspection.

Garden Open Day
Bob Cruickshank suggested for the future we could have an Emmer Green Open Gardens Day to raise funds for charity. He would be happy to be a participant himself. Mention was made of the ‘Yellow Book’ from the National Gardens Scheme, but it wasn’t sure if that would put too much pressure on things being ‘perfect’ and we would be better just promoting on a local level.

Reservoir Area
Maurice Hicks, a neighbour of committee member Vera Bodman, was worried on two counts – first radiation levels from the new telecommunications mast, which was used by the emergency services. Assurances were given it met with government and European safety guidelines. Secondly, he had concerns about security around the reservoir – fly tipping and graffiti in particular. He was in touch with Thames Water to see if things could be improved.

8. Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Wednesday 27th September 2006 at 15 The Ridings.