Minutes of Committee Meeting
Summer 2006

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Wednesday 17th September 2006

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Vera Bodman, Tara Taylor, Jill Verran, Diana Hartrup, Bob Cruickshank

1. Apologies: Mark Hutchings, Bill Harper, Brian Warren, Brenda Deller

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Tuesday 8th June 2006) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

Woodland Carvings :
Although the use of a tree felled at Christchurch Meadows had been offered, subsequently an old oak tree at Clayfield Copse had been considered unsafe and felled. Some of the tree was still standing, but more than enough was available to suit our purposes. The size of the timber was such that special arrangements would be needed to drag it to site. Andrew Noyes was still happy to undertake the carving. Jill Verran had circulated photos of carved animals, which looked very impressive.

Village Sign :
Ongoing maintenance of both the sign and the community notice board had hit a stumbling block. Despite having funds to pay for the work to be undertaken, so far no-one was willing to carry out the work. The chairman had valiantly single-handedly restored the sign one rainy afternoon in early September, but a longer-term solution was still needed. The membership would be circulated in the hope that someone might be prepared to take on the paid job. JV to circulate

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road
It was disappointing that there had been so few objections to a building affecting the heart of Emmer Green. But local Councillor Bob Green was caught unawares too, when out of the blue it was announced that extension planning proposals had been passed in an apparently undemocratic manner. EGRA's concerns now were that the seat, which had been donated by the residents’ association, was salvaged and relocated on the other side of the pond. Funded by Coral. MO to write to Coral.

Post Office Closure
Sadly there has been no progress on this former Post Office/ Newsagents site over the summer. It gave an air of neglect and dereliction to the area, as well as the loss of a most vital local service. MO to write for an update.

Highdown School Award
Since the initial enthusiastic response from Deputy Head, Mr Loveys, nothing had since been heard. We decided to wait for the school to respond to our offer of an annual book prize.

Things were still uncertain about the future of the long established footpath between Jefferson Close and Russet Glade. The developer still claims the path won’t be blocked off, but some residents in Jefferson Close appeared worried about the path remaining, and a RBC legal representative is currently interviewing residents. There is a possibility that the matter may go to an enquiry.

Welcome Packs
Some had already been distributed since the last meeting, with a positive response and new members. It is hoped to continue this to cover new developments and households in the area.

St Barnabas Garden Party
Paul Gallagher and his wife Hilary manned the stall, helping to raise funds for the St Barnabas African charity and recruiting at least 7 new members to EGRA.

Grove Road Planters
Following a Councillors and RBC staff walkabout in July, there was positive news about the planters in Grove Road. Funding is available for this year to remove alternate planters - those in the worst state as it happens and replant with more suitable species at ground level. When those are better established, in say three years, the remainder too will be removed and replaced. Nearby residents have already been informed by letter.

The Queen
It has been decided to use Association funds to plant a tree on the edge of the recreation grounds in commemoration of the Queen’s 80th birthday. Diana Hartrup was looking into the matter and had been in touch with staff from the Forbury Gardens about the provision of a fairly mature specimen. A couple of species of oak had been suggested and the Turner's oak seemed the most appropriate. It has also been suggested that EGRA provide a seat near the tree, with a plaque commemorating it and the tree. (DH)

Garden Open Day
There had been very little response from members re the suggestion of an Emmer Green Gardens Open Day. Given that, and the virtually impossible conditions for gardeners during the past summer, it was difficult to press ahead on a collective basis. However if anyone wished to open their garden on an individual basis under the umbrella of the Yellow Book, then EGRA would be happy to publicise things.

4. Treasurer's Report
The Association’s funds continued to rise and currently stood at £6447. A few small projects were underway, including the carving of the animals in Clayfield Copse, and the installation of seat and tree (see later) to commemorate the Queen's 80th birthday.

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project:
The last meeting was in June and discussed funding equipment. There had been a bit of trouble whilst the Milestone Centre was closed, but this was just temporary. The success of the new shelter at Clayfield Copse and subsequent lighting, had been marred by the vandalism of the lights (see later), but the team working at the Youth Centre, lead by Tina Heaford were still very proactive and doing positive things for the young people of the area. Tara Taylor was due to attend the next NRYP meeting within a few days and a summary of her report will be available at the next committee meeting.

Safer Caversham Community Forum:
Vera Bodman was unable to attend SCCF the following evening (28th September), so Bob Cruickshank kindly stepped in. A summary of his report is:-

Emmer Green News:
Crime in Reading overall is falling. On average Emmer Green crime figures have remained stable.
There were currently no capital bids under consideration for Emmer Green, but we would be very happy to hear from our members of anything which they think would help us feel safer. One disappointment was that the lighting, which was provided along with the Youth Shelter and the Skateboard Ramp at Clayfield Copse, was wrecked very shortly after it was installed. Means are being sought to raise the height of the lights consistent with not allowing light leakage to the nearby residents and with providing stronger reinforcement of the breakable parts.

General News:
Moveable CCTV cameras have been installed in Church Street, Caversham.
Operation Forage operates every weekend in the town, from Thursdays to Saturday. Both are helping to combat anti-social behaviour.
There is now a thriving Pub Watch scheme in Caversham with 70 licensees attending regular meetings.
The Police Office in Church House is working well. It is opened on the first Monday of each month from 5pm to 8pm.
A Community Support Officer will be joining the police staff in December
Neighbourhood Policing will come into force in February next year.
Neighbourhood Action Groups will be set up to include the Police, Local Authority officials, and relevant agencies, Residents` Groups, school, Publicans etc.
A Community Safety Event at Westfield Road Recreation Park in June, was one of 7 in the town. The results of a questionnaire requested more activities for young teens and pre-teens, and more Beat Police Officers and Community Wardens.

6. Planning Issues & Consultations

Crawshay Drive
An incident had recently occurred whereby, following refusal by the planning department for the proposed development at 58 Crawshay Drive, on the grounds of a neighbour's hedge obscuring the site line, the builder (Mr Karl Simmonds) took matters into his own hands by making an early morning raid on the said hedge and began hacking it down. Despite the owner's objections, he did not cease until the police were called. It is hoped charges will be brought for criminal damage, which might have an impact on the developer’s future behaviour.

Planning Policy
Over recent years EGRA has been in many planning application battles. It's never represented individual cases (unless the impact is likely to affect the wider community), but has been particularly active where there have been wider implications such as the transport, amenity or safety aspects. It is especially difficult when not all residents in areas feel strongly about a proposal, and don't bother opposing it. An enormous amount of time has been devoted to this, and things need to me made clearer in the future. General policy is now that the committee representative will only respond if at least a dozen objections have been submitted to the Council Planning Officer, by those affected. This and other helpful information/guidelines will shortly be posted on a new EGRA website page. (PG/MO/CO)
It was vital too that the Council's planning officer continued to send through notifications of applications.

It had been noted that with the new development in the area of Lyefield Court/St Benets inadequate parking had been provided, to the extent that the parking on the road was blocking access for other vehicles - especially emergency services.

7. Any Other Business

Excessively Noisy Events
The main focus of this was the end of term party at Emmer Green Primary School. It was only held once a year and finished at 9.00. Unfortunately, this July was very hot and the sound outside easily carried across the open golf course to the houses beyond. There was a mixed reaction to this, with some residents tolerating a noisy once a year event, but others clearly complaining and wanting action before next year. Because the event took place on Council/LEA property, the usual channels of noise enforcement cannot be applied. However it was all a question of being neighbourly and it was hoped the event could still go ahead in the future, with lower noise levels. Cllr Annette Hendry was on the board of Governors at the school and would be bringing it to their attention.

Duck signs
Earlier in the year it had been reported that ducks were being killed as they waddled across the road from the pond to the shops. The suggestion was for a couple of road signs to be installed and paid for by EGRA. The Council submitted a quote for £288, but one of the signs would have to be on a separate post. This we felt would add clutter to the area. It was hoped with the Pedestrian Crossing that motorists should already be slowing down, and that the incidents in the Spring will not repeat themselves. The project is in abeyance for the time being.

Bottle Banks
As part of the new recycling arrangements, the Council are looking for an extra site in the Emmer Green area. The entrance to the main shopping precinct was the suggested location but after consideration, noise for nearby residents, overflowing broken glass, the darkness of the area (owners refuse to repair lighting), we decided it would not be a suitable site. In fact it was pointed out, that since paper and plastics had been removed from the Highdown site and an extra glass bank installed, it was more than meeting demand. It was hoped in time to have door-to-door glass collections.

Advertising Posters on White Horse Public House
Several people had complained about the emergence of a giant promotional poster on the garden wall. It was located at a busy junction and was an unsightly addition to the plethora of advertisements already on the site. Cllr Bob Green contacted the Council and it appears although the others, which promote the services of the pub are legal, this particular one is not. It is hoped it will be removed very soon.

Resignation of Chairman
After ten years of leading the helm, Chairman Paul Gallagher announced he would be standing down at the next AGM. Paul has done an outstanding job and the Association has gone from strength to strength during that time. Thankfully he still wishes to remain on the committee in a different capacity. Various possibilities were discussed for the future, and there will be a special meeting of the full committee on Friday 10th November 2006 at 6 Tredegar Road.

8. Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Wednesday 17th January 2007 at 20 Kidmore End Road

9. Date of the Annual General Meeting:
8:00 pm Tuesday 24th April 2007, St Barnabas Church Hall.