Minutes of the 2004 AGM

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MINUTES OF THE 20TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE EMMER GREEN RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION, HELD AT ST BARNABAS HALL, EMMER GREEN ON 14TH APRIL 2004.

The meeting was chaired by Mr Paul Gallagher, and 57 others were present, including local ward Councillors Bob Green and Annette Hendry

1. APOLOGIES
Joy Lowther, Marie-Christine Weeks, Jim Dunkley, Susie Downer, Eddy & Noreen Hooper, Owen and Daphne Jewiss, Bob Simpson, Maurice Hicks, Edith Hawkins, Philip and Alison Hesketh, Audrey Durant, Mr and Mrs Derek Colverson, Mrs DM Johnson, Peter and Janice Halter.

2. THE MINUTES OF THE 19th AGM held on the 10th April 2003 had been circulated and it was agreed they were an accurate record of the proceedings. They were signed by the Chairman.

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

The only real point to note was the committee’s withdrawal from local committees run by Reading Borough Council in protest at the poor response/support we get from them. A year has elapsed and the Council was keen for us to re-engage with them. The situation would be reviewed at the next committee meeting. Particular concerns/interests were with the Safer Caversham Forum.

4.CHAIRMAN'S REPORT
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:

Village sign
The sign had been very successful and the Women’s Institute and the Townswomen’s Guild were making arrangements with the Berkshire Woodcarvers to have their own plaque added to the post.

Emmer Green Book
The second edition was published last summer and is selling very well. Copies can be obtained directly through Margaret Ormonde, MAP READING (Tel:9470922), or town centre outlets.

Local Tradesman’s List
This had now been finalized and will be circulated to members with the next newsletter. Thanks to Bob Cruickshank for his efforts. It has been decided not to put it on the website, but some copies have been reserved to be included in the welcome pack for householders new to the area.

Graffiti
Andy Gillespie’s team has been doing sterling work in the general area. Unfortunately the hard work is soon written over. Often the perpetrators come from far afield.

Emmer Green Precinct Car Park
Some improvements in the lighting situation. There has also been discussion about replacing the community notice board, possibly involving the Berkshire Woodcarvers, with EGRA helping towards the costs.

St Barnabas Church Garden Party
Assuming it takes place this year, EGRA would be happy to partake, and in fact a second walk sheet is being prepared, similar to last year’s, but shorter.

Village sign
The Berkshire Woodcarvers have a new recruit, John Walker, who is currently attempting to clean up the brass plaque on the sign.

Post Box near St Barnabas Church
There were problems with inconsiderate car parking near the church /post box at school time, and the post box was exacerbating things. The Post Office were not sympathetic with regards to resiting the box and the Council had not even got the funds to undertake a study to ascertain what possible solutions might be appropriate in the area generally. The Chairman was very persistent in chasing things up and will again ask the Council to give the problem some priority.

Trees
We always ask for consultation, but yet another tree seems to have been vandalized without warning, in the name of pollarding. The one in question this time was at the Twin Oaks junction. The matter will be discussed at the next committee meeting.

Planning

Number 76 Kidmore End Road has been demolished and the remaining semi made good. Building work is underway on land at the back to build 13 houses in the first phase.

The Marshlands Square development is also well underway with the building of 35 properties.

Grove Road had a total of 25 houses either underway or planned. Objections were being made about certain aspects of those in the proposal stages.

In Highdown Hill Road two proposals, for either 11 or 13 houses, with possible future expansion into Highdown Avenue, have been made.

Peppard Road had plans for 8 houses near Cavendish Road, and Buckingham Drive for 13 houses.

Also there are plans to sell off a parcel of land within the grounds of Highdown School in the area of the tennis courts. This would be to help fund a new assembly hall, and would likely be for a minimum of 17 houses.

This brings the total to 110+ new properties in the area, and there are grave concerns that these don’t get the same attention as one large development even though they had an equal impact on the local infrastructure and amenities.

When objecting to development proposals, particularly small developments, EGRA focused on local issues, such as degradation of the environment, road safety, congestion, dwelling design etc, not on issues such as diminished privacy, loss of light, close proximity of new buildings that would concern neighbouring householders. It is also essential that individuals themselves write to complain to illustrate the strength of feeling about such matters.

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 hard work in maintaining the site on behalf of the Association. It really was a mine of information.

Thanks were given to the committee members and to Julian Pearce for auditing the accounts. Thanks were also extended to the local Ward Councillors.

Questions from the floor

Q. David Wilks, Peppard Road
Graffiti. He’d spoken to the councillors about the proliferation of graffiti, often identifiable tags, particularly on the electricity sub-station near his house. Cleaners said Caversham and Emmer Green worst affected areas in Reading. In favour of adopting a zero tolerance policy. Also wanted Head of Highdown to address the school and offered a reward to anyone naming the perpetrators.
A. Paul Gallagher
Planting has been tried but will take time to grow. Rewards haven’t worked in the past, and also it was felt much of it was done by people from outside the area. Highdown have not always been quick to respond in the past with regard to litter problems either. But there are graffiti hotlines on the Council website. Unfortunately charges are made if it is on private property. CCTV cameras could be a possibility. The committee is regularly in touch with Andy Gillespie over the situation and will contact him about possible additional strategies.

Q. Arthur Barker
Concerns were expressed that there had been a reduction of police officers and that ‘unwanted citizens’ had been re-housed in the area.
A. Paul Gallagher
The beat bobbies had now been restored to full strength, but their presence was admittedly greater during the daytime, being deployed to other hotspots in the town at night time. Liberal Democrat Councillors were pushing forward the idea of street wardens.
A. Annette Hendry
No decision to reduce police, but sometimes our beat police are sucked in to what’s happening in the town centre. A hot spots forum has been set up through Safer Caversham Forum. If there is a particular problem near your home you can ring up locals Cllrs, beat police or SCF members. Priority is now been given to areas north of the river for youth services including mobile units parked in places where youngsters gather.

Concerns were expressed about the state of the bus shelters still under the umbrella of the Council. Complaints to the Council fell upon deaf ears, particularly about the small local issues.

Cllr Bob Green responded by saying he had complained to Council officers about non-Adshel shelters and the particular shelter in question was now at the top of the list for repair.

Q. John Walker
Asked how often the roads should be cleaned.
A. Bob Green
There had recently been an increase in budget on street cleaning, which was going to residential areas. Should take effect within a month of the new financial year.

Vera Bodman reported a new trend in burning bus timetables at bus stops.

Jill Verran
Burnt out car on the field Clayfield Copse. The car had been removed, but the debris remained.

Planning
Cllr Bob Green
Coherent strategy on infrastructure. Cumulative effect on developments only stands a chance if residents object with reasons. Quoted the Highdown Hill Road proposals, which are of concern to a number of residents. But they have to remember the Council has to abide by planning law and Government requirements. We have to have strong grounds to refuse, otherwise it will get through on appeal, with no benefits to the local community. If the Council loses on appeal it stands to lose such things as help with education and roads from the developer. Much better to accept with conditions (e.g. a development on the Henley Road had paid for road improvements).

Jon Barclay
Article in Reading Chronicle about widening Kidmore End Road alongside the park. Puzzling as to why this should surface again, but it really had more disadvantages than benefits regarding safety.

5. TREASURER’S REPORT
Started year with healthy balance of over £3800, partly thanks to the sales of the Emmer Green book. Some of this had been used to finance the village sign but, apart from that, expenditure had been minimal, leaving us with an end of year balance of £2900. Post-auditing of the yearly accounts, largely thanks to the persistent efforts of Chairman Paul Gallagher, we were reimbursed by the Council for the village sign and, after a further payment to the woodcarvers, funds were currently £5,500. Ideas for projects, such as the new community board were welcomed.
Proposer: Jill Verran
Seconder: Brian Warren

6. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE, OFFICERS AND AUDITOR
Current members were introduced together with four members (Brenda Deller, Tara Taylor, Diana Hartrup and Mark Hutchings) who had expressed an interest in joining. The constitution allowed for an extra two members but it had been decided to co-opt all four to help during the coming year, with the possibility that some of the existing longer standing members will want to retire at the end of that time.
Julian Pearce agreed to continue auditing the accounts.
Proposer: John Walker
Seconder: Hilary Gallagher

7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Jill Verran put in a request for members’ e-mail addresses so that we may contact them speedily in the future about relevant matters.

8. GUEST SPEAKER
Gill Franklin from Cross Lanes Fruit Farm gave a fascinating talk on apples. They were first introduced to this country by the Romans and there were currently 2000 varieties, all with different flavours and fruiting at different times. Cross Lanes provides over 40 of these varieties together with pears and plums. Apples are from sale in season direct from the orchard or at local farmers markets.

The evening finished off with wine and nibbles allowing members to socialise.