Minutes of the 2005 AGM

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MINUTES OF THE 21st ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE EMMER GREEN RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION, HELD AT ST BARNABAS HALL, EMMER GREEN ON 20th APRIL 2005.

The meeting was chaired by Mr Paul Gallagher, and 59 others were present, including local ward Councillors Bob Green, Annette Hendry and Mark Ralph.

1. APOLOGIES
Diana Hartrup, Susie Downer, Eddy & Noreen Hooper, Mrs DM Johnson, Maggie Churcher, Hilary Gallagher, Edwina Childs, Mr and Mrs Derek Colverson, Lettitia Andrews and others.

2. THE MINUTES OF THE 20th AGM held on the 14th April 2004 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:

After an absence of a year in protest at the lack of consultation from the Council, EGRA representatives had resumed attendance at the Safer Caversham Community Forum and North Reading Youth Project committee meetings. We had been welcomed back, but unfortunately the reason for opting out in the first place was not entirely resolved.

Mature trees were still being removed or having drastic work done to them without prior notification to nearby residents or the association.

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 www.map-reading/egra . The following lists the topics where additional comments were noted:

Street Cleaning & Grass Cutting
Over the last year considerable improvement had been made in street cleaning, especially in the area around the shopping precinct, for which we had to thank the efforts of two Council workmen in particular. There were still pockets of problem areas, notably Highdown School. So far, the response from them had been rather negative, but in time it was hoped a community initiative could be set up. Less satisfying was the grass cutting, particularly in spring when the growth rate was excessive. It was hoped that the frequency of cutting could be better spaced throughout the growing period and the situation will be monitored and the Council chased if necessary.

Graffiti
Things had certainly moved forward during the year and the working partnership with the Council had been a success, albeit with inevitable frustrations along the way. The pavilion/changing rooms in the Grove Road Recreation Ground, which had been cleaned off three times now, had not actually been targeted for four months. We were still awaiting news of a second training day in the use of the anti-graffiti kits, to enable more volunteers to participate in the scheme. Another complication was the NTL cable boxes, which were high priority targets. We were still awaiting news of a meeting between NTL and RBC and had been promised we would be invited to the discussion that took place.

Caversham Safer Community Forum
Bob Cruickshank is the EGRA representative at these meetings.

Friends of Clayfield Copse
The Woodland Day is on Saturday 4th June and EGRA had agreed to supplement the funding of two carved seats in the shape of animals, by Jason Trewinnard, a local chainsaw sculptor, to the tune of £150.

Highdown Hill Road
EGRA had given support to a good campaign by the Highdown Hill ‘Action Group’ against future development. Despite the fact the inspector had ruled against it, the developers had already put forward a new proposal, without addressing the main areas of concern, such as the character of the road and local area. Resident Brian Kendrick would be re-activating the campaign and all support would be welcomed.

Planning/Traffic Concerns- The North Area Access Study
The impact of infill development on traffic in the area had not gone un-noticed and a traveling ‘exhibition’ to display and offer the opportunity to discuss changes/possible solutions had recently been in the area. But although the intentions may have been very good, the execution was poor. Initial leaflets to promote the event were never distributed, and had to be re-issued at the last moment. The venues were totally unsuitable – Caversham Library bursting at the seams with people desperate to have a say, and Emmer Green and Caversham Park left with a bus, with impossible access and opportunities to view a large map stuck on a piece of card, let alone contribute, very haphazard. What was needed was a proper Powerpoint presentation in a suitable venue. However, this was the first joint consultation exercise on the subject, and it was hoped the Council would be noting the responses. Everyone was urged not only to complete the questionnaire, but also to write separately to air their views. The Chairman would be penning a letter on behalf of the Association outlining the dissatisfaction and concerns about some of the proposals.

5. TREASURER'S REPORT AND ACCOUNTS
Despite the fact the Association had undertaken another project in 2004, namely the community notice board, funds were still at a very healthy £5500. We had been re-imbursed for the village sign last year, and there was the promise that a contribution would be made by Reading Borough Council towards the cost of the notice board too. Ideas for future projects would be welcomed. Julian Pearce had again done a very good job auditing the accounts and was thanked for his assistance.
Proposer: Jill Verran.
Seconder: Owen Jewiss

6. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE, OFFICERS AND AUDITOR
Current members were introduced and it was announced two members were leaving. The first was David Miles who had been an invaluable and hard working contributor for 21 years. He was thanked by Chairman Paul Gallagher and presented with an engraved tankard. Anne Ayres was also resigning because she had moved out of the area. The Chairman thanked her and gave her a clematis for her new garden. Because last year we had co-opted members on the committee, the resignations now left us with a full complement of eleven. Julian Pearce had also agreed to continue auditing the accounts.
Proposer: Owen Jewiss.
Seconder: David Miles

7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Policing in Caversham
Since the police box had been removed from Marshlands Square it was hoped more use would be made of the new office that had been set up in Church House at the bottom of Prospect Street, Caversham. Unfortunately due to staff shortages this facility had been inaccessible for most of the time. But there was hope things would change in the future with the promise of a Neighbourhood Police Initiative, due to take place in 2006. No specific date had been given, however. Proposals included a new team in the office in Church House and more publicity.

Cllr Mark Ralph had met with the new Police Inspector, Graham Dix, who had some constructive suggestions, including parental responsibility for wayward youngsters.

Liz Herbert was the lady responsible for the Neighbourhood Watch information, and if anyone wanted to set up a scheme in their own area, or had any other queries, they should contact her.

Allotments
Sheila Higginson raised the issue that although there was a long waiting list for new plots, some had been empty and unworked for a very long time. Communication or response from the Council had been unproductive. Cllr Bob Green offered to assist.

Road Maintenance
Owen Jewiss was worried that loose granite kerbstones near where he lived were causing a hazard and was advised to let the local Councillors know.

School Admissions
The increase in development and change of school catchment areas was causing problems for both primary and secondary schools. Very worrying was the situation whereby siblings could not be admitted to the same primary school, even though one was already there. The problem was exacerbated because most of the schools were concentrated in a fairly small geographical area, but served communities some distance away.
The developers were sometimes obliged to offer money towards education through what is known as 106 agreements, but there was no clear information from Reading Borough Council as to how it was spent and where it is spent.

Planning
Cllr Green informed the meeting that two proposed developments – 91 Peppard Road, and 9 Buckingham Drive - had been refused.

South East Area Plan
Details of this were circulated by the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA), an unelected government body, to every household in the area, with an opportunity to respond via a questionnaire. EGRA had also replied with a detailed letter. The intentions were also to liaise with CADRA, other local residents associations and even into South Oxfordshire in further getting the message to SEERA that massive expansion of housing development without first tackling the deficiency in the infrastructure, especially traffic congestion, was not supported by existing residents.

The meeting concluded with Bob Cruickshank giving thanks on behalf of us all, to Chairman Paul Gallagher for his relentless hard work and dedication.

8. GUEST SPEAKER
After the formal business, Mr Peter Adamson from the Air Ambulance gave an informative and entertaining talk. It takes £900,000 a year to run the service, which is currently in need of a new helicopter. It does get support from businesses and is very efficient in its running costs. On average the helicopter makes four emergency visits per day. Members were encouraged to join the ‘Whirlybird’ lottery.

The evening finished off with wine and nibbles.