Minutes of the 2007 AGM

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MINUTES OF THE 23rd ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE EMMER GREEN RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION, HELD AT ST BARNABAS HALL, EMMER GREEN ON 24th APRIL 2006.

The meeting was chaired by Mr Paul Gallagher, and 60 others were present, including local ward Councillors Bob Green, Annette Hendry and Mark Ralph.

1. APOLOGIES
Sadie Cooke, Rev Derek Chandler, Susie Downer, Jim Dunkley, Peter and Janice Halter, John and Margaret Notton, George Pritchard, Tara Taylor, Barbara Tee, Brian Warren, Marie-Christine Weeks.

2. THE MINUTES OF THE 22nd AGM held on the 19th April 2006 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:

It was noted that a public meeting on the Inner Distributor Road had been held.

Planning permission had been granted for an extension to Coral Bookies. EGRA was concerned that the seat overlooking the pond that it had provided should be saved and relocated, but no firm assurances had been received to date.

It had been established from RBC that the signage on the local parking restrictions was in order and enforceable.

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.co.uk/egra. The following lists the topics where additional comments were noted:

Emmer Green Post Office
It appears that a post office will re-open in the florist shop in the former 'Pictures Art Gallery' on the precinct. However, it will cost about £30,000 to buy the franchise and equip the shop with counters etc, and Cllr Hendry has been active in identifying a number of organisations that might provide financial support, although in most cases applications need to be made by a community organisation rather than an individual. The Association offered to submit such an application on behalf of the community, and Cllr Hendry has circulated a questionnaire to Emmer Green residents asking them to provide information in support of such an application. It was noted that a good response had been received. However it is unlikely that any external money will be forthcoming and the new sub-postmistress Kim Legg and her husband Ian look set to fund the project themselves. The patronage of the local community will be vital to their success.

Precinct car park
For the last few years the Association has been requesting the precinct landlord, Wolfe Properties, to make good the atrocious state of the precinct car park. The filling of the potholes has been completed, and a dead tree and paving replace and. The broken lighting issue still has to be resolved. Hopefully Wolfe Properties will be more mindful of their responsibilities in the future. The role of the Ward Councillors in achieving some progress was acknowledged.

Grove Road tree planters
Working with Cllr Hendry, the Association’s Secretary has agreed a set of maintenance measures in respect of the damaged planters. Some of the alders have now been pollarded, four trees have been felled and parts of the crumbling brickwork removed. In time all of the brickwork will be removed and new trees planted directly into the ground.

Queen’s 80th Birthday commemoration
A Turner’s Oak, in commemoration of the Queen’s 80th birthday, has been planted at the edge of the recreation ground. The Committee is reviewing the options for the purchase of a suitable seat upon which a commemorate plaque can be affixed.

Animal carvings at Clayfield Copse
The Association has obtained the support of the Council to have logs from a partially felled oak tree in the field bordering Caversham Park Road carved into animal shapes. With funding from the Association a local craftsman, Andrew Noyes, has completed the creation of an impressive dragon, and has involved a group of young people in the designs, some of the finer carving detail and painting. Everyone agreed that this was a gratifying outcome, and thanks were expressed to all involved. It was hoped that further work could be commissioned.

Footpath from Russet Glade
Blocking of the footpath between Jefferson Close and Russet Glade was threatened by possible development at the rifle club site, and several local residents submitted written evidence forms, and gave oral statements to the legal department at Reading Borough Council, to have the footpath formally added it to the definitive map and statement. An objection had been received, however, and the matter remained under discussion, with further inputs required from RBC and the Open Spaces Society.

St Barnabas Garden Party
The Association had participated in this event in July 2006, and had been successful in recruiting several new members. Attention was drawn to the 2007 Party scheduled for 14th July.

Art work at Clayfield Copse
Local artist Jenny Leach, who spoke at our last AGM, informed the meeting of her progress regarding the artwork proposed for Clayfield Copse. She has gained the support of RBC Parks Department, and involvement of young people including those at Thames Valley University. Contacts will also be made with Highdown School and the North Reading Youth Project. A bid for an Arts Council grant has been successful. The aim was to launch the display in August, and the hope is that this might be accompanied by an impromptu community picnic.

North Area Youth Project (NRYP)
Tina Heaford, the Youth Leader, and her team are working very hard and the youth provision in the north Reading area has increased fourfold in the last year. An Association member, Tara Taylor, was thanked for her work on the management committee, and, overall, things are very encouraging in the North Reading Youth Project.

It would be helpful for more local residents to be aware of the benefits of the Project, and consideration would be given to arranging a special meeting to provide a showcase for the work being done.

Caversham Safer Community Forum (CSCF)
It was noted that the Peppard Ward now had the lowest rate of recorded crime in Reading. Bob Cruickshank and Vera Bodman were thanked for their participation in the work of the Forum.

Graffiti Removal
It was stated that the situation was relatively good at present, and that progress was being made with the RBC repainting of the NTL boxes.

Planning Applications
Short updates were given on the situations in Crawshay Drive and with the Whiteknights Laundry site.

Fallen Tree
The stump of the tree that had fallen outside Pinetree Court still remained to be cleared. This would be taken up with RBC.

Ugly Signage
Members and the Association had made representations to South Oxfordshire Council about the lorry-mounted advertising signs at the Henley Road Garden Centre, but they remained a problem and efforts to ensure their removal should continue. It was noted that local objections had lead to improvements in the signs outside the White Horse.

Thanks
Julian Pearce (auditor) and Clive Ormonde (webmaster) were thanks for their efforts and the local ward councilors were also thanked for their invaluable support. The Chairman also expressed his appreciation of the support he had received from the Committee.

5. ACCOUNTS AND TREASURER’S REPORT
Bill Harper briefly introduced the accounts for 2006. The balance in hand remained substantial, but expenditure on the animal carving and the seat at the Commemoration tree will be incurred. Last year ideas were put forward for a donation to St Barnabas Church and the provision of an award at Highdown School, and progress with these was outlined. Other worthwhile suggestions would be welcomed.
Adoption of the accounts.
Proposer: Owen Jewiss
Seconder: Ben Cosh

6. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE, OFFICERS AND AUDITOR
Brenda Deller and Mark Hutchins were standing down, and were thanked for their work on the Committee. Brian Warren was also retiring from the Committee after a long period of valuable and committed service. A presentation of two crystal goblets had been arranged to mark his contribution. The following had offered to serve in the coming year:
Chair Margaret Ormonde
Vice-Chair Tara Taylor
Treasurer & Bill Harper
Minute Secretary (Pending the appointment of a Secretary)
Membership Sec Jill Verran

Members Vera Bodman, Ben Cosh, Bob Cruickshank, Paul Gallagher, Diana Hartrup, Kate Manton, Barry Prior.

Association members are always welcome to participate in the work of the Committee.
Julian Pearce had agreed to continue to examine the accounts.
Proposer: Hilary Gallagher
Seconder: David Miles

Margaret Ormonde paid tribute to Paul’s exceptional period of service as Chairman since 1996. He had been dedicated and enthusiastic, and the Association and the area had much to thank him for. Margaret made a presentation to Paul on behalf of everyone in the Association. Paul responded.

It was reported that membership now stood at 446, and members were encouraged to participate in the email group being managed by Jill Verran.

7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

CADRA AGM.
A report from this AGM drew attention to the need for funding for the replacement of the wind vane on the gazebo at Caversham Court, and to a City University research project on Councillors’ relationships with the public. Participation in the project was encouraged, and details made available.

Former Emmer Green Post Office premises
A planning application for conversion of use to a financial services premise had been submitted, and Bob Green confirmed that there were no grounds for refusing this, as there was a shortage in the immediate area. However the boarded up shop remained as such, with no imminent signs of re-opening.

Pathway – Cherry Tree Close/Kiln Road.
This path became overgrown in the summer, but since it was privately owned responsibility rested with the adjoining residents. Rumors of development in the area had been circulating, but in the absence of a planning application no action was possible.

Small Business Club
There was seen to be a need for such a club in the area, but it would not be appropriate for the Association to sponsor such a body. Details would be offered of relevant web site links.

Emmer Green Festival
Some enthusiasm for such an event remained, and it would continue under review despite earlier considerations, which had drawn attention to the extent of organisational effort required, and the potential liability issues. Cllr Mark Ralph had been involved in trying to set up such an event a couple of years ago. It was felt EGRA would be happy to help publicise and support such an event, but had not got the capacity to help with the setting up and organizing.

Emmer Green Remembered
The video had now been produced in DVD format, and copies could be obtained from Caversham Library or Jill Verran.


PRESENTATION ON NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING
Sergeant Warren McKeown, PCSO Callum Bushall (Lower Caversham) and by PCSO Jeni Williams (Upper Caversham) joined the meeting to describe recent “community policing” developments in the area. Whilst the number of police officers in Caversham had reduced, the recent introduction of Police Community Support Officers had increased the overall manning level for the area -. The role of the PCSO’s* was explained, with an emphasis on their remit to build up links with the local community. A wide-ranging discussion covered a variety of topics, including:

· Local crime levels – actual and perceived.
· The complex issues involved in dealing with anti-social behaviour, particularly involving young people.
· The factors that conditioned the priorities influencing the levels of police response to incidents.
· The problems of making contact with front line police personnel.

The meeting welcomed the developments being introduced, and the open way in which they had been presented and discussed. People looked forward to establishing contacts with the local PCSOs. A meeting at St Andrews Church Hall would give local people a voice in the future of police operations.

* Police Constable Support Officer