Chairman's Report 2001-2002

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The Association has been involved in numerous issues since the last AGM and these are summarised as follows:

Grove Road hedge
Following the severe but necessary cutting of the hedge alongside the allotments the Association contacted the Council regarding the gaps that had been created and the concerns about ease of access for casual vandalism to take place. The Council efficiently responded by putting palings in the gaps and agreed to monitor the regrowth in case new bushes were needed to close any breaks. Since then Council recutting has been carried out sensitively.

Highdown Recycling facility
The Association contacted the Council last Summer to request repairs to the entrance of the recycling facility at Highdown School. The Council’s Technical Services Department responded in August to say that they planned to make the entrance wider, repair the fencing, take out the grass area to the side, fill in the potholes and resurface the area. It was hoped this work would be completed before the Winter. However, although the Association has continued to press for the maintenance to be carried out, nothing has been done. The Council has delayed work partly because of insufficient funds but also due to the fact that Transco are planning to lay a new gas pipe-line that goes through the recycling facility. Dates for this work have not been confirmed and the Council have been requested to at least fill-in the potholes as a temporary measure.

Chambers Copse footpath
The matter of the footpath through Chambers Copse unexpectedly resurfaced with new evidence being presented at another Inquiry at South Oxfordshire District Council offices on 16 August. The Association’s Treasurer attended the meeting. The additional information, presented by new witnesses, was little different from earlier evidence and the Inspector informed the Association on 29 January that the determination made previously would not be reversed.

Caversham Park (BBC Monitoring)
Following the illustrated talk at the last AGM on the history and work of BBC Monitoring based in Caversham Park, the Association asked if a visit for local residents might be arranged during the summer to view the house and gardens. BBC Monitoring agreed to open Caversham Park as part of their Heritage Open Days on the Sunday afternoon of 9 September 2001. This was a very popular event, being so oversubscribed that many people were disappointed not to gain entry, and it is hoped that BBC Monitoring will repeat the event in a future year.

Reading Bus Service
Early last year local residents, ward Councillor Annette Hendry and the Association were in discussions with Reading Buses regarding the service to Emmer Green. We were all pleased that eventually the idea proposed of rerouting services 44 and 45 was implemented. The service to the north of the area is much improved with a schedule of six 44/45 buses per hour along Courtenay Drive and Kidmore End Road.

Emmer Green Book
The Association’s book, Emmer Green - Past and Present, was formally launched by local MP Jane Griffiths on Saturday, 20 October at St Barnabas Church Hall. This was attended by our ward Councillors, representatives from the local schools, many local organisations and groups and over 400 residents. Much hard work went into compiling and producing the finished article, not least by the Association’s secretary who acted as editor, and the committee were very gratified by the many compliments from residents who purchased copies.

Advance sales topped 400 copies and more than 100 copies were sold at the launch. The book was so popular that by the 19 November all 850 books had been sold. Complimentary copies were provided to the Berkshire Records Office, the Museum of Reading, the Central Library’s Local History Section and similar organisations.

The project realised a profit of about £2,300. The committee subsequently invited members to make suggestions as to what this money could be used for. Two ideas were received. One was for the Association to make a contribution in memory of Bill Goodworth towards the Emmer Green Surgery’s fund for a new heart monitoring unit. A donation of £250 has been made and in total the William Goodworth Fund contributed £969 towards the final cost of £1685.32 for the machine. The other idea was to fund the long standing project for a village sign for Emmer Green. An updated quotation has been received from the local group of the Berkshire Woodcarvers and this is being considered.

Kidmore End Road - Parking
Safety concerns had been raised by local residents at the last AGM regarding congestion along this road due to parking between Chalgrove Way and Peppard Road. The Association requested, through the local councillors, that the Council undertake a consultation with residents of Kidmore End Road before considering any action on parking issues along this road. In September this resulted in Councillors Annette Hendry and Bob Green, together with two officers from the Council’s Transport Management Section, visiting Kidmore End Road to review the situation. However, the Council made no progress during the autumn as they estimated it would cost £3500 for an initial consultation. Margaret Ormonde agreed to conduct a survey on behalf of the Association to establish the number of cars in the area belonging to residents. Even numbers from 2-70 Kidmore End Road (including Fishers’ Cottages) were given forms to complete. There was 80% response and an estimated shortfall of parking spaces of around 14 cars. The comments received from residents were very diverse. Councillor Hendry has agreed to review the results of the survey and make recommendations to the Council; parking permits were a possible first step.

North Reading Youth Project
On behalf of the Association the vice-chair sits on the management committee of the North Reading Youth Project. Over the last year the committee has overseen considerable changes in the staffing of the Project. Not least of these was the departure of the Senior Area Youth & Community Worker, Steve Green, who had done sterling work with the youth of the area over several years. Dominic Salter, who joined the Project in May of last year, has taken over the acting role of senior worker. He and the trainee youth worker, Liz Heading, have a comprehensive programme of activities scheduled for the current year. One issue that it is hoped to take forward is a consultation with local young people that use the skateboard facility next to Clayfield Copse car park. The views of the users will inform the Council in either repairing the existing unit or completely replacing the facility with more modern ramps and surfaces.

Safer Caversham Forum
Committee members continue to represent the Association on this group, which deals with issues associated with safety and crime or the fear of crime in the three local wards. One activity in which committee members contributed was the car theft awareness campaign during the week 16-22 July covering the area’s car parks and many side roads in Caversham and Emmer Green. This consisted of placing different leaflets on car windscreens dependent upon whether the car was well secured with no valuables visible or was not secure and/or had valuables on show. The Association supplied about half the manpower, which was much appreciated and gratefully acknowledged by the Forum.

Small capital grants are available through the Safer Forum to address issues associated with safety or to combat fear of crime. A number of areas with poor street lighting have been improved through this means. In Emmer Green there is a current proposal for improvements to the lighting along the walkway from the surgery past Chiltern Court to Gorselands, which was supported in a survey of local residents. A second proposal has being consulted on recently to improve the lighting in the vicinity of the bus stop on the north side of Courtenay Drive near the junction with Kidmore End Road. A request for this to be assessed has been submitted. Other such concerns from members can be reported through any of the committee.

RBC North Area Consultative Committee
Committee members have continued to represent the Association at meetings of this group. Over the last year there have been discussions on the need for additional bus shelters and seats (all in Caversham), progress on the capital projects for improved recycling facilities at Hills Meadow and on the village sign in St Martin’s Precinct for the Caversham and District Residents’ Association, the planning application for a Tesco store at the Buckingham Drive Petrol Station, proposals for restoration and improvements at Caversham Court, gates for St Anne’s Well and the future of Mapledurham Pavilion.

At the December meeting it was mentioned that there was still about £7,300 of the current capital budget unallocated. A suggestion was made that this money could go towards the illumination of the arches under Caversham Bridge. However, as neither the Peppard ward nor Emmer Green have previously benefited from these funds the Association would welcome ideas for a local project.

Planning Applications
The Association continues to try to monitor planning applications and to respond to those that have an adverse effect on the local environment or pose traffic safety or congestion issues. It has to be reiterated that it is usually inappropriate for the Association to make formal objections about individual house modifications. The following are those planning applications in which the Association has raised concerns over the last year.

Land to rear of 35-49 Grove Road
Erection of 6 detached houses plus an access road by the demolition of 39 Grove Road by Infill Land Consultants. The local planning authority (LPA) had refused permission on the original application to build 8 houses and although the developer made an appeal the Inquiry Inspector dismissed the appeal. The developer simply submitted a new, modified application and unfortunately the LPA granted permission at the meeting of the Planning Applications Committee on 7 November 2001.

Land to rear of 19-29 Grove Road
Erection of 7 houses with access from Unity Court. At its meeting in early March 2002 the LPA refused permission on this development because of the adverse affect on public safety and the flow of traffic at the access road onto Grove Road. The proposal was also refused as it failed to confirm a contribution to the provision of local education facilities and to RBC integrated transport policy.

Land behind 70 -76 Kidmore End Road
Erection of 6 houses by Annsgate with the demolition of houses 74 & 76 Kidmore End Road. Previous concerns have been expressed by adjacent householders and by the Association regarding additional traffic entering Kidmore End Road causing congestion and increasing the risk to the safety of both pedestrians and motorists. The LPA has noted these objections and the developer has submitted amendments to the access and the ‘internal turning head’ and this new outline planning application is still to be assessed by the LPA.

Land behind 46-52 Kidmore End Road
Application to build 2 large detached houses with access to the side of no. 46. The Association did not object to development on this site per se but did note that the proposed dwellings were out of keeping with existing properties. The Association were notified by the LPA on 12 September 2001 that this application had been refused.

Land adjacent to 164 Kidmore End Road
Application by Millgate Homes to build 3 houses with access adjacent to the Chambers Copse entrance. The Association objected to the proposed development, particularly the access road which was considered dangerous. The Council planning committee, at its February meeting, considered the proposal breached the government’s guidelines protecting greenfield land and the application was refused.

Telecommunications Masts
A number of masts have been proposed in Emmer Green over the last year.

A 10 metre antenna for BTCellnet on the wedge of land between Buckingham Drive and the old section of Peppard Road, a 15 metre antenna for TELECOM SECURICOR in the White Horse pub car park and three more antennas and four microwave dishes for Hutchinson 3G on the already festooned Water Tower.

Although the Association submitted objections, current legislation allows telecommunications companies to erect any equipment they like so long as it meets certain safety specifications.

The proposal at the junction of Buckingham Drive and Peppard Road was also opposed by petitions from local householders and the developer did discuss the concerns raised with the Association, Cllr Chris Brown and residents. BT Cellnet subsequently discussed with RBC the possibility of incorporating the proposed antenna in a 2m extension to a nearby 8m street lamp. Another mast in nearby Chiltern Road had already been given the go ahead and RBC planning authority confirmed permission for the 15 metre mast in the White Horse car park in May.

Association’s web site
Last summer Clive Ormonde kindly put together a web site for the Association, which contains copies of the current and the previous newsletter, minutes of the latest committee meeting and of the last annual general meeting plus a copy of the corresponding chairman’s report. There is also the facility for publishing member’s photographs and articles plus pages with general historical information about Emmer Green, links to other web sites of interest and a current issues page. The site can be found at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra

Thanks
Many thanks as usual to all the committee members for their active and invaluable support throughout the year and the time they have unselfishly devoted to pursuing matters brought to their attention by members of the Association. Sadly, it has to be reported that the Association’s Treasurer for over ten years has decided to stand down from this post. Jill Verran has been a superb Treasurer and her meticulous hard work has been greatly appreciated. Part of Jill’s role has been to maintain the membership records and fortunately we have been successful in persuading her to continue in this facet of the Association’s work. Finally, thanks to the local ward councillors for their continuing interest and support of the Association in its concerns and activities within Emmer Green.