Chairman's Report 2003-2004

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The following summarises the numerous issues that the Association has been involved in since the last Annual General Meeting on 10 April 2003.

Village Sign
The official unveiling ceremony took take place on Saturday, 6 September 2003 by the Mayor, Councillor Jeanette Skeats, ably assisted by local resident, 87 year old Esme Ellingham. Although there was some intermittent rain nearly 200 residents turned out to make it a very successful event. There was also good news in February 2004 when we finally received the contribution from the Council’s ACC community projects fund towards the cost of the sign. This enabled us to pay the Berkshire Woodcarvers for the carving of the sign and post insets and a letter of thanks was then sent to the Council officer who had expedited the payment.

Emmer Green Book
The second edition of the Association’s book Emmer Green, Past and Present, was reprinted in July with nearly 200 outstanding orders at that time. Thanks must go to the secretary, Margaret Ormonde, who kindly agreed to up-date the book and who also bore the printing costs. The second edition is on sale locally or via the Secretary.

Local Tradesmen’s list
Considerable progress had been made on preparing an up-to-date tradesmen’s list and particular thanks must go to the vice chairman, Bob Cruickshank, for all his work in telephoning tradesmen and co-ordinating the list. The list comprises selected names from an earlier local list, which Bob has verified, together with additional entries submitted by Association members. When complete a copy will be delivered to all current members and a complimentary copy will be supplied to the traders concerned. It will also form part of a welcome pack that the Association is putting together for new residents moving into Emmer Green.

Graffiti
For over a year we have pressed the Council to clean the graffiti from the Clayfield Copse pavilion and the recreation ground pavilion and eventually in February 2004 the pavilions were repainted and cleaned respectively. In addition, the Council have planted prickly bushes around the buildings so that, hopefully, when these have grown they will present a sufficient barrier to deter future paint sprayers. At the time of writing this has failed at the recreation ground where the pavilion brickwork has already been sprayed on again.

Lighting at the shopping precinct
Again, it has taken a year of pressure, exerted by committee member Jill Verran, but the lights nearer the shops are now working, although some in the car park itself are still in need of attention. Concern had been expressed about the uneven pavement immediately in front of the supermarket, which appears to be a shared responsibility of Budgens and the landlord, Wolfe Properties. Consequently, it is proving difficult to get this area maintained.

Litterbins
Association secretary Margaret Ormonde has communicated with the Council at some length on the neglected areas in the heart of the village. This has resulted in a new litterbin in front of the post office. However, the one that was thrown into the pond has only been replaced by a plastic bag attached to the railings. The Council are to be asked to replace this litterbin as well. Thanks also to committee member David Miles who has been personally vigilant in clearing litter from the grass triangle outside the bookies.

Friends of Clayfield Copse
Many of you will have attended the Woodlands Day at the end of May organised by The Friends of Clayfield Copse (FOCC). The group were unsuccessful this time around in securing a grant from the Millennium Fund and incurred considerable costs. The committee unanimously agreed at its meeting on 27 November to make a donation to the FOCC group of £100 to help them become solvent again.

St Barnabas Church Garden Party
We again participated in the St Barnabas Garden Party last July with a children’s Treasure Hunt based on the characters from Alice in Wonderland. Also on sale were copies of a ‘Walk around Emmer Green’, which comprised a map plus three sheets full of pictures and questions about interesting features seen around the village. We made a total of £30 towards the Amajuba Education Fund that helps students in South Africa to get degrees or professional qualifications to become doctors, nurses or teachers.

Berkshire Woodcarvers
Having lost their workshop facility at Newtown School the Association assisted the Woodcarvers in seeking alternative accommodation, which was finally found in Highdown School. We also canvassed on behalf of the Woodcarvers for new members to join their group, which successfully resulted in three new carvers being recruited.

Post box
Following a request at the last AGM, the Association enquired of Royal Mail whether they would consider repositioning the mailbox, about 50 metres, to the small green area between Grove Road and Evesham Road. However, Royal Mail have declined, saying “the box is in a prime position and is much used. Moving the box to the position requested would lose this”. This seems a little simplistic as people would undoubtedly drive or walk the extra distance, particularly as there is no nearby alternative box.

White Horse pub
When the bollards were removed from the section of pavement outside the pub there were several minor accidents when people with impaired sight missed their footing and in one case a wheelchair missed the edge of the narrow pavement. We were pleased to see that, following our representation, the Council clearly defined the pavement edge alongside the pub with white paint.

Trees
Following the felling by the Council of trees in Peppard Road and Courtenay Drive early last year the Association asked if we could be consulted in future felling in Emmer Green. Although they agreed to do so the attractive Beech tree on the small green near Fallowfield Close was felled in June without any notice. The Council informed us that the tree was weakened by the fungus Ganoderma and presented ‘an unacceptable safety risk’, although to the untutored eye it appeared pretty solid. Again they have said they will notify the Association about future tree work, which will allow wider consultation to be undertaken with members, particularly if the reason for felling is not on the grounds of safety.

Planning Applications
The Association has continued to monitor planning applications and to respond to those that have an adverse impact on the local environment or pose traffic safety or congestion issues. These included the following:

Land behind 70 -76 Kidmore End Road
The proposal to develop this land by demolishing 76 Kidmore End Road to provide a new access road has continued to cause concerns and thanks are due to member Jon Barclay who has kept the Association aware of the developer’s intentions and made various representations to the Council’s local planning authority (LPA).

Marshlands Square /Heathcroft site
The developer, Fairview New Homes Limited, appealed against the LPA’s refusal for planning permission to build 35 flats/maisonettes and at an inquiry on 10 June the Inspectorate overruled the LPA and allowed the development to go ahead. Obviously this is most unfortunate for local residents as such a high density of development is almost certainly going to bring increased noise and traffic congestion. The development is now well underway.

Land (gardens) to rear of 41-49 Grove Road
Planning application to demolish 49 Grove Road and build 10 terrace houses and one detached house in the gardens to the rear of nos. 41-49 Grove Road. In February 2004 the Council’s Planning Applications Committee refused this application pending additional information on the proposal.

Land (gardens) to rear of 10-18 Highdown Hill Avenue
A planning application to demolish 14 Highdown Hill Road and build 11 dwellings was replaced in February with a new outline planning application for 13 dwellings. The additional two houses being on land at the rear of 4 and 6 Highdown Avenue and 22 Highdown Hill Road. Both applications include a proposal to widen part of the road from Gravel Hill to 20 Highdown Hill Road.

Land Adjacent to 228 Peppard Road (Cavendish Road)
In January the erection of 6 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom flats was permitted by a delegated decision of the planning department, subject to a legal agreement.

11-15 Buckingham Drive
Also in January an outline application to demolish 11 Buckingham Drive, the modification of 15 Buckingham Drive and the erection of 13 dwellings with car spaces and access road was permitted by the Council’s Planning Applications Committee, subject to a legal agreement.

Highdown School
In November the Reading Chronicle reported that Highdown School proposed to sell off an unused area of land near the entrance to the school to raise enough money to provide 20% of the cost of a new assembly hall for the school. In February it was learnt that the land being considered by the governors for disposal is that area currently occupied by the tennis courts.

Association’s web site
Clive Ormonde kindly continues to maintain the web site for the Association, which contains current and previous newsletters, minutes of committee meetings, a current issues page, AGM minutes and reports plus links to other web sites of interest. 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. Thank you also to Julian Pearce for again auditing the Association’s accounts. Finally, thanks to the local (Peppard) ward councillors for their continuing interest and support of the Association’s activities.