Chairman's Report 2005-2006

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The following summarises the numerous issues that the Association has been involved in since the last Annual General Meeting on 20 April 2005.

Consultations:
This last year the Association has engaged in a large number of consultations, particularly with regard to Reading Borough Council (RBC) proposals.

North Area Access Study:
In April 2005 RBC consulted on transport issues north of the river to which 1138 people expressed their views. It took until 16 January 2006 for a report on the study to be published. The recommendations, contained in the RBC Cabinet report, which emerge from the consultation showed that 71% of respondees supported reducing congestion and delays, 53% wanted better public transport and 50% wanted improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The full report can be found on the RBC web site.

Waiting Restrictions:
The Association first raised road safety concerns in April 2001 regarding inconsiderate and dangerous parking near the post box on Evesham Road next to St Barnabas Church, and asked RBC to implement some form of parking controls. We were consulted in July 2005 on proposed waiting restriction schemes at Kidmore End Road between Grove Road & Lyefield Court, Southdown Road junction with Evesham Road and at St Barnabas Road/Grove Road/Evesham Road area. We wrote supporting these proposals and they were installed in late 2005 except for that part of Kidmore End Road opposite the recreation ground where RBC are looking to provide parking permits to the local residents.

Safer Routes to School
Under the Safer Routes to School initiative, the Council published in November 2005 proposals to impose a 20mph speed limit in the vicinity of Highdown School plus the installation of 75mm speed cushions in Grove Road and Surley Row. The Association supported the proposals in principle, but considered the cushion design [if similar to that in Grove Road and Evesham Road as part of a similar scheme for Emmer Green primary school] would be inadequate in slowing down speeding drivers.

Pub licensing hours
The Association and local residents were notified during the autumn of applications from The White Horse, The Black Horse and the Gardeners Arms to extend their licensing hours. Objections were submitted, including those from the Association, on the grounds that the longer licensing times and live music requested were excessive and inappropriate for a suburban residential environment. The local authority’s licensing panel agreed with the objections against the longer hours but allowed smaller extensions to make the opening hours each day the same. Many thanks are due to Cllr Hendry for her support and advice with these applications and during the hearings that took place.

Inner Distribution Road (IDR):
A well attended meeting was hosted by the Association on 22 February to discuss the RBC proposal to make the IDR a counter clockwise one-way road, including removing the fly-over past the Oracle car park. A panel comprising Pat Baxter (RBC Transport Strategy Manager), Mr Rob Wilson MP and Councillors Mark Ralph, Bob Green and Annette Hendry fielded questions from the audience. Pat Baxter led on most of the issues raised, and provided a comprehensive overview of the projected future traffic problems in the town and the possible strategies for managing the situation. Consultation on these ideas is still on going and residents who could not make the meeting are encouraged to send in their concerns and views.

Other consultations to which the Association has responded include:

· Reading Borough Council’s Draft Statement of Community Involvement in Planning Applications.
· South Oxfordshire District Council Statement of Community Involvement in Planning Applications.
· Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports. Stage 2 of consultation on restrictions to apply from 30 October 2005.
· South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) consultation on how the proposed 2,620 new homes per year between 2006 and 2026 (i.e. a total of 52,400 more houses in Berkshire) should be distributed between the six Berkshire authorities.
· Caversham Lock Area, where various ideas have been proposed for developing King's Meadow, King's Meadow Swimming Pool, Caversham Lock Island, View Island and Hill's Meadow car park.
· Demolition of the Hexagon and its replacement with an Arts Centre on Hill’s Meadow.
· RBC contracted GreenSpace (previously Urban Parks Forum) to carry out a consultation on Reading’s Public Open Spaces. The Asociation distributed questionnaires to encourage members to have their say and ensure that RBC did not contemplate using such public open spaces for housing or commercial development.

Campaigns:
We have been involved in several activities throughout the year, working with RBC or entreating them to undertake activities to enhance the environment of Emmer Green. These have included:

· Grafitti removal – this has involved both major cleaning exercises such as the recreation ground pavilion and the general removal of grafitti from traffic signs, road signs, NTL boxes, etc.
· Maintenance of the grass verges – RBC have been continually chased about the need to regularly cut the verges and they have also been asked to encourage householders not to plough up the verges by parking on them. If the latter is successful we have asked them to reseed certain verges.
· Pavement cleaning – RBC has defined road cleaning frequencies, which unfortunately have not been previously met. Following requests for better cleaning the situation appears to have improved.
· Maintenance around the village pond – following requests over the past two years RBC have recently agreed to tidy up the foliage on the north side of the pond and to place some wire netting over the railings to stop litter blowing into the pond edge.

Local Tradesmen’s list and Information pack:
This has been updated, with six additional tradesmen, and thanks are due to the vice chairman, Bob Cruickshank, for his time in verifying the address and telephone details. The Association’s Information pack has also been updated to take into account various changes in local personnel (e.g. beat officer).

Woodlands Day
The Woodlands Day in June was blessed with good weather, which ensured a big turn out of visitors and the Friends of Clayfield Copse are to be congratulated on their smooth organisation of the event. Unfortunately the Association’s funded chainsaw sculpting of animal shapes failed to occur because the sculptor had suffered a foot injury just prior to the event. We planned to have the logs that had been put in place carved at some future date, however, local vandals subsequently set fire to the logs and we have shelved the project for the time being.

St Barnabas Church Garden Party:
We again participated in the St Barnabas Garden Party on a glorious sunny Saturday last July. This time we had a little picture quiz of Emmer Green ‘landmarks’ from around the village plus a large-scale jigsaw of the superheroes The Fantastic Four for the younger visitors. A contribution of £22.40 was raised for the charitable Daynes (formerly Amajuba) Education Trust, and we also recruited three new members at the stall and three other people took away a joining form to post on to the Membership Secretary, which was very encouraging.

North Area Youth Project (NRYP)
Following the loss early last year of the senior youth worker and the senior assistant, one of the two trainees also left the service at the end of June. For a while this left one trainee plus a new part-time youth worker who, although under a lot of pressure, managed to keep many of the activities running.

Since then a new Youth Services Officer, Tina Heaford, has been appointed and seems to be breathing new life into our local youth clubs. There are once again regular meetings at the Emmer Green Centre, the Milestone Centre and the Amersham Road Centre. Tina was a moderator for the Youth Achievement Awards for the Summer 2005 Community Project, and from the 151 young people in the Reading area that took part, 3 received Silver Awards and 6 Bronze Awards.The Silver Awards were the first to be awarded in Reading and two of these were to young people from Emmer Green.

Another pleasing success was the replacement Skateboard facility at Clayfield Copse. This followed consultation about the site with the local young people, Friends of Clayfield Copse, dog walkers and local residents who all agreed that Clayfield was the preferred site rather than the Emmer Green recreation ground.

Caversham Safer Community Forum (CSCF)
The most noticeable impact the Forum has made in the area recently is to see the removal of the vast amount of graffiti from the Milestone Centre and its surrounds. The Police say that it has resulted in a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the area and they are to keep an eye on it.

The Police Surgeries are now in operation at Church House, Caversham. On the first Monday of every month between 5pm and 8pm there will be someone there to answer any enquires or complaints you may have.

Following consultations with nearly 50 users of the skateboard ramps at Clayfield Copse, it was agreed to set up an illuminated, seated youth shelter next to the skateboard. This has been recently completed and looks very smart.

Thames Crossing Councils Group (TCCG)
The Association has attended several recent meetings of the Thames Crossing Councils Group (TCCG), which is made up of representatives of Parish Councils in South Oxfordshire and North Wokingham. The Group is trying to ensure South Oxfordshire District Council include reference in their new Transport Plan to the need for a third Thames bridge, and in this they have been successful.

Planning Applications
Major in-fill developments have now been completed in Marshlands Square (2 developments), Cavendish Road and Kidmore End Road (St Benets), whilst the following proposals have concerned the Association over the last year.
· 10-18, 22 Highdown Hill Road & 6 Highdown Avenue – 9 houses.
· 46 Highdown Hill Road – one additional house.
· 372-390 Peppard Road – 12 houses.
· 91 Peppard Road - 6 apartments in the grade II listed Caversham House + 8 houses.
· 9 Buckingham Drive – block of 10 flats.
· 161 ‘Old’ Peppard Road - proposal for 5 houses (refused - receivership).
· 33-39 Grove Road – 6 houses (refused).
· 41-49 Grove Road – 10 houses (refused at appeal).
· 54-74 Kidmore End Road – 6 houses.
· 94 Kidmore End Road - block of 8 flats (withdrawn).
· 72-80 George Street (Whiteknights Laundry) - 91 residential units (mainly flats).
· 3G Lamp-post antenna & base Station, Buckingham Drive.
· 1 Rosehill Park - block of 4 flats
· 44 & 46 Kidmore End Road - a 2-storey 2-bedroom house.
· Rifle club building (off Jefferson Close) - 3 detached houses.
· Betting shop (Coral Estates) 1 Kidmore End Road - single storey front extension.

Post Office
The Association, with support of our local councillors and MP, are in discussions with the Post Office concerning their proposed closure of the Post Office in Emmer Green due to the closure of Balfours. The Post Office is currently looking at possible alternative shops in the area to host their Post Office outlet.

Association’s web site
The Association’s web site, which can be found at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra , 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. Thanks are due to Clive Ormonde who skillfully maintains the site for us. Members who have access to the internet are encouraged to join the email group by sending a message to egra.memb@ntlworld.com This will enable the membership secretary to provide you with current news items.

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. And thank you to the local (Peppard) ward councillors for their continuing interest and support of the Association’s activities.