Chairman's Report 2006-2007

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The following summarises the numerous issues that the Association has been involved in since the last Annual General Meeting on 19 April 2006.

Emmer Green Post Office:
The Post Office was closed and boarded-up in June, but after much fruitless correspondence between the Association and the Post Office it appears that a post office will open in the florist shop in 'Pictures Art Gallery' on the precinct. This has been taken over by Ian and Kim Legg, and the latter has been approved by the PO to be sub-postmistress. It will cost about £30,000 to buy the franchise and equip the shop with counters etc, and there is no grant available from the Post Office. However, 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 is considering offering 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.

Road layout changes in Emmer Green
In February the Association helped to widen Reading’s consultation on road safety initiatives in Emmer Green. The proposals include new roundabouts at the junction of Kidmore End Road and Buckingham Drive and at the junction of Lowfield Road and Buckingham Drive (opposite the pond). It is also proposed to make the pedestrian crossing a controlled Pelican crossing.

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. As part of the above Local Area Enhancement scheme, the Peppard ward councillors met with the Council’s Transport Department to agree with Wolfe Properties that the Council’s contractors fill in the potholes, while they are doing the other work in Lowfield Road. Also discussed were the removal of the tree planters, which could act as a trip hazard, and the removal of the dead tree in front of unit 12. The first of these tasks (i.e. the potholes) has been completed, and hopefully Wolfe Properties will complete the other work in the near future.

Work around the Pond
Following much discussion between the Association’s secretary and the Council, work to thin out the trees and bushes around the pond has been completed. Much to the secretary’s dismay, this was quite fierce and the result is that large gaps have been created in the surrounding vegetation. Undoubtedly this will regrow and hopefully by summer will look much better.

Grove Road tree planters
Over the years damage has been done by the alders in the brick planter boxes in Grove Road near Highdown School. Concern has been expressed of possible injury to schoolchildren or other pedestrians from the crumbling brickwork. Working with Cllr Hendry, the Association’s secretary has agreed a set of maintenance measures, and some of the alders have now been pollarded 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 by Reading Borough Council on behalf of the Association at the edge of the recreation grounds, roughly opposite 60 Kidmore End Road. Thanks go to committee member Diana Hartrup who organised the acquisition of the tree and the sturdy protective surround.
A suitable seat is now being sought upon which a commemorate plaque can be affixed, and at that time a small formal dedication ceremony will be arranged.

Animal carvings at Clayfield Copse
A very large oak tree in the field bordering Caversham Park Road was partially felled last autumn as it had split down the middle and was unsafe. Several extremely large logs resulted and the Association has obtained the support of the Council to have these carved into animal shapes. A local craftsman, Andrew Noyes, whom the Association retained to remake the Community Notice Board, has agreed to undertake this project. He has involved a group of young people in the animal designs and they will assist in the carving of some of the finer detail and maybe painting areas such as eyes. The first suggested shape is that of a dragon.

Mapledurham Playing Fields
Reading Borough Council consulted on proposals for development at the Mapledurham Playing Fields, funded by the sale of part of the playing fields, in order to build a replacement pavilion. Some of the options required compensatory public open space to be made available and land at Clayfield Copse was identified. The Council received 2950 responses and 71% favoured the option involving the loss of the smallest parcel of land at the playing fields, which does not require compensatory land being taken at Clayfield Copse. This option includes demolition of the existing hall with the provision of changing rooms for sports pitches at a cost of about £100,000 and possible loss of 0.075 hectares of land. RBC is however investigating ways of delivering this option without any loss of land at the Playing Fields.

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. Notice of a Modification Order was published in the local press in early November, and notices were posted at the ends of the footpath. However, a resident in Jefferson Close has made an objection and the papers will now have to be forwarded to the secretary of state for a ruling or the appointment of an inquiry.

St Barnabas Church Garden Party
We again participated in the St Barnabas Garden Party on a pleasant sunny Saturday last July. With the World Cup in progress the organisers had chosen football as the theme. The Association had an ‘identify the celebrity’ game, including several footballers but also film stars, royalty, cartoon characters and politicians. This proved very popular and a contribution of about £25 was raised for the charitable Daynes Education Trust. We also recruited several new members at the stall, which was very encouraging.

Art work at Clayfield Copse
Local artist Jenny Leach, who spoke at our last AGM, has kept the Association informed on her progress regarding the artwork proposed for Clayfield Copse. She has gained the support of RBC Parks Department and pupils at Highdown School are now involved. Jenny has now submitted a bid for a grant of about £5K from the Arts Council, and the Association has provided a written statement in support of the proposal.

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. The provision has forged a good working relationship with Highdown School and the young people have responded very positively. There is now a much greater diversity of opportunities within the Youth Service for the young people of the area. Association member, Tara Taylor, continues to provide representation on the management committee, and, overall, things are very encouraging in the North Reading Youth Project.

Caversham Safer Community Forum (CSCF)
The Forum held a Community Safety Fair in Westfield Road Recreation Park on 22 June, which provided children’s entertainments, competitions, crime reduction freebies and refreshments. The event also gave visitors a chance to have their say on a SAFER READING, and over 500 questionnaires were completed.

The CHURCH HOUSE facility is working well. The Police Office is opened on the first Monday of each month from 5pm to 8pm. They are averaging 18/25 visits per evening and this has led to 2 drug convictions and a lowering of anti-social behaviour. The police undertake to resolve all real issues within 2 weeks.
NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING will come into force in February 2007, which will mean a different approach to local policing as the priorities will be chosen by the public as well as focusing on national priorities like burglary, drugs and robbery. It will take at least 2 years before it is rolled out across the Force during which time NEIGHBOURHOOD ACTION GROUPS will be set up to include the Police, Local Authority officials, and relevant agencies, residents` groups, school, publicans etc. There will be more newspaper, TV and radio publicity when the scheme gets underway.
One disappointment during the past years was that the lighting that had been provided along with the youth shelter and the skateboard ramp at Clayfield Copse was vandalised very shortly after it was installed. The repaired light now has stronger reinforcement of the breakable parts and the height of the lights has been raised slightly.
Thanks are due to Bob Cruickshank and Vera Bodman for representing the Association on the Forum.

Graffiti removal
The Association has continued to be active in cleaning off graffiti from traffic signs, road signs, NTL boxes, etc.
This has resulted in Emmer Green looking much more cared for than other areas north of the Thames. It has been noticed that NTL have repainted some of their boxes in lower Caversham with paint that helps graffiti to be more easily removed, and we are asking NTL to repaint all the boxes in Emmer Green with the same paint.

Planning Applications
Continued in-fill development continues to blight many streets throughout the village and the following are some of those that have concerned the Association in the last year.
Betting shop (Coral Estates) 1 Kidmore End Road - single storey front extension.
372-390 Peppard Road – 12 houses.
9 Buckingham Drive – block of 10 flats.
161 ‘Old’ Peppard Road - 4 houses.
Lyefield Court (Cedarcot) - 9 new dwellings.
58 Crawshay Drive - block of 8 two-bedroom flats or 3 detached houses.
41-49 Grove Road – 9 houses.
94 Kidmore End Road - block of 8 flats.
44 & 46 Kidmore End Road - a 2-storey 2-bedroom house.
Rifle club building (off Jefferson Close) - 3 detached houses.
72-80 George Street (Whiteknights Laundry) - 76 residential units (mainly flats).
T-Mobile lamp-post antenna & base station, Esso Garage, Buckingham Drive.
Hutchinson 3G lamp-post antenna & base station, Evesham Road and Buckingham Drive.

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. Again, thanks are due to Clive Ormonde who not only skilfully maintains the site for us, but who has revamped the site this last year. 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.