Chairman's Report 2007-2008

EGRA Home Page
EGRA About Us
EGRA Committee
EGRA Membership
Contact EGRA
EGRA Current Issues
EGRA EGRA History
EGRA Local History
Emmer Green Book
EGRA Local Information
EGRA Planning Guidance
EGRA Recycling in Emmer Green
EGRA links
EGRA Newsletters
EGRA Minutes of Meetings
EGRA AGMs
EGRA Constitution

The AGM on 24th April 2007 brought forth a number of changes to both content and structure of the committee. Throughout the year a lot of the projects and campaigns EGRA had been involved in for a while came to fruition. This was in conjunction with other changes in Emmer Green, which we have monitored or been witness to.

SUPPORTING PROJECTS

Donating Funds
We are happy to report that, at last, we have been able to redistribute some of EGRA's accumulated wealth for the benefit of all. The main project was the Queen's Birthday Memorial. A donation of £250 has been made towards the extension of St Barnabas Church buildings. A community annual book prize is being awarded to pupils from Highdown School, and an offer made to fund books for the new library at the Hill School. EGRA was also happy to donate £50 towards the Gazebo weather vane at Caversham Court, in memory of Caversham resident Molly Casey.

Queen's 80th Birthday Memorial
Following on from the planting of the Turner's Oak in early 2007, a seat with commemorative plaque was installed during the summer, and a ceremony took place on October the 6th, with EGRA's inaugural Chairman, David Miles officiating. Ben Cosh read out the Queen's birthday poem, 'The Golden Rule'. Committee members Diana Hartrup (tree) and Kate Manton (seat) looked after the project. A letter of appreciation was received from Balmoral.

Dragon's Den
Shortly before the 2007 AGM, the dragon carved from the felled oak at Clayfield Copse was unveiled, EGRA contributed £300 towards the project, and hoped that more of the redundant wood could be used in the future.

Community Notice Board
As part of ongoing maintenance, in the summer of 2007 committee members attacked both sides of the board and repainted the surface. It's free and for considerate use by local people to promote events and activities.

St Barnabas Garden Party
On Saturday 14 July the sun shone, on stallholders and visitors alike, at the annual St Barnabas Garden Party (in aid of the Daynes Education Trust). The Association was represented by Tara Taylor, Kate Manton and Ben Cosh, who promoted EGRA, and raised a few pounds for the trust with their 'Guess the Famous Person' game.

CROW
Jennifer Leach a young professional artist with a sympathetic approach to the environment launched her project at Clayfield Copse on 8th September. With the help of a grant from the Arts Council she composed a poem, which was read on the day by actors Anne Latto and Jim McGuigan. In the woods were figures relating to the readings.

Recommended Tradesman's List
The next overhaul is due in summer 2008, and will be distributed to members with the next newsletter. If anyone wishes to help out with this ongoing biannual exercise, please let us know.

Emmer Green Post Office
The new Post Office opened to customers on Tuesday 29th May 2007, with Ian and Kim Legg (Sub Postmistress) running things. Apart from the convenience of posting parcels, they offer a wide range of services including savings schemes, banking, car tax etc. The post box has also been moved by Royal Mail. The site of the old post office reopened in early 2008 as an estate agent.


PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

Consultations
We brought to the attention of the membership the opportunity to respond to public consultations in South Oxfordshire, where 1400 extra houses are planned. RBC seeks to identify land to meet the borough’s development needs for the next 15 years and beyond. Anyone could put forward suggestions for land usage or land protection. EGRA joined forces with CADRA to earmark special places to protect. The joint submission is on the CADRA website.

Garden Grabbers
Local MP Rob Wilson has organised a meeting in Woodley in October, 'Campaign against Over-development'. MP Greg Clarke, a supporter of the Parliamentary Bill to protect gardens, spoke on the subject. The aim of the Bill is to reclassify gardens and allow decisions to be made locally.

Local Development
It is hoped that major infill development within Emmer Green has peaked, but for anyone directly affected please consult the Planning Guidance page on the EGRA website. However, in-fill building continues at several sites in the area, with developments in Kidmore End Road (opposite the Golf Club entrance), Peppard Road (near the Water Tower) and Buckingham Drive (near Marshland Square) all completed. Other developments underway include Cedarcot (9 new dwellings at the end of Lyefield Court), land behind 41-49 Grove Road (9 houses planned, following the demolition of 49 Grove Road to provided an access road). Several other locations, including Grove Hill and land behind Chalgrove Way, are at the proposal stage.


TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS

Road layout changes in Emmer Green
As part of the Local Area Enhancement Scheme, major changes were carried out to the junctions of Peppard Road/ Buckingham Drive/ Kidmore End Road. A new mini roundabout was installed and controlled Puffin crossing replaced the old Zebra crossing. Although some concerns have been expressed about the removal of protective railings and the new layout is taking time to adjust to, overall it is a big improvement to safety and traffic flows. Even the ducks have been catered for. Thanks to Cllr Mark Ralph for keeping us abreast of everything.

Reading Transport Commission Feedback
Following the withdrawal of the plans to turn the IDR into a one-way system, Reading Borough Council instigated a Transport Commission. Members and residents of Emmer Green were encouraged to respond as individuals. EGRA and CADRA presented a united front on local issues. Committee member Barry Prior submitted EGRA's views and presented to the Commissioners at a public hearing on 26th February. Progress was reported on the RBC website.

We also highlighted Reading's draft Cycling Strategy (part of the LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 2006-11). As well as detailed written intentions, maps in the document earmark the existing Sustrans network, and highlight quiet routes from Emmer Green into Reading, circling junctions and stretches in need of improvement.


POLICE MATTERS

Shortly after the 2007 AGM, Thames Valley Police introduced us to the role of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and set up the monthly Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) meetings. EGRA has regularly attended these and the opportunity to have face to face meetings with local police has been invaluable. The main focus is still anti-social behaviour, burglary, and traffic.

Neighbourhood Police Officers

Sgt Nigel Scarratt, and PC John Finnerty are supported by PCSOs Jeni Williams and John Hendy. Confusion and disappointment sometimes follows reporting an incident, but the police are particularly keen the public do so, to get an overall picture of what is happening and allocate resources.


SCHOOL REPORTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE


We are pleased to report closer links with schools in Emmer Green, enabling us to publicise some of their activities and needs. EGRA continues to send a representative to North Reading Youth Project meetings and there is a lot of positive activity through Tina Heaford and her team at Emmer Green Community Centre, and Highdown School.


OLDER GENERATION

Reading 50 Plus+ Older Person's Forum
EGRA has been happy to promote and support this joint venture between Age Concern, RBC and the NHS. The very well attended meetings have been held quarterly in St Barnabas Hall. Health issues are discussed and practical advice is to hand. Speakers have included Thames Valley Police and local MP Rob Wilson. The eventual aim is to set up an Active Retirement Club.


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Tree Planting
Following on from last year's Queen's birthday tree, there have been further local initiatives. After many years of campaigning (thanks to former Cllr Annette Hendry), work has finally taken place to remove crumbling and dangerous brick planters from Grove Road. After consultation with local residents, Rowan trees are due to be planted directly into the ground. This will be the first stage of a rolling programme.
Volunteers from Caversham Globe and EGRA worked together in February to help plant six new trees in the local area. Two of these were in memory of Jane Stockill who died last year. Particular thanks go to Dave Kenny and his team.
As part of the Local Area Enhancement scheme, RBC has planted about a dozen new native species of tree in Emmer Green. Sites include the Recreation Ground and the green in front of the shopping precinct.

Tree Preservation Order Survey
Paul Gallagher devoted many hours to checking out all the trees listed in RBC's borough wide catalogue of TPOs. He created an up to date list of those relevant to Emmer Green with accompanying maps. The information has been passed to the Council, together with concerns, and copies are available for anyone interested.

Graffiti Clean-up
During 2007 Reading Borough Council had funding to remove graffiti from private property. EGRA's Environment Officer Bob Cruickshank arranged for the Council to remove offensive artwork from nine properties and also continues to monitor and clean up areas himself. The anti-graffiti campaign in Emmer Green has been a big success and we always welcome new volunteers to help.

Grass/ Hedge Cutting, Street Cleaning
EGRA continues to monitor and report concerns and has met with RBC staff to discuss realistically what can be achieved. New grass cutting equipment and organisation will hopefully mean a better future in this area.

Recycling
Please visit the recycling page on the EGRA website for the latest information. Reading Borough Council are working hard to encourage recycling. A brand new recycling plant is due to open at the end of the year and EGRA have requested an organised visit. New bottle banks have been installed in the Golf Club car park. Other sites have been proposed, but local residents will be consulted for their opinions before any action is taken.


25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS


EGRA was invited to have a stall at the CADRA 40th Anniversary celebrations last October. Next year will soon be upon us, when we celebrate our own 25th Anniversary. Early preparations and ideas are already underway. For anyone not wanting to miss such an occasion the date is set for 9th May 2009. There is already a catalogue of EGRA's history on the website. Any help on the day, or with preparations leading up to it, is most welcome.


THANKS to everyone who keeps EGRA a thriving organisation

We are sorry to lose several committee members this year and praise must go to Paul Gallagher, Bob Cruickshank and Ben Cosh for their contributions. Thanks to the rest of the committee for continued support; to Julian Pearce who does an excellent job auditing our accounts; and to webmaster Clive Ormonde who looks after www.map-reading.co.uk/egra. Thanks to other non-committee members, such as our team of newsletter delivers, and partners/family of committee members, without whose support most of us couldn't manage.


Margaret Ormonde
March 2008