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
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
looked after the project. A letter of appreciation was received from
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.