Minutes of Committee Meeting
Autumn 2002

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Wednesday 4th December 2002

Present: Mr Paul Gallagher, Mr Bob Cruickshank, Mrs Margaret Ormonde, Mr Bill Harper, Mr David Miles, Mrs Anne Ayres, Mrs Jill Verran, Mr Geoff Goldsmith, Mrs Sue Ballard, Mrs Vera Bodman, Mr Brian Warren

1.Apologies
None.

2.Minutes of the last meeting (25th September 2002) were approved.

3.Matters arising

Parking along Kidmore End Road
There was little change reported in the unresolved car parking situation. Cllrs Bob Green and Annette Hendry had approached the owners of Budgens’ car park, in the hope that spaces could be allotted to local residents, but the suggestion had been rejected. It was felt, in any case, it was too far from the car owners’ property from the security point of view. Other local car parks had suffered from theft and vandalism. After a quiet period, the traffic wardens had begun paying regular visits again often catching residents early in the morning before they had a chance to leave for work.

Village Sign
The wood for the sign has been delivered, and the preliminary stages of carving have begun, based on the designs submitted by EGRA. The work is usually undertaken at New Town School on Friday mornings and the Berkshire Woodcarvers welcome visitors. It is hoped that both the Woodcarvers and visitors make a photographic record of its progress. There was still some ambiguity over the funding for the project, as the promised contribution from the North Reading Area Consultative Committee had been put on hold whilst the future of all the local consultative committees was decided. There was an anomaly, however, in so much as an area in the west of Reading appeared to have been granted £4000 for a bus stop and seat from their Area Consultative Committee. It was noted that CADRA and Nomad (The Bridge newspaper) had been very supportive in our request for the grant.

Litter
Despite the fact that a letter had been written to Highdown School about the desperate state of the school playing fields, no reply had been received. The next step would be to involve Faber Thorndike from the Council and perhaps the Local Education Authority. As well as being unsightly, the consequenses of litter were that it attracted vermin. Sightings of rats had been reported in other areas of Emmer Green. It was noted that a resident of Grove Road, not far from the school, took a pride in his immediate area and was regularly seen clearing things up.

Clayfield Copse
The pavilion was still in the same sorry state and the surface car park continued to get worse. The Council had been informed of the state of both.

Bus Stop
Reading buses replied saying that in principle they had no objection to the bus stop reverting to its original location, but feared the car parking difficulties could cause problems. The committee decided to ask them to move it for a trial period.

Dead Tree
A dead tree at the bottom of Courtenay Drive had now been removed.

White Horse Pub
The illuminated sign had been lowered as requested and looked much more appropriate.

Some elderly residents from Lyefield Court were concerned that the bollards had been removed from alongside a narrow strip of pavement, making it unsafe. As they were on private land the Council had no powers to get them reinstated. One solution could be for the Council to paint the edge of the inner kerb in a bright colour to make it visible.

4.Treasurer’s Report
The current balance was just over £3700, the major difference being explained by the deposit for the village sign of around £1350. A couple of new members had joined, and only seventeen out of over 80 renewals had proved fruitless. This was probably because the original householders had moved or for some other reason no longer lived in the house. Ninety-five renewals were due for 2003 and when the reminder letter was sent out it was felt there should be an invitation for new occupants to join.

5.Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project
Sue Ballard attended the meeting on the 3rd October. The Council had promised to advertise for a senior youth worker at Emmer Green and a Site Controller to cover the North Reading area. However things had proceeded much more slowly than had been hope and adverts were not scheduled to appear until January 2003.

The trainee, Liz Heading, meanwhile had been doing a valiant job, holding a number of workshops and outdoor activities. It was hoped that Chris Evans from ‘Splash’ (Methodist Church) might also given a helping hand. Contractors had been to the skateboard facility at Clayfield Copse to quote for repairing the existing ramp.

Safer Caversham Forum
This was considered one of the strongest and most effective forums in Reading, meeting twice as often as the others. It had good representation from Emmer Green, which had one of the safest crime records in Reading. Serious incidents were thankfully very rare and most reported crime was of a petty nature. Areas of focus had been on the general improvement of house and garage security, and reminding the more vulnerable in the community of the dangers of distraction burglary. Stolen cars had been traced to a garage in the Oxford Road. There had been improvements in the Amersham Road area in the summer, but the dark evenings had brought new concerns. Halloween night had brought a spate of mindless vandalism in the Caversham Park area. Unfortunately Neighbourhood Watch had less contact than they used to, and the Caversham Chat, which detailed all crime in the area, was sorely missed.

Reading’s Local Strategic Partnership
This seems to be a real attempt to widen local democracy and has been under way in Reading since October 2001. The LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 2000 gave Councils a new duty and new power of social, economic and environmental well-being. The idea was to develop a Community Strategy to ensure that these aims were met, particularly in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

In October 2001 over 150 partners and stakeholders attended a special Council meeting to debate the key issues impacting on the future of Reading. At the end of the meeting the decision was taken to form the partnership.

This consists of a Board of twenty elected members, seven Delivery Groups and a Forum.

At the Extraordinary Council Meeting in October this year, attended by EGRA representative Bob Cruickshank, there was aspirational talk of what could be achieved in the future. How truly democratic it is remains to be seen. We have come a year late to this and we do not know how one may seek election to the Board but we suspect that for us it will be through the READING FEDERATION of TENANTS and RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION (see below).

RFTRA (Reading Federation of Tenants and Residents’ Associations)
Membership was not totally appropriate, because issues discussed covered the town at large. One reason for EGRA to become affiliated to this association was because it was often used by the Council to filter important local issues through to the community. We are now officially affiliated. Their AGM was held at the end of September and the new committee is chaired by Don Loader.

6. Winter Newsletter
For the first time several committee members had contributed articles for inclusion. In order to keep it to a reasonable length, some editing would need to be undertaken, but otherwise the contents were agreed and it should be ready for distribution before the end of the year. A couple of points were raised, such as the extension of the doorstop recycling collection . It was also mentioned that work near the water tower was nearing completion and that the pavement had been reinstated. Sue Ballard said she would provide a piece on the NRYP.

7. Draft Interim Licensing Policy
The Council is developing a licensing policy for the management of Reading’s licensing activities, because liquor licensing is about to be transferred from the magistrates to local authorities. There was general support for the policy in that it provided a precise framework on which to judge and make representation on licensing applications. However, there were some concerns, including such thing as making sure there was written notification to local residents’ associations, and some ambiguous wording of some sections. The Secretary would write to Clare Bradley with a detailed response on behalf of the Association. In Emmer Green it was felt that the three pubs and various restaurants were well run, there could be an application to change future use and powers may be needed to back this up.

8. Any Other Business
The Emmer Green book had sold out shortly after its first print run. There was still demand for it and there was a list of around 180 people who had ordered copies. It was agreed that if it was to be re-printed in 2003 that it should be done as a commercial enterprise, with the production being taken over by MAP READING. The Emmer Green Residents Association would retain the copyright and MAP READING would pay a small sum as a royalty (yet to be decided) to the Association.

Brian Warren received a summary of the planning information on a weekly basis. There had been approval for houses at the back of Grove Road, and a double garage in Highdown Hill Road. A proposal to develop land behind Autumn Close was of concern and opposition was being co-ordinated by member Dr N Morgan. Opposition to plans for an additional property in Brooklyn Drive were also being co-ordinated by a member, Peter Ambrose.

The chairman had received an e-mail from Berkshire Express asking if we would notify local businesses through the EGRA web site of their advertising facilities. It was agreed that this was not an appropriate activity in which the Association had any role to play.

The leaves on the pavement along Surley Row had been swept once, but were now almost as bad as before. A request was to be put in again and should include St Barnabas Road, the footpath behind the Surgery and the section of Peppard Road from The Ridings to Rosehill. A tree had fallen on the Peppard Road near The Ridings, leaving pedestrians having to walk into the road to avoid it.

Transco had been undertaking some repairs in Surley Row and following recourse to the regulator about the dangerous state of things work had recommenced.

A property in Grove Road was endangering the public because of the vegetation overhanging the pavement. The Council were to be informed.

There were now tree preservation orders on individual trees on the golf course. Should the number of trees be increased? Richard Stimpson was to be approached on this matter.

9. 2003 AGM
The date was set for Thursday 10th April 2003. The speaker was to be Graham Horn on his adventures ascending Mt Kilimanjaro. It was a fund-raising event and the committee would be offering a contribution from EGRA and it was hoped that members of the audience would donate as well.

Date of next meeting
8:00 pm Tuesday 11th March 2003 at 23 Tredegar Road.