Tuesday 23rd August
Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret
Ormonde, Diana Hartrup, Bill Harper, Bob Cruickshank, Jill Verran,
Brenda Deller, Mark Hutchings
1.Apologies Tara Taylor, Vera
Bodman, Brian Warren
2. Minutes of the last meeting (Tuesday
10th May 2005) were approved.
3. Matters arising:
The efforts of the Association in cleaning up the graffiti in Emmer
Green had been very rewarding. It was a two-fold operation in partnership
with the Highways and Parks departments of RBC. It was a good example
of how being pro-active can be rewarding. Bob Cruickshank however
did report a limited return of some graffiti on the far side of
the changing rooms in the recreation ground. We did not have the
resources to clean this off unaided, so the Parks department were
to be informed in the hope it could be dealt with before it spread.
The Council had been very efficient about replacing the chemicals
in the kits we had trained to use, so we were ready to act should
a new wave return.
Despite the new reduced grass cutting agenda of ten times per annum,
so far in 2005 it had only been done three times. (Chairman, Paul
Gallagher had kept a record of this). August had been fairly wet,
encouraging growth and as a result the area was looking very un-cared
for. Also the Grove Road Hedge only received two cuts per year,
one of these being in the winter. It was now at the point of needing
not a full cut, but a trim in areas where brambles and other quick
growing species had shot up.
Brenda Deller pointed out that the path between Surley Row and Scott
Close was also very overgrown with nettles. She would be writing
in the hope it would cleared before the schools returned.
The event had been a great success, but unfortunately Jason Trewinnard
who had been commissioned to sculpt the logs, pulled out sick at
the last moment. He was aware that we were still prepared to pay
for his services, but indicated he would prefer to do it before
an audience. Also concern was expressed that one of the logs, which
had been partially carved was not of suitable wood, and was already
showing signs of decay. It was hoped a few more big logs could
be brought to the site, as, even in their original state, they
were being used by local teenagers as seats.
As for the future of this event, it was dependent on another lottery
grant, increasingly difficult to obtain (and of course a dedicated
team to run the event).
Budgens Car Park Lights:
It was thought the lighting problem was still unresolved and Cllr
Mark Ralph would be contacted again to see what the latest situation
was. Sadly the lights had been out of action for several years
with many unsuccessful attempts to resolve things.
The use of the new facilities at the RFTRA offices in Reading town
centre was a real help, being very efficient and economical.
Licensing Laws – re White Horse:
Things had moved on with regard to not only the White Horse, but
The Black Horse and The Gardeners Arms too. The previous application
for extended hours had been under the 1982 Act, which had now been
superseded by the Licensing Act of 2003. All premises had now to
apply for opening hours and conditions, and not surprisingly they
were all contending to expand what they already had. Most of these
were totally unacceptable in a residential area, in particular
the additional hours and plans for loud amplified music. There
had already been cause to complain about noise and nuisance in
the past. The White Horse was the first to apply and with the help
of Cllr Annette Hendry letters of objection were duly submitted.
EGRA have also submitted a general objection concerning the wider
implications and effect on the community. A total of 16 complaints
were received and the hearing by the licensing committee is set
for Friday September 2nd at 1.30pm. A few of the objectors/local
residents have volunteered to speak at the hearing. Hearings for
The Black Horse and Gardeners’ Arms will be heard in due
There still had been no response yet from Andrew Noyes who had been
offered a yearly contract to maintain the sign (and the community
The various types of portable sound systems were being investigated.
Other neighbouring Residents’ Associations were being approached
to see if they were interested in sharing the costs and equipment.
Hopefully something would be in place by the 2006 AGM.
Skate Board Equipment:
The skateboard equipment, rescued from Whitley, had now been fully
installed at the site at Clayfield Copse. It was a vast improvement
on the existing facilities and had already proved very popular
with youngsters. A few things remained to be done, including the
positioning of a notice to remind users of its proper function
plus the installation of additional litter bins nearby.
4. Treasurer’s Report
The Association’s funds continued to rise and now stood at
over£6200, including £312 being the reimbursement due
from the Council for the community notice board. Cllr Mark Ralph
was thanked for his help in procuring this money. Again, any ideas
for forthcoming community projects would be more than welcome.
5. Feedback from Committees
North Reading Youth Project:
Despite the valiant efforts of Lee Middleton to make the Emmer Green
Youth Centre a vibrant and welcoming place for youngsters, it seems
it still had not met the criteria of the Oftsed inspectors when
reviewing Reading as a whole. This had been a big disappointment
to the staff. As far as North Reading were concerned, three key
leaders had left (not connected with the report), meaning there
was only one remaining trainee member of staff plus a number of
RBC was currently recruiting and would also be addressing the shortcomings
found in the Ofsted report. Recommendations included a budget review,
quality assurance policies, involving young people in decisions,
better management etc.
Safer Caversham Community Forum:
The most up-to-date information was in the current newsletter and
no meeting had been attended since then. It is hoped that we will
see a more visible police presence in the area on an ongoing basis
in the future. As part of a new initiative, Neighbourhood Policing
2006, a full time Police Office will be established at Church House,
Caversham under an Inspector, and at least 3 beat constables will
report to this Inspector. The Forum does have a modest budget for
capital expenditure on safety improvements, which would otherwise
be low down the Council’s list of priorities (e.g. additional
lighting in dangerous spots, bus shelters, kerb and pavement improvements
etc). We have nothing in the pipeline just now but if any of our
members have suggestions for making Emmer Green a safer place please
let any of the committee members know.
6. Planning Issues
included demolishing 3 bungalows, but the proposed replacement
town houses appeared too big for the
size of the site. It was assumed any re-development affecting the
listed old house itself would be sensitive to the existing architecture.
161-163 Old Peppard Road
was again a controversial proposal, mainly due to access and location,
right opposite the Hill
School. An alternative was discussed in committee, ie, via an existing
driveway and behind no.199-203. However, it is understood from
a report in the Chronicle that the developer’s company has
collapsed, bringing the whole feasibility of the project into doubt.
Caversham Laundry Development
Although not in Emmer Green, the Association has been keeping a watchful
eye on the plans and proposals. It appears to have been rejected
for the third time and the developers have now promised closer
consultation with local residents.
7. Any Other Business
Reading Borough Council is still notoriously poor on consulting with
EGRA were one of the few now affiliated to the Reading Federation
of Tenants' and Residents' Association, and is often only made aware
of local happenings by reading the regular RFTRA bulletins. It was
still felt direct consultation with all residents’ associations
would be fairer and more effective.
Night Flights (Heathrow)
Generally this area was not affected or disturbed, but every sympathy
was with those who were.
Thames Crossings Councils Group
Brenda Deller had attended this meeting in Whitchurch, with representatives
of local Parish Councils who are keeping tabs on the possibilities
and options. They meet on a very regular basis and are always looking
for free venues. The next meeting was on September 28th and it
was proposed EGRA fund the hire of the church hall for the night,
beginning at 8.00pm. If they already had a place for that night,
then the hosting of a future meeting would be offered. The cost
of the new bridge would be astronomical and it was felt only Central
Government funding would cover it. The benefits of a third bridge
would undoubtedly solve some problems, especially for the inhabitants
of Sonning, but it would also bring with it the nightmare scenario
of altering a quiet corner of South Oxfordshire forever, and bring
with it the inevitable flood of development.
Updating the Website
Webmaster Clive Ormonde was happy to incorporate any updates. The
community page, full of useful information, was seriously out of
date now. Mark Hutchins offered to act as gatekeeper for this information,
with members submitting to him any changes. He would then notify
Clive twice yearly (if there were any updates) and these would
be sent out with the twice yearly newsletters.
The tradesman’s list, which was not on the website, would
be evaluated on a bi-annual basis and Bob Cruickshank would check
the tradesmen if they still traded. Suggestions would be invited
from residents in the next newsletter.
ICE Campaign Notification
In Case of Emergency (ICE) – an independent e-mail had been
in circulation suggesting a nationally recognised contact entry in
mobile phones for helpers to use in case of emergencies. It was wondered
whether this should be officially circulated to EGRA members. There
were no particular feelings either way, but it was pointed out if
the phone got into the wrong hands, that number could be used inappropriately.
Also many people already had a ‘HOME’ contact in their
mobile address book.
Sports Discovery Day at Clayfield Copse
Cllr Mark Ralph had hosted this in July for youngsters in the area,
in conjunction with several local clubs.
Whilst EGRA thought the idea was very worthwhile and was happy
to promote next year’s event (by circulating a leaflet with the
newsletter), the committee as a whole did not really have the resources
to become fully involved, neither did it perceive the event fitting
with the Association’s agenda. It was felt it was up to local
residents to get in touch directly with Cllr Mark Ralph nearer the
time to see what they could do to help, and to this end information
would be notified to members in the newsletter.
8. Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Tuesday 29th November 2005 at 42