Tuesday 17th January
* An interim event had taken place between meetings, which generated
much discussion. A consultation exercise was set up by the Council
over the future of Mapledurham pavilion. The reason Emmer Green had
a direct interest was because of the potential involvement of compensatory
land at Clayfield Copse. The EGRA Chairman recommended the option,
which would not involve the selling of any land to raise funds, and
in fact that was the one chosen by 79% of the 3000 people who took
part. The Council will be taking that forward and looking into alternative
ways of funding.
Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Vera Bodman, Brenda Deller,
Jill Verran, Diana Hartrup, Bob Cruickshank.
1. Apologies : Bill Harper,
Brian Warren, Tara Taylor
2. Minutes of the last meeting :
(Wednesday 27th September 2006) were approved.
3. Matters arising :
Woodland Carvings :
Andrew Noyes was still happy to undertake the carving, and was waiting
until the weather improved. He hoped to have a number of young
people involved in parts of the detailed carving, or finishing
off, as part of an educational project. EGRA were more than happy
to fund the project, but there was a possibility of money coming
from another source too. One design put forward from an EGRA member
was that of a red kite. Interest was expressed in the old oak tree,
which had split and fallen. Suggestions were that it was up to
600 years old. (PG)
Village Sign :
Two EGRA members had come forward as a response to our request for
help maintaining both the sign and community notice board. Brian
Bernard and Chris Balmont have now teamed up with Paul Gallagher
to make regular cleaning and restoration visits. (PG)
Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard
Road/Kidmore End Road :
A letter had been sent to Coral's agents last year, reminding them
the seat overlooking the pond, was donated by EGRA and that we
wanted it relocated by them to the other side of the pond. Electronic
copies were sent to various other interested parties. Coral never
replied, but Kirsten Smith from the planning department acknowledged
and agreed with the letter. No development has yet begun, but the
adjacent shop which, like the Coral premises, belongs to the Co-op,
remains empty, with a prominent 'TO LET' sign on its frontage.
Post Office Closure :
There was still a glimmer of hope that the Post Office would re-locate
within one of the shops on the precinct, but negotiations, if indeed
there were any, were proceeding a snail's pace. Most Emmer Green
residents would find it difficult to walk to a Post Office now.
The nearest, at Hemdean Road, not far from the junction of Oakley
Road, has good parking and is not too far from a bus stop. However,
occasionally, it was apt to close at random hours without warning.
Footpath/New Housing in Jefferson Close :
As a result of local consultation, there had been a few objections,
one concerning a piece of land which would give access to the housing
development. Things were still uncertain about the future of the
long established footpath between Jefferson Close and Russet Glade.
Pat Bishop from the Council was responding to the objections, and
would then send the file to the Secretary of State. (PG)
Welcome Packs :
We now had up to 50 spare newsletters, which could either be distributed
to potential members (targeting the new developments) or used to
accompany some welcome packs. (JV)
Grove Road Planters :
Despite assurances that there was funding to remove and replant at
ground level alternate oversized trees from the Grove Road planters
(between St Barnabas and Surley Row), nothing had yet been carried
out. Kevin Wigginton (RBC) who was responsible for the undertaking
was to be contacted to explain the delay. (MO)
The Queen :
The tree to commemorate the Queen's 80th birthday had been ordered,
and was due to arrive in a couple of weeks. EGRA needed to decide
the exact location to make sure the Council dug the hole in the
right place. - Dave Moore (RBC) was very good with the logistics
all. A substantial tree guard had already been delivered to Diana
Hartrup, who was looking after the project. We needed a suitable
seat to place near it and the Council was to be contacted to see
if we could purchase one from them. The committee were still trying
to find a local 'worthy' to officially plant the tree. Margaret
Ormonde was asked to inform the Palace of the event. (DH)
Bench for bus stop :
In addition to the Queen's seat, Brenda Deller was still keen we
have a separate bench (no back) near the bus stop for any elderly
people waiting for the bus. The practicalities of this needed to
be looked into, such as having enough time to move into a position
to be seen by the driver. It was thought the Safer Caversham Forum
might be able to support this (VB)
Duck signs :
One resident, Mrs Jackie Williams who lived near the pond was concerned
that we had not for the time being decided to proceed with the
duck warning signs. However events had rather overtaken us since
the last meeting. Major road changes in the area had been suggested
and locally approved. This would involve two mini-roundabouts at
the junctions of Kidmore End Road and Lowfield Road with the Peppard
Road, and controlled pedestrian crossing between them. If nothing
else this would undoubtedly slow traffic down. In any case we would
need to wait and see the impact it has before making a decision
on the duck signs.
Advertising Posters on White Horse Public
The temporary poster promoting a then current TV programme was eventually
removed, after the Council intervened, but by the time it was the
TV series had more or less finished. Retrospective planning order
was also sought for various other notices spread about the property.
This resulted in a split decision from the planning department
and as a result several of the free-standing boards have been moved
across to a corner, opening up the paved area and making it safer.
Resignation of Chairman :
A special committee meeting was held Friday 10th November 2006 and
various jobs delegated in the hope this would pave the way for
a fairer workload in the future. It is also hoped to attract new
blood on to the committee.
4. Treasurer’s Report
The annual accounts had now been presented, with the balance at the
end of 2006 being slightly up on the year before (£6116.82).
It included the cost of the Queen's Tree. There were a few more
items of expenditure in the pipeline for 2007, but ideas for new
community based projects were always welcome. Membership remained
in healthy numbers, which is good for the sustainability and strength
of the association. (BH)
5. Feedback from Committees
North Reading Youth Project :
A couple of NAYP meetings had taken place since the last committee
meeting and the feedback was still very positive, with youth provision
increasing 400% north of the river. Good relationships have been
forged with Highdown School, and the new minibus is proving very
popular. 30 local children attended a successful residential trip
to Osmington Bay(TT)
Safer Caversham Community Forum :
Vera Bodman attended the meeting held on 30th November. Feedback
was generally positive, with a 17% drop in overall crime in the
area. Initiatives included Operation Forage - stop and checking
in Caversham, investigating the lighting in Waitrose car park,
approving lighting in Burcombe Way; considering (but not instigating)
Dispersal Orders for large groups gathering on summer nights eg
Christchurch Meadows. The Pubwatch meetings also continued. Sadly
new lighting at the Clayfield Copse youth shelter had been vandalised.
A taller floodlit column would be considered in the hope it would
last longer. Otherwise there was a very positive outlook from youth
work in the area (see above) Graffiti was generally down, largely
thanks to volunteers who had been cleaning it off. (VB)
Police Signs :
Big yellow printed signs had been affixed to lampposts last October,
reminding residents to be more security conscious and letting criminals
know that police patrols were active in the area. It was promised
these would be removed by the end of 2006. No such action has been
6. Planning Issues & Consultations
It was still hoped to post a planning policy page on the EGRA website.
In the meantime infill developments and applications continued apace.
Although outside the Emmer Green boundaries, the former Whiteknights
Laundry site decision was bound to have an impact on everyone north
of the river. The design of the 5 storey development (over 120 dwellings)
had been rejected by RBC planning department, but the developers
had gone to Central Government on appeal.
The detached house in Kidmore End Road, which had been thought to
house a bat colony, has now been demolished.
7. Any Other Business
Highdown School Foundation Status :
Paul Gallagher and Margaret Ormonde went to the very sparsely attended
public meeting (17th January) to outline the proposed change in
status from Community School to Foundation School (more independent).
As much of the school was already functioning under that remit -
some 90% - the Head said initially, 'Why bother?' But with Highdown
now the only school in the borough not a Foundation School, he felt
for that reason and several others, now was the right time to take
the final step. He reassured us that the school was one of only 30
in the country to be recognised for good financial management. And
that concerns they might go down the path of selling off land to
raise funds in the future, were totally unfounded. Links with the
Local Authority would not disappear entirely, as it was appreciated
how efficiently they handled admissions. Fuller details of this would
eventually be posted via the EGRA website.
Clayfield Copse Artwork :
Artist Jenny Leach was about to submit her bid to the Arts Council,
for a grant to support her artwork project at Clayfield Copse.
If she was successful, EGRA was happy to help with publicity etc,
and suggested RBC may be able to offer advice on the installation.
Reading Caves :
BBC's television programme Inside Out (Southern region) was investigating
caves in the area and had already been to Field Road. They also
had an opportunity to be taken down some of the Emmer Green shafts
into the chalk mines. Committee member Diana Hartrup was interviewed
in her back garden by Chris Packham, whilst other members of the
crew used a special sonic device to detect if there were shafts
or caves under where they were standing. The edited slot is due
to last for ten minutes and will be broadcast on 9th February.
The Pond :
Margaret and Clive Ormonde met with Garry Fullbrook and Any Gillespie
from RBC in mid December to discuss and agree work to be carried
out in the pond surroundings. Unfortunately verbal instructions
from the office were given to the maintenance man, who misinterpreted
what was said. Enthusiasm got the better of him. But the work was
halted until a site visit was made, and the rest of the clearance
should be done according to the original agreement.
Budgens Car Park :
The state of the car park and contactability of its owners remains
exasperating. If nearby road amendments proceed, they will include
a footpath across the grass to the shops. Extra money has been
allocated in the budget for RBC to fill in the holes in the car
park, as a one off gesture. Although this is good news, it will
not provide a long-term solution and other issues like the drainage
and poor lighting, still need addressing.
A while ago, the area near the reservoir off Kiln Road had been vandalised,
including daubing of graffiti. Resident Mr Maurice Hicks had been
very persistent in badgering the various authorities to put things
right, but progress and responses had been painfully slow. We hope
things will eventually be resolved.
Al Gore's Environmental Film :
Paul Gallagher now had this film available on DVD for anyone to borrow.
It was felt because it had such a powerful impact, that EGRA would
also try and arrange to screen it locally for all residents to
Annual General Meeting :
8:00 pm Tuesday 24th April 2007, St Barnabas
It was hoped we could get a speaker from the police
to come and talk on the new Community Policing Initiative.
8. Date of next meeting
8:00 pm Wednesday 5th April 2007 at 18
St Barnabas Road.