Summer 2002 Newsletter

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Annual General Meeting

The eighteenth AGM was held in St Barnabas Church Hall on 18 April 2002 and was attended by 60 members.

After fourteen years as Treasurer, Jill Verran had decided to retire from this position. Jill, who has served on the committee since 1984, was gratefully thanked for her unstinting work for the Association. The Association is extremely fortunate that Jill has agreed to continue the work of maintaining the membership register. Bill Harper had offered to take on the role of Treasurer and was duly elected.

For family reasons Sue Ballard had also asked to stand down from her role as Vice Chair and Bob Cruickshank had kindly volunteered his services. The remaining committee members had offered to continue in their roles for another year and all were duly elected. The composition of the committee for the current year is:

Chairman Paul Gallagher, 6 Tredegar Road
Vice Chairman Bob Cruickshank, 18 St Barnabas Road
Secretary Margaret Ormonde, 20 Kidmore End Road
Treasurer Bill Harper, 37 Kidmore End Road
Membership Secretary Jill Verran, 39 Kidmore End Road
Committee Anne Ayres, 203 Surley Row
Sue Ballard, 31 Brooklyn Drive
Vera Bodman, 15 The Ridings
Geoffrey Goldsmith, 68 Rosehill Park
David Miles, 23 Tredegar Road
Brian Warren, 29a Highdown Hill Road

The Treasurer presented a statement of the audited accounts which showed that the balance in the Portman Building Society at 31 December 2001 was £2,765.97 - an increase of £467.22 on last year's accounts. Mr Julian Pearce was thanked for auditing the association's accounts. There was no proposal to alter the subscription rate, which would continue at £1 per annum. It was reported that there had been an increase of 77 in the Association’s membership during 2001 bringing the current total membership to 391 households.

The formal business of the meeting was followed by an illustrated talk from guest speaker Lady Audrey Durant on the history of the Surley Row Conservation Area. The talk was very enthusiastically received and members gathered around with wine and nibbles to view and discuss the wealth of old and new photographs of the area.

Safer Caversham Forum

The additional lighting between Chiltern Court and Gorselands, funded through the Forum’s small grants committee, has been successfully completed and is much appreciated by residents using this walk way. The Association had asked the small grants committee to investigate the need.

Heathcroft Home

Heathcroft Home in Marshland Square has now been closed and the building is empty. Although boarded up it has encouraged recent vandalism and dumping. The Council intend to demolish the building as soon as possible and the land will be cleared and fenced off. The Association has asked to be kept informed about any redevelopment proposal that might be submitted to the Planning Authority. It would also be useful if local members keep the committee informed of any notifications.

Kidmore End Road parking

A consultation exercise carried out by the Association’s Secretary had received an 80% response. The views of the local residents had been passed to the Council but unfortunately they had put the matter on hold whilst the issue of Residents' parking permits was debated nationally. Permits were seen as a first step to helping residents, but not necessarily the complete solution to the problem. The problem of parking was likely to be made more acute by the proposed development at nos. 70-76.

for improved lighting at the bus stop at the bottom of Courtenay Drive. This has been undertaken by the Council’s Highways Department and they have proposed that the best solution is an additional streetlight column at the stop and cost estimates have been forwarded to the Forum for their approval.

The current Chairman of the Forum, Derek Bartlett of CADRA, stood down this year after two years in the post. He had done an excellent job and the Forum decided that in future the supporting residents' associations and other community organisations should be asked to share the role, taking turns each year. Because of their consistent support for the Forum, EGRA had been asked to provide the first chairman. David Miles has kindly agreed to fulfil the post of Chairman and Paul Gallagher has agreed to act as Vice-Chair to cover any unavailability.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the Safer Reading Forum was consulting on its new Community Safety Strategy 2002-05. This has now been completed and the Strategy published. Copies have been supplied to the Association and members are welcome to these through the Chairman or Secretary. Alternatively, the document can be accessed through the internet at www.reading.gov.uk/servingyou/communitysafety.

North Reading Youth Project

The management committee have budgeted for the Community Centre to be re-decorated and have proposed to engage a DJ to encourage attendance by older youngsters on the evenings set aside for them. The issue of refurbishing or replacing the vandalised skateboard facility at Clayfield Copse was recently discussed. There was to be a consultation exercise with young people but it had already been estimated by the Council that the likely expenditure would be around £20,000 for a new facility incorporating the latest equipment.

Safer Schools Initiative

A similar set of safety measures as installed for Emmer Green School is being considered for The Hill School on Peppard Road. Local residents are not entirely convinced that the measures introduced on roads near Emmer Green School have been the best solution. A full consultation on proposals for The Hill School is to be undertaken by the Council and all ideas will be welcome. Members are encouraged to contribute to this consultation.

Post Box on St Barnabas Road

Concern has been expressed about insensitive drivers who park at the post box outside the church and create a bottle neck for traffic. It has also been noted that the box is so well used that it is often full before the next collection and no more letters can be posted. A number of suggestions have been put forward, including double yellow lines near the existing post box, relocation of the box onto the nearby green and an additional post box in Bugs Bottom. These options have been taken up with the Council and Royal Mail.

Clayfield Copse

The issue of residual debris (glass, plastic, oil, etc) from abandoned and burnt out cars, after the vehicle had been cleared away by either South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) or RBC, was raised at the recent AGM. The Council employ a contractor to remove the abandoned vehicles but the contract does not include subsequent clearing up of debris. The latter is the responsibility of the Council’s Parks Department and the person to contact to request a clean up is Andy Gillespie on 939 0042. It should be noted that the Council will take away unwanted cars for a fee of £25.

Golden Jubilee Year

In the previous newsletter it was suggested that Emmer Green might celebration the Jubilee this summer with a village picnic on the Recreation Ground. Ideas and support were canvassed from members of the Association and other local organisations and in parallel an application was made to the Awards for All for a grant to support the various costs, including liability insurance. Unfortunately, the Awards for All have not supported the application, saying: “Awards for All seeks to involve people in their local community. This includes funding projects that support community activity, extend access and participation, increase skill and creativity or improve quality of life. From the information you supplied, your project did not adequately meet these aims.” Coupled with this was a lack of interest from other organisations and reluctantly the proposal for a picnic has been abandoned.

However, St Barnabas Church is expanding its Annual Garden Party to celebrate the Golden Jubilee and has invited the Association to take part. This will take place on Saturday 6 July between 2:00 and 4:00. We have gratefully accepted and are looking for ideas as to how the Association can contribute. Suggestions already made are a small display about the Association plus historical material from the Exhibition and perhaps a selection of quizzes for young and old. Further ideas would be very welcome.

Village Sign

Following confirmation from the RBC North Area Consultative Committee that funds were available for FY2002/03 to support a project in the Peppard ward, the Association has submitted a bid for a grant to support the idea of a village sign in Emmer Green. The outcome will not be known for several weeks but the opportunity was taken at the AGM to canvass the views of members as to the most popular location for a sign. This was overwhelmingly agreed by 67% of those present to be on the grassed area just south of the pond and the Council has been contacted to find out who owns this land. In anticipation of funds, a meeting has been held with the Berkshire Woodcarvers to discuss ideas for the images that should go onto the sign. The outcome was that one side of the sign might depict a selection of the architecture representative of the village and the other side symbols of the past and present activities associated with Emmer Green. The top of the sign would carry the words EMMER GREEN split around a sheaf of wheat. It was also thought to be a nice idea to leave 4 inch square insets about half an inch deep down one or more sides of the post for future ideas (e.g. school logos or images of daffodils, animals, etc). This would hopefully involve the community more and be an on-going project for the Woodcarvers over perhaps a couple of years. One of these insets could also carry a brass plaque recording the commemoration by EGRA of the Jubilee as embodied within the village sign.

Grove Road Allotments

The Council have proposed changes to the allotments to encourage the take-up of under-utilised plots, to improve safety and access by widening pathways and to improve the water supply. The proposed measures are:

1.To introduce a standard size plot of 75 sq metres (½ the current size). Tenants could apply for two plots if required.

2. To re-number and mark the plots and create a dividing path 0.4 metres wide

3. Reinstate the front and middle paths 2 metres wide to allow regular mowing by the Council

4. Replace the present water supply with self-filling water troughs along the new middle pathway.

Pegging-out has already begun to help existing tenants plan ahead and the work will be carried out during the autumn/ winter 2002/3. For further information and a site plan contact Bridget Hickey, Parks Department Supervisor Tel: 9390659, e-mail bridget.hickey@reading.gov.uk

Members who have an interest in taking up a plot are encouraged to contact the Council. We certainly do not wish to see a situation develop where developers proposed to build houses on the allotments citing their under utilisation.


Planning proposals

The Association continues to monitor and make representation on planning proposals that are seen to have a detrimental impact on the area. However, it cannot be over emphasised that the more residents, local to a proposed development, that object in writing the more notice the Council’s planning department takes of residents’ concerns.

19-29 Grove Road

The Planning Authority has refused the application to build 7 houses on land to rear of 19-29 Grove Road with access through Unity Court. The refusal was because the entrance was considered to be potentially dangerous. However, the developer (Hicks Development) has simply made an appeal to the Secretary of State for the DETR. Objections need to be sent to the Planning Inspectorate at Hawk Wing, Room 2/23, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6NP by 21 June quoting the Inspectorate reference APP/E0345/A/02/1089385.


164 Kidmore End Road

The proposal to build three 5-bedroomed detached houses on land between 164 Kidmore End Road and the entrance to Chambers Copse was refused on environmental grounds.

46-52 Kidmore End Road

Following refusal to build two large detached houses on this site the developer has submitted a new proposal for two different houses. The Association felt these were still out of keeping with the surrounding cottages and houses and again has suggested that two, three or even four smaller properties in keeping with the surrounding dwellings and meeting the need for more affordable housing be pursued.

70-76 Kidmore End Road

The proposal for a new access road and the building of 5 house following the demolition of 76 Kidmore End Road was passed by the Planning Applications Committee on 29 May. The committee was attended by the Association’s chairman and member Jon Barclay. The latter presented a comprehensive objection to the development supported by a forceful speech by Cllr Bob Green. However, Cllr Richard Stainthorpe spoke for the development and called the objections ‘nimby’ and on a show of hands the development was permitted. Cllr Green elicited from the developer that this would be only phase #1; phase #2 would be an application for eleven more house followed by a phase #3 for a further, as yet undetermined, number of houses. The effect on existing parking spaces will be detrimental to local householders.


Telecommunication Masts and Antenna

Following the consultation exercise on 28 March, Hutchinson 3G has taken note of residents’ concerns about additional antenna on the Water Tower. To help the lessen the visual impact they intend painting the antenna a colour to match the Water Tower and to address the concerns over safety aspects of the cumulative radiation from multiple antenna they will carry out on site measurements when the installation has been completed.

The Association has been notified through RBC that SODC had received a proposal from Airwave mmO2 Ltd (a Marconi company) for a proposed 25 metre 'TETRA' mast at the reservoir. This was to provide cover for the emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance. The Association has asked for full consultation to include all local residents and suggested alternative sites, such has Crowsley Park, that might be much more appropriate. RBC have written to SODC to recommend that the application be refused.


Association’s web site

Please note that the Association’ web site at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra contains copies of the current and the previous newsletter, minutes of the latest committee meeting and of the last annual general meeting plus a copy of the corresponding chairman’s report. There is also the facility for publishing member’s photographs and articles plus pages with general historical information about Emmer Green, links to other web sites of interest and a current issues page.

Reminder

Please note that only if you have a reminder slip from the treasurer attached to this newsletter is your subscription due.