Summer 2004 Newsletter

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Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held in St Barnabas Church Hall on 14 April 2004 and was attended by 57 members. Whilst the committee had been two members short for much of the year since the previous AGM, four members had come forward and expressed an interest in joining the committee. It was proposed that two of the members fill the vacant positions and the other two be co-opted for the year. This would allow long serving members to stand down once the new members were 'up to speed'. This proposal was accepted by the meeting and the composition of the committee for the current year is therefore:

Chairman Paul Gallagher, Tredegar Road
Vice Chairman Bob Cruickshank, St Barnabas Road
Secretary Margaret Ormonde, Kidmore End Road
Treasurer Bill Harper, Kidmore End Road
Membership Secretary Jill Verran, Kidmore End Road
Committee
Anne Ayres, Surley Row
Vera Bodman, The Ridings
David Miles, Tredegar Road
Brian Warren, Highdown Hill Road
Brenda Deller, Surley Row
Diana Hartrup, Kiln Road
Mark Hutchings, Penn Close
Tara Taylor, Tredegar Road

The Treasurer presented a statement of the audited accounts, which showed that the balance in the Portman Building Society at 31 December 2003 was £2,941.60. However, it was reported that the Association had received a reimbursement for some of the costs of the village sign from Reading Borough Council and after payment of outstanding invoices to the Berkshire Woodcarvers that Association funds would be in excess of £5,500. Consequently, there was no proposal to alter the subscription rate, which would continue at £1 per annum. Mr Julian Pearce was thanked for auditing the Association's accounts.

The formal business of the meeting was followed by an illustrated talk from guest speaker Gill Franklin of Cross Lanes Fruit Farm, who gave an extremely interesting talk on apples. Afterwards members gathered around with wine and nibbles to socialise and ask the speaker for advice on their own apple trees.

Local Tradesman's List Bob Cruickshank
Members will find that accompanying this newsletter is a list of local tradesmen. Thanks are due to committee member Bob Cruickshank for coordinating the production of this list, which has been put together by contributions from a variety of sources, including several members of the Association. Copies will also be used as part of a welcome pack for householders new to Emmer Green. If members wish to add to future editions of this list please let any of the committee have the details of the tradesman.

St Barnabas Church Garden Party Paul Gallagher
We again participated in the St Barnabas Garden Party on a rather rainy Saturday, 11 July. As last year we sold a 'treasurer hunt' type of walk around Emmer Green comprising a new map and three new sheets full of pictures and questions about interesting features that can be seen around the village. For the younger visitors we had a very large-scale jigsaw of the superheroes The Fantastic Four. Although we only made a total of £20 the event as a whole made in excess of £1,100 towards the charitable Amajuba Education Fund. As only half the Emmer Green walks were sold, if any member who was unable to get to the event would like a copy of the map and sheets, please contact any committee member.

Post Box near St Barnabas Church Bob Cruickshank
The ongoing problems with inconsiderate car parking near the church /post box, particularly at school time, were raised again at the AGM. Although the Post Office are still unsympathetic with regard to possibly resiting the box, the Council have finally allocated funds to undertake a study to ascertain what possible solutions might be appropriate in this area. We will keep members informed of developments! Members should also take care when using this box late in the day since mail has on a number of occasions been extracted from the over-full box and scattered around the road. This has been reported to Royal Mail with a request for an extra collection but to no avail.

Street cleaning & grass cutting Jill Verran & Margaret Ormonde
Two other issues raised at the AGM were the infrequency street cleaning in Emmer Green and cutting of the grass verges. The committee has pursued both questions and a map, supplied by the Council, showing how often each road in Emmer Green is cleaned has been circulated by email. Copies are available via any committee member for residents who do not have this communication facility. The question of regularity of grass cutting resulted in the answer that the Council expects to cut the grass 17 times during the growing season! Perhaps we might offer a prize to any resident who can confirm that the verge outside their house has been cut this often in a season!

Graffiti Editor
A meeting was held on 2 June between four representatives of the Council and the Association's chairman and secretary to discuss the problems of graffiti. The Council officers talked about their current cleaning facilities and the response times they aim to meet. They have recently begun to contact the utility companies with regard to them cleaning graffiti from their equipment and the initial response has been good. The meeting discussed involving schools with identifying individuals by their 'graffiti tags' and the subsequent involvement of parents, who usually do not know what their child is doing. The increased engagement by the youth service was also discussed. Another suggestion was that local residents who were interested in helping could occasionally join a Council team to assist in the cleaning process. The Association agreed to undertake an audit of utility equipment in Emmer Green to create maps of where these units are defaced with graffiti. This will enable us to notify the utilities about the location of defaced equipment and to build up a database of where 'hot spots' occur.

North Area Youth Project & Caversham Safer Forum Paul Gallagher & Bob Cruickshank
Committee members agreed at their last meeting to look at re-engaging with some of the Council's consultative bodies to assess whether there has been an improvement in their usefulness. Members Tara Taylor and Paul Gallagher have offered to represent the Association on the management committee of the North Area Youth Project & Bob Cruickshank has agreed to represent us at the Caversham Safer Forum meetings. We will be asking the latter Forum to fund ways of tackling the problems of graffiti and through the former the idea of providing a 'wall' upon which graffiti artists can express their out-pourings.

Planning Issues Editor
Responding to planning applications still takes up a lot of the Association's time. Recently we have commented on, or raised objections to, applications in Highdown Hill Road, Grove Road, Kidmore End Road, Rosehill Park, Peppard Road, Buckingham Drive and Marshland Square. As mentioned at the AGM, these have totaled over 150 new properties in the area within one year. Such piecemeal development unfortunately does not get the same attention as one large development even though combined they have as big an adverse impact on the local infrastructure and amenities. The Council has to abide by planning law and Government requirements and there have to be good reasons to refuse development proposals, otherwise they will get through on appeal. If the Council loses on appeal it also loses the benefits to the local community, which the developer has to contribute to education, affordable housing and roads.

Highdown School Editor
The meeting at which the chair of governors, Trevor Keable, explained the school's proposals to sell school land to raise money to fund the building of a school hall took place on 30 June. About 30 local residents attended the meeting. Subsequent correspondence from the director of education, Andrew Daykin, repeated the statement made at the meeting that no decision has yet been made on selling school land as it is hoped that the Government's pronouncement on future funding for secondary school buildings later this year will favour Highdown School. However, recent correspondence from Trevor Keable implies that land might equally be sold to fund enhanced sporting facilities at the school irrespective of the outcome of any decision on funding for a school hall.

Association's Book & Web Site Margaret Ormonde & Jill Verran
The second edition of the Association's book, Emmer Green, Past and Present, is still available via the Secretary, Margaret Ormonde, Tel (0118) 9470922 or by e-mail: Margaret@ormondec.fsnet.co.uk. Members are also reminded about the Association's website www.map-reading.co.uk/egra and the useful source of local information, concerns and activity in the area that it contains. The current issues forum is updated on a monthly basis, and there is an opportunity to read minutes of all the meetings. There is also a useful list of contacts and links for anyone new to the area or just wishing to join the Association. 117 members currently subscribe to our email group and if you wish to receive updates of activities by this means just contact Jill on egra.memb@ntlworld.com.