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WEB AWARE

We try to ensure everyone in our membership is as well informed as possible. Latest additions to our website include - Recycling; Planning Guidance; revamped Local Information pages. Anyone can access this site. If you do not have a computer yourself, a family member, or friend may allow you the opportunity. Caversham Library offers hour-long sessions free of charge.
Anyone on e-mail, who has not passed on their address (egra.memb@ntlworld.com), please do. All information is strictly confidential and will not be used for any other purpose. As well as saving paper and the environment, it enables us to send alerts and monthly update information. Paper copies will still continue for those who prefer it in that form. www.map-reading.co.uk/egra

COMMITTEE RESHUFFLE

The police were out in force at the 2007 Annual General Meeting, alongside 60 members, who packed St Barnabas Church Hall on 24th April. Three committee members stood down - Brenda Deller, Mark Hutchings, and Brian Warren. Brian had served EGRA for 21 years and was thanked and presented with a couple of crystal goblets. Paul Gallagher relinquished the chairmanship after eleven years at the helm, and appreciation was expressed for his dedication and hard work during his period of office. Three new candidates stepped in - Kate Manton, Ben Cosh and Barry Prior. After a bit of a reshuffle, the make up of the new committee is:-

Chairman Margaret Ormonde, Kidmore End Road
Vice Chairman Tara Taylor, Tredegar Road
Secretary Kate Manton, Buckingham Drive
Treasurer Bill Harper, Kidmore End Road
Membership Secretary Jill Verran, Kidmore End Road
Recruitment Ben Cosh, Kidmore End Road
Planning Paul Gallagher, Tredegar Road
Environment/ Tradesmen's List Bob Cruickshank, St Barnabas Road
Crime Prevention Vera Bodman, The Ridings
Transport Barry Prior, Kiln Road
Newsletter Distribution Diana Hartrup, Kiln Road

Minutes of the previous year's meeting were approved and the Chairman's Report was aired and commented upon. Detailed minutes of the 2007 meeting are on the website. A talk on neighbourhood policing followed.

POLICE MATTERS



Presentation on Neighbourhood Policing
Sgt Warren McKeown, PCSOs Callum Bushall (Lower Caversham) and Jeni Williams (Upper Caversham) gave a talk on the new style of “neighbourhood policing” at our AGM. An active Q & A session followed, with generally positive feedback. It's important all crime is reported, however insignificant, as it does help build the wider picture of any problems in the area. Reporting of incidents is still going to be routed via outlying call centres, and responses were prioritised, not necessarily to suit your case.

The Upper Caversham Neighbourhood Action Group
This was launched on 26th April, headed by Insp Graham Dix. Our area covers Caversham Heights, Caversham Park Village, Emmer Green. Its first independent meeting was held in June at the Police Station in Castle Street. Vera Bodman represented EGRA. It explained the problem solving process, and what was expected of members. The group looked at the issues identified by residents as being most troublesome - anti-social behaviour, burglary, and traffic.
As usual, members of the public have the opportunity to meet the neighbourhood police team at Church House, Caversham on the first Monday of each month between 5pm and 8.00pm.

Safer Caversham Community Forum
Bob Cruickshank kindly attended the latest meeting on 4th July. The crime statistics for last year showed an decrease in the whole of the North Reading area, with a 19% less overall crime: that is a reduction of 399 in the total reported crimes. Burglary has shown the biggest decrease due to the targeting of the specific individuals, and groups who perpetrated the most of the break-ins.
Anti-social behaviour, burglary and traffic issues continue to be the top priorities. The first month of the current year for which there are figures, May, shows a slightly disappointing 10% increase in overall crime in North Reading compared with May 2006. However, last year coincided with a major initiative against burglaries and anti-social behaviour. Emmer Green actually showed a 10% decrease for the month with burglaries. Vehicle interference, theft from vehicles and criminal damage were the biggest fallers. Apparently criminals do not like wet weather. So there are some advantages in lots of rain in the summer.

SUPPORTING PROJECTS

Spend Spend Spend…….
We are happy to report that, at last, we have been able to redistribute some of EGRA's accumulated wealth for the benefit of all. A proposed donation of £250 is to be made towards the extension of St Barnabas Church buildings. A couple of recent projects have been initiated and funded by the Association:-

Dragon's Den
Sadly one of the oldest oaks near Clayfield Copse split apart, and for safety reasons was truncated, leaving on the ground some sizeable logs. On Monday 2nd April, a magnificent dragon carving was unveiled. Andrew Noyes had transformed the huge log into the impressive beast, and it was finished off with a coat of paint, with the help of local youngsters. EGRA was more than happy to contribute £300, and hoped that more of the redundant wood could be sculpted in the future. As if to show its approval, the remainder of the standing tree is sprouting leaves!


Turner's Oak
But trees are for planting too, and what better way to commemorate the Queen's 80th Birthday, than by finding a suitable space for a sapling oak tree. The well-guarded specimen, near the children's play area, will shortly be joined by a commemorative seat.


Emmer Green Post Office
After a year without a Post Office and persistent collective campaigning, thanks to an enterprising couple, we have been rewarded. The new smart looking Post Office opened to customers on Tuesday 29th May 2007. With Post Offices all over the country closing, we are indeed lucky to have this amenity. We hope everyone gives full support to Ian and Kim Legg (Sub Postmistress), by using it whenever possible. Apart from the convenience of posting parcels, they offer a wide range of services including savings schemes, banking, car tax etc. The post box will eventually be moved by Royal Mail.


St Barnabas Garden Party
At the time of going to press, the annual St Barnabas Garden Party (in aid of the Daynes Education Trust) is in the future (Sat 14 July). The Association will be having a stall with information on EGRA's activities, an opportunity to join, and a few games for anyone entering into the spirit of the afternoon.

CROW
Jennifer Leach a young professional artist with a sympathetic approach to the environment was clear-minded in her ideals when she first approached EGRA for support and gave a detailed account to Arts Council for funding. We heard earlier this year she had been successful in raising £5000 for the project, a sculptural display in Clayfield Copse. She has been liasing closely with students from TVU, and part of the project involves an educational pack. We look forward to the launch on Saturday 8th September.

Community Notice Board
As part of ongoing maintenance, a team from the EGRA committee attacked both sides of the board in turn and repainted the surface. It's for use by local people to promote forthcoming events and activities. It's free and there's no need to seek permission, but please remove your poster after your event. Small 'for sale' items can be posted, but please ensure they have a date and take down if the item sells. Emmer Green Residents Association bears no responsibility for any content of the advertisements.


Recommended Tradesmen's List
Although the next biannual overhaul is not due until 2008, we welcome continuous feedback - good or bad. New members should have received a copy from the Membership Secretary. So, if you use a tradesman who you find good, let us know and we will add them to the next update. For a list of window cleaners in the areas Tel: 9472126

Reading 50 Plus+ Older Person's Forum
EGRA is happy to support and promote this joint venture - RBC Age Concern and the NHS. This year there have been two meetings held at St Barnabas Hall. The theme on 9th July was "Ageing Well and Keeping Active". Various relevant presentations and advice is on hand. Anyone needing help to get there, phone 0118 9594242. Please pass news of these events to friends and neighbours.

SCHOOL REPORTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE

EGRA is proud to be involved with young people. We've long had a representative on the committee of the North Reading Youth Project, and also hope to resurrect closer links with all schools in the area.

Highdown School
The school will resume the autumn term with two important changes - foundation status, and a magnificent state-of-the-art multifunction hall. EGRA supported the move to from Community School to Foundation School (which will gives slightly more financial independence) since attending the initial public meeting in January. Links with the Local Authority will still remain, and the new hall was quoted as being a good example of continuing partnership with the Council. However, the move in status will enable the school to open itself up for charitable grants. These could come from different sources including local businesses. Although the school has first priority, there are promises it will be available for the wider community.

North Reading Youth Project
Glowing reports had been forthcoming about the project, with youth provision increasing 400% north of the river. The first AGM was held in June 2007 in Amersham Road Youth and Community Sports Centre. The hall was full of eager young people, who watched themselves partaking in various activities on a slide presentation. They were also presented with trophies and certificates. Tina Heaford is the lady mainly responsible for a dramatic turnaround. Much of this takes place in the Emmer Green Youth and Community Centre and interaction with Highdown School. The skatepark and nearby shelter at Clayfield Copse are very popular and were chosen by the teenagers themselves. Thanks to Tina and her team of workers, and of course to all the young people.

Emmer Green School

There is currently a vacancy for an LEA Governor. A member of EGRA would be most welcome, the only proviso being that they can't have a child at the school, because the quota of parent governors is currently filled. This would require an application to the Council, and the appropriate Officer is Maggie Buckley, who can be contacted on maggie.buckley@reading.gov.uk

The popular annual "fun day" is the school's major fund-raiser, will be held on Friday, July 20th. All music will cease at 9.00pm and the site cleared by 9.30pm. This year's theme is the circus, and everyone (whether you have child at the school or not) is warmly invited. The school is very much aware some of the local noise concerns and wants to behave in a considerate way.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

With the ever-rising demand for new housing in this area, it often seems like an ongoing battle to protect what we have. It does not necessarily mean all infill development is bad, and if it safeguards precious South Oxfordshire countryside, that is possibly an advantage. However it is a very emotive subject. EGRA has taken steps to recognise the importance, but publishing a Planning Guidance page on the website and appointing Paul Gallagher as our Planning Officer.

In-fill building continues at several sites in the village, with developments in Kidmore End Road (opposite the Golf Club entrance), Peppard Road (near the Water Tower) and Buckingham Drive (near Marshland Square) all nearing completion.

Developments at the proposal stage with the Council’s Planning Department are at Cedarcot (at the end of Lyefield Court, where 9 new dwellings are proposed), behind 41-49 Grove Road (where 9 houses are planned following the demolition of 49 Grove Road to provided an access road), and at 43 Grove Hill (where it is proposed to replace the existing house with 12 dwellings).

Still to be commenced is the extension to the betting shop, where it is hoped the seat donated by the Association will be carefully removed before building starts and relocated on the opposite side of the pond.


TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS

Road Junction Changes
The road enhancement consultation undertaken last autumn will result in a decision to install a pelican crossing and one roundabout at the junction of Lowfield Road and Buckingham Drive. Duck safety has been considered, and we have been promised that warning signs will be incorporated too. Initial work is expected to begin in July. There are also plans for a tree planting initiative in the area, but this will not be implemented until the autumn. This will involve volunteers, and EGRA has expressed an interest in helping out.

The Missing Bus Stop
We do hope the mystery will be resolved soon. The good news is that buses are totally unaware the Grove Road post was removed by stealth in broad daylight on Monday 23rd April 2007. Reports to Reading Buses of this event have either been ignored or denied. RBC's Highways Inspector is on the case.

Precinct Car Park
After a joint effort earlier in the year, potholes were repaired, a dead tree removed and the paving made good. There are still problems with drainage and lighting.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Grove Road Planters
The trees have outgrown the containers, with the roots above pavement level causing the brickwork to collapse. Regrettably, the best solution seemed to be to remove the worst offending trees and raised beds and plant direct into the ground. It is to be a gradual process over a number of years. Earlier this year the limes were pollarded and a number of alders felled. EGRA will be reminding the Council of their promise to replant.

Tree Preservation Orders
As a result of old trees being felled due to disease or old age, and new planting schemes afoot, EGRA wants to monitor local Tree Preservation Orders. Paul Gallagher has undertaken to extract from the RBC TPO database all the trees in Emmer Green. Hopefully once this is done, it can be circulated to the membership.

Clayfield Copse
Two former arable areas have been left to regenerate and there is quite a diversity of plants there now. Unless the area is looked after, that is in danger of being lost. In particular, one site is overrun with fast growing invasive ash trees. The land belongs to Reading Borough Council. Both Friends of Clayfield Copse and EGRA believe they need to enforce a proper management plan. RBC Officer Dave Booth has been contacted. A response is awaited.

Graffiti
In theory, we are now in the middle of a year long Council initiated 'Big Graffiti Clean Up'.
Astonishingly, since EGRA founded its own campaign a couple of years ago, we have remained relatively graffiti free. The new development is that the Council will remove free of charge, any graffiti tags on private property which can be seen from the street. In the early part of this year many of the cable boxes were repainted in a graffiti repellent coating.

BEYOND OUR BOUNDARIES

Caversham Court Gazebo
Part of this Caversham Court Gardens restoration project is the historical gazebo. Molly Casey, lifelong resident of Caversham, President of CADRA, died last year. As a tribute to her a gilded replica weather vane was commissioned for the finished gazebo. EGRA was happy to make a contribution to this worthwhile cause.

Caversham Good Neighbours
This is a group of volunteers who serve people in the Caversham, Emmer Green, Mapledurham. If you can spare any time, ring the Caversham Bridge Office on 0118 948 3466

CADRA 40th Anniversary
Caversham and District Residents' Association will be holding a special event to mark the occasion. It's at Caversham Primary School Hall on the 17th October. EGRA have been invited to have a stall there.

Peter Howell
We have to report the death in June of Caversham window cleaner, Peter Howell. Peter had many regular customers in Emmer Green and will be sadly missed. Donations: Dyslexia Association or Charlotte Starmer Smith Fund c/o Tomalin & Son, 38 Reading Road, Henley- on-Thames Oxon., RG9 1AG
.