Summer 2008 Newsletter

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As EGRA enters its 25th year, it's time for reflection. Preparations are already underway for the anniversary party on Saturday 9th May 2009. More details about the event will be revealed in the winter newsletter. An EGRA history section has been set up on the website (click on the 'History' button). Kate Manton has requested any one willing to share photos of Emmer Green over the last twenty five years please get in touch with her - email: kate_manton@yahoo.co.uk or Tel: 0118 9017251.




COMMITTEE
Barry Prior (Vice Chair), Bill Harper (Treasurer), Margaret Ormonde (Chair), Kate Manton (Secretary), Tina Heaford (Guest Speaker).
Photo: Owen Jewiss


This year's AGM on 29th April coincided with an evening of torrential rain! Nevertheless over 40 people turned out to listen to the business of the past year, and to be enlightened by our guest speaker, Youth Services Worker, Tina Heaford. Three committee members stood down - Paul Gallagher, Bob Cruickshank and Ben Cosh. All were thanked for their contributions. Bob Cruickshank will still help out in various ways, but as committee support. Two new candidates stepped in - Carol Sutton and Cathi Edwards. We welcome them both.

After a bit of a remix, the new committee is:

Chairman Margaret Ormonde, Kidmore End Road
Vice Chairman Barry Prior, Kiln Road
Secretary Kate Manton, Buckingham Drive
Treasurer Bill Harper, Kidmore End Road
Membership Secretary Jill Verran, Kidmore End Road
Newsletter Distribution Diana Hartrup, Kiln Road
Remaining:
Carol Sutton, Twin Oaks
Cathi Edwards, Kidmore End Road
Tara Taylor, Tredegar Road
Vera Bodman, The Ridings

Minutes of the previous year's meeting were approved and the Chairman's Report was aired and commented upon. Detailed minutes of the 2008 meeting are on the website. Tina Heaford demonstrated how youth work has been adapted to changing circumstances. All government targets have been exceeded in North Reading and Tina portrayed a very hopeful picture of the development of youth in North Reading. The North Reading Youth Project hold their AGM at Amersham Road on Wednesday 16th July (see below).
Thanks go to member Owen Jewiss for supplying a detailed account and photo to the Caversham Bridge.


OUTINGS

Houses Of Parliament Tour
EGRA has arranged, through our MP Rob Wilson, a special tour of the Houses of Parliament/ Palace of Westminster. Our allotted time slot is Tuesday September 9th at 11.16am. As a special concession during 2008, the permit also includes free entry to the nearby Jewel Tower. You will have to make your own way up to London, but otherwise it is free. The outing has proved very popular. We anticipate places for this current trip will be taken shortly. Do check if there are any left, or add your name to the waiting list. Another trip may be arranged if there is sufficient demand.

Reading Recycling Plant
Not quite as grand as the Palace of Westminster, Reading's brand new recycling plant is due to be completed this autumn. EGRA has been promised a group tour of the new facilities once they are operating.

If you are interested in either please contact Margaret Ormonde on egramargaret@googlemail.com or
Tel: 0118 9470922

POLICE MATTERS

The Upper Caversham Neighbourhood Action Group
EGRA has had at least one representative at every NAG meeting since they began just over a year ago. The most recent ones have been generally well attended and the focus has been on speeding traffic, with specific trouble spots being identified. News was given about RBC's year long Road Safety Awareness Campaign. Examples were bright poster campaigns, illuminating signs, speed enforcement vans, mobile vehicle activated devices. At the last NAG meeting specific concerns in Emmer Green were identified as the junction of Peppard Road and Surley Row and speeding along Kiln Road. A traffic island was also due to be installed where Surley Row crosses Rotherfield Way. Traffic issues around local schools have come to the fore, with a focus on Emmer Green Primary. EGRA committee member Cathi Edwards is liasing with the school in the hope of taking things forward.

The police continue to remind us to be extra vigilant with our property during the summer months and lighter evenings. Anti social behaviour by is being closely monitored by all the agencies. Please report hot spots.
As usual, members of the public have the opportunity to meet the police team at Church House, Caversham on the 1st Monday in the month 5.00 - 8.00pm.


Safer Caversham Community Forum
EGRA is still in touch with the Safer Caversham Forum, and receives minutes of meetings it is unable to attend. Feedback from the March SCCF meeting relevant to Emmer Green, reported us as the lowest crime area in Reading, and an overall reduction of 18%. A bid was to be put into more secure and sustainable lighting of the shelter area at Clayfield Copse.

Thames Valley Police Authority Meeting
A three-year police strategy was revealed in March, which amongst other things advocated regular
stakeholder meetings promoted jointly by the Authority and the Force throughout Thames Valley. Key improvement targets, included strengthening neighbourhood policing, and improving services to victims.


SUPPORTING PROJECTS

St Barnabas Church
EGRA made a £250 donation towards the church building fund.
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 5th 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.

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 EGRA wireless speaker has proved an asset for those sitting right at the back. The theme on 30th June was Safety in the Home by a representative from the Berkshire Fire and Rescue. An update was given on the opening of an Active Retirement Club, which was launched on 25th June. These meetings are proving so popular, that interested attendees are asked to contact Marvetah Hines at the Reading Age Concern office on 0118 9594242, to book a place. You can also indicate if you need help to get to the meeting.

Recommended Tradesmen's List
We are happy to issue the members only 2008 version of the Tradesmen's list. All entries are from members' recommendations. Please note this does not imply a responsibility or liability on either the Association or any of its members in the event of possible dissatisfaction with any of the tradesmen listed.

SCHOOL REPORTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE

North Reading Youth Project
The second NRYP AGM will take place on Wednesday 16th July at 7.30pm at Amersham Road. Simon Bradford will Chair the meeting with Tina Heaford presenting the Youth Services. The youngsters from Amersham Road and Emmer Green have been busy preparing a few speeches and baking cakes to sell. Certificates recognising their achievements will also be presented.

Local Schools
The popular annual "fun day" Emmer Green School's major fund-raiser, will be held on Friday 18th July. All music will cease at 9.00pm and the site cleared by 9.30pm. The school is very much aware some of the local noise concerns and wants to behave in a considerate way.
The Hill school is the recipient of a £25 book token for their new library, and two pupils will be nominated from Highdown School to share the EGRA annual community award. This will be presented on Thursday 17th July.
Cllr Mark Ralph is trying to encourage local people who have a bit of time to spare to help youngsters with literacy skills. Please contact him Tel: (0118) 9481615 for more information.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

We are happy to have formed close links with CADRA over the past year and liase with them on planning interests of mutual concern. We continue to keep a watchful eye on happenings in South Oxfordshire, and encouraged a proactive response to their planning consultation earlier this year. Infill development has slowed recently, but anyone directly affected is urged to read the Planning Guidance page on the EGRA website. Printed copies can be supplied to anyone who doesn't have access to a computer.

The building of 9 houses behind 41-49 Grove Road is now underway. Recent developments include the news that an appeal has been made against the decision to refuse permission to build 6 flats (08/00164/FUL) on land behind Chalgrove Way. An application to build two 3 bedroomed detached houses on the site of the bungalow, 11 Grove Road (08/00270/FUL) has again been refused, as have proposals to demolish garages behind Evesham Road (08/00241/FUL) and replace with houses. An application to demolish No 1 Rosehill Park (08/00527/FUL) and replace with flats, will now come before the Planning Committee.

READING TRANSPORT COMMISSION

The full results from the Commission, headed by Sir Brian Briscoe, can be found on the RBC website from July 2nd. Barry Prior, EGRA’s representative attended the meeting on 1st July and reported back on the 16 recommendations made by the team. The first of these highlighted the fact that Reading’s problems extend far beyond the Borough boundaries, and that there should be a single Local Transport Authority to include Wokingham, West Berkshire and Oxfordshire. They collectively should put a case to Central Government for funding from the Transport Innovation Fund. The Commission recommended abandoning the one-way IDR plans. They were in favour of a third bridge (possibly toll). Improvements needed to be made to public transport, with the bus ticketing system being improved and better use of bus lanes. Walking and cycling to be encouraged and car use actively discouraged, with a possible targeted road pricing scheme. Review of modal conflict traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and bus lanes, and traffic regulations needed to be better enforced. A Park and Ride should be available for each quadrant, with better transport connections in the east. And finally “The Council should make better and more transparent communications with the public, focused around the interests of the citizen, rather than political groups.”

TRAVEL

Night Buses - cheaper and more regular
Improvements to Reading Buses night-time services in Reading came into force Monday 26th May. They mean more buses running during the night, and Night Track passengers carrying a daytime ticket like a Busabout or Travelcard can travel for just £1.00, (half the normal rate). N23 - Caversham Park & Emmer Green 00.12am Monday-Thursday, 00.12am & 2.12am on Friday & Saturday nights.

Bus Passes for the Over 60s
Please consult the Local Information page of the EGRA website for details on the national 'smart' cards (ENCTS) for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme introduced this April.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Tree Planting
Emmer Green was lucky enough to have a number of trees plant this year. Some planted thanks to Caversham Globe, and others thanks to RBC's funding from the Local Area Enhancement Scheme. During the first year, these are particularly vulnerable. If you have one near your house, please monitor and water if it appears in danger.

Reporting litter/street-cleaning/ verges/hedges /graffiti
We regularly monitor grass and hedge cutting, and feedback to the Council anything reported to us. Their resources are limited, but generally things are encouraging. Bob Cruickshank heads our graffiti clean up team and he asks for you to report to him on 0118 9482900 or email deecbee@talktalk.net

Recycling
Reading Borough Council promotes recycling. Although EGRA favours eventual kerbside collections of glass, a new glass bottle bank has been installed in the in the Golf Club car park, giving more convenient access for nearby residents. Waxed cartons (Tetrapaks) can now be taken to the Milestone Centre. Unfortunately bottlebank sites do attract fly tippers. The Council are aware of the situation and shortly hope to make use of mobile CCTV cameras in hotspots.
Batteries: Tilehurst Globe have team who collect batteries locally to deliver to the Civic Centre. Tina Gower is trying to set up collectors in the Caversham and Emmer Green areas. Any interested volunteers can ring Tina on 0118 9472671 or email: gowe001@rbwm.org.uk

Allotments
Thanks to the persistence of EGRA, the Grove Road allotments are finally to get a couple of notice boards that were promised years ago. Although this wont directly solve the problem of shortage of plots, communication should be improved.

Stray Dogs
From April 6th 2008 Councils have been given responsibility for dealing with stray dogs and they (the dogs!) are no longer dealt with by Police. The contact number in Reading is 0118 9390251 during office hours. 01344 786584 (Outside office hours). This is the Dog Warden, to whom complaints re. dog fouling and excessive noise can also be made.



BEYOND OUR BOUNDARIES

Mapledurham Pavilion
There was an overwhelming response in 2006 to the proposals to make changes at Mapledurham Playing Fields. Although the majority have been listened to, because of how the survey was worded, the facility is still under threat, with loss of the hall, and a changing rooms only replacement. Warren and District R A have recently drafted a letter expressing their concerns for the future and EGRA has supported this in writing.

Caversham Library
Longer opening hours - Daily, half an hour earlier from 9.00am. Wednesday open all day 9.00am -5.00pm

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

NHS Community Responders
The Berkshire division of South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust is now recruiting volunteers, who will be trained to respond to certain types of medical emergencies while the ambulance is en-route.
Contact Hugh Whitaker, Divisional Community Responder Manager - communityrespondersberks@rbat.nhs.uk or Tel: 0800 587 0207

WEB AWARE

We try to ensure everyone in our membership is as well informed as possible. Anyone can access the EGRA site at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra. 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.

Thanks to everyone who keeps EGRA a thriving organisation

We always welcome extra help. Please fill contact any committee member if you would like to assist in any way.

STOP PRESS:
If anyone took part in the Bugs Bottom protest march on a wet summer’s day in 1987, we have a wobbly copy on DVD which you may borrow.


Margaret Ormonde, July 2008