Winter 2007-08 Newsletter

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First, at the end of a busy year, we would like to thank all our members for continued interest and feedback and wish them a joyful Christmas season and good wishes for 2008. For anyone anxious to fill in next year's diary, the AGM is pencilled in for 29th April. We are very lucky to have Tina Heaford, Youth Worker as our guest speaker. Subscriptions for 2008 are now being collected, but all members who are due will either get an email or a letter 'with this delivery'.

Visit EGRA's website at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra.

The website is continuously being updated with useful information. In the pipeline is the start of the build-up to our 25th Anniversary celebrations in 2009. The first item to go up will chart EGRA's history and will hopefully be online soon. The site can be accessed at the library or an Internet café.


SUPPORTING PROJECTS

Spend Spend Spend, continued…….
We continue to share some of EGRA's wealth with the community. A donation of £250 will be made towards the extension of St Barnabas Church buildings. Highdown School is to be the recipient of an annual book prize of £50, awarded for services to the community. The prize will be divided into two, guaranteed for five years, for differing age groups of pupil. The Hill School's new library will receive £25 towards some books.

Seat and Tree Ceremony
Committee member Diana Hartrup saw her idea, to commemorate the Queen's 80th birthday, by planting a tree, come to fruition last month. Secretary Kate Manton helped order the accompanying seat and arrange its installation. The ceremony to celebrate the completion was held at the recreation ground on Saturday October 6th. Mr David Miles, EGRA's inaugural Chairman officiated and gave a short speech, in which he acknowledged those responsible, read out a letter received from the Queen's Lady-in-Waiting and dedicated the tree and seat to the community. Ben Cosh read a poem called The Golden Rule, which was composed especially for the Queen's 80th Birthday by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. The ribbon was then cut. The crowd of about thirty included committee members, local residents, and Ward Councillors.

An extract from the letter from Balmoral:
"The Queen was pleased to see the photographs of the tree and the nearby seat which you enclosed and hopes that the local community will enjoy this additional amenity for many years to come".



St Barnabas Garden Party
On Saturday 14 July the sun shone on stallholders and visitors alike, at the annual St Barnabas Garden Party (in aid of the Daynes Education Trust). The Association was represented by Tara Taylor, Kate Manton and Ben Cosh, who gave out information about EGRA and raised a few pounds for the trust with their 'Guess the Famous Person' game. It takes a special talent to recognise Bob The Builder!

Emmer Green Post Office
Business appears to be picking up at the Post Office and we all hope with Christmas approaching it will give them a big boost. The post box itself has been moved to a location outside the new shop and looks very happy there. With Post Offices all over the country closing, we are indeed lucky to have this amenity.

CROW
After months of working with local schools and students from TVU, Jennifer Leach a young professional artist with a sympathetic approach to the environment launched her project at Clayfield Copse on 8th September. With the help of a grant from the Arts Council, she composed a poem, which was read on the day by actors Anne Latto and Jim McGuigan. In the woods were figures relating to the readings. As the assembled group moved through the woods, it was poetry in motion at its best. Thanks to Jenny for providing the diversity we enjoy in the area. I believe a related educational pack is on the cards for 2008.



Reading 50 Plus+ Older Person's Forum
EGRA is happy to support and promote this joint venture - Age Concern, RBC, and the NHS. This year there have been three meetings held at St Barnabas Hall. The police spoke at the meeting on 12th November, as well as community nurse Kim Parsons on the sensitive subject of falls. The Dee Park Active Retirement Group gave an enlightening performance of Tai Chi. Everyone in the hall joined in the slapping finale. An application has been submitted to Awards for All to try and procure funding for a retirement club in Emmer Green/Caversham. If attendance at these meetings is anything to go by it should do very well. The next meeting is in 2008. Anyone wanting information can contact Marvetah Hines at the Reading Age Concern office on 0118 9594242. And don't forget their excellent free Home Handyman Scheme!

SCHOOL REPORTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE

EGRA continues to be represented on the committee of the North Reading Youth Project, and Tina Heaford, the senior youth worker has agreed to speak at our 2008 AGM.

Highdown School
Two EGRA committee members attended the official opening of the new school hall on Thursday 15th November. After a short introduction by head teacher Mr Tim Royle, the audience were entertained by pupils of all ages who performed a diverse show 'Shaken and Stirred'. Music and dance with James Bond theme! The new hall will be very well appreciated in the future.

Help required - Highdown School is keen to integrate with the local community.
They are looking for volunteers who would be interested in giving up a bit of time.
Two particular areas of interest are:
1. Reading - listening to pupils read on a one to one basis.
2. A new garden project on an allotment to help more challenging pupils. Gardening experience
would be appreciated.
Please contact Highdown School on 0118 9015800, or email hps@highdown.reading.sch.uk.
Polly Skates is the gardening contact, and for anything else Maggie Barden.

North Reading Youth Project
Sarah the worker from Emmer Green was absent from the September meeting but we look forward to feedback from the following one on 28th November. In general outside activities with the youngsters throughout the summer had been very successful, in particular, fun days, the canoe week, a visit to Thorpe Park and a half term trip to Osmington Bay. Pupils from Highdown School were undertaking Duke of Edinburgh awards at Emmer Green Community Centre. Concerns were expressed over the lack of provision at the Milestone Centre. The youth workers were also out and about on the streets engaging with the young people.


PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

EGRA's website has excellent guidance on local planning issues. For anyone in need and unable to access this we may consider printing a copy.

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.

Building is now underway of nine dwellings at Cedarcot (at the end of Lyefield Court), and 49 Grove Road has been demolished to make way for another nine properties behind 41-49. The new petrol station and Tesco Express store site has transformed and is due to re-open on 14th December.

There is still no news on the proposed extension to the betting shop, or the adjacent premises, which have been empty for the last eighteen months. On the Peppard Road, the only remaining building from Fisher's yard has been given permission to upgrade to a shop.

A meeting organised by MP Rob Wilson, 'Campaign against Over-development' included a talk by Greg Clarke MP, a supporter of the Parliamentary Bill to protect green spaces and remove gardens from 'brownfield' classification. All too often developers see gardens as an 'easy target' and redundant industrial land a bit more of an effort. If you have friends or relatives in different parts of the country suggest they alert their own MP to the significance of this.

POLICE MATTERS



Neighbourhood Police Officers
Sgt Warren McKeown has been replaced by Sgt Nigel Scarratt, and PC John Finnerty has returned to the area to replace PC Chris Manetta. PCSOs Jeni Williams and John Hendy remain in their roles. In an emergency phone 999. To report a crime that has happened ring 0845 8505505. It may not necessarily be followed up, but the police are keen that all crime is reported to accurately reflect their statistics.

The Upper Caversham Neighbourhood Action Group
This group formed in April of this year meets every six weeks at Mapledurham Pavilion at 7.00pm. EGRA has managed to send along a representative each time, but the police would welcome a stronger presence of residents. With the focus now on community policing, this is a unique opportunity to give your direct feedback on concerns you may have. The main focus is still anti-social behaviour, burglary, and traffic. Forthcoming dates are scheduled for 12th December, 22nd January, 6th March. The first of these has official confirmation.

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.
Telephone no. for the office answerphone is 0118 9474269

Safer Caversham Community Forum
Vera Bodman is the main representative at these meetings. The feedback generally is that crime is falling and Emmer Green is one of the safest areas within Reading.

Graffiti Clean-up
As part of the anti-social behaviour campaign, for a limited time, Reading Borough Council have funding to remove graffiti from private property. EGRA's Environment Officer Bob Cruickshank, has been reporting unwanted artwork to the Council Graffiti Team, and they are currently working on nine reported defacements. The anti-graffiti campaign in Emmer Green has been a big success and long may it remain so.

TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS

Road Junction Changes
Duck signs were installed at the end of July and a number of other works undertaken to make things much safer for our feathered friends. The road enhancements began at the end of August and disruption has been much less than expected. The result is now, that pedestrians and waddling birds feel much safer with a lights-controlled Puffin (how appropriate!) crossing, and traffic has to slow down for the roundabout. An added bonus is that it's much easier to turn out of the Old Peppard/Lowfield Road now. The disappearance of the railings at the north of the junction of Kidmore End Road/Peppard Road is being investigated.

Precinct Car Park
There are still problems with drainage and lighting. Action is made complex by the multiple ownership. Cllr Mark Ralph has indicated a possibility that this area could, in time, be adopted by the Council.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Grove Road Planters

Things have moved forward on this project with a promise to regenerate the area soon. The worst affected trees have already been felled, and within the next month the crumbling planters will be taken away. Letters will be sent to nearby residents soon explaining things and asking them to choose the species to replace the old alders. It is hoped the work will be completed by the end of 2007.

Trees
Paul Gallagher continues to monitor local Tree Preservation Orders by extracting from the RBC TPO database all the trees in Emmer Green. In conjunction with this we have the chance to contribute to the Chilterns AONB project 'Special Trees of The Chilterns' www.chilternsaonb.org/special. Volunteers are collecting information on special trees in their area - commemorative, veteran, unusual shapes, avenues of trees. Parkland, countryside and pub gardens are amongst the areas to look. Emmer Green is included.
As part of the Local Area Enhancement Scheme the Council has a pot of money to spend on tree planting in the Peppard Road/ Buckingham Drive/ Lowfield Road areas. Discussions are underway as to how best to use this. Volunteers willing to help with planting should contact Cllr Mark Ralph, or feedback to EGRA.

Reporting litter/street-cleaning/verges/hedges
We are building good relationships with the appropriate RBC staff, who are happy that we feedback areas of dissatisfaction, so they can take action. Their resources are limited, but so far we have had positive responses. All grass cutting now falls under one department, and although this year things have been a bit slower than had been hoped due to readjustments and machinery on order, the aim is to achieve the maximum of 10 cuts in 2008.

Recycling
A reminder that EGRA has a recycling page on its website www.map-reading.co.uk/egra/recycling. It's just been updated with the news that there's an oil recycling point at the Tesco store along Napier Road. RBC now say that aluminium foil and trays can go in recycle bins. It is hoped new glass bottle banks will be installed in Emmer Green - one in the Golf Club car park, and other possible sites under consideration. It is hoped there will be a consultations process with nearby residents.

Allotments
It is very heartening to see that over the last few years, since the Grove Road allotments were given a 'make-over', that the plots are all taken and there is now a waiting list. Anyone wanting add their name to the list should contact Andy Agnew or Marcus Hermon at Reading Borough Council on 0118 9399045.


SNIPPETS

New Display Boards
Thanks to Bryan Verran, EGRA has procured some very respectable display boards. A photographic timeline of EGRA's work was assembled for the CADRA celebrations and it is hoped to use the boards on other occasions. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank member Sue Ballard for storing the Millennium Exhibition boards for a number of years.

Community Notice Board
We continue to monitor the community notice board, which is 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. EGRA bears no responsibility for any content of the ads.

Recommended Tradesmen's List
The next biannual overhaul is in spring 2008, Please pass on information to committee member Bob Cruickshank 0118 9482900, email bandot@lineone.net.

Clayfield Copse
Friends of Clayfield Copse continue to meet for active conservation work on the first Sunday of each month. They also arrange guided walks through the woods. Contact Anne Latto email annelatto@cheerful.com.

St Barnabas Building Fund
The church recently launched a fundraising recipe book in aid of the new Parish Centre, the building of which will start in 2008. 'St Barnabas Bites' contains over 80 recipes from the congregation and friends £6.00 a copy or 2 copies for £10.00! Contact: Shirley on 0118 9478343 or Joy on 0118 9470566.

BEYOND OUR BOUNDARIES

CADRA 40th Anniversary
Caversham and District Residents' Association marked their anniversary on October 17th with an evening at Caversham Park Primary School, involving contributions from wide-ranging local organisations, including the library, Caversham Globe, Caversham Court Gardens Restoration Project. Plans for the new Reading Station were also on show. CADRA charted their history with various accounts and photos. Slide shows of old Caversham were also shown. EGRA took along its new display boards plus a few items from the Emmer Green Millennium Exhibition. Thanks to Helen Lambert and her team for all their hard work and our invitation to the event.

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.