NOTE THE NEW VENUE FOR OUR AGM – THE GRACE CHAPEL, PEPPARD ROAD
The focus for 2008/2009 has been very much on seeing outstanding issues
to fruition and setting in place arrangements for our 25th Anniversary
celebrations. We’ve continued to provide information for our
members and encourage them to instigate local democracy where appropriate.
Please note that minutes of last years AGM can be viewed through the
EGRA website. Hard copies will be available at the AGM, or if anyone
would like one before then, please let us know.
All our members will be receiving a paper copy of this year’s Chairman’s
Report. For those of you on the EGRA email list, you should be receiving
monthly links to web updates, plus two newsletters a year. If you are
not, then please inform the Membership Secretary, who will ensure she
has your up-to-date contact information. There are still a few subs outstanding
for this year. It makes a big difference to us if you pay on time. Alternatively
let us know if you do not wish to renew.
25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
You should find with this
report an invite to our event on Saturday 9th May at Emmer Green Primary
is also a programme outlining
the afternoon’s activities. The focus will be on an informal and
relaxed afternoon, with family in mind. Do bring along children and grandchildren
(no unaccompanied young children please). The event is free to all and
we hope it will be an enjoyable afternoon. Kate Manton supervised the
early organisation before handing over to Barry Prior and his team. If
you wish to volunteer help on the day or before, please contact Barry
on 0118 9461150.
The website is a valuable resource for EGRA.
It was set up by Clive Ormonde in 2001, with committee approval, and
apart from the regular
monthly updates, it is now packed with useful local information, as well
as archive material. For anyone without their own computer the local
library can offer internet access. To make things even simpler we are
about to instigate a new web address. It came as a bit of a shock to
realise we are not the only EGRA in the universe. Apart from East Guildford
Residents’ Association there are others worldwide, so we secured
the only domain name on offer www.egra.co.uk.
Until things are properly settled you can still use www.map-reading.co.uk/egra.
Our visit to the Houses of Parliament in September 2008 was the first
of two outings EGRA organised during the year. Group tours are free
if arranged through your MP, so we have Rob Wilson to thank. Our Blue
Badge Guide Elizabeth was very knowledgeable and gave us an enlightening
excursion round both red and green chambers with many anecdotes along
the way. After lunch we crossed the road to explore The Jewel Tower.
Members Doffi Parkinson and Carol Gibson wrote reports for the Winter
In March 2009 a large group descended upon the new Visitors Centre
of re3, Reading’s innovative Recycling Plant. Amanda Williams
spent the morning detailing what items can be recycled and why others
and we peered through a viewing window to watch the activity. The talk
also focused on wastage, in particular food – it’s quite
shocking that on average a third of perfectly good food in our shopping
bags is discarded. Campaigns are afoot to address this problem www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.
Even though Emmer Green people are mindful of ‘green’ issues
everyone felt they had learnt something from the experience.
We try to encourage local democracy on planning issues and there are
plenty of guidelines on the website. We receive weekly planning lists
direct from RBC, and CADRA kindly share with us their summaries of
development proposals north of the river. EGRA will respond as a body
to reflect the wishes of the residents affected if there is sufficient
local interest. There is no guarantee of the desired outcome, but in
2008 we had a case where the developers appealed to the Planning Inspectorate,
after RBC’s Planning Committee had rejected their planning application
to build flats on land behind Chalgrove Way. The Planning Inspector
listened to the concerns of neighbours and dismissed the case on the
grounds of the biodiversity on the target plot of land. Approval has
now also been given for the building of a pavilion for Caversham Park
Tennis Club adjacent to the courts. Building work has continued throughout
the year on new properties behind Grove Road and Lyefield Court.
DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT DOCUMENT (design, infrastructure, climate change,
SITE ALLOCATIONS (future usage – employment, housing
and protection of open spaces)
Reading Borough Council launched a consultation
on important decisions
affecting Caversham and Emmer Green over the next 15 to 20 years. We
urged members to attend the exhibitions and reply in writing or online
with their views. EGRA responded and pointed particular concern over
land adjacent to 54 Highdown Hill Road. This is a woodland copse, already
under a tree protection order, and we requested it be withdrawn from
the development list. We also had an opportunity to respond to a document
review of local centres and point out some of the anomalies and concerns
with regard to the heart of Emmer Green.
We thank Caversham and District
RA for their help in keeping abreast of planning issues. Warren and District
RA have had a very busy year
trying to take the future of Mapledurham Pavilion forward. EGRA is only
too happy to support their ambitions and we all hope for a fruitful end
TRAFFIC AND TRAVEL
Reading Transport Commission Consultation Results
Barry Prior, EGRA’s representative reported 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. 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.”
Local Area Enhancement Scheme
Cllr Mark Ralph informs that following completion of Phase 1 on the Peppard
Road in 2008, it has been decided to split the schemes of work into
two further phases, to match available funding.
Phase 2: This will focus on safety measures to Lowfield Road, including
improvements to visibility and lighting.
Phase 3: this will include junction improvements at Caversham Park Road/Kiln
Road/Peppard Road, and speed reduction measures on Caversham Park Road.
Meanwhile, speed restrictions are to be introduced at all North Reading
access points: Henley Road, Peppard Road and Kidmore End Road (and Woodcote
Bus Route Changes
Reading Buses propose changes to the 137/138 routes. Most of the news
is positive, with increased frequency and hours, but the proposals
include bypassing the Marchwood Avenue diversion. EGRA invited feedback
on useage from affected residents and urged them to respond. We have
also expressed concern to Reading Buses about the loss of service and
made a few constructive suggestions. The new No 2 route will be operational
from 20th April.
The Upper Caversham Neighbourhood
Action Group has been in operation for two years. An EGRA representative
(in particular, thanks go to Cathi
Edwards for her contribution) has attended every meeting since. We will
continue to support this venture, which gives us regular direct contact
with our local police force. We hope very soon they will find a more
permanent venue for meetings and then EGRA can help directly with publicity.
Vera Bodman attends the Safer Caversham Community Forum meetings whenever
Neighbourhood Police Officers
The current team is headed by Inspector Penny MacKenzie. Personnel
within the team were apt to change throughout the year, but the message
remains the same. Be vigilant about the security your home and belongings – don’t
make it easy for the thieves. Do continue to report crime, because
even if nothing materialises, the case will have been logged and if
a pattern emerges locally, the issues can be targeted and resources
YOUNG AND OLD
We continue to have links with local schools and in the summer of 2008
awarded two books The Hill School library and two book tokens to Highdown
pupils for community work. EGRA’s Cathi Edwards has worked hard,
with others, including Cllr Mark Ralph, to take forward the setting up
of a School Crossing Guard outside the gates of Emmer Green School. EGRA
continues to send a representative to North Reading Youth Project meetings.
North Reading Youth Project
The second NRYP AGM, chaired by Dr Simon Bradford was held on 16th July.
EGRA’s Tara Taylor provided an excellent slide presentation of
the activities of the youngsters. Information particularly relevant
to Emmer Green included new funds to be spent on the skate park facilities
at Clayfield Copse, and CATs. Children’s Action Teams, managed
by Katy Bartlett, based at Emmer Green Youth and Community Centre,
and headed by teams of professionals, who will provide help for children
with additional needs.
Reading 50 Plus+ Older Person's Forum
EGRA continues to promote this joint venture between Age Concern, RBC
and the NHS. The very well attended meetings have been held quarterly
in St Barnabas Hall. There has been an Active Retirement Club set up
which offers Tai Chi class sessions on Wednesday mornings. Cllr Mark
Ralph is hoping to set up a local buddy scheme to connect those who
may be living alone.
Grass/ Hedge Cutting, Street Cleaning
EGRA continues to monitor and report concerns and has met with RBC staff
to discuss realistically what can be achieved. Generally the new equipment
the Council purchased in 2007 has meant a more efficient regime.
Please visit the recycling page on the EGRA website for the latest information.
Reading Borough Council are working hard to encourage recycling. The
new Reading recycling plant is now open (see visit details above).
The Council are keen to install more collection points throughout the
town, but only if that is what local people want. Bottlebanks in Marchwood
Avenue were rejected and a clothing bank positioned near the Golf Club
was removed after a while. EGRA, along with others, was actively involved
in presenting the wishes of members to Council staff.
A community annual book prize has been awarded to two pupils from Highdown
School, and two books were presented for the new library at The Hill
St Barnabas Church
On Saturday 5th July at the annual St Barnabas Garden Party (in aid of
the Daynes Education Trust), the wind played havoc with the game, but
the rain stayed away. The Association was represented by Cathi Edwards
and Carol Sutton. EGRA also donated £250 towards the extension
of St Barnabas Church buildings. Members of the church have made a
valiant effort fundraising and the building work is now well underway.
The last overhaul took place in summer 2008, and was
distributed to members with the newsletter. For those not
receiving paper copies, do remember to save the document. If anyone wishes
to help out with this ongoing biannual exercise, please let us know.
THANKS to everyone who keeps EGRA a thriving organisation
We are sorry to lose several committee members this year Thanks to the
rest of the committee for continued support; to Julian Pearce is stepping
down after 25 years auditing our accounts; and to webmaster Clive Ormonde
who looks after www.map-reading.co.uk/egra. Thanks to other non-committee
members, such as our team of committee supporters, newsletter delivers,
notice board carers and partners/family of committee members, without
whose support most of us couldn't manage.
Tel: 0118 9470922