Minutes of Committee Meeting
Winter 2001/02

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Thursday 21st February 2002

Present: Mr Paul Gallagher, Mrs Jill Verran, Mrs Margaret Ormonde, Mr David Miles, Mr Brian Warren, Mrs Anne Ayres, Mr Bob Cruickshank, Mrs Vera Bodman, Mr G Goldsmith.

Mrs Sue Ballard, Mr Bill Harper

2.Minutes of the last meeting (22nd November 2001) were approved

3.Matters arising

Highdown Recycling Site
Nothing had been done to improve facilities at the site and in fact things had deteriorated since the last meeting. Paul Gallagher had been corresponding with Jeff Layhe from the Council who was due to meet with Mrs Curtis, the Bursar at Highdown School. No news had been forthcomoing, so Margaret Ormonde had sent a reminder.

Parking along Kidmore End Road
Margaret Ormonde had discussed the parking issues with Cllr Annette Hendry. It appeared the Council had made very little progress since last autumn and had estimated it would cost £3500 for an initial consultation. Margaret Ormonde agreed to conduct a survey on behalf of the Residents’ Association to establish the number of cars in the area belonging to residents. Even numbers from 2-70 Kidmore End Road (including Fishers’ Cottages) were given forms to complete. There was 80% response and an estimated shortfall of parking spaces of around 14 cars. The comments received from residents were very diverse. Councillor Hendry was due to review the situation in light of the survey results, and parking permits were a possible first step.

Communications Masts
Work was already underway at the Water Tower, laying cables to serve the next generation of technology.

Planning Applications
The planning application to build properties behind 164 Kidmore End Road had been refused. There was no further news on either 70-76 Kidmore End Road (where a petition had been set up by Jon Barklay of Chalgrove Way) or 46-52 Kidmore End Road. Infilling, as a means of increasing the housing stock was creating a lot of undesirable pressure, particular amongst householders who had been targeted to receive unwelcome letters. It also caused anxiety for neighbours when projects went ahead with unrealistic ideas. One such was the middle of three bungalows along St Barnabas Road. Whilst it was made clear the Association was opposed to such cases, its scope for supporting individuals was limited and the community cause had to take priority.

Clayfield Copse
The condition of the skate boarding facility near the car-park had been the subject of discussion, but Reading Borough Council had declared that there were no funds to undertake the fundamental repairs necessary. It was felt it was important that they discuss what is required with the youngsters who use the area to establish what they would like, in the hope that funding might be available at some future point.

Book on Emmer Green
Since the last committee meeting we had been inundated with requests for the book, most in the period leading up to Christmas. As the book had sold out within a month of publication many people had been disappointed. Town centre outlets had also approached us asking to sell the book. The best we could offer at the moment was an apology to all concerned and the addition of their name to a list of potential customers. Copies of the book were available in libraries at Reading, Caversham and Henley. The possibility of a re-print had not been ruled out, but it was decided to postpone the decision until at least next year. This was partly to give those closely involved a breathing space, and also the opportunity to revise the book to include forthcoming events, such as the Jubilee celebrations and the erection of the village sign. It would also allow the list to build up to gauge the true level of support. The recommendation was that the sales should be handled on a commercial basis to avoid the conflict of interests that occurred last time.

It had been agreed that £250 from the book profits should be used to buy equipment at the doctors’ surgery in memory of Bill Goodworth. The surgery, however, had already raised enough funds for the heart monitoring machine, so it was agreed that we would still donate the same sum, so that the surgery could release the government incentive scheme money, previously used for the heart machine, for other causes.

Village Sign
We had been approached by the Berkshire Woodcarvers with regard to the village sign, as they were unexpectedly available. They also now had the use of New Town School premises free of charge, so were able to offer a revise quote.

The production of the basic form for the sign would be handled by someone other than the woodcarvers. He/they would make up the sign with all its parts but leave it in a dry - not pegged or glued state- ready for the carvers to decorate. We have obtained a quotation, using air-dried seasoned oak, of £1400 (including VAT) for this. This would be using the design as set out in original discussions in 1999. There had been some concern expressed about the practical aspects and health and safety of the design of the sign. This mainly concerned its stability and vulnerability with the elements and people. The actual design should involve a consideration of these elements. We were still waiting for Brian Warren to obtain a quote from his contact at Bouchiers. He promised to do so in the near future. Whichever path was chosen, we would also have to pay for the sign to be set into the ground on the piece of land near the bookies and the possible addition of a brick plinth to protect it. The final sum was likely to be nearer £2000. It was very much hoped the sign would go ahead and be a useful landmark for Jubilee year.

Jubilee Year 2002
The notion of EGRA celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee was first put forward in February 2001, but deferred, partly because of so many other commitments during the year. More serious discussions took place at the November committee meeting, mainly from suggestions by Jill Verran and Vera Bodman. Despite repeated attempts by the Chairman to move things on, for various reasons things had not really progressed since then and it was now realised what little time there was left. The mood of the country had certainly changed since the Silver Jubilee of 1977, but it was felt we would regret by-passing the event altogether. The legal requirements had also changed since then, meaning something relatively simple was bound in ‘red-tape’. There was a unanimous decision to go ahead to support a low key event for families to be held in the recreation ground on June 3rd (which was the main day set aside for Street Parties etc). It was felt it was very important to get the support of other local organisations, and that a committee of interested parties would be set up for this. Paul Gallagher said he was happy to draft initial letters to instigate this, but because it was important to keep other issues in the association running smoothly, neither he nor the Secretary said they could take part in this separate committee. Bob Cruickshank offered to help the Chairman with this initial task and also to think how best to take thinks forward. In due course it was hoped others would join him. We were able to apply for a grant of up to £1600 from the Millennium Awards for all Scheme.

A Jubilee Festival was being organised by Mary Waite on the 14th September in Westfield Park, Caversham. Although it was still hoped that Emmer Green could have its own celebrations, it was also felt that there should be some representation of the Association in Caversham.

Since the last committee meeting, Colin Thompson had responded to the problem of buses with headlights waiting at the bus stop near Chalgrove Way. He basically said there was nothing he could do, but the situation was slightly improved because a couple of the late night buses had been cut. He also pointed out that most of the traffic was local and should be used to the problem.

Work had been done by member Clive Ormonde to extend and improve the existing EGRA site. This included the setting up of a number of links and a new community page. It was hoped that there would be future interaction from other members of the community and that in due course the site would ‘evolve’. We were still waiting for photographs to be sent in. The committee expressed appreciation for what he had done. A couple of minor things were pointed out, and because the concept of joining on-line seemed to confuse some members, that option was to be removed and a printable form set up instead to allow new members to join in a more conventional way. Regular monthly updates from the Chairman allowed the site to remain topical.

4.Treasurer's Report
The books were all now sold and the combined balance in the Associations accounts was just over £5000. Over 50 membership renewals had already been paid, and it was agreed to leave chasing up the remainder until after the AGM. Subscription was to remain at £1.00 a year.

5.Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project
Dominic Salter had taken over from Steve Green, Senior Area Youth and Community Worker, in an acting capacity. He and the trainee youth worker, Liz Heading, have a comprehensive programme of activities for the coming year. They are also due to be involved with discussions about the skate-boarding facilities Clayfield Copse.

Safer Caversham Forum
Many of the topics of the last meeting focussed on Caversham, or in fact Reading itself where there were continuing concerns about all the new clubs opening. In due course it was realised the site on Caversham Bridge would also become a reality and with a potential capacity for 500 nightclubbers the location away from the heavily policed town centre could cause problems.

Although still considered the safest part of Reading, the recent violent raid on the post office (the first in its history), had sent shock waves around the community. By some strange irony, the assistance given in the summer to leaflet and help reduce car crime in Caversham had seen a shift in the problem to Emmer Green, where reported incidents rose.

The officer on the Peppard beat had been replaced, by PC Rob Pitman. It was also noted how effective Derek Bartlett was as Chair of the meetings, but he was getting increasingly frustrated by lack of support from the Council.

The proposed street lighting along the walkway from the surgery to Eric Avenue was underway. There was the possibility of extra lighting at the bottom of Courtenay Drive, near the bus stop. Nearby residents had been consulted and agreed.

North Reading Area Consultative Committee
Bob Cruickshank had attended the last meeting. Much of the focus was on Caversham, with topics including the Jubilee Festival, Caversham’s Village sign, the lighting of Caversham Bridge. It transpired that there was still £7000 to be spent for this fiscal year, to be distributed amongst the wards. Decisions would need to be made soon, or the money would be lost, but it was made clear that Peppard had yet to receive any money from this type of funding and was anxious not to be left out.

6.Draft Annual Report for AGM 2002 / re-election
The date for the AGM was set for Thursday 18th April at 8.00pm. Lady Audrey Durant was to speak on the history of Surley Row and the meeting would be rounded off with nibbles and wine.

The draft annual report was approved with a few suggested additions, such as the setting up of our own website, the proposed telecommunications masts and the re-routing of the buses.

All those present agreed to stand for re-election. The Chairman, Paul Gallagher was happy to stand for another year. The Vice-Chairman, Sue Ballard, had yet to be approached to see if she wished to continue in her role. The Secretary, Margaret Ormonde, who had spent much of last year dealing with the book, was happy to cope with the more routine secretarial duties including minute taking. Jill Verran, Treasurer for the last ten years, decided to continue as Membership Secretary, with Bill Harper offering to be Treasurer for the main accounts. Although we had a full compliment of eleven, with some of those long-standing members, it was felt we should do everything possible to recruit new faces, if necessary co-opting them on to the committee.

7. Any Other Business

There had been a big increase in committee business by e-mail over the last few months. Most agreed they were quite happy with this and that it was an important way of keeping abreast of things. The Secretary expressed concern as to how such information was to be saved for our records, but it was felt topics would be summarised at the next committee meeting in any case.

Date of next meeting
8:00 Thursday 16th May 2002 at 23 Tredegar Road.