Minutes of Committee Meeting
Winter 2003/04

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Thursday 12th February 2004

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

1. Welcome to prospective new committee members
Diana Hartrup, Brenda Deller and Mark Hutchings were welcomed to the meeting, with apologies from Tara Taylor.

2. Apologies Mr Bill Harper

3. Minutes of the last meeting (Thursday 27th November 2003 11th) were approved.

4. Matters arising

Litter at Highdown School
Exasperation was expressed that there had not even been a reply from the last correspondence to Highdown School regarding our offer of help to resolve the on-going litter problem at the school. The initial enquiry to the Chief Executive of the Local Education Authority referred us to the school’s Governing Body and it is thus the latter that we will have to press for a response. Publicity in the press might be a last resort.

Clayfield Copse
It was delightful to hear that in addition to prickly bushes being planted around the pavilion, it had just been repainted with what was hopefully anti-graffiti paint. It was hoped the Council staff would return to do the roof.

The changing rooms in the Grove Road recreation ground had also recently been cleaned up, but in this case the door had been missed.

Planning Consents
Jon Barclay of Chalgrove Way had taken on the responsibility of contacting the planning department with any concerns about the forthcoming development behind 54-74 Kidmore End Road. At this stage it was more a case of ensuring the road was safe and that tree preservation orders were adhered to.

Village Sign
The new sign remained a focal point in Emmer Green. The Townswomen’s Guild and Women’s Institute’s insets were complete and waiting to be installed.

Matthew Mander had offered to maintain the sign and the committee were to ask for a quote. An option was to undertake the work ourselves. Some of the insets were already in need of further treatment with special preservative oil (Danish oil).

Membership and Publicity
Subscriptions had been coming in, but a few remained from a long while back from households that could even have moved. Sixty–six renewals had come in so far this year.

Considerable progress had been made too on preparing an up-to-date tradesmen’s list thanks to Bob Cruickshank. This comprised selected names from an earlier local list (which had all been checked out) together with additional entries submitted by members. It was agreed the final list would be printed out to include in the welcome pack, given to all current members and a complimentary copy supplied to the traders concerned.

Various ways of printing material, including newsletters, in the future, were discussed and Jill Verran will check whether Emmer Green Primary School facilities are still available.

Litterbins
A long letter had been sent to Andy Gillespie from the Council detailing the neglected areas in the heart of the village. There was a new litterbin in front of the post office, but the one that was thrown into the pond has only been replaced by a plastic bag attached to the railings. There was concern about this area generally. David Miles had been personally vigilant in clearing litter from the grass triangle outside the bookies. RFTRA, to whom EGRA is associated, had published an article promoting the idea that local residents could volunteer and provide labour to clean up their own locality. The Rescue initiative was a perfect example of this. It began in the spring, several years ago, focusing on the Thames and Kennet rivers. But it had now gone well beyond that, intruding on areas that should be covered by Council employees and for which we pay taxes. A number of Globe groups in the locality were happy to partake, but it was felt it did not fall into the remit of the Residents’ Association.

Living Spaces
was part of the Urban Parks Forum and had sent out a leaflet inviting organisations to apply for grants to improve local open spaces. The pond was a key area, and it had had wholesale attention in recent years, both from the Council itself and the owner of the property behind it. But regular day to day maintenance was a problem. In particular the area in front of the seat beyond the grass triangle, which accumulated rubbish which was very difficult to access. But it was intrinsically a wildlife area and further discussion should involve both wildlife experts and the Council. It was agreed to put it before the local Councillors at their forthcoming surgery.

Lighting at the shopping precinct
Although the lights nearer the shops were now working, some in the car park itself were still in need of attention. It was pointed out the pavement immediately in front of the supermarket was the responsibility of Budgens. This area was particularly difficult to monitor because of the complexity of ownership.

Feedback from Committees
It was nearly a year now since we had formally withdrawn from local committees in the hope it may encourage the Council to re-think their attitude on better communications. Re-joining was open to consideration and could be mooted at the AGM. But an investigation to see if anything had changed was needed first.

5. Treasurer’s Report
There was celebration the news that the Council had at long last sent a cheque to re-imburse the funding of the village sign. This enabled us to pass the final payment on to the wood carvers. The current balance in the Association’s funds was a healthy £5700 and ideas as to how some of this might be spent on future projects were discussed. One idea was to assist in the costs of replacing the community sign at the shopping precinct, as mentioned by Councillor Hendry. This was perhaps another opportunity to involve the Woodcarvers. Also it was felt another useful asset to the group would be a small laminator to seal posters. The Friends of Clayfield Copse had been sent a donation of £100 towards their 2003 Woodlands Day. But a cheque was also handed over for £100 in royalty payments from the sale of the book, Emmer Green, Past and Present.

Julian Pearce was praised for his dedicated auditing of our accounts. Appreciation in the form of a gift of some kind to him was well earned.

6. Draft Welcome Pack
The Chairman passed round copies of a possible welcome pack for new members. It comprised an extract from our own website, together with information from the Council’s website, as a basis for an introduction to Emmer Green. It could also include an EGRA membership form and a copy of the tradesmen’s list. (see above)

7. AGM
The date for the AGM had top be changed to Wednesday, 14th April 2004 due to a double booking. Gill Franklin from Cross Lanes Apple Farm, the proposed guest speaker, was still free on that date and we looked forward to her talk.

The current committee had been running with two members short for the past year, but fortunately this time round there had been a keen interest. All existing officers were prepared to continue in their current roles, so it was decided the simplest option would be to co-opt all four potential members on to the committee for the forthcoming year. There would also be free wine and nibbles on offer for all attending.

8. Any Other Business

Jill Verran put forward her suggestion of a children’s play area at Clayfield Copse. Pictures of possible ideas were circulated, which would be fun for small children and sympathetic to the surroundings. It was suggested that a partnership be formed with Friends of Clayfield Copse to apply for this project under the Living Spaces Initiative. The Council would also need to be involved as they are the landowners.

Highdown Hill Road area had been targeted for infill development (11 houses), with a chalet bungalow opposite the junction to Eric Avenue being sold for access, and adjacent householders prepared to sell off land to make it feasible. There had been quite vociferous opposition from those not directly involved in the potential sale of gardens. A second application has recently been submitted which is now an outline planning application for 13 dwellings. The additional two houses being shown on land at the rear of 4 and 6 Highdown Avenue and 22 Highdown Hill Road. This development was likely to have adverse affects on traffic volume and the rural character of the area. Concerns were expressed that undertakings like this were dividing communities, and that the only real winners were the developers. Cllr Bob Green sat on the Planning Committee and might be able to offer help.

Reading Borough Local Plan - Draft Special Strategy
This published booklet was distributed to several members, but was based on a limited survey with unreliable results. Also it was out of date, because all structure plans in the south-east were being superseded by regional plans under the South East England Development Agency.

Date of next meeting
8:00 pm Thursday 13th May 2004 at 6 Tredegar Road.