Minutes of Committee Meeting
Summer 2004

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Thursday 12th August 2004

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, David Miles, Anne Ayres, Jill Verran, Mark Hutchings, Diana Hartrup, Brenda Deller, Tara Taylor, Bob Cruickshank, Vera Bodman

1.Apologies Brian Warren, Bill Harper

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Thursday 13th May 2004) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

The meeting between Andy Gillespie and others from the Council involved in solving the graffiti menace took place in June, with Paul Gallagher and Margaret Ormonde representing EGRA. Despite some pretty grim news generally, constructive ideas were well received and a partnership between the Emmer Green community and the Council was envisaged, with the hope of involving local volunteers. It was hoped the deployment of moveable CCTV cameras could also be adopted. Progress since then has involved a survey of all the graffiti within the Emmer Green postcode area. It was noted that the Council has made efforts to clean up some key routes, notably the Peppard Road, but their work was limited to property they owned. The findings will be plotted on a large map, which when complete will be presented to the Council and other interested parties, such as the Safer Caversham Forum and the utility companies. Hot spots have also been indicated on the map and photos taken of some of the worst places. It is hoped that if a zero tolerance pilot scheme can be set up in Emmer Green, that it can be deployed in other areas too.

Village Sign
Thanks were given to Chairman Paul Gallagher who valiantly carried his ladder all the way to the village sign and gave it a coating of Danish Oil, to help preserve it and improve its appearance.

Living Spaces
is part of the Urban Parks Forum and had sent out a leaflet inviting organisations to apply for grants to improve local open spaces. One of the projects discussed had been a children’s play area at Clayfield Copse, in a sympathetic style using logs etc. Jill Verran had a meting with a representative from Living Spaces. Very sadly there appeared to be insurmountable regulations stating where a park for small children had to be located and nowhere at all could be found on the site to match this. But the good news was that money was to be spent on refurbishing the skateboard park, which would be fenced off.

Community Notice Board
Wood carver Andrew Noyes had put in a very favourable quote for renewing the dilapidated notice board at the shops. Materials would be in addition to this. Wolfe properties (site owners) had been contacted to ask for permission, but it transpires that this had already been agreed with the Council some time ago, and the news never passed on.

Street cleansing
Interestingly after the issue of street cleansing north of the river had been raised at the AGM, a fancy map was produced by the Council. This was then copied and made available for residents to see. The mystery then deepens because some four months on the situation is probably unchanged, with gutters being full of soil and weeds.

The seat near the pond
The seat near the pond, donated by EGRA, had been surrounded by weeds, but these had been cleared recently, thanks to the valiant efforts of committee member David Miles

St Barnabas Garden Party
EGRA were at the Garden Party selling local walk maps (there are still spares available) and inviting people to participate in a giant jigsaw puzzle. Over £20 was made on the day contributing to overall profits of £1200. Very commendable considering the unpredictable weather.

Car Parking – junction St Barnabas Road /Grove Road
The Council now had sufficient funds for a survey to take place.

4. Treasurer’s Report
The Association had a healthy balance of nearly £5800. Some funds had to be set aside for the proposed community notice board, but it was likely that some would remain for another project.

5. Feedback from Committees
Bob Cruickshank represented EGRA in the return to the Safer Caversham Forum’s meeting, after a deliberate absence of over year. We were welcomed back, but most of the meeting was dominated by on-going problems in the Amersham Road area, making our own onslaught on the graffiti menace look rather insignificant. Unfortunately it seemed funds were not as high as had originally been thought. But it was hoped that if armed with more information and we took the idea of CCTV monitoring (using mobile camera which could be deployed on a rotational basis), that the concept of Emmer Green being used as a pilot scheme might be advantageous for the wider area too. It appeared reported crime north of the Thames had fallen by 7% and Bob Cruickshank read out the statistic for each locality.

6.Planning Consents
There had been yet another flood of infill planning applications and concern was expressed that the pressure on the infrastructure in the area north of the Thames was at crisis levels. In Emmer Green alone it included a development from the Water Tower southwards, on the old Peppard Road, opposite The Hill School. Grove Road had a further two outstanding and was of a particular concern because of all the potential exits on to the already busy Grove Road. ‘Sale of Land Guide’ letters were to be sent to selected householders in areas of Emmer Green that developers were likely to target. It was not intended to influence any decision to sell off gardens or land, but to give information on the subject.

The application for the development of houses behind gardens in Highdown Hill Road had been re-submitted, but local residents were determined to carry on fighting. (post meeting note: this was refused at the Planning Committee meeting on 18 August)

The proposal for Highdown School to sell off land for development had been suspended, pending central Government’s decision, to be made this autumn, on the funding of capital projects for schools. It was hoped Highdown would be included in Phase 1 of this initiative. This however did not mean the idea of building on school land would be forgotten, as the school, has plenty of other pressing needs. Another concern regarding these proposals was the possible compulsory purchase of parts of gardens along Surley Row to allow access to the site.

A communication from Trevor Keable suggested a ‘NIMBY’ attitude from a few of those present, but this was not thought to be representative of anyone from EGRA and in fact no-one in attendance can recall any such attitude.

7. Any Other Business

Council Website
This gave very useful information on local Councillors, including potted biographies, contact details and the committees on which they served.

It was emphasised that EGRA always has been apolitical and wished to remain so. A recent change to the ward boundaries now meant that we had six local Councillors representing the area. By coincidence Rob Wilson, the elected Councillor for Thames Ward, was also the Conservative prospective Parliamentary candidate for this area. His involvement with EGRA was under the former capacity as a ward representative of local residents.

Recycling old computers
It was understood that there had to be a lot of these to make it worthwhile to the company concerned travelling to collect them.

Summer Newsletter
Chairman Paul Gallagher was complimented on its contents.

8. Date of next meeting
8:00 pm Thursday 25th November 2004. 23 Tredegar Road.