Minutes of Committee Meeting
Summer 2005

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Tuesday 23rd August 2005

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Diana Hartrup, Bill Harper, Bob Cruickshank, Jill Verran, Brenda Deller, Mark Hutchings

1.Apologies Tara Taylor, Vera Bodman, Brian Warren

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Tuesday 10th May 2005) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

Graffiti:
The efforts of the Association in cleaning up the graffiti in Emmer Green had been very rewarding. It was a two-fold operation in partnership with the Highways and Parks departments of RBC. It was a good example of how being pro-active can be rewarding. Bob Cruickshank however did report a limited return of some graffiti on the far side of the changing rooms in the recreation ground. We did not have the resources to clean this off unaided, so the Parks department were to be informed in the hope it could be dealt with before it spread. The Council had been very efficient about replacing the chemicals in the kits we had trained to use, so we were ready to act should a new wave return.

Street Cleansing:
Despite the new reduced grass cutting agenda of ten times per annum, so far in 2005 it had only been done three times. (Chairman, Paul Gallagher had kept a record of this). August had been fairly wet, encouraging growth and as a result the area was looking very un-cared for. Also the Grove Road Hedge only received two cuts per year, one of these being in the winter. It was now at the point of needing not a full cut, but a trim in areas where brambles and other quick growing species had shot up.
Brenda Deller pointed out that the path between Surley Row and Scott Close was also very overgrown with nettles. She would be writing in the hope it would cleared before the schools returned.

Woodlands Day:
The event had been a great success, but unfortunately Jason Trewinnard who had been commissioned to sculpt the logs, pulled out sick at the last moment. He was aware that we were still prepared to pay for his services, but indicated he would prefer to do it before an audience. Also concern was expressed that one of the logs, which had been partially carved was not of suitable wood, and was already showing signs of decay. It was hoped a few more big logs could be brought to the site, as, even in their original state, they were being used by local teenagers as seats.
As for the future of this event, it was dependent on another lottery grant, increasingly difficult to obtain (and of course a dedicated team to run the event).

Budgens Car Park Lights:
It was thought the lighting problem was still unresolved and Cllr Mark Ralph would be contacted again to see what the latest situation was. Sadly the lights had been out of action for several years with many unsuccessful attempts to resolve things.

Photocopying Newsletters:
The use of the new facilities at the RFTRA offices in Reading town centre was a real help, being very efficient and economical.

Licensing Laws – re White Horse:
Things had moved on with regard to not only the White Horse, but The Black Horse and The Gardeners Arms too. The previous application for extended hours had been under the 1982 Act, which had now been superseded by the Licensing Act of 2003. All premises had now to apply for opening hours and conditions, and not surprisingly they were all contending to expand what they already had. Most of these were totally unacceptable in a residential area, in particular the additional hours and plans for loud amplified music. There had already been cause to complain about noise and nuisance in the past. The White Horse was the first to apply and with the help of Cllr Annette Hendry letters of objection were duly submitted. EGRA have also submitted a general objection concerning the wider implications and effect on the community. A total of 16 complaints were received and the hearing by the licensing committee is set for Friday September 2nd at 1.30pm. A few of the objectors/local residents have volunteered to speak at the hearing. Hearings for The Black Horse and Gardeners’ Arms will be heard in due course.

Village Sign:
There still had been no response yet from Andrew Noyes who had been offered a yearly contract to maintain the sign (and the community notice board).

Sound System:
The various types of portable sound systems were being investigated. Other neighbouring Residents’ Associations were being approached to see if they were interested in sharing the costs and equipment.
Hopefully something would be in place by the 2006 AGM.

Skate Board Equipment:
The skateboard equipment, rescued from Whitley, had now been fully installed at the site at Clayfield Copse. It was a vast improvement on the existing facilities and had already proved very popular with youngsters. A few things remained to be done, including the positioning of a notice to remind users of its proper function plus the installation of additional litter bins nearby.


4. Treasurer’s Report
The Association’s funds continued to rise and now stood at over£6200, including £312 being the reimbursement due from the Council for the community notice board. Cllr Mark Ralph was thanked for his help in procuring this money. Again, any ideas for forthcoming community projects would be more than welcome.


5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project:
Despite the valiant efforts of Lee Middleton to make the Emmer Green Youth Centre a vibrant and welcoming place for youngsters, it seems it still had not met the criteria of the Oftsed inspectors when reviewing Reading as a whole. This had been a big disappointment to the staff. As far as North Reading were concerned, three key leaders had left (not connected with the report), meaning there was only one remaining trainee member of staff plus a number of volunteers.
RBC was currently recruiting and would also be addressing the shortcomings found in the Ofsted report. Recommendations included a budget review, quality assurance policies, involving young people in decisions, better management etc.

Safer Caversham Community Forum:
The most up-to-date information was in the current newsletter and no meeting had been attended since then. It is hoped that we will see a more visible police presence in the area on an ongoing basis in the future. As part of a new initiative, Neighbourhood Policing 2006, a full time Police Office will be established at Church House, Caversham under an Inspector, and at least 3 beat constables will report to this Inspector. The Forum does have a modest budget for capital expenditure on safety improvements, which would otherwise be low down the Council’s list of priorities (e.g. additional lighting in dangerous spots, bus shelters, kerb and pavement improvements etc). We have nothing in the pipeline just now but if any of our members have suggestions for making Emmer Green a safer place please let any of the committee members know.

6. Planning Issues

Caversham House
The proposal included demolishing 3 bungalows, but the proposed replacement town houses appeared too big for the size of the site. It was assumed any re-development affecting the listed old house itself would be sensitive to the existing architecture.

161-163 Old Peppard Road
This was again a controversial proposal, mainly due to access and location, right opposite the Hill School. An alternative was discussed in committee, ie, via an existing driveway and behind no.199-203. However, it is understood from a report in the Chronicle that the developer’s company has collapsed, bringing the whole feasibility of the project into doubt.

Caversham Laundry Development
Although not in Emmer Green, the Association has been keeping a watchful eye on the plans and proposals. It appears to have been rejected for the third time and the developers have now promised closer consultation with local residents.


7. Any Other Business

Consultation
Reading Borough Council is still notoriously poor on consulting with residents’ associations.
EGRA were one of the few now affiliated to the Reading Federation of Tenants' and Residents' Association, and is often only made aware of local happenings by reading the regular RFTRA bulletins. It was still felt direct consultation with all residents’ associations would be fairer and more effective.

Night Flights (Heathrow)
Generally this area was not affected or disturbed, but every sympathy was with those who were.

Thames Crossings Councils Group
Brenda Deller had attended this meeting in Whitchurch, with representatives of local Parish Councils who are keeping tabs on the possibilities and options. They meet on a very regular basis and are always looking for free venues. The next meeting was on September 28th and it was proposed EGRA fund the hire of the church hall for the night, beginning at 8.00pm. If they already had a place for that night, then the hosting of a future meeting would be offered. The cost of the new bridge would be astronomical and it was felt only Central Government funding would cover it. The benefits of a third bridge would undoubtedly solve some problems, especially for the inhabitants of Sonning, but it would also bring with it the nightmare scenario of altering a quiet corner of South Oxfordshire forever, and bring with it the inevitable flood of development.

Updating the Website
Webmaster Clive Ormonde was happy to incorporate any updates. The community page, full of useful information, was seriously out of date now. Mark Hutchins offered to act as gatekeeper for this information, with members submitting to him any changes. He would then notify Clive twice yearly (if there were any updates) and these would be sent out with the twice yearly newsletters.
The tradesman’s list, which was not on the website, would be evaluated on a bi-annual basis and Bob Cruickshank would check with the tradesmen if they still traded. Suggestions would be invited from residents in the next newsletter.

ICE Campaign Notification
In Case of Emergency (ICE) – an independent e-mail had been in circulation suggesting a nationally recognised contact entry in mobile phones for helpers to use in case of emergencies. It was wondered whether this should be officially circulated to EGRA members. There were no particular feelings either way, but it was pointed out if the phone got into the wrong hands, that number could be used inappropriately. Also many people already had a ‘HOME’ contact in their mobile address book.

Sports Discovery Day at Clayfield Copse
Cllr Mark Ralph had hosted this in July for youngsters in the area, in conjunction with several local clubs.
Whilst EGRA thought the idea was very worthwhile and was happy to promote next year’s event (by circulating a leaflet with the newsletter), the committee as a whole did not really have the resources to become fully involved, neither did it perceive the event fitting with the Association’s agenda. It was felt it was up to local residents to get in touch directly with Cllr Mark Ralph nearer the time to see what they could do to help, and to this end information would be notified to members in the newsletter.


8. Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Tuesday 29th November 2005 at 42 Surley Row