Minutes of Committee Meeting
Autumn 2005

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Tuesday 29th November 2005

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Bill Harper, Bob Cruickshank, Brenda Deller, Vera Bodman

1.Apologies Tara Taylor, Brian Warren, Mark Hutchings, Jill Verran, Diana Hartrup

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Tuesday 23rd August 2005) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

Graffiti :
The year overall had been very rewarding regarding the pro-active removal of graffiti. Most of that removed by EGRA teams during the year had not returned. A small amount on the largely unseen end of the changing rooms had now been attended to. Committee members who had undergone training, and had been issued with kits, were on standby, should another wave occur. Also new Police Inspector Dix had been enthusiastically supporting zero tolerance on graffiti (see Safer Caversham Forum below) and had seen Emmer Green as a good example of what can be done. He had agreed to contact local householders whose property was affected and to put them in touch with either EGRA or RBC. Unfortunately the kits issued by RBC could only tackle non-porous surfaces, not brick walls and wooden fences. The use of CCTV cameras in hot spot areas in the future was now more likely.

Street Cleansing :
Despite the new reduced grass cutting agenda of ten times per annum, by autumn 2005 it had only been done five times. Clearly this was unacceptable. Excuses such as reduced manpower and machinery breaking down did little to compensate and we can only resume the same pressures next season, in the hope that it may at long last produce what we are entitled to.
Brenda Deller pointed out that the path between Surley Row and Scott Close had been cleared a couple of times since the last meeting. There was also an enthusiastic householder in the locality, who was very vigilant in clearing her own patch.

Woodland Carvings :
Local woodcarver Andrew Noyes had been approached to see if he was happy to undertake the carving of the logs that had been dragged to the site in the summer (for the aborted Woodlands’ Day chainsaw sculpting). It is hoped another carving of a wasp, which is sited near the football pitch field, can be dragged, by the Council, to the new area, together with another log, making four altogether. Once Andrew has worked out a schedule, it is hoped he may be able to involved schoolchildren in some way, primarily in a way that suits the way he operates.

Licensing Laws – re three local pubs :
The Association and local residents were notified of applications from The White Horse, The Black Horse and the Gardeners Arms to extend their licensing hours in accordance with the Licensing Act of 2003. Objections were submitted, including those from the Association, on the grounds that the longer licensing times and live music requested were excessive and inappropriate for a suburban residential environment. EGRA representatives (and Cllr Annette Hendry) spoke at all three hearings, not only reasoning the concerns, but emphasising the need for us to work together as one community. The local authority’s licensing panel agreed with the objections against the longer hours but allowed smaller extensions, particularly to allow hours on different days to be consistent. We now have the opportunity to monitor behaviour and report to the Council any breech of the agreement.

Village Sign :
Andrew Noyes had submitted a very reasonable estimate, for maintaining both the village sign and the community notice board. Concern was expressed at the current condition of the village sign. Despite several oilings it was in danger of deteriorating quicker than anticipated. Discussions would be held with Andy to consider better ways of preserving the sign, including staining and special wood preservative.

Sound System :
As other neighbouring Residents’ Associations had declined an interest in sharing any sound equipment, EGRA felt we had sufficient funds to ‘go it alone’. It was thought a small portable system costing less than £200 would suit our needs very well. Hopefully something would be in place by the 2006 AGM.

4. Treasurer’s Report
The Association’s funds continued to rise and now stood at over £6350.

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project :
The recruitment drive was very successful and the Youth Service is now running with more staff than it has done for sometime. Obviously they are a very new team and will take time to settle into their new roles, but everyone is very positive and they hope to be running the service more efficiently soon.
The reburbishments have taken place at Emmer Green, but there has been an over spend of £12k which NRYP is going to top up.

Safer Caversham Community Forum :
Throughout the summer increased policing in sensitive areas had been effective, notably at Emmer Green shops. Plain clothed police officers had also successfully been deployed to catch burglars. Caversham now had a sergeant and four constables. PC Manetta had been to Highdown School to speak to the pupils. Church House in Caversham, the police station which replaced the Marshlands Square hut, was due to re-open early October.
There had been a new initiative to rid the area of unsightly graffiti, partly fuelled by the stance of EGRA and their hands-on approach, and also the appointment of Inspector Dix who firmly believes that removal of graffiti leads directly to a diminution of general anti-social behaviour. Bob Cruickshank will tour the area on 8th December with the Council’s recently appointed Graffiti Watch Officer (Julie), highlighting outstanding and ongoing problems.

6. Planning Issues

Caversham House
Demolition of 3 bungalows is already underway and building work is proceeding

Highdown Hill Road
Proposal to build 9 houses in the rear gardens of 10-18, 22 Highdown Hill Road and 6 Highdown Avenue. After many objections, rejections by the Council and rejection at Appeal, the Council has felt bound to permit the modified application. Already the developer has contravened the planning consent conditions placed upon the development and attempted to demolish 14 Highdown Hill Road before they had met all the conditions. The Association is very grateful for the vigilance of the Highdown Action Group and speedy intervention by the Council to halt the demolition.

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road
An application has been received for a single storey front extension to the betting shop near the sub-post office. This will displace the Association’s seat, which was paid for by ourselves and the Council, and may also displace the post box. The Association has objected on these grounds and that the extension will be an incongruous and unsightly construction, which will block off the attractive view towards the village pond. We have suggested that Coral Estates Limited, if they need larger premises, should consider the less expensive option of taking over one of the shops on the parade, which often become available, and lease their existing premises to another retailer.
The response from the Council is that because of the complexity of the case it may go before a full Planning Application Committee. We will be informed the date this will take place in case we want to present our opinions in person.

Caversham Developments
EGRA had already commented on the proposals for the Caversham Laundry site, and encourage the membership to respond to the plans for the Caversham Lock area. Although not directly appropriate for the Association to be involved in, it is nevertheless of great interest.

7. Any Other Business

Highdown School Hall
Bob Cruickshank was due to attend a meeting the following day – some details of which are included in these minutes:
With a completion schedule of Spring 2007, there will be much to be done in the time. The venue proposes holding up to 1000 standing and 600 seated, with an entrance hall and lobby for art exhibitions/receptions etc., and a separate arts and drama hall with 100 seats. The centre will be located to the right of the manor house, but what has still to be decided is the precise location and orientation of the building and the provision of car parking spaces. It is hoped it will have a minimum effect on any of the rugby pitches.

St Barnabas Garden Party
The date was set for Saturday 8th July 2006 and EGRA had agreed to host a stall again.

Winter Newsletter
This was nearly ready to roll off the presses, just awaiting inputs on SCCF and NRYP, and Margaret Ormonde offered to arrange for the printing to be done at the RFTRA offices

Artist’s Proposals
Local artist, Jenny Leach, had met with Paul Gallagher and Margaret Ormonde earlier, to discuss her background and her style of work. Much of her work is concerned with social, political and environmental injustices. The hope was to get funding and support from the local Council and the Southern Arts Council. The idea will then be to erect a billboard (the current intended site being on Emmer Green green, in front of the shopping precinct) for a limited period of nine weeks. Three of the strongest images will be selected and each one will be pasted up for a period of three weeks. At the end of this period, the billboard will be removed.

The committee gave this a favourable response, and the aspect which appealed to most was the idea of 'bringing art to the people'. Planning permission would need to be sought from the landowners and possibly the Highways department if the structure is near the road. The possibility of an alternative site opposite St Barnabas Church was mentioned if permission was not granted for the first choice. Also it was felt that it might be worthwhile to involve local schoolchildren, or other local artists. This would be left to the artist.

8. Date of next meeting:
8:00 pm Tuesday 7th March 2006 at 6 Tredegar Road.

The next AGM will be held at 8:00 pm at St Barnabas Church Hall on Wednesday 19th April 2006.