Minutes of Committee Meeting
Winter 2005/06

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Tuesday 7th March 2006

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Bill Harper, Brenda Deller, Vera Bodman Tara Taylor, Brian Warren Jill Verran, Diana Hartrup

1. Apologies Bob Cruickshank, Mark Hutchings

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Tuesday 29th November 2005) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

Woodland Carvings :
The project to carve a series of animal shapes into large woodland logs had been suspended, partly because of attempted vandalism last autumn, and also because of the weather. It was agreed that this should not deter the project and local woodcarver Andrew Noyes would be re-approached to see how best to take things forward.

Village Sign :
Andrew Noyes had submitted a very reasonable estimate, for maintaining both the village sign and the community notice board. Unfortunately progress had been very slow on getting any staining/preserving work done on the sign. Paul Gallagher had intervened with his ladder and pot of oil, but this was really an interim measure. It was natural for the wood to darken with age, but in this case it had got very shabby, particularly the south facing side. Further discussion would be needed with Andrew about the kind of stain/preservative to use, and when it can be carried out

Sound System :
The mini sound system had been purchased and was due to be tested out in readiness for the AGM in April.

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road :
The original application for a single storey front extension to the betting shop near the sub-post office had been withdrawn and resubmitted, with a few cosmetic changes and some pretty pictures. The Association still objects on the same grounds that the extension will be an incongruous and unsightly construction, and will block off the attractive view towards the village pond.
In addition the Secretary received a letter from Trevor Hucker of Crickmay, the Chartered Surveyors representing Coral. This indicated that their main consideration was for their disabled customers, and as consolation for the loss of a precious view and expanding an already bland and incongruous building, they were prepared to plant a tree and provide a new seat (where presumably residents/potential customers could sit and watch the traffic). They also implied it would boost business on the western side of Peppard Road, forgetting of course there is a serious car parking problem. (Only shoppers in the precinct are permitted to use that car park)
We have again 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. Bob Green is to be informed of this.

Highdown School Hall :
Plans were shown of detailed proposals for the new hall. One of the football pitches was to be lost to car parking, but things had been re-arranged on the south side of the development to restore the facilities.
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. It is hoped it will be of benefit to the community as a whole.

Artist’s Proposals :
Unfortunately the temporary billboard proposal put forward by local artist Jenny Leach, had met with a very negative attitude from Wolfe Properties, owners of the land in front of the shopping precinct. An alternative site near Clayfield Copse car park was an option, and from a meeting with Judith Oliver and Anne Latto (FOCC) and the Council Parks department, the outcome has been much more favourable. The billboard displaying environmentally and thought provoking images would remain in place for four weeks. Jenny had agreed to talk more at the EGRA AGM on the 19th April and we could also promote it on our website.

4. Treasurer’s Report:
The Association’s funds continued to rise and at the end of the 2005 stood at £6089. Income over expenditure for the year was £545. It was hoped we could donate a sum of money to Friends of Clayfield Copse - £100 was suggested.
Membership remained steady at around 400, and the annual subscription remained £1. It was important to welcome newcomers into the area. E-mail (news and notices) had broadened our horizons and made communication with members quicker, but the downside was that it denied us face to face chatter and further enlivening community spirit.

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project :
The next meeting will be 5th April.
Tina Heaford, the new team leader, was very positive and proactive. This included going out and talking to youths on the streets and discussing what changes they would like to see in their area. The new skateboard facility had been a great success, and the nearby lit shelter was progressing well.
There were a number of ongoing community projects and a few youngsters were willing to help out in gardening/conservation projects. Tara took an action to ask at the next meeting if there was a suitable project that the young people might have, which EGRA could consider providing a financial contribution towards.

Refurbishment of the Community Centre had included a new kitchen.

Safer Caversham Community Forum :
Bob Cruickshank attends these meetings to represent EGRA. He was absent from the meeting and so there was no news.

Reading Proposed IDR Meeting 22nd March :
The meeting on Wednesday 22 February, attended by about 80 residents, was very successful. A panel comprising Pat Baxter (RBC Transport Strategy Manager), Mr Rob Wilson MP and Councillors Mark Ralph, Bob Green and Annette Hendry fielded questions from a large audience. Pat Baxter led on most of the issues raised, and provided a comprehensive overview of the projected future traffic problems in the town and the possible strategies for managing the situation. Consultation on the proposal to make the IDR a one-way road is still on going and residents who could not make the meeting are encouraged to send in their concerns and views. Minutes were recorded of all questions and answers in case anyone is interested. The Henley Standard gave a good and accurate report of the evening.

South Oxfordshire discuss 3rd Reading Bridge :
EGRA hosted one of these regular meetings of South Oxon Parish Council representatives on the 18th January. It was a very lively evening, with many differing opinions, based on where people lived. The final consensus was that there should be a basic non-specific letter drafted by Giles Catemole, their secretary, persuading South Oxfordshire to at least recognise there is a problem and putting the item in their new transport strategy document. This has now been done and carried forward – a big step as far as RBC are concerned.

6. Planning Issues & Consultations

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road
See Matters Arising above

9 Buckingham Drive
EGRA Chairman had written about access concerns on to Buckingham Drive, suggesting Marshlands Square as a safer alternative. Unfortunately this had been ignored by the Inspector and the original proposal accepted.

84 Kidmore End Road
a planning application for 2 storey flats had been withdrawn, but it was expected a revised submission would be made soon, as was the case for a couple of ongoing Grove Road development plans.

Highdown Hill Road
The remaining role of the Highdown Action Group was to ensure developers complied with regulations and were considerate to local residents. But concerns had been expressed by the leader Brian Kendrick that money from the Clause 106 agreement was going straight into central pot and not being used locally, as would be more appropriate.

7. Any Other Business
Proposals to replace the rifle club between Jefferson Close and Russet Glade, with housing, were controversial because of the threat to block of a strategic, well established footpath. Thirty nearby residents objected to this and the plans have been revised, with a comment that the footpath would remain unimpeded. However, activity is continuing to submit an application to have the footpath added to the definitive map and statement.

Vera Bodman put forward some suggestions as how to spend surplus funds. One of these was to sponsor a Highdown School Award (possibly a book). Also it was felt we could fund some worthwhile youth projects in the area (see NTYP above).

The EGRA tradesmen’s list was about to be updated and re-printed. Bob Cruickshank would be asked to verify that tradesmen were happy to be added to the list.

A walkabout has been arranged with RBC staff and Peppard Ward Councillor Annette Hendry. A few things which were put forward to mention were:
The footpath between Surley Row and Grove Hill; Car Parking on grass verges along Evesham Road; reappearance of potholes in the newly repaired/surfaced Clayfield Copse car park; the ongoing scenario of the state of Budgen’s car park and the lights (private land, but it was hoped they were under some kind of legal obligation)

The date of the AGM was confirmed as Wednesday 19th April 2006, 8.00pm with artist Jenny Leach as the speaker (see matters arising above). Nibbles and wine would be provided.

8. Date of next meeting :
8:00 pm Thursday 8th June 2006 at 39 Kiln Road