Minutes of Committee Meeting
Winter 2006/07

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Wednesday 4th April 2007

Present: Paul Gallagher, Margaret Ormonde, Vera Bodman, Brenda Deller, Jill Verran, Diana Hartrup, Bob Cruickshank, Bill Harper, Brian Warren, Tara Taylor, Kate Manton*, Barry Prior*

1. Apologies Ben Cosh*
*the meeting welcomed three nominees who were willing to join the committee.

2. Minutes of the last meeting (Wednesday 17th January 2007) were approved.

3. Matters arising:

Woodland Carvings :
On Monday 2nd April, the magnificent dragon carving was unveiled. Andrew Noyes had transformed the fallen trunk into the impressive beast and it was finished off with a coat of paint with the help of local youngsters. Andrew has worked very hard on this, but it is hoped once he has a break, he will be happy to resume work along similar lines on the other felled trunks. Some funding had been forthcoming in regard to the involvement of the youngsters, and EGRA were more than happy to contribute what was expected to be £300. Bryan Verran was thanked for his carving of a post attributing the initiative to FOCC and EGRA.

Village Sign :
The village sign had not needed restorative work this year. The volunteers who had come forward, also agreed to care for the community notice board. Public liability insurance was being investigated.(PG)

Coral Betting Office, Junction of Peppard Road/Kidmore End Road :
Despite it being 10 months since planning permission was granted for Coral's bookie's to extend, there were no signs of work beginning. EGRA was still concerned about preserving the seat they donated in 1995. Letters had been written to all parties involved, with limited response. The RBC enforcement Officer needed to be informed. However, it was probably a question of being vigilant, and making sure, when excavation began, it wasn't consigned to the skip with the rest of the rubble The adjacent empty newsagents remained an eyesore, and it was presumed that planning permission for a change of use had been granted. However, the 'To Let' sign remains. (MO)

Post Office :
The good news was that Mrs Kim Legg had been approved by the Post Office as a sub-postmistress to operate from the florist's shop at the end of the parade. A major obstacle was the raising of the funds to pay for the installation and security measures. Cllr Annette Hendry together with EGRA had been conducting a survey of usage by local residents. Over 200 households had responded. This was to be used as back up for a grant application, if required, for which EGRA as a body was happy to provide a 'statement of support'.(MO)

Footpath 47 :
Since at least 1969, and long before Jefferson Close was built, people have used a path from Russet Glade, along what is now Jefferson Close, to Kiln Road. Jefferson Close currently awaits adoption by the Council, and this is expected to happen this year, and is separate from the footpath issue. Matters have been brought to a head by the proposed development of land used by the Boxing Club and the Rifle Club, which indicated that the footpath would be blocked off. The Jefferson Close Management Company (Residents’ Association), has expressed several concerns regarding the footpath being added to the definitive map and statement. EGRA was trying to take a broad view to safeguarding this path for future generations. It had also brought to light that other paths in Emmer Green, such as the much-used one between Scott Close and Surley Row, were not on the definitive map. Paul Gallagher asked for the committee’s views, and there was unanimous agreement that the request to have the footpath added to the definitive map and statement continue to be pursued. (PG)

Grove Road Planters –(between St Barnabas and Surley Row) :
After several reminders, limited pollarding and tree crowning had taken place in early March. But this had not addressed the concerns of safety and longer-term plan for the planters and trees. None of the loose and dangerous brickwork had been removed. An exchange of e-mails had taken place with Steve Radford (RBC) in the hope that the previously agreed tree removal programme would be assigned to the 2007 budget. (MO)

The Queen’s birthday commemoration :
The tree to commemorate the Queen's 80th birthday had now been planted and surrounded with a protective guard. No formal ceremony took place, but it is hoped there will be one after a new seat has been installed. Thanks were given to Diana Hartrup, who organised everything. Margaret Ormonde was due to meet with Paul Hiscock from RBC's Parks Department, to be shown some sample seats on the Thames side promenade and to discuss costs and logistics. (MO)

Bench for bus stop :
With regard to a separate bench (no back) near the bus stop for any elderly people waiting for the bus, it was decided that a full bench inside the park would not really be practical, as passengers would need to be seen by the driver and a less agile person may not be able to negotiate themselves into view in time, even if they were aware the bus was coming. However, a small flip-up seat attached to the bus stop may be a possible option. At the Safer Caversham Forum meeting Vera Bodman mentioned the dilemma, and the representative form Waitrose indicated that some funding might be available for bus stop seating. (MO)

Advertising posters on White Horse Public House :
Most of the freestanding boards have been removed altogether or moved across to a corner, opening up the paved area and making it safer. Also all the illegal pub notices had been replaced and the menu board had been changed.

Highdown School Foundation Status :
The foundation status had now gone ahead.

Clayfield Copse Artwork :
Artist Jenny Leach had been successful with her bid to the Arts Council, for a grant to support her artwork project at Clayfield Copse. EGRA looked forward to the progress of the work and the involvement of the local community.

Reading Caves :
BBC's television programme Inside Out (Southern region) investigating caves in the area was aired on February 9th. Committee member Diana Hartrup was interviewed in her back garden by Chris Packham. There was also a corresponding article in the Guardian Newspaper.

The Pond :
After a further meeting at the pond, the clearance work was completed, ready for the spring growth. The wall at the end of the pond, fronting the cottage has collapsed and is awaiting repair. This however fronts private property.

Budgens Car Park :
After pressure from involved parties, the potholes in Budgen's car park have at last been repaired. The dead tree has also been removed and the paving replaced. On-going issues remained about the drainage and lighting in the car park, but it was heartening to get some response.

4. Treasurer’s Report
Subscriptions continued to roll in, which brought the current balance to nearly £6,300. This was held in the Portman Building Society, and a minor dilemma had arisen because the Society was in the throes of a takeover. Jill Verran was the first signatory on the cheques (ie the address for correspondence), and also had a personal account. This meant one windfall payment instead of two. As the sum involved was not that great and Jill had had her account for much longer than EGRA, it was agreed that Jill should get the basic payment, with any smaller top-up going to EGRA.

The bill for the dragon carving was imminent. The next major item of expenditure was likely to be the seat in the recreation ground. As always, ideas for new community-based projects were always welcome. (BH)

5. Feedback from Committees

North Reading Youth Project :
Our representative Tara Taylor had been unable to attend the last meeting, and date for the next was yet to be decided. Indications were, that there was good active leadership and feedback and involvement of the youngsters was positive. Links were being maintained with Highdown School. (TT)

Safer Caversham Community Forum :
Vera Bodman attended the meeting held on 2nd April. Again statistics showed crime rates falling, with Peppard being the 'safest' ward in Reading. Various Easter Projects had been organised for young people, but unfortunately funding from a 'Churches in Caversham' initiative had ceased for this year. It mostly affected Lower Caversham.
Despite the general feedback being positive, the warmer weather and lighter evenings had its downside as young people were already congregating in Christchurch Meadows and Albert Road rec at unsociable hours. The fashion for knocking down walls had resurfaced, although none of this related to Emmer Green.

Concerns were expressed by EGRA that an alcohol license had been granted to one of the outlets in Farnham Drive. An area where youths have congregated in the past.

The lighting at the Clayfield Copse youth shelter had been replaced with a much more robust structure.

Graffiti remained at an all time low in Emmer Green, and a town-wide initiative was underway to clean up black spots. Green Virgin (formerly NTL) cable boxes had recently been coated with special anti- graffiti paint. (VB)

Police Signs :
The big yellow printed signs still remained and had apparently had a good effect on tackling crime. Inspector Dix is currently pursuing the contractors (Fire Service) concerned to get them removed. (PG)

6. Planning Issues & Consultations

The new planning information page had now been included in the EGRA website.

Following the installation of a telephone antenna in a lamp post near the Esso Garage on Buckingham Drive, another such antenna/lamp post was to be erected at the roundabout with Evesham Road, only 100 metres away.

41-49 Grove Road
The developers have submitted yet another variation on their building proposal in Grove Road. As the previous application was called before the RBC Planning Committee, even though the developer withdrew the application at the last minute, this application will automatically go before the Committee again. Despite its location opposite the school, road safety concerns have been dismissed by a previous enquiry.

7. Any Other Business

Annual General Meeting :
8:00 pm Tuesday 24th April 2007, St Barnabas Church Hall. PC Chris Manetta and Sgt Warren McKeown were booked to talk on Neighbourhood Policing.

St Barnabas Church Garden Party :
Tara Taylor agreed to oversee this and would be liase with Paul Gallagher nearer the time with the attraction for the day (Saturday 14th July). Kate Manton offered to help. (TT)

Age Concern 50+ Meeting :
Vera Bodman attended on 9th March, along with about 30 others. The talk was well presented, covering areas like The 50+ Older People's Charter Exercise. The fact sheets available include, rights at work, finance, healthcare, transport. A special presentation was given on extra care housing, a new concept, which Reading Borough Council are investigating with a company called Northgate. They are looking for suitable sites in this area. (VB)
There is to be another talk on April 19th, 10.00am - 2.30pm at Reading Town Hall. (pre-book by 9th April)

Community Notice Board :
The board was frequently looking cluttered with both out-of-date and inappropriate notices. After an initial tidy-up, regular inspection was necessary, with a time limit imposed on certain postings. Jill Verran offered to maintain. (JV)

Lyefield Court :
A sizeable 'extension' is to be built at the back of Lyefield Court, which is proving a worry to some existing residents. Overspill cars from St Benet's Way parking along the Lyefield Court access road tend to block the way for emergency vehicles. This is one of the consequences of new development, without any consideration for adequate parking in an area already plagued with dire parking problems.
Vaughan Norris (RBC) was to be reminded of the dilemma in the hope he would instigate double yellow lines along the Lyefield Court road. (PG)

Paul Gallagher and Margaret Ormonde would be attending at 7.30 on Tuesday 17th April

Presentation :
Brenda Deller has decided, after a number of years to step down from the committee. As she is unable to attend the AGM, she was thanked for her contribution and presented with a bouquet of flowers

8. Date of next meeting
8:00 pm Thursday 10th May 2007 at 37 Kidmore End Road
(in view of the fundamental changes in the structure of the committee and three new members, this meeting is closer than usual after the AGM.)