Winter 2001/02 Newsletter
The committee wishes all members an enjoyable Christmas and a healthy New Year. Again, thanks to all members for your invaluable support over the last year. Since the summer the marketing campaign for the Emmer Green book has resulted in over 40 new members joining the Association resulting in a membership of over 350 households out of about 2,500 households in the area.
It is with great sadness that we have to report that long serving committee member Bill Goodworth died of heart failure on Sunday 30 September. Bill had served on the committee for sixteen years, including terms of office as Vice-Chairman and Secretary, and at the last AGM his unstinting and invaluable contributions were recognised with a presentation of an inscribed pewter tankard. Bill’s funeral was held on 10 October at St Barnabas Church and his widow, Peggy, asked that any remembrances should be in the form of donations towards an ECG heart machine for the Emmer Green Surgery. A tribute was published in the December issue of the Bridge newspaper.
Following the much appreciated illustrated talk at the last AGM by guest speaker Bet Tickner on the history and work of BBC Monitoring based in Caversham Park, the Association asked if a visit might be arranged during the summer to the house and gardens. BBC Monitoring agreed to open Caversham Park as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days on the Sunday afternoon of 9 September 2001. This was so popular that the visit was greatly oversubscribed with many people being disappointed not to gain entry. It is hoped that BBC Monitoring will repeat the event in a future year.
Car Theft Awareness Week
During the week 16-22 July the Caversham Safer Forum mounted a car theft awareness campaign covering the area’s car parks in particular but also many streets in Caversham and Emmer Green. This consisted of placing different leaflets on car windscreens dependent upon whether the car was well secured with no valuables visible or was not secure and/or had valuables on show. The Association supplied about half the manpower, which was much appreciated and gratefully acknowledged by the Forum. There were many amusing reports related about incidents that occurred during the week. One in particular involved the finding of several car radios sitting on the back seat of one vehicle with three more plus a ghetto blaster tucked away in the nearby hedge. Whilst the accompanying policeman radioed in these findings he and the leafleter were interrupted by the car park ticket attendant and when they returned to the scene found that the ghetto blaster had disappeared. They decided to put the remaining three car radios in the back seat of the car with the other radios whilst they completed their leaflet exercise. However, when they had finished and returned to the suspect vehicle they discovered that it had been driven away whilst their backs were turned! Aiding and abetting comes to mind!
Safer Forum Small Grants
Through the Safer Forum the Council provides small grants to address issues associated with safety or to combat crime. In Emmer Green it had been proposed that street lighting be installed along the footpath between Stuart Close and Surley Row to help residents see their way during hours of darkness. However, objections were raised from nearby residents and the proposal was withdrawn. An alternative proposal was submitted by Cllr Annette Hendry for additional lighting along the walkway from the surgery to Eric Avenue and a survey of local residents’ views supported this scheme. A date for the additional lights has not yet been announced.
Many of you will have attended the very successful launch of the Association’s book, Emmer Green - Past and Present, on Saturday, 20 October at the St Barnabas Church Hall. This was formally launched by local MP Jane Griffiths and was attended by Peppard Ward Councillors, representatives from local schools and organisations and over 400 residents. The committee were extremely worried that the printer would not deliver the books on time but we eventually took receipt on the preceding Thursday much to our relief. I think everyone will agree that the final product was well worth waiting for and the thanks given to the editor, Margaret Ormonde, at the launch are repeated here.
Advance sales topped 400 copies and more than 100 copies were sold at the launch. This enabled the venture to break even. Complimentary copies have been provided to the Berkshire Records Office, the Museum of Reading, the Central Library’s Local History Section and similar organisations. The book was so popular that by the 19 November all 850 books had been sold. Although the final accounts are still to be finalised, the project has realised a small profit and it has been suggested that the Association makes a contribution from the profit towards the ECG heart machine for the Emmer Green Surgery. The committee would welcome views on this idea and any alternative or additional suggestions from members.
Reading Buses - Emmer Green service
Following representation from the Association and other interested parties the service to Emmer Green is now much improved. The 24 service has been replaced by the 44 and 45 services with three buses of each every hour. This has resulted in six buses per hour covering the northern part of Emmer Green. The concerns about congestion in Kidmore End Road if the two services passed at this point have not been realised with the timing of the buses resulting in them usually passing in Courtenay Drive. Although a couple of residents in the latter road have not been happy with the increased number of buses past their houses a large number of users have expressed their great pleasure that we now have a more frequent service, particularly with the approach of more inclement weather.
Kidmore End Road
With regard to congestion along this road due to parking between Chalgrove Way and Peppard Road, safety concerns have been raised by local residents with a variety of possible measures being proposed. The Association requested through the local councillors that the Council undertake a consultation with residents of Kidmore End Road before considering any action on parking issues along this road. In September this resulted in Councillors Annette Hendry and Bob Green together with two officers from the Council’s Transport Management Section visiting Kidmore End Road to review the situation. Their report is still to be issued but the indication is that the various parking management options being suggested for consideration would not result in a reduction of parking places.
Highdown Recycling facility
Following a request from the Association that the potholes in the entrance to the recycling facility at Highdown School be repaired and if financially possible the area be completely resurfaced, the Council’s Technical Services Department have notified the Association that they intend to do the following work at this site before the end of the current year:
1. Make the entrance wider.
2. Take out the grass area to the side, fill in the potholes and resurface it.
3. Make repairs to the wooden fence.
They did ask if there was any financial assistance that the Association could give to funding this work but we had to respond that with an annual subscription from members of only £1 the Association does not have adequate funds to make a contribution. Regardless, local taxes should be used for such maintenance work.
The matter of the footpath through Chambers Copse unexpectedly resurfaced with new evidence being presented at a fresh Inquiry at South Oxfordshire District Council offices on 16 August. The Association’s Treasurer attended the meeting. Fresh information was presented by new witnesses but this was little different from previous evidence and it is highly unlikely that the Inspector will reverse the determination made earlier.
Readers will remember that last year the Council’s North Area Consultative Committee (NACC) provided £3,000 to support a village sign near St Martin’s Precinct, Caversham as proposed by the Caversham and District Residents’ Association (CADRA). A summary of CADRA’s trials and tribulations in progressing this project were reported in the November edition of the Caversham Bridge newspaper. A tacit agreement was assumed in which CADRA would provide reciprocal support to EGRA for a similar sign in Emmer Green when future funds were available through the NACC. However, at a recent meeting of the NACC on 20 September it became clear that there will not be any similar small capital grant available from the Council for FY2001/02 or for the immediate future.
The committee plan to review the cost of a sign for Emmer Green to determine whether it is financially feasible.
Golden Jubilee Year
Next year will see the celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Caversham propose to hold a festival event on 14 September in Westfield Park. It has been suggested that Emmer Green hold a celebration on the Recreation Ground in the summer and the idea of a village picnic has been proposed. The committee asks members to let the committee have feedback on this idea and alternative or additional suggestions would be very welcome.
The Association continues to monitor and make representation on planning proposals that are seen to have a detrimental impact on the area. However, it cannot be over emphasised that the more residents, local to a proposed development, that object in writing the more notice the Council’s planning department takes of residents’ concerns.
Telecommunication Masts and Antenna
The proposed 10 metre mast and two equipment housings for BT Cellnet at the junction of Buckingham Drive and Peppard Road were opposed by petitions from local householders. The developer took note of the concerns raised and in October arranged for their representative, Angela Johnson, to discuss the issues. The Association, Cllr Chris Brown and residents adjacent to the proposed site accepted the opportunity to present their misgivings. Ms Johnson took note of the suggestion of discussing shared use with other cell phone providers who either already had nearby masts or also had pending development proposals. She mentioned that BT Cellnet was also in discussions with RBC about incorporating the proposed antenna in a 2m extension to a nearby 8m street lamp. This would certainly make it less obtrusive although the two control boxes against the adjacent wall would still have to be accommodated. It was intended that these would be screened with hedging/fencing to make the installation less of an eyesore. Another mast in nearby Chiltern Road has already been given the go ahead.
The Association was provided with detailed plans regarding the 15 metre mast and equipment cabinets at 9 Kidmore End Road (The White Horse pub) for TELECOM SECURICOR. As previously reported RBC planning authority confirmed permission for this development in May. Surprisingly, apart from the Association’s objection only two other local residents are known to have made written objections.
An application has also been notified to the Association for three more antennas and four microwave dishes on the already festooned Water Tower. If members wish to make any comments to RBC planning authority on this proposal the ref. no. is 01/01358/TELE/AC.
Land to rear of 35-49 Grove Road - Following the refusal of the original proposal for 8 detached houses plus an access road by the demolition of 39 Grove Road by Infill Land Consultants, the developer simply submitted a new, modified proposal for 6 detached houses. The Council’s Planning Applications Committee considered the new proposal on 7 November and permitted the development, subject to a legal agreement. The latter simply requests that the developer makes a contribution to any resultant educational impact and to the extension of the 20 mph area to cover the new entrance/exit off Grove Road.
Land to rear of 46-52 Kidmore End Road - Notification was received to build two large detached houses on this site and the Association did not object to the development of the site but did object to the proposed size of the two houses. These were felt to be out of keeping with the surrounding cottages and houses and suggested that the developer consider two, three or even four smaller properties in keeping with the surrounding dwellings. The area of Emmer Green, in common with most places within Reading, desperately needs more affordable housing and not more hugely expensive houses. The application has in fact been refused in its original form.
Land adjacent to 164 Kidmore End Road - A proposal has just been notified to the Association that a developer has submitted a proposal to build three 5-bedroomed detached houses on land between 164 Kidmore End Road and the entrance to Chambers Copse (RBC ref. no. 01/01461/FUL/AC).
The outcome on the plan to build 7 x 3 bed houses on land to rear of 19-29 Grove Road with access from Unity Court is currently in abeyance as the Council’s Planning Department has requested additional information from the developer.
The Planning Department refused permission on the proposal to build on land to the rear of 64-76 Kidmore End Road following objections from the Association and a petition signed by nearly 30 local residents. However, the developer has simply submitted a new proposal (RBC ref. no. 01/01312/OUT/PB.
· High volume crime such as domestic burglary, violent crime including street robbery and car crime
· Anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, graffiti, abandoned cars, neighbourhood nuisance including noise, harassment and threatening behaviour, road safety issues and fire safety issues
· Hidden crime, which includes domestic violence, racial and homophobic crime
· Drugs and alcohol related crime
· Youth issues - truancy, health and safety education, bullying issues and alternative activities.
The areas of concern across the town are the town centre, South Reading and parts of East Reading and these are where the focus of strategies will be directed. Emmer Green and Caversham are relatively quiet areas but views and suggestions are welcome from all parts of the town. Any member wishing to be kept informed of this activity can contact the Safer Forum directly (Eunice Hatt 0118-9390100 ext. 4257) or via the Association.
North Reading Youth Project
Senior youth worker Steve Green has taken up a six month secondment as manager of the Government’s Sure Start initiative at Whitley Wood and, on behalf of the Association, the committee would like to thank Steve for all his dedicated work over recent years at the Youth and Community Centre.
Association’s web site
Members are reminded that the Association’ web site can be found at www.map-reading.co.uk/egra and contains copies of the current and the previous newsletter, minutes of the latest committee meeting and of the last annual general meeting plus a copy of the corresponding chairman’s report. There is also the facility for publishing member’s photographs and articles plus pages with general historical information about Emmer Green, links to other web sites of interest and a current issues page.
The latter details concerns from the Association to Reading Borough Council’s planning department about current planning applications and may be of use to residents affected by a planning proposal when submitting their own objections. As previously mentioned the importance that the local planning authority gives to residents’ concerns is in direct proportion to the number of letters of objection they receive.