First, at the end of another busy year, I would
like to thank all our members for continued interest and feedback and
wish them a joyful and peaceful Christmas season and good wishes for
DATES FOR 2009
As previously announced, EGRA’s 25th Anniversary celebrations
are scheduled to take place on Saturday 9th May 2009 from 2-5pm at
Emmer Green Primary School. Barry Prior has now taken over the running
of things, so if you can offer any help, or have photos or memories
you wish to have included do get in touch with him firstname.lastname@example.org , or Tel: 0118 9461150. A detailed EGRA history section has been set
up on the website (click on the 'History' button).
We have a new venue and date for our 2009 AGM. The Grace Church, 119
Peppard Road on Tuesday 28th April. This may be more familiar to you
as the Caversham Hill Chapel, not far from the entrance to The Hill
School. Our speaker will be Richard Bennett from Reading Civic Society.
We have appreciated holding 24 consecutive AGMs at St Barnabas Hall,
but its increasing popularity meant it was becoming very difficult
to book a suitable timeslot. We are really grateful the offer of excellent
facilities at The Grace Church.
Houses of Parliament Tour
Two EGRA members who came on the tour have submitted reports:
From Doffi Parkinson:
Tuesday September 9th was the date of the eagerly awaited visit to
the Houses of Parliament by 17 members of EGRA. Meeting at Reading
Station in the morning,
just in time for the first ‘Cheap Day Return’ train, there were
many greetings exchanged between old friends and acquaintances and new friendships
were quickly forged. A smooth journey to London, and round the Circle Line
took us to St Stephens’ Entrance nicely in time for our appointed entry
slot. After the usual security checks we moved into Westminster Hall to meet
Elizabeth, our very knowledgeable Blue Badge Guide for the visit.
The first part of the tour found us following in the steps of the Queen as
she opens Parliament each year. With Elizabeth’s vivid descriptions,
we were able to picture her namesake donning the robes of state and crown and
processing to The House of Lords to sit upon the Throne and formally open the
new Parliamentary session. After passing through the ‘Noes’ voting
lobby we too entered the House of Lords, and paused to admire the thrones and
red benches before moving on via the lobbies, past statues of many prime ministers
of recent times and the Central Lobby. The House of Commons was also described
to us in great detail and we learnt much of the history of Parliament whilst
admiring the architecture and decor.
There is much to see and admire in the Houses, not just the traditional red
and green chambers but also the many paintings and frescoes which adorn the
corridors, and our guide was able to weave many stories of modern day happenings
in ‘The House’ as we kept up with her brisk pace. Our tour over-ran
its expected length thanks to the enthusiasm of our guide, but no-one complained!
After having so many facts and sights to take in, we all adjourned to the Houses
of Parliament Café, where we refreshed ourselves.
From Carol Gibson:
In the afternoon, we crossed the road to the Jewel Tower, once part of the
original Palace of Westminster and a survivor of the fire of 1834, which destroyed
almost all of the palace. Remains of a moat and quay can still be seen: in
medieval times, the Thames lapped its walls. The Jewel Tower was built in about
1365 for Edward the Third; then known as the King's Privy Wardrobe, it was
a store for his jewellery and other valuable possessions. It now houses an
interesting exhibition on the history of Parliament, on two upper floors reached
by steep, narrow spiral stairs: a satisfying end to a fascinating day.
Reading Recycling Plant
EGRA has been promised a group tour of the new facilities early in
the New Year (no date as of yet). If you are interested please contact
Margaret Ormonde on email@example.com Tel: 0118 9470922.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Please refer to EGRA’s website for guidance on local planning
issues. For anyone in need and unable to access this we may consider
printing out a copy. Very often it is local democracy that works best
and EGRA will support and encourage this. There is no guarantee of
the desired outcome, but recently we have had a case where the developers
appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, after RBC’s Planning Committee
had rejected their planning application to build flats on land behind
Chalgrove Way. The Planning Inspector listened to the concerns of neighbours
and dismissed the case on the grounds of the biodiversity on the target
plot of land.
DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT DOCUMENT (design, infrastructure, climate change,
SITE ALLOCATIONS (future usage – employment, housing and protection
of open spaces)
Last year EGRA worked with CADRA and GLOBE in checking and adding sites
for the Site Allocations document, primarily to ensure our open spaces
Reading Borough Council has recently launched a consultation on important
decisions affecting Caversham and Emmer Green over the next 15 to 20
years. Exhibitions have been held locally and comments are required
either online (visit the CADRA website) or on paper forms (limited
numbers distributed with EGRA paper newsletters, or collect from library
or Civic Centre) by 12th December. EGRA will be joining with CADRA
and GLOBE to discuss our collective views, but we urge people to respond
as individuals too.
In particular, land adjacent to 54 Highdown Hill Road (SA12) has been
suggested by a developer as potential for building. This is a woodland
copse, already under a tree protection order. It’s possibly ancient
woodland and we would urge as many people as possible to write
objecting and asking for this site to be withdrawn form the development list.
There is also a document review of local
centres including Emmer Green. Some of the descriptions in it are
not exactly accurate – for
years we have been campaigning for the lighting in the car park to
be repaired, only for this to be overlooked. There are also some rather
surprising results from a 2003 survey! EGRA would love to fund seating
near the shops, but has been discouraged because of trouble that sometimes
arises from crowds gathering in the evenings. It is always open for
review and discussion. Please read this document and respond to the
suggestions in it. The hint that the green could be developed is unthinkable.
PLEASE LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
SCHOOL REPORTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Books for Schools
Two books were presented to The Hill one on the History of Reading
and the other on Reading Football Club. This was to celebrate the
school’s new library. Two pupils from Highdown School received
a book token each from EGRA’s Treasurer Bill Harper, in recognition
of community work. The latter presentation from EGRA will continue
for a number of years.
EGRA’s Cathi Edwards has worked closely with Emmer Green School,
Reading Borough Council and Cllr Mark Ralph to improve safety. Things
are now in place for recruitment of a School Crossing Patrol Person
through school channels. A similar scheme operated in Tilehurst has
been very successful and it is hoped there will be a good response,
so training and the necessary checks can take place soon. Extra care
is needed at the moment with building work across the road.
North Reading Youth Project
The second NRYP AGM, chaired by Dr Simon Bradford was held on 16th
July. EGRA’s Tara Taylor provided an excellent slide presentation
of the activities of the youngsters. Presentations were made during
the evening. Adjacent to the Amersham Road Community Centre, an ambitious
new Children’s Centre is being built (due for completion, spring
2009). Information particularly relevant to Emmer Green includes
new funds to be spent on the skate park facilities at Clayfield Copse,
and CATs. Children’s Action Teams, managed by Katy Bartlett,
based at Emmer Green Youth and Community Centre, will be headed by
teams of professionals, who will provide help for children with additional
There is now a Youth Forum In Emmer Green. Each forum has part of the
main budget so that the young people have a sense of ownership and
can vote on decisions affecting them.
Tina Heaford is still willing to talk to any young people that may
be causing concern on the streets and is always happy to hear of any “hot
spots” so that she and her team can have a chat with them.
Neighbourhood Police Officers
There has been a change in local police personnel, and our officers
are now Inspector Penny Mackenzie, Sgt Rob Pitman, PC Stuart Murdoch
(Neighbourhood Specialist Officer) and PCSO John Hendy.
In an emergency phone 999. To report a crime that has happened ring
0845 8505505. It may not necessarily be followed up, but the police
are keen that all crime is reported to accurately reflect their statistics.
As usual, members of the public have the opportunity to meet the
neighbourhood police team at Church House, Caversham on the first
Monday of each month between 5pm and 8.00pm.
Telephone no. for the office answerphone is 0118 947426
Upper Caversham Neighbourhood Action Group
EGRA continues to be represented at all NAG meetings. The next one
is on 8th December, with the most likely venue being Church House,
Caversham. At the last meeting EGRA’s Cathi Edwards was able
to update the meeting on the School Crossing Patrol scenario and
also with quotes for NAG publicity material. A dedicated Upper Caversham
NAG website is also in the process of being set up.
As a result of a speed survey along Rotherfield Way and Southdown Road,
particularly the junction with Surley Row, where schoolchildren cross,
traffic-calming measures have been implemented. Unfortunately because
of the nature of surrounding features, it was not possible to install
a refuge actually at the crossroads, but the effectiveness of the new
facilities would be monitored. A new footpath has also been completed
from Evesham Road to the bus stop on Southdown Road. EGRA has also
requested a refuge on the Peppard Road at the junction with Surley
Local Area Enhancement (LAE) Questionnaire
Phase 1 of the Local Area Enhancement scheme has been operational for
over a year now. As part of the North Area Access Study local residents
were given the opportunity in September to comment on the Phase 2 proposals,
mainly affecting the perimeter roads in Caversham Park.
Notices were posted in three localities detailing changes to waiting
Extensions to restrictions in St Barnabas Road, and Southdown Road/
Evesham Road/ Knights Way – and restrictions are to be eased
between 4 and 12 Kidmore End Road
Reading Buses are undergoing a review of rural bus services including
the 137/138 routes. The feedback to EGRA indicates the current arrangements
Following on from the Independent Transport Commission findings,
Wokingham Borough Council has bid for £35 million towards a
new Thames Crossing from the South East Regional Assembly. A decision
in December. This would be part of a comprehensive package of transport
improvements for the Reading area. The RBC cabinet was aware of local
sensitivities and gave assurances that the emphasis would be on managing
local traffic flows and not act as a precursor to extending the national
Litter / street-cleaning / verges /hedges / graffiti
We regularly monitor grass and hedge cutting, and feedback to the Council
anything reported to us. Autumn means a lot of leaf clearance and if
you spot any areas near you, which are in need of attention, do let
us know. The Council’s resources are limited, but generally things
are encouraging. Bob Cruickshank heads our graffiti clean up team and
he asks for you to report to him on 0118 9482900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The siting of the clothing bank in aid of Cystic Fibrosis outside Reading
Golf Club has brought forth a mixed response from nearby residents.
EGRA has spoken with the Council representative who monitors the
site and he has promised to take all views into account and review
things after a given period of time. He would also ask the Golf Club
to reconsider housing it within their car park.
Friends of Clayfield Copse continue to meet for active conservation
work on the first Sunday of each month. They also arrange guided walks
through the woods. Contact Anne Latto email email@example.com .
Maintenance of EGRA’s
EGRA has funded several projects over the years and they all need maintaining.
We now have team of members who regularly monitor the community notice
board. We are still considering quotes in to professionally refurbish
the seat by the bookmakers and if you know of anyone interested
in submitting an estimate do get in touch. We also have to thank EGRA
member Bryan Verran for undertaking some emergency repairs to the base
of the village sign.
Queen’s Tree Beheaded
Words fail to describe what has happened to our tree in the recreation
ground, but we are not going to make a big deal out of it and give
credence to the perpetrators. We have spoken with a local tree expert
who has advised, now that the tree has established roots, it is better
to leave things as they are and nature and time will take their course.
Unfortunately Turner’s Oaks are slow growing, so we will just
have to be patient.
Reading 50 Plus+ Older Person's Forum
EGRA continues to support and promote this joint venture - Age Concern,
RBC, and the NHS, and hopes the loan of the wireless speaker has helped
with the sound at the back of the hall. These occasional afternoon
meetings should resume in 2009. The new Active Retirement Club received
lottery funding and theTai Chi classes that have been running every
Wednesday morning at St Barnabas Hall are very popular. Anyone wanting
information can contact Marvetah Hines at the Reading Age Concern office
on 0118 9594242.
St Barnabas Parish Centre
The construction of the new parish centre has now been given the all
clear, and the first turf was cut by Rev Derek Chandler, before the
diggers moved in. Work is scheduled to be completed by next May,
when it is hoped the new centre will offer enhanced facilities to
churchgoers and community alike.
If anyone took part in the Bugs Bottom protest march on a wet
summer’s day in 1987, we have a wobbly copy on DVD for borrowing.
BEYOND OUR BOUNDARIES
Warren And District Residents’ Association (AGM 21st October)
In 2006 EGRA was directly affected by the consultation on the future
of the Mapledurham Pavilion, because one of the proposals was to divert
open space to Clayfield Copse. In the end this idea was firmly rejected,
but with the consequence that the current hall (the only secular hall
in that area) is likely to be demolished within eighteen months and
replaced by enhanced changing facilities. However the eventual replacement
of the hall remains open ended. WADRA have been very proactive in trying
to research the legal responsibilities of the Mapledurham Playingfields
Trustees. EGRA supports these endeavours and hopes in due course the
valued hall facility will be reinstated
Caversham Good Neighbours
This is a group of volunteers who serve people in the Caversham, Emmer
Green, Mapledurham. If you can spare any time, ring the Caversham
Bridge Office on 0118 948 3466.
Chairman Margaret Ormonde, Vice Chairman Barry Prior, Secretary Kate
Manton, Treasurer Bill Harper,
Membership Secretary Jill Verran, Newsletter
Distribution Diana Hartrup,
Schools’ Liaison Cathi Edwards, Safer
Caversham / Age Concern Vera Bodman, Events Carol Sutton, Youth
Work Tara Taylor
Committee Support - Environment/ Tradesmen's
List Bob Cruickshank
Thanks go our teams of volunteers who help deliver the newsletters
and keep an eye on the notice board.
EGRA is sad to report the recent death of former committee member
Geoff Goldsmith of Rosehill Park. Geoff served on the committee from
2001 –2003. Condolences have been sent to his family.