Minutes of Meeting 20 July 2015

MINUTES of the Hanover & Elm Grove LAT meeting (Unapproved)

20th July 2015

[All Actions to be taken from the meeting are shown throughout in bold]

Present (as recorded on attendance list):

Chris Taylor (Chair); David Hearn (Secretary); Christina Pepper; Andrew Corslake; John Holmes; Caroline Lynch; Gill & John Doherty; Gill Perkins; James Hewland; Annette Bell; John Pomeroy; Pam & Steve Chapman; Adrian Darby; Councillor (Cllr) Dick Page; Chief Inspector Gareth Davies; PC Jimmy Conway.

N.B. attendees who do not ‘sign’ the attendance list are not recorded.

1. Welcome:

The Chair invited all attendees to the meeting.

Apologies:

Cllr David Gibson and Cllr Emma Daniels sent their apologies.

2. Minutes and matters arising:

Attendees accepted the minutes of 1st June without objection.

Matters Arising;

  •  BusWatch – An update on the recent BusWatch to be provided as part of the Agenda.

 3. Vacancy Deputy Chair and Social Media guru

The Chair reminded those present that the position of Deputy Chair remained vacant. In addition a volunteer was being sought to manage social media aspects of the LAT including Twitter, the HEGLAT website and Facebook. Although this was not an onerous task the Chair and current Secretary felt that progress would be more effective if someone with the requisite skill set and time to assist. Caroline Lynch (Coombe Rd LAT) offered to provide some additional training should this be necessary.

Action: The Chair agreed to continue to seek nominations for Deputy Chair at the October’s meeting and to prepare an outline of the requirements of the post and that of the social media role for information and wider advertising. In the interim, interested persons should approach the Chair for further details.

4. Chief Inspector Gareth Davies (Sussex Police) – Neighbourhood Policing

The Chair welcomed Gareth Davies (GD) to the HEGLAT forum which provided the Chief Inspector with the opportunity to update all residents on changes to neighbourhood policing and its potential impact.

GD informed attendees that Sussex Police faced significant financial challenges in future years. This would inevitably lead to a need to review staffing structures and the allocation of budgets and resources and revise its investment decisions. Despite this backdrop GD reiterated that he saw neighbourhood policing teams (NPT) as an intrinsic service for communities providing an effective framework in which to share knowledge and information on local issues and in determining key policing priorities.

GD was aware that HEGLAT residents had lost some continuity in NPT in recent months with the current sickness of one PCSO (Martina Shrimpton) and the promotion of a number of other PCSO’s within the neighbourhood policing team to full time policing roles in other areas. Whilst this was currently regrettable, GD was disappointed to hear that attendance at recent HEGLATs had temporarily ceased. In his view local PCSO’s should where possible attend future LAT meetings in person or where this is not possible provide an update report on local matters and he would look to ensure that this was the case in future..

The Char opened the discussion to the group. A number of relevant points were raised by residents and a summary of the main points are provided below:

  • Neighbourhood Watch – one resident enquired as to the status of neighbourhood watch initiatives which appeared to have diminished recently. GD responded by saying that he was in favour of all forms of community support for local policing and for those residents interested in neighbourhood watch schemes to make contact with members of the NPT.
  • Petty thefts from gardens – a number of residents reported instances of petty theft of items from gardens (Washington Street and Hanover Street) and whether these matters were considered reportable. GD reaffirmed that all local instances of crime or anti social behaviour should be reported as it provides local teams with an understanding of the current issues facing the community. Regular information is important to maintain a clear picture. GD reminded residents that they can:

To Report local policing matters 

Telephone 101 or

Email to christopher.durrant@sussex.pnn.policing.uk

  • Enforcing local byelaws: rubbish and dog mess – Two residents enquired as to whether local police were doing much in the way of enforcing or reminding local residents of local byelaws. GD confirmed that PCSO’s continue to work with colleagues in the Council to address these matters and where matters are brought to their attention they do follow these up with the appropriate contacts. The Council has a specific team responsible for dog mess but again residents can raise this with the local Police teams where residents might be able to identify a regular source of such problems.
  • The Level – Drugs – Attendees were keen to learn about the current approach being taken at the Level where regular evidence of the use of drugs and alcohol and anti social behaviour is a problem. GD confirmed that both uniform and plain clothes teams are active in the area with a higher visibility presence to include dog patrols shortly to be used. PC Jimmy Conway reported a number of arrests made recently and where individuals are identified and crimes committed this will continue. One resident enquired as to what steps the NPT is using to educate visitors to prevent littering and PC Conway reported good working relationship has been established with the local parks staff to respond to issues that are identified.
  • Cyclist’s code of conduct some residents enquired as to what the Police were doing to manage cyclists and rogue skateboarders on local roads. PC Conway informed the meeting that where police notice poor behaviour the individuals are approached. Again he encouraged all residents to continue to notify the local teams where issues are observed.

Action: The Chair asked residents to note the current approach being taken by Sussex Police on neighbourhood matters with residents being encouraged to continue to report issues not matter how trivial to the local neighbourhood teams for recording, follow up and identifying local priorities.

5. Community Safety Team – Cally Sykes – Drug Litter and Queens Park

The Chair introduced Cally Sykes (CS) from the Council’s Community Safety Team to update the meeting on its current response to drug litter at Queens Park and other local areas.

CS informed the meeting that the team comprised 3 members of staff with a remit to work with communities where drug issues were considered to be increasing and problematic. In the case of Queens Park CS reassured the meeting that incidences of drug litter had significantly reduced following joint initiatives by both the Police and the Council team. A summary of the key areas to address the issues at Queens Park include:

  • CityClean: have put up 2 notices saying that we are aware drug litter is being found and that this is now a priority area for them (poster attached). The park is one of their priority areas for the time being which means they will be doing daily checks for drug litter in the playground.
  •  Pavilions: we have spoken to Pavilions and they have been talking to their needle exchange clients to bring about awareness of the dangers of this and how it could affect their service in the future. They are continuing to try and make sure that clients are taking bins with them. They will also discuss the issue of responsible disposal with their clients in one to one sessions.
  •  Police: the Police have increased patrols in the area and have been carrying out overt and covert operations. They have also sent out messages of caution via the school.
  •  Community Safety Team: we offered to meet residents who were talking about the issue on Facebook at the park. We have already attended Queens Park & Craven Vale LAT. We are also doing some work with the needle exchange and the Police to try and identify why people might not be taking needle boxes when they collect needles from the exchange.
  • Facebook page – in response to comments made on Facebook during the recent episodes in Queens Park the Community Safety Team are setting up a team Facebook page in recognition of the fact that Facebook is becoming a increasingly popular forum for communities to talk about issues and enable the Community Safety Team to provide information and gather information on this platform. Link https://facebook.com/BHSafeintheCity

CS emphasised that it is important to remember that the public play and important role in tackling these issues. Responsive services are much more effective if we have a good understanding of what is happening, where it is happening and who is causing the problem. The team understands that residents feel frustrated when they report something to the Police and they might not necessarily get an immediate response but regular and frequent reporting by residents help to build up a picture of what is going on and helps in allocating scarce resources to the right place.

CS outlined the broader work happening across the city to tackle drug litter:

  • A drug litter sub group which meets quarterly to discuss issues related to drug litter and how we can improve the City’s response. This is a multi- agency group attended by the Council, Police, Mind (service user involvement), Pavilions, Equinox, Health Promotions, and RSL’s. The Drug Litter Sub group has an action plan.  Some of the work that we have been involved in is introducing one hit packs at the pharmacies that were previously giving out larger packs with an assortment of needles (this was in response to large numbers of unused needled being found). Messaging about responsible disposal has been introduced to needle packs. CityClean also have up to 3 priority areas at any one time where they will put up posters stating that the area is being monitored and that they will check daily for drug litter.
  • Monitoring of drug litter finds to ensure that hotspots are identified. Data is collected from CityClean, Wettons (who have the toilet cleaning contract), estate services, Peake Cleaning (who are emptying the drug litter bins at The Level) parks team and residents reports. This data is collated by a Police analyst who produces a Street Community & Drug Activity Profile every 1-2 months which is then shared with relevant partners to enable hotspots to be targeted.
  • In response to an increase in needle finds in the public toilets at The Level over the summer 2014 we installed drug litter bins in We have also recently adjusted the times that the toilets at the Level are being opened as it was identified that the drug use in the toilets was more likely early in the morning.
  • Poster and business sized cards promoting awareness and the way to report needle finds so we can ensure that needles are removed quickly.
  • Community audits to get more information in areas that are experiencing problems. Liaison with business and residents to look at environmental changes that could be made to discourage an area from being used (cutting back vegetation, improving lighting, securing areas).
  • A Drug & Alcohol Outreach Worker who can be tasked to work in specific areas.

One resident raised the issue of discarded needles found in public toilets at The Level. CS responded by stating that drug use on the Level was a known and historical problem on site and at this time of year was generally higher than the winter months. Since October the Safety Team had installed needle bins in each of the toilets to help reduce the incident of needle stick injuries. Although not preventing drug use per se the measures were aimed at educating the minority of drug users who discard needles irresponsibly.

CS encouraged residents to report all instances of potential drug dealing to the local neighbourhood policing teams for information. Providing descriptions of those seen or suspected of dealing drugs is encouraged so that the local teams can build a picture of those involved in such activities. Details of the hot lines for the Community Safety Team would be advertised by HEGLAT for information.

Action: The Chair to arrange for details of the contact numbers for the Community Safety Team to be made available to residents via the website.

 6. Parking Survey update and outcome of representation to Transport,    Environment and Sustainability (TES) Committee in July.

The Chair provided a short report on the meeting with TES Committee. The agreed statement was duly presented to Councillors with approval given for further work to be undertaken on building on the outline of the residents plan to full public consultation.

The Chair reminded the meeting of the wording of the statement presented to Committee:

“As the result of the transport and parking survey undertaken by residents via Hanover & Elm Grove Local Action Team (HEGLAT), with 1101 surveys returned, we the residents, now ask Brighton & Hove City Council to undertake the development of a mutually agreed proposal. This is to be followed by a consultation on a Controlled Parking Zone in the area, based on the Community Parking Plan as devised and proposed by the residents and HEGLAT. The outline of this Community Parking Plan having already been discussed with, and positively and constructively received by council officers and councillors in meetings prior to this representation.”

As Committee had now approved for its officers to begin to work up a fuller scheme, the Chair expected that Council staff would be made available to work with residents to develop the finer details of the scheme. Although there has been a general understanding of a final consultation sometime in early 2016, the Chair was awaiting further contact from the Council to confirm the expected timeframes. Once known this would be broadcast to residents.

The Chair informed those present that members of the Parking Sub Group were to meet shortly to begin further work to include a more in depth analysis of feedback obtained on a street by street basis. In addition he mentioned that a number of other LATs were interested in the approach taken at HEGLAT.

Cllr Dick Page expressed his thanks to the Chair and for those volunteers of Hanover and Elm Grove Local Action Team (HEGLAT), particularly those involved in the parking sub group, who had managed to present a robust case and for gaining early support for the proposals. confirmed that other LAT’s had approached him for details of the process that had been adopted for

Action: The Chair asked residents to note the progress to date and invited those residents who would like to be involved in future work areas to make contact either by email or in person.

7. Sussex University Planning Inspectorate Update.

The Chair provided an update on the appeal heard by the Planning Inspectorate against the Sussex University expansion plans that had previously been rejected the B&H Council. The Chair had attended the appeal with Caroline Lynch from the Coombe Road LAT and presented a series of objections to Sussex University’s proposals.

The case and impact on Article 4 wards had been well presented and the Planning Inspector had toured the affected parts of the ward to understand the impact of accommodating students into these particular areas was having.

Whilst the evidence presented by Coombe Road LAT was strong, the Chair confirmed that the Council, on receipt of strong legal advice, had subsequently stood down its earlier objections to the expansion plans with the result that the outcome of the appeal was unfortunately now likely to go in favour of the University. The final Planning Inspector’s decision was still awaited.

The Chair acknowledged that in making its decision, the Council had faced significant potential costs defending its appeal and the case for the University was understood to be stronger. The Council’s had not taken the decision lightly and felt that the pressure placed on it by Sussex University had soured relations with the Council.

The Chair remarked that with Sussex University projecting increased student numbers in the next few years, HEGLAT residents should expect to see continuing pressure on local housing needs with little sign of reduction in the demand for student housing.

LatestTV clip here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IakIUoLeoWI

8. Caroline Lynch Brighton HMO Group on “To Let” signs

The Chair welcomed Caroline Lynch (CL) to the meeting. CL explained the legal background on the promotion and use of To Let and Let signs stating that To Let boards are regulated by the TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (CONTROL OF ADVERTISEMENTS) (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2007

The regulations set out specific rules for the display of advertisements but also the duration for estate agents boards. The Regulation states if the advertisement relates to a sale or event, it must not be displayed more than 28 days before the sale or event begins and must be removed within 14 days after it ends.

The implications is that for any board placed To Let 9 months before the tenancy or event is due to take place is illegal and any Let board should be removed after 14 days.

Under the current Regulation 7 Directive B&H Council have the power to ban To Let Boards in areas that are out of control such as Article 4 wards. The Council are applying the directive in a number of conservation areas which seems to be working well. Unfortunately the same powers are not enforced in Article 4 wards and this is a UK wide problem for student areas in cities and with some Councils being more proactive than others in enforcing its powers.

CL provided the meeting with her account of the progress made to get the Council to ban the boards including attending the Economic, Culture and Development Committee. The Committee agreed there were now precedents for banning To Let boards in student areas and that they would agree to look at this independently of any strategies, to which the Committee agreed and would come back to me.

Last week Reading Council implemented the ban and news from B&H CC is awaited.

What can you do?

Join the Coombe Road LAT in reporting all the illegal To Let boards in your area, to make the council see that rather than dealing with hundreds and probably thousands of complaints every year, a ban would be more cost effective.

We would like to report as many boards as possible to let the Council know the extent of the problem.

How to Report Illegal Boards

In order, to make sure the Council know what the extent of the problem is with To Let boards, please report illegal To Let boards here:

http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/planning/planning-enforcement

and click on the Planning Enforcement Complaint Form link.

Action: The Chair thanked CL for bringing the matter to HEGLAT attention and encouraged residents to report any illegal boards that they see.

9. Bus Subsidy and Consultation:

As part of the recent Bus Watch agenda – Cllr Dick Page informed the meeting that B+H Buses had began a public consultation on the list of bus services currently supported by B&H Council. Cllr Page indicated that the Council had a £1.2m budget allocated to subsidising certain bus routes and the 37B was included in this list. Cllr Page wanted HEGLAT residents to be aware of the consultation so that their views could be made known.

A number of residents maintained that despite limitations of the current 37B route, including frequency of buses and lack of operation on Sundays, it remained an important service for the ward particularly for those residents who found the hilly landscape and travelling between the shops on London Road and Queens Park Road more challenging.

The Chair also took some questions on the recent steps taken by B&H buses to introduce a new bus stop for the 18 on Queen’s Park Road opposite the Hanover Pub. He was hopeful that measures to install bus stop signs and complete the works would be finalised shortly.

Action: The Chair requested that the comments made by residents on the importance of the 37B route in serving the area be recorded. Residents looking to comment further were encouraged to approach B&H buses or Emma Sheridan at the Council as part of the consultation.

 10. AOB:

The Chair reported the following items for residents to information.

  • Facebook page – residents were made aware that reports appearing on the B&H Facebook reported that some lone workers working in shops in the local area were being intimidated. Cllr Emma Daniels was aware of the problems and had reported the matter to the police.
  • Communal bins Washington/Coleman Streets – The Chair reported that the Council were currently reviewing the location of the communal bins following residents’ feedback and that Mike Moon from City Clean still working on the issues raised by residents at the last meeting.
  • A resident of Montreal Road (John) shared a number of initiatives residents of his street were introducing to improve community working. These included tool sharing, plant swap, Zocalo meetings; “Welcome” letters and information to new residents and students; car id disks. He was happy to share the information with others if there was interest.
  • CL extended an invite to the Chair to attend a future Coombe Road LAT meeting.

The meeting ended at 8.55pm.

 Date of next meeting:

 It was agreed to hold the meeting on Monday 5th October at 7.00pm, at the Hanover Pub on Queens Park Rd.

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