Meeting Minutes April 2013

Minutes of the Hanover and Elm Grove LAT meeting of 15th April 2013

Actions are shown in bold.

Present (as recorded on attendance list):

Chris Taylor (Chaired the meeting), Dan Lyons (Brighton Lettings Agency), Richard Roalfe (Brighton Uni. Residences Officer, Phoenix Halls), Andrew Keeffe (Brighton Uni. Community Liaison & Housing Advice Officer), Mark Woolford (Sussex Uni. Housing Assistant), PCSOs Dawn Kitson & Janine Redman, Anna Hunter, Gill Perkins, Christina Pepper, Gillian Fleming, Charlie Doidge, John Holmes, Neil Hawke, Steve Chapman, Mark Lane, Helen Stanton, Tony Baker, Hannah Booth (Secretary).

Apologies:

Cllr. Bill Randall, Cllr. Liz Wakefield, Cllr. Matt Follett, Simon Bannister, Christopher Tucker, Chloe Firman, Sally Holmes, Angela Sains.

  1. Minutes and matters arising:

Graffiti:  It was confirmed by Tony Baker that reported graffiti had been successfully painted over.

Communal Bins:  Chris Taylor raised follow-up issues as to how the consultation itself (for communal bins in Hanover) had been conducted; he had sent a letter via e-mail regarding these issues and received a reply from Jenny Cooke confirming that NO communal bins would be introduced into the Hanover ward. 

The separate issue of what is to be done regarding the current ‘trial’ bins in Washington and Coleman Streets was also discussed, and it was confirmed that the council plan to hold a separate, future consultation with the residents of these streets to ascertain whether they should retain the bins or not.  Christine mentioned that a letter was indeed recently sent to residents of these streets; she personally advocates the communal bins remaining and is a voice in favour of the current communal bins, noting how much clearer the pavements etc. have been along these streets in general in comparison to previous individual refuse collection.

Steve raised the point that the initial consultation was intended to be for the whole of Hanover, not for individual streets, which suggests that the ‘goalposts’ of the consultation have again been changed, particularly if Washington and Coleman Streets are to retain the communal bins in a separate vote.  The question therefore remains as to whether there is a ‘shaky’ future of potential street-by-street introduction of communal bins (not in keeping with Hanover being considered as a whole) and that boundaries could be changed further.  These feelings were echoed by Charlie who also raised the point of the Action Group being a voice for the whole of Hanover as a community and that any further consultations regarding communal bins (and other matters) should be for ALL residents, not just individual streets, as many other streets/residences are affected by the bins in their end-of-street positions, for example.

It was agreed by all to continue to follow the progress and intentions of any further consultations, regarding the communal bins in particular, as carefully as possible.

  1. Phoenix Halls:

Richard Roalfe reinforced points-of-contact regarding the Brighton University Halls, specifically Phoenix Hall in Hanover, and reconfirmed his own contact details.  He stated that he is aware of the areas of complaints from Hanover residents and stressed that there have been several positive steps over recent months, including issues being more quickly and better addressed (noise, bad behaviour) and that repeat offenders have been and are being moved out of the halls.

Andy Keefe reiterated Richard’s points and also confirmed the University’s improved liaison with Student and Housing Reps.

Mark Woolford spoke on behalf of Sussex University, giving a specific example of a case in March (party held in Wycombe Rd.) and how this issue was resolved through the council working more closely with Uni. Reps. and then liaising with Housing Agencies.  He expressed the importance of reporting complaints to the right people so that action may be taken.  PCSOs confirmed that they were aware of this and other instance(s).

A query was raised in response to this as to what form of contact should be made if residents are not directly Uni. Students (private HMOs, foreign exchange students etc.)  Andy suggested that the same contact procedures should be followed and reiterated who/how to contact, confirming that Mark and Andy (representing each main Uni.) are in regular & direct contact with each other; when complaints are made they will require property address, names of individuals where possible and any known landlord/lettings agency.  Andy emphasised that unfortunately not all agencies seem to understand or act on their responsibility for tenants.  It was suggested by several people (with agreement from Richard, Andy, Dan) that plaques could be fixed subtly to all HMO-style residencies stating which Letting Agency/Uni. etc. owns the properties – consensus of opinion by all was that action should (and will) be taken by representatives at the meeting to ensure that ALL Lettings Agencies, landlords, Universities etc. enforce tenancy agreements more closely, enforce Section 51 notices and eviction warnings, fix plaques to properties showing who they are owned/run by, change Agency policies accordingly and improve inter-agency and University communication.

Further discussion involved other cases of noise/party complaints, lack of follow-up and feedback in some cases but positive results (including follow-up by noise pollution officers) in other cases, confirmation that Uni. Reps. DO work closely with Environmental Health officers (but there are queries over logistics for the council in this area in terms of when the ‘noise police’ come out to complaints) and some positive discussion involving Dan & Beth (Brighton Lettings Agency) regarding the intentions to improve the ‘screening’ of student housing applications, making improvements in giving references (bad references = no agency accommodation!) and promise of improved relations between Brighton Lettings and Universities represented at the meeting (discussing refs. for students etc.)

  1. Police report:

Dawn Kitson informed the meeting that no burglaries had taken place and there was not much to report this month for the Hanover area.

Janine Redman reported on Elm Grove matters; some minor vehicle crime had been reported – keyed cars, broken wing mirrors – and she reiterated the importance of immediate, direct contact to ensure cases were dealt with promptly.  Both Dawn & Janine reconfirmed their contact details. There had also been some break-ins to Allotment sheds, possibly by minors, so people were asked to be vigilant.

  1. A.O.B.:

The question of parking on Elm Grove was raised, although no-one was able to give any direct information on this matter and it was suggested that Councillors (not present) needed to be contacted directly on this matter of parking.

The issue of bins/refuse was raised with considerations of alternatives to black sacks, now that the communal bins are not being introduced; Hanover still needs a solution to improve refuse collection and to encourage residents not to be ‘lazy’ and deal with refuse and recycling more responsibly, in particular fly-tipping and placing black sacks directly on to pavements (encouraging gulls, foxes etc.), sometimes on the wrong days.  There is still an issue with the ‘un-owned’ lane behind Hanover Street.  Discussion centred on the pros & cons of trying to enforce legal proceedings and Section 21 warnings; Dan Lyons suggested that perhaps they could help (for their properties) by amending their contracts at Brighton Lettings for 2014 with clauses specifically for refuse responsibility, and by increasing the number of warnings/guarantor contact etc. to encourage better behaviour.  A query was raised about local authorities having been “told not to impose minor fines” (by Mr. Pickles) and, if true, how repeat offenders could be reached/reprimanded.

General discussion then drew to a close around the subject of three new planned student housing projects and whether the type of students residing in Phoenix Halls in particular may be altered to better suit the residential area in which it is based.

  1. Date of next meeting:

It was agreed to hold the next meeting on Monday 17th June 2013, 7:00pm at The Hanover.

PCSO contact details:      Janine.Redman@sussex.PNN.Police.uk

Dawn.Kitson@sussex.PNN.Police.uk

Mark Woolford:   M.A.Woolford@sussex.ac.uk

Richard Roalfe:   R.A.Roalfe@brighton.ac.uk

Phoenix Halls – 01273 230949

To report anti social driving go to: http://www.operationcrackdown.org

To keep in touch with issues discussed at the HEGLAT please visit the website: https://heglat.wordpress.com/

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