Date : 18 October 2016
Location: West Hill Hall
Attendees: approx. 40 people
Chair: Lizzie Deane
Minutes: Colette Wilson
Chris Durrant (Police) and Jonathan Ridley (Community Safety) presented a joint update about anti-social activities in the area. They work in partnership with other Council Depts and agencies, eg the substance misuse and mental health charity Equinox, and St Mungo’s (a homelessness charity and housing association).
Chris D reported that when problem areas are designated ‘hotspots’ eg St Nicholas Churchyard, the Rest Garden and Terminus Road, there is a meeting every fortnight at which the hotspots are discussed and action agreed. With focus, issues are tackled and they then move their attention to other problem areas.
Chris D said that two years ago he had 28 PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers); he now has only 11, which will increase to 15 in the near future, but they are still under-resourced to do any meaningful, pro-active work. They can only be re-active and rely on residents to report any issues to them.
City Parks and City Clean are responsible for looking after green spaces. Jonathan R advised residents to always report anti-social and illegal behaviour. If the response is less than the one hour promised, Jonathan R suggested residents should complain, but that City Parks do their best dealing with people in tents in the parks, who must always be given 24 hours’ notice to remove tents.
Some attendees of the meeting expressed their frustration at the slowness of response and action by the authorities to deal with the issues of threatening behaviour and drug dealing near the station and drug detritus left in St Nicholas gardens. Lizzie Deane said she thought this was a direct result of the central government cuts to council budgets which have been reduced by 25-30% annually over the last few years.
ACTION: Jonathan R promised that the Community Safety team would be represented at the next WHAT meeting. He also promised to give a comprehensive list of the correct contact details to which residents should report various issues. Download full contact-list
In some cases, Lizzie suggested that an appropriate response may be action by the community itself – to build links with the services or email local councillors so they might nudge the relevant services.
Mo, from Clifton Street Passage, said that she and other residents had decided to take matters into their own hands – they wanted City Clean to come and blitz the passage, remove graffiti and fly tipped items, and then the residents would keep it clean themselves.
ACTION: Lizzie Deane promised that she would co-ordinate some Community Clean-up dates between City Clean and residents.
Surrey Street and Taxi Rank update
Lizzie D reported that she had heard – anecdotally but not officially – that the Station taxi rank would be moved to the back of the station. She had also heard that the possibility of making Surrey Street a red route (no stopping or parking allowed at all during certain hours) was being discussed.
Surrey Street residents reported the continuing misery of living there with the bus and taxi traffic, as well as noise from the Evening Star pub outside sitting area.
ACTION: Lizzie said that she would help co-ordinate a petition from the residents to the Transport Committee to ask them to relook at the road layout (as it is too narrow for buses to turn the corner into the street without always hitting the kerb) and the environmental impact of the road design. This is apart from the issue caused by the illegal queuing of taxis which should be resolved by moving the taxi rank to the back of the station.
Lizzie also reported that she was in discussion with the Evening Star landlords about screening off the outside sitting area.
Caxton Arms Noise Nuisance
Keith Sharpe reported that North Gardens residents had been in contact with the Council to ask for a review of the late licence that Caxton Arms was using. He could not understand why other pubs in the area all close at 12 midnight but that a pub on a residential street was allowed to stay open until 1am and in reality still generate noise until after 1.30am. The 1am licence was originally granted to the previous landlords when smoking was still allowed in pubs – so the issue of late night noise generated by smokers outside was never envisaged. Despite residents sending in noise diaries to Council Officers, they were informed that noise from smokers does not constitute a statutory nuisance and so nothing can be done to revoke the licence. Lizzie Deane suggested that a review by members of the licensing panel be requested, which would mean that 3 councillors would sit and review the situation.
ACTION: Lizzie D to meet North Gardens’ residents to agree next steps.
Nick from Clifton Street expressed concern at the dangerous state of the pavements in the area, particularly in Buckingham Road. Lizzie D said she would bring the subject up with the appropriate Council department and Nick said he would report the issue online at the Council’s website.