Minutes of NHW meetings

The meeting opened with an introduction from PR and GS welcoming those NHW members who attended along with Councillor Karen McCarthy with apologies from PCSO Thomas O'Dell who was unable to be present. 

(PR)

The first topic from the agenda was related to the level of reported crime along Darris Road, Park Corner and Warwards Lane in which the previous three months since the last NHW meeting indicated no incidents in either Darris Road or Park Corner. There were two instances of criminal vehicle damage, one theft from a motor vehicle, one assault and one burglary.

During October of last year, there were a number of burglaries via open windows. Recorded levels of crime for particular areas are used to determine the level of resourcing, so failing to report incidents can have a direct effect on how much police presence there may be, a point which can never be over stated. If it is not recorded, it never happened, so the old saying goes. , 

One trend mentioned locally involves 'lock snapping' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88m_Hk5ipI8 which involves a criminal using bolt croppers and the like although UPVC door locks can be upgraded to incorporate additional dead bolting that retains the door integrity even if the lock is compromised. The official level insurance companies ask for is B(ritish) S(tandard) 3261.

(GS)

Motor vehicles speeding along Warwards Lane continues to be an issue, and whilst historically we have set up up Neighbourhood Watch 'speed watches' and had speed strips in place, these cannot resolve the problem, and the information they gain is limited unless maintained, as averaging reduces the significance of those who do break the current thirty miles per hour limit along our roads.

Karen McCarthy mentioned that the City Council were introducing twenty miles per hour limits locally, including Warwards Lane, which may have some impact and that there was now a community owned speed calibrated camera that can be loaned out to various groups, such as our own, to undertake monitoring although this needs commitment from across the membership.

We feel that with the local City Council elections coming up, our NHW membership should be mentioning the speeding if approached on a 'canvassing tour' as well as the allied problem of those drivers who cut through to Riblesdale Road on the wrong side of the raod as they head towards the bottom end of Warwards Lane. I had one of these encounters myself with a boy racer.

(PR)

Car parking along Warwards Lane continues to pose problems from additional cars from other roads, where there may be none or limited spaces, such as on Raddlebarn Road and the houses behind 10 - 20, Warwards Lane, who park their cars in our street. The main issue is the lack of consideration about the space left between cars when they are parked up being too much.

Parking cars economically has always been an element of the driving test so it should not be beyond some residents and their visitors to do so with consideration for others. This is not a unique problem to our locality, but it is one that reflects the times, more so the attitude of those who feel it's their space rather than a communal one which needs to be for the benefit of everyone of us.

(GS)

The level of NHW membership has stabilised at around eighty or so households, from a 'pot' of just over two hundred houses, some of which are routinely empty and some more which contain a transient population such as students who are only present during term time. PR and GS continue to recruit during the Spring and Summer weeks as existing members do move out ocassionally.

We do feel that existing NHW members can be useful in providing us weith local information on events happening near to them, which if at the one end of a street that is over a quarter of a mile long, may not be known at the other end. We are able to pass on cocerns to the police as we are doing all the time and for which we are thankful for those who continue to feed in information where needed. 

(PR)

Planning issues are another on-going concern, where houses along our street, such as 119 and 121, Warwards Lane have been purchased by Britannia Property and converted into HMO's (homes of multiple occupancy) breaching the original planning application, and in recent times, getting away with it. We did raise the issue with Karen McCarthy about the enforcement notice at 119 at the meeting.

Everyone in the street at the time these planning applications should have responded, and whilst accepting written notification often only goes to houses within a certain radius, we have always provided the details for people to submit their views - good, bad or indifferent - because again, the number of respondents will determine the likely outcome, particularly with too few objections to 119 and 121.

The reason why HMO's are bad for all areas is that they create excess deman on water services, for instance, so that homes nearby suffer from intermittent water temperatures and the cost of rectifying this can be very expensive, they also create extra demand on waste collection and car parking in what is often already a confined space. HMO's a re a blight across the country as they were unregulated.

That latter situation may now be improving with regard to legislation being sought by the City Council to require additional licensing for landlords who operate these kind of properties which means they are easier to seek responses from for enforcing compliance to the existing regulations which can be no bad thing. Rules around these properties need strengthening otherwise they will continue to be a problem.

The three main recent planning applications were for the car sales operation along the Pershore Road between the former Dogpool Hotel (subject of its own planning application as a set of appartments on the upper floor) and the bottom end of Warwards Lane and the former Fitness First site which is now vacant along with the Hazelwell Street plot that tesco are no longer developing. 

(GS)

Probably in the top three favourite topics since the formation of our NHW group is that relating to waste and recycling collections allied to the level of litter along our three streets. We have raised an issue about City Council employees failing to collect black bags from those houses allowed to use them and this will be taken up by our councillors. We still see evidence of plastic bins being misused.

This involves either overloading the recycling ones typically, so that lids do not close properly, or stuffing them with non-recyclable waste, so they are not collected. This is the City Council policy, and it happens frequently enough, that some houses are probably not getting their rubbish removed, creating a smell and/or attracting more rats into the area. this is no good for our environment.

We do provide an accurate yearly calendar, even to non-NHW members, and remind incoming students (since Birmingham University don't seem to do) of the actual collection dates and the recyclable materials that are allowed. It is often non-student residents who are less consistent in their litter duties which is why the litter picks we do, miost recently on 24th March 2018, are so important.

Recycling effectively is a part of modern life so it is not unreasonable to challenge those who seem indifferent to spending a very small amount of their time making sure they do what is necessary to make sure they comply. In truth, when this does happen, there is a positive response in our experience but this should not be a responsibility put on a few individuals on behalf of our streets!

We had a small, but industrious group at the most recent litter pick, including Karen McCarthy, who along with Brigid Jones do assist in these and more frequently than the residents of our three streets. An hour of anyone's time, once every three months is not a lot to ask, and bags, gloves and pickers are provided to everyone who participates. We are looking for more people to involve themselves in the street.

There was a change of topic around what we might do as three streets around people who live alone, and like those who may be less mobile, would fall into the category of being vulnerable. The relevance of this came to light when a person living in one of our three streets was found dead after several days alongide of their dog. A very upsetting situation for those who knew them. We'd like your thoughts.

(PR)

There followed a few brief topic points around the regular removal of 'For Sale' and 'To Let' boards once the new occupants had moved in, and generally, we have a good relationship with local estate agents to ensure this is done.The website for our NHW group has been updated and contains a Twitter feed from the local police and we are always looking for far more contributions from our membership.

The meeting then closed without PR and GS visitng a local hostelry as both felt it would be a welcome change....

Thank you to everyone who attended. The dates for our next meting will be posted within the next six weeks or so and the newsletter will be sent out a few weeks before the date in July.