Minutes of NHW meetings

The meeting opened with PR and GS welcoming everyone who attended including PCSO Tom O’Dell, Councillor Brigid Jones and Rob Netherway and Izzy (student warden) from Birmingham University and will be the first to be trialled with a new presentation format.

The purpose of doing so was to ensure that points for discussion were made within the relevant portion of the meeting rather than interrupting during another part of the overall presentation which makes the meeting disjointed (and difficult to minute properly!)

PCSO O’Dell began the meeting by covering the general level of crime along our three streets; Darris Road, Park Corner and Warwards Lane as well as the wider districts of Selly Oak and Selly Park over the course of the preceding six weeks which were reported.

Near to Darris Road, there was one recorded instance of harassment, no incidents within Park Corner and one of criminal damage in Warwards Lane itself. There have been ten burglaries reported in Selly Oak this month so far compared to thirty-nine the previous one.

There had been eight incidents of vehicle damage so far this month compared to nineteen the previous one. The lower figures for this month reflect we are only part way through the month so these are for indicating trends only at this stage.     

We do provide annual comparisons on the Warwards Lane NHW website on a year-by-year basis which provides a more informative comparison of recorded crime. The accuracy of these figures are dependent on all residents reporting crime at all times.

We do hear regular complaints about telephoning ‘no-urgent’ crime using the ‘101’ service where it can take lengthy waiting time to actually get to speak to someone. Please always remember to obtain the name of the individual you speak to and any crime number!

An alternative to the telephone is to report crimes via e-mail; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that at least you have a record of what has been sent and that it has been received although no knowledge of who would deal with it so it might suit people more than the telephone.

A further option is to log onto the police website; www.west-midlands.police.uk which allows access to a pre-set template which can be completed individually and then submitted with name, address and telephone number.

PR and GS had made enquiries prior to the meeting regarding the incident at 13, Warwards Lane where armed officers had responded to a report of a person believed to be carrying a weapon. A weapon might be a baseball bat upwards and armed police might be those carrying tasers.

PR and GS attended a NHW meeting several years ago where these were demonstrated (minus the voltage!) and apparently no person was found at the premises by all accounts. One NHW household reported their fence had been broken during a police pursuit in recent weeks.

This had been reported to police on ‘101’ but no follow-up had been received. We also received a brief summary of the incident on Heeley Road a few weeks back where a student had been stabbed for refusing to hand of their car keys although three suspects have been interviewed.

PR and GS have been working with the student wardens of Birmingham University for the past five years, and invited representatives from there to outline their activities and for residents to ask any questions of them.

The primary function of the student warden scheme run by the University, which has been outlined previously, is to undertake peer visits to student houses in order to provide information, guidance and support to them.

This does include resolution of issues that have been reported to them as well as problems which they may have encountered whilst living outside of the campus. Our recent NHW visit to student homes on 8th October 2018 was part of this.

The University is attempting to become involved in issues as straightforward as reminding students to ensure recycling and waste bins are placed ready for collection in good time and to remove them from the street afterwards.

They have also organised a bus service to bring students home from the campus during the darker nights to minimise the risk of assault in the wake of the stabbing on Heeley Road which was mentioned by PCSO O’Dell.

The contact details for residents who might want to raise concerns is shown under the local issues tab on the NHW website as well as under the contact tab. Equally, students should enjoy the same courtesies from their neighbours.      

The University, in conjunction with the police, have been actively promoting the concept of Street Watch involving local volunteers from amongst both the resident and student community to undertake good will patrols.

There are two short training sessions organised for 14th and 20th November 2018, the first of which will be attended by PR, and once these have been completed, further information will be made available to everyone.

Councillor Brigid Jones then fielded a number of points relating to ongoing matters raised previously, such as the poor street lighting levels along Warwards Lane to new issues such as new planning applications coming to light.

Amey were contacted at the conclusion of the previous NHW meeting on 5th July 2018, and given no response had been forthcoming since then, a further reminder e-mail into which we were copied, has been sent for comment.

The issue we have put forward is the irregular sighting of the existing street lamps and the ambient light level being insufficient to cast enough light for those walking along the street after 10.30pm throughout the year.

GS recapped on four planning matters that were either new or ongoing; the outcome of the enforcement notice at 119, Warwards lane, the proposed Lidl development, conversion of the Dogpool and the flats by the Three Horseshoes pub.

The issues with several of these has been the implications of the number of HMO sites being generated in consequence, and in several instances, no local people appear to have been aware of these plans existing.

The ward lines seem to be quite narrow, so the obligation to inform might be quite limited, even though geographically, a site may be within yards of properties that may still be affected by noise pollution and car parking issues.

Councillor Brigid Jones will look into these as all of them would certainly have implications for our three streets and we have been reminding people to respond to ALL planning applications that they are notified of to avoid inaction.

We were also notified of a newly formed organisation – a resident’s association – that has been set up for the purpose of challenging planning applications and the details of this can be found on the Monks Park Area Neighbourhood Forum.

The newly installed 20mph speed limits across several local streets, including Warwards Lane, has been in force for several months now and yet there are still anecdotal reports of continuing breaches of this that have yet to be curtailed.

This issue is particularly problematic at the Pershore Road end of Warwards Lane where the chicane created at the turning into Warwards Lane allows cars to speed into and onto our street very easily and comments about this have fallen on stony concrete.

Stirchley Park has been improved with a natural earth bund around the road side to prevent access by illegal occupants that have so far appeared to have thwarted further incursions by anyone with the intent of occupying this land without permission.

Brigid Jones confirmed that there would be no City Council objections to residents planting bulbs along the embankment running down the side of Park Corner, and it is our intention to contribute financially towards this task before spring of next year.

Finally, the only item under any other business related to the ponding of water during the downpour on the day of the Birmingham marathon, which is an intermittent problem and the marshalling failing to prevent access towards the Pershore Road end of the street.

The meeting was adjourned rather loudly and there was a hefty sigh of relief after the discussions, and uncharacteristically, PR and GS took a rain check on visiting a local hostelry…..As they went off into the night, onlookers heard the phrase, “For the greater good”