Minutes of NHW meetings

The meeting began at 7.15pm at the normal venue; The New Dogpool Hotel.  Paul Rickards opened the meeting by introducing himself and Gary Sayers as the co-ordinators of the NHW scheme for our street as well as introducing Linda Murray who spoke as a private individual in relation to her background in child social services and Steve McCabe, our local MP who contributed his feelings on the importance of NHW groups.

PR went on to review the NHW group activities for the year, many of which have been highlighted in the three newsletters that the group have produced during the current calendar year allowing those attending the meeting to make their observations at the appropriate time.

The areas highlighted included the continuing growth of our NHW group to a respectable sixty-five households out of a total of around two hundred and twenty-five, accepting around 10% are empty and/or being refurbished at any one time. The recruitment drive has involved many hours visiting homeowners, tenants and students.

This element of the NHW group has been carried out by PR and GS exclusively and as the co-ordinators this is their primary remit although it helps us if all of the current subscribers mention its importance to their neighbours as it is the forum that the police will use primarily to deliver localised messages and warnings.

PR alluded to at least two instances where the NHW had become involved in discussions with the police over matters affecting two of our subscribers and that this has resulted in a satisfied response from those particular individuals. Everyone can, however, influence local police priorities at the bi-monthly tasking meetings which anyone may attend.

PR agreed to confirm the next few dates to subscribers when the information becomes available.

PR and GS confirmed that they had visited around forty student households, primarily on 12th October 2010, when we were accompanied by Katy Massey, one of the student wardens from Birmingham University, for the purpose of distributing a welcome pack and recycling and safety information to each 'home of multiple occupaqncy' Council jargon, not mine! 

Gary Sayers then went on to identify the actions that we all need to be aware of and undertake far more frequently if we are to avoid the old tagline excuse of "Somebody (else) should!" One of the foremost of these is the passing on of information about events that happen in the street to either the NHW or the police, whether this be a suspicion or a fact.

The police rely on the public and it is often their assistance that helps to solve many crimes. This cannot be stressed enough but we will try our best . Forgive my emoticon indulgence.....We all want to live in a secure and safe environment and active feedback promotes this.

GS then went onto highlight that as the NHW group becomes ever larger, as we push towards seventy-five households, we would be looking to obtain more involvement from the members in matters such as the delivery of newsletters and to appoint 'mini-co-ordinators'.

The idea here would be to identify a handful of other people to whom information and/or concerns could be raised along the length of our street which would then be passed on to Garry and myself, who because of personal commitment, can only devote so much time to our NHW group.

We would like anyone who would be interested to let Garry or myself know and we can discuss this issue further.

GS finished by reiterating the questions asked in the supplemental leaflet we produced about improving neighbourliness. A financial stake - your subscription is one thing - but actually participating in the Community Speed Watches and the Big Clean Ups requires only a little more devotion!

One of the NHW subscribers did raise the issue regarding the chicane at the Pershore Road end of Warwards Lane being driven down the wrong way so that vehicles could get onto Raddlebarn Road that much quicker. This is a matter linked heavily to poor driving generally.

Your NHW group will seek to identify with the City Council and traffic police, whether a better and safer traffic calming measure, can be introduced. The nominal speed humps we already have cannot be raised as emergency services need to be able to use our street.

Linda Murray then spoke about the importance for all of us to become better observers when it comes to the issue of child protection in terms of being confident enough to challenge and report any suspicions we may have of children being mistreated around us.

The point made was that whilst the media like to report these unfortunate and distressing incidents, what they ignore is the effect this has on people's desire to become involved for fear of being 'labelled' which can allow abuse to go unnoticed, often with serious consequences.

This topic did introduce a serious debate amongst those persons attending and it is to LM's credit, that she agreed to speak on a personal basis regarding the need for each of us to 'take ownership' as even if our suspicions are wrong, genuine concern is not a bad thing.

Steve McCabe, our local MP, who was unable to confirm his availability until the last moment, then spoke about his observations on the operation of all NHW groups and went onto say it is a particular interest of his as a member of the Home Office Select Committee.

The essence of the message was that everyone has to take control of their own circumstances and take responsibility for their own decisions. Nobody can expect local and central government bodies and other agencies, including NHW groups, to do everything for them.

Members of the audience then made some observations on these principles and generally were in agreement with the sentiments.

PR and GS than thanked everyone for attending. Incidentally, several students were amongst hose attending which is a positive sign of our wish to include them in everything your NHW group does.

The meeting then finished around 8.10pm.