Minutes of NHW meetings

This meeting took place at the revised date and time indicated in last month's newsletter. In attendance were Paul Rickards and Garry Sayers with council representation from Alisdair Dow and Robert wright and for the police; PCSO Paul Blackford.

The meeting opened with a brief commentary from both councillors so as to clarify what their role in local government comprised of as well as them seeking details of the concerns we have for our street, one of which, the chicane at the Pershore Road end has already been raised with Steve McCabe.

This issue has raised strong views in recent times, and indeed the past, and what is clear from some subscribers that it is not so much the layout of the chicane, although it does seem to defeat the less gifted of our visitors (!), there are those 'chancer' drivers who seek to drive on the wrong side of the road.

This has resulted in several known, and perhaps, several unknown near misses to pedestrians walking in the vicinity of the chicane. B&B Electrical Limited have acted responsibly in placing bollards across their forecourt area for which they are responsible but the footpath is the responsibility of the City Council.

What is clear is that the main cause of the problem arises out of poor driving as no manner of revised road layout will mitigate this. That said, we are currently living in n age of austerity and we do not see funds being provided to re-route traffic different to what occurs at present in the near future.

However, one NHW subscriber did offer a potential trial solution in which turning left from Umberslade Road into Warwards Lane was prevented to see if this improved the incidence of 'chancer' driving as this lane would be closed off to them more than is the case at present. Subscribers may have other suggestions.

Although not directly connected, the speed of vehicular traffic using our street is a continuing concern and PCSO Paul Blackford confirmed that the police strip data collected last month is expected imminently but here lies the rub. To demonstrate a need for vehicle calming measures, we need evidence.

Evidence that will, in the main, be collected from local NHW subscribers on this street volunteering to support myself and Garry such that we can have at least two Speed Watches a month at various times and dates to establish the extent of the issue. This must be of particular relevance to families with children.

Only Garry, myself and one other NHW subscriber have so far undertaken these which places an unfair burden on the few when this issue, so we keep hearing, is of major concern to several dozen people. What we'd like to see is a far greater number of volunteers carrying out this speed monitoring for all our benefit.

Our street, our responsibility.

No one is going to promise the vehicle speed will improve overnight but without the raw data, the Council and the police will not allocate resources where there is no evidence of a problem. If this rate of change is too slow for some, then write to the Council, speak to the MP and campaign for the improvement.

The NHW is there to serve the street but two people alone cannot do all the graft on their own. Fair's fair. To quantify the time commitment we're actually talking about, a Speed Watch session lasts an hour and a half generally that equates to two minutes per week in a year. Hardly a major commitment we think.

Paul Blackford also went on to outline the recorded crime levels that the police statistics evidence for our street for the previous twelve months for 7th April 2010 - 6th April 2011 consisted of the following incidents -:

14 vehicle crimes (each of these may have resulted in damage to more than one vehicle)
7 assaults to persons using (not necessarily living in) our street
5 burglaries of a dwelling house
3 arrests for possession of a controlled drug
3 incidents of domestic abuse
2 burglaries of an outbuilding (shed for instance)
2 pedal cycle thefts

Whilst there are some serious crimes registered here, we feel there are many non-personal and probably property related that are not being recorded although this a perception rather than a fact. It cannot be stressed enough, although we do our best (!), recorded crime levels are how our street is resourced by police.

If it isn't recorded, it hasn't happened! We do acknowledge that it is very frustrating when criminal damage to car wing mirrors goes unpunished as the miscreants are usually long gone by the time the damage is discovered and it is unlikely that the perpetrators will be caught unless they are seen and recorded doing so.

A cruel reality perhaps. However, if the incidence of such events is evidenced as being greater in our street than elsewhere, then reporting these instances will have an improved chance of detection and prevention when additional resources are provided by the Local Police Unit. This is Phil McKay's (*) commitment to us.

Since the inception of 'paragon' - the re-arrangement of police teams across the West Midlands - the Chief Superintendant (*) has agreed to a trial with the Solihull area where the police resources will be divided into neighbourhood teams of eight police officers and five PCSO's who will work set shifts of 'earlies' and 'lateseys'.

In addition, there will be a number of neighbourhood priority teams whose role it is to respond to specific matters arising from the work of the neighbourhood teams that might include meeting members of the public in relation to concerns or incidents they have or report to the police where direct contact is needed.

There will be some cost reduction implications to the police service and there is no escaping this fact. The intention is to limit the impact to front-line police resources with the aim of cost-cutting being directed towards office support staff although police officers with thirty years service are being 'retired' earlier than normal.

This has arisen from a historic scenario for officers with this level of service and there will be some of these who joined at eighteen rather than in their twenties and wilst their pensions and lump sum payouts will not see them destitute, it does remove a wealth of experience. No actual figures were available.

At an immediate local level, Sergeant Sally Olsen is being replaced by Sergeant Mike Dunbar from 1st June this year and both Garry and myself will be seeking to introduce ourselves to him as early as practicable as the micro-beat officer we have for our street will also be changing although no details were available at this time.

Garry and I have committed with PCSO Blackford to confirm at least three Speed Watch dates from May onwards to begin with and we are asking for your support of your local NHW group in the manner we have outlined above.

We would like to thank everyone for attending this meeting.

Please respond positively.