Minutes of NHW meetings

The meeting opened shortly after 7.00pm at the New Dogpool Hotel on the Pershore Road. Paul Rickards began the meeting by introducing the police representation; PCSO's Carl Barrington and Ade Richardson along with councillors; Alistair Dow and Brigid Jones.

Conventionally, Ade Richardson spoke on the subject of the policing of Warwards Lane over the past six months, during which time there have been fourteen reported crimes comprising of five burglaries, four thefts, one street robbery of a student, one stolen pedal cycle, one criminal damage to a house, a vehicle theft and one incident of criminal damage to a parked vehicle. We appear to be resistant to incidents on the whole.

The key here is the reporting of crime directs police resources, plain and simple. We all want les crime in our area but failing to report it, however frustrating and aggravating the process might be, means that there will be less policing of our street. This could mean that additional crimes are committed if our street were to be seen as 'easy pickings' and it will if the police believe there is a better crime rate than there is!

The waste collection procedures we had hoped to include did not occur as no one from the Council turned up so we will try to rearrange this. Nevertheless, Garry sayers summarised what we all need to do to keep our street clean rather than adopting the old catchphrase; "Somebody should." Yes, they should. Those people are us. We know that some of the rubbish is discarded by foot traffic passing along our street.

That said, as you will see later, some of the residents put this into practice by attending another Big Clean Up on 31st March 2012. There were around ten residents and one student from Warwards Lane who assisted for around an hour and all the bags collected were taken away by the Council within a day or so. It is commendable that these people did this despite having commitments of there own. So more of this, please!

Both councillors who turned up spoke briefly around the issues of the local environment and security in a non-political way. The subjects covered touched upon some of the points already raised but did also include the redevelopment of Selly Oak and the redevelopment of the former Selly Oak hospital site. I certainly feel that they are aware of concerns generally and were impressed by the strong turnout once more.

The closure of the Dogpool Lane bridge appears to have 'gone quiet', according to the information Garry Sayers was advised of by contacts from Amey Construction and National Express. The likely start date for this work will be May or June of this year and it is worth reiterating, again, that the loss of up to eight car parking spaces will require more considerate parking, allowing room for the maximum number of vehicles to be parked!

Another suggestion was made by one resident for the re-routing of the number 76 bus to eliminate the need for the double yellow lines to be put down, particularly as our road has just been re-surfaced! This involved the possibility of buses making a left turn into St. Stephens Rd but looked from the perspective of the turning area required, it does not look possible. Reliable local, and independent sources (!), say this is correct unfortunately.

Paul Rickards then restated our plan to continue further recruitment, as we approach the 1st July date for next year's NHW memberships. We now have over eighty households along Warwards Lane, and this has required an awful lot of effort on mine and Garry's part, in our own free time. I think we can achieve over a hundred households and the array of NHW stickers tells its own success story, in our view. But we would say that, I guess.

Please encourage your neighbours to join. £5.00 a year, no matter waht the personal circumstances are, is not a lot of money. The preponderance of speeding was brought up again and a suggestion was made about installing a zebra crossing towards the bottom end of the street but there was little enthusiasm for it. Flashing electronic boards indicating the maximum speed was felt to be a stronger 'calming measure' to road hogs.

We will be writing to Alistair Dow to begin this process. We will also be investigating the costs, procedures and timescales for making our road permit holder based as well so any comments or views on this would be appreciated. Off road parking is at a premium and most residents have to park their vehicles on the street, and not necessarily outside their house, either. There is no right to do so, I'm afraid, as most pay their road tax......

Paul Rickards then went onto the subject of reporting crimes, touching on some of the detail that PCSO Ade Richardson had outlined earlier. Three specific incidents were summarised where it was shown that actions taken by residents had foiled burglaries and thefts in progress in two instances and alerted somebody about an open door, all of which turned out positively. We need everyone to stand up and be counted.

Garry Sayers then highlighted the extra importance of residents securing their property during the holiday periods in particular and to let their neighbours know that they are away. In the event there is a need, anyone can submit an alert to NHW if less urgent, or the police, if more immediate attention is required. Garry and I will always assist in so far as we can. When your neighbours are away keep an eye on their property.

Avoid the build up of post and junk mail. The Post Office can have your mail redirected temporarily but there is a cost for this but not so much as the potential break-in that could arise from obvious unoccupancy signs to the opportunist thief! These could include newspapers as well, sticking out or the letterbox, or milk or other packages from mail order services, left out in plain sight, even assuming someone doesn't just steal these.

Shortly after the formation of our street's NHW scheme, back on 22nd September 2008, we did try to identify persons we felt were vulnerable, particularly, but not exclusively, the elderly and people who live alone or who have poorer mobility. We are looking to set up a pastoral mentoring scheme for as many of these people as possible. It was mooted as to whether this type of scheme could be for befriending such persons.

Students could be used as part of this process as they do in other areas. We will take up this point with Lisa Barnett of Birmingham University's Student Guild. We were kindly provided with one such student who talked briefly about the student warden scheme that operates from said university and what these persons can dio in order to highlight anti-social issues that some students can cause to their neighbours.

That said, we have engaged several students on Big Clean Ups as well as our annual October 'Welcome to warwards Lane' visits undertaken in conjunction with student wardens. We would be happy to hear from anybody who has any comment, good or bad, they have had with local students, and we can re-state the contact details in our next NHW newsletter. we would emphasise using this process where a problem arises.

Garry sayers requested an indication of interest in a street get-together on Tuesday 5th June 20121 to celebrate the Queen's sixty years on the throne and most seemed keen for this to take place. I understand that one resident will be producing a flyer to this effect and it should run along similar lines as the Royal wedding. Once again, everybody is welcome and everybody will bring food. Nearer the time we will need an idea of numbers.

We also need to know what food they intend to bring as well. The only other item of interest related to the poor state of the path surface front of the shops at the junction of Pershore Road and Ribblesdale Road. There is a potential issue over somebody tripping and hurting themselves here, particularly in icy or wet conditions. Councillor Dow will contact Amey Construction to see what can be done. We will let you know of developments.

The meeting concluded at 8.30pm. We would like to thank everyone for attending and look forward to seeing you on 5th June 2012.