Minutes of NHW meetings

The meeting began with PR welcoming all attendees and it was noted that PCSO Ade Richards was unable to attend as he is on honeymoon


GS confirmed that the crime figures supplied by the police covered a six month period and would probably incorporate some incidents earlier in the year although we have asked for these on a quarterly basis to establish a more representational report. This will be taken up again with the police as otherwise the figure become confusing, and potentially, misleading.  We are aware of one robbery and four acts of criminal damage to vehicles, but other crimes are likely to have related to people passing true the street. 


PR illustrated that recent police crime statistics indicate that Stirchley, Bournville and Selly Park South have been experiencing significant levels of burglary, predominantly along the main high street(s) and thoroughfares, and that therefore, potential danger is always nearby.  Please try to be extra careful, particularly around the Christmas holiday period, to ensure that your property is secure, as the dark evenings make burglars' even bolder.


Burglars, specifically the more opportunist amongst them, know that most houses will be purchasing presents so please keep them out of sight and ensure that packaging for expensive electrical items is discreetly disposed of so as not to advertise laptops and televisions having been recently acquired. Equally, for student houses more so than other residents, ground floor bedrooms with openly displayed electronic equipment is giving information to burglars about what they can steal from one house compared to another!.


GS re-emphasised that as students and other new residents to Darris Road and Warwards Lane arrive, we should all endeavour to engage with them and continue to build neighbourliness in the street.  This will create a better environment for all residents from whatever contingent of the overall population of the street. this has been a recurring theme for our NHW group and will continue to be so.


PR reiterated that this time of year is difficult for all residents but the elderly and house bound are sometimes left feeling isolated although examples of neighbourly support were indicated by attendees of this meeting, which is a positive sign!  We all need to keep an eye out for any of these people that may live close by and the street website (www.warwardsnhw.com) will give links to organisations that may be able to provide assistance is required.


GS went through the changes have been made to the way we distribute copies of the newsletter, which we do three times a year, as we decided that to prevent costs of membership rising, NHW members would only receive this by e-mail, providing they were connected to the internet, of course! The consequent reduction in the ed the number of copies printed, allows this to be done more quickly, as well as saving ink, paper and time. We could also do with some more assistance with the delivery of the remaining newsletters, as Jim Gasson, a deliverer par excellence. has left the street. 


PR then went onto relay the detail of a street walk about that took place in conjunction with the police and council on the 25thSeptember 2013.  Ten items were high lighted for action and a number of these have already been completed as outlined in the November newsletter.  We continue to follow up on the others, while some dispute relating to the ownership of the passage way link to Pershore Rd. at the bottom of the street.  The council having carried out a search have indicated that it is not a public right of way and therefore its maintenance is not their responsibility.  Members felt that this path is widely used and requested that further discussion should be held with the council of potential safety issues.    


GS suggested that the next ‘street clean up’will take place when the University term finishes and the date will be confirmed very soon It will be uploaded onto our website too.  Hopefully, all residents of our two streets  have noticed that some progress has been made but there is more to do, and be prepared to give a little of their time in future, to assist in this.  Dirty streets attract unsociable behaviour!


Student Warden Grace Jackson joined the meeting and will report points raised by members to the University as she was participating on behalf of Lisa Barnett who supports our NHW group around students living here. GJ will also work with us in dealing with other issues relating to students in particular. 


The last free green bag collection from Birmingham City Council will take place on Thursday 21st November 2013.


Several residents also asked for updates on the illegal building work that has taken place at two properties along Warwards Lane where they have requested planning permission to build a single storey rear extension and then added multiple rooms along the length of the whole garden. This matter has been referred to Councillor Karen McCarthy and Steve McCabe MP.


The company in question, Britannia Property Services, are based in Selly Oak, and have repeated this practice at another property in Gristhorpe Road. Some people feel that further action is necessary as the delays in council departments liaising with one another will mean the remaining properties undergoing work will be completed before any notice is served. We would ask for any ideas around further action from NHW members. Do nothing and this will continue to reoccur!


The meeting concluded with an overview of what being a member of the Neighbourhood Watch entails, and membership is a positive action and your money is very necessaryto the work it dies on your behalf.  However, simply paying your annual fee and then being a passive member, unless there is an issue that directly affects you, such as the yellow lines last year ,does not give the organisation the strength it needs.


The Britannia Property Services matter, mentioned above, is a case in point. Properties are being converted to Houses of Multiple Occupancy right under the noses of the City Council. An extension at the rear of the property exceeds legal limits and is being built over the top of the sewage pipe. The modification to the property is such that the fire place has fallen down within the house next door to the right. Work continues despite the fact that the planning application has been refused by the Council.


The property company has recently purchased the house to left and conversion work began immediately began despite the fact that no planning application having been made. Protests have been made to many contacts within the Council but nothing seems to be happening.  This is why we need greater levels of activity by members for instance, specifically attendance of our NHW meetings and street clean ups, as in many situations, numbers equate to strength!


The meeting then closed but the Hibernian was closed and we all went home!