Minutes of NHW meetings

The last of the current NHW metings took place at the usual venue; Selly Park Baptist Church, on Thursday 6th November 2014, and was attended by ten residents, plus representatives from Bournville Lane police station; Sergeant Simon Williams and PCSO's Carl Barrington and Ade Richardson. Councillor Brigid Jones was also in attendance.


Garry Sayers thanked everyone for attending on what was a damp evening and introduced the above persons for the benefit of those who had not met them previously. 


The police representatives then outlined some pertinent information on recorded crime within our ward and those of the surrounding areas which highlights why reporting all crimes, no matter how insignificant or even how likely they are to be solved, so as to not present any distortion in the picture being drawn. Sergeant Williams asked PCSO Richardson to illustrate the specific crimes that had occured along Warwards Lane since 1st September 2014 and other than one robbery, where a youth was subsequently arrested at the scene, there were no other incidents of note reported.


Given that students make up a significant proportion of the populace, both within our community of Darris Road, Park Corner and Warwards Lane, the crime levls are reducing by 62%, 27% and 18% in respect of the year on year figures for September, October and (part of) November this year. Vehicular damage was down over a comaprable twelve months by 30% and 25% for September and October of 2014. I have no figures for the first week of November under this category. Motor vehicle theft, including property from within, fell by 38%, 26% and 0% compared to the same period last year.


In all, recorded crime across our police district by an aggregate of 5.2% from last year for September and 3.5% for October. There was an apology from the police for recent non-attendance of our NHW meetings, following comments from GS and PR, as we both agree that regular presence at our NHW meetings gives a steer to our members how important theuir involvement in crime reduction actually is. Six people were arrested locally with the help of residents in our ward. Sergeant Williams then identified several initiatives that were or had been instigated across the  component wards such as re-arranging shift patterns to place additional police 'on the beat' between 10.00pm and 6.00am.


There had also been a move towards liaison between police and local landlords, to share and act on, concerns regarding tennacies for persons with historical anti-social behavioural issues. The Bournebrook Safety Association had provided and installed several community produced (via prison labour) wrought iron gates in Gristhorpe Road and Warwards Lane that now better prevent access to the rear of many older houses. Police will continue to inspect these, intermittently, and arrange to lock any left open, if possible, or failing this, secure them with plastic retainers. NHW groups provide information that contributes towards the solving of around 25% of the recorded crimes in our local wards which is something to be proud of. 


There was also reference to the continuance of local speed watches along our streets, although the two recently undertaken by GS and PCSO Barrington, yielded no speeding vehicles were recorded. We can be grateful for their endeavours, although it would be nice to see other NHW members come forward to help out in future, so that they can contribute to operations where they have clear concerns about this subject!   There was official confirmation that the 'cannabis farm' at the top end of Warwards Lane had been closed down as a consequence, in part, of information from residents about this illegal activity. Community student wardens from Birmingham University are also working with PCSO's in visiting student homes where late night parties have occured, which was the case in warwards Lane, around two months ago. It was reported and acted upon.


NHW members attending our meeting were advised that there is a three tier response for offences of this kind, although on balance, we would treat such behaviour the same were it committed by homeowners and/or tennants, as well! The policy for students, however, is that a first offence will be treated informally by means of a vistation from the community student wardens, who ask their peers to be more apprciative of those around them. It is recorded as such but no further action is taken. Any repeat instance by the same student(s) then necessitates a vist where both community student wardens and police vist, and again, whilst no action is taken, it is recorded. A third, and final offence, results in a meeting of the University's disciplinary panel and the City Council become involved. At this point, a sanction is imoposed that could, ultimately, result in dismissal from the course.


The police were thanked, after no further questions were raised, and we then proceeded to the next topic around reiterating

the importance of home and personal security over the Xmas period. GS reiterated the need for vigilance around securing property with the onset of the darker evenings and making sure that valuable items were stored out of sight and not left in

cars or garden sheds as opportunists will often look here! Where you have any suspicions of criminal activity, please continue to report actions to the police on '101' telephone service, making sure that you get both the name and the serial (badge)

number of the officer that you speak to so that the incident is recorded and must then be investigated. Failure to do so wiill simply distort the crime levels recorded that generate police coverage in our area.


The gate in alleyway between Warwards Lane and Gristhorpe Road has finally been repaired by the Bournebrook Community

Safety Association, and this has effectively improved the security to the rear of around seventy households. The speed watch

sessions have previously been commneted upon, as evidence of community support for the police, but we do need our NHW

members to assist in working on these as well. GS continues to attend most of our local police tasking meetings, and as a

consequence of these, resources continue to be directed towards the criminality that local people identify, so to be completely

representative, more people attending has to be the order of the day.The increase in public drinking in the alcohol-free area

opposite Park Wine Store, has been reported to police, and they have made more patrols of this vicinity as alcohol can lead to

other criminality. Park Corner had been taken into the NHW group and half of the houses have become members with the

assistance of one of the residents; Phil Sheridan. Membership recruitment sessions have been undertaken by GS and PR

over the course of the Spring and Summer months, to the point where we have regained numbers from households relocating.


Human trafficking is getting significant national publicity, in and around the West Midlands, as recent public service

announcements on the television have indicated. The investigation of 'First Class' establishment on the Bristol Road appeared

on 'Midlands Today' in recent months and illustrates why police forces across the country have allocated significant levels of

manpower towards combatting this type of crime. It can happen very easily in a community. Although not directly related,

we only have to look at the example of the cannabis farm discovered at the top of the street earlier this year to see how

criminality can be happening 'next door', perhaps for several months or more before it is identified. If you notice anything

suspicious, please either contact the police, on the '101' service or let your NHW team know. 


Article 4 was approved by the Cabinet and will become effective from 30th November 2014 as we reported in the previous

July newsletter. Notices regarding the development have been attached to lamp posts around the area for some weeks and

local residents were give the opportunity to express their opinions on the subject in a recent postal and on-line survey. What

this now means is that if any house is being converted or built for three or more unrelated people, (five or more outside

Birmingham) with the intention of becoming a HMO (home of multiple occupancy), then planning permission will only be

approved providing no more than 10% of housing stock within 100 metres of the proposed HMO location also falls into the

HMO category. There is no retrospective assessment, so areas such as Bournebrook will not be affected, but it should be much

more difficult for developers, like Britannia Property Services, to contravene planning legislation in future. If any house

conversion begins, please let the City Council know immediately or tell us, so as we can prevent further HMO's. Councillor

Brigid Jones fielded questions on this subject.


Recruitment of new NHW members continues, although we do need mor of the members to help out, as GS and PR cannot

hope to complete all of the tasks that the organisation becomes involved in. Delivering newsletters, litter picks and speed

watches are but three of these. PR raidsed the point of how many NHW members responded to the Article 4 survey to provide

feedback on this issue? We have also asked for contributions for both the newsletters and the website with varying degrees of

success. We would also like to see more NHW members taking an active role in attending the police tasking meetings, the

next one of these taking place on Monday 24th November , at 7 pm in the Elim Church on Exeter Road. It was also pointed out

that because both Christmas Day and News Years Day fall on our normal waste collection day;Thursday, there will be none

collected until Thursday 8th January 2015.


That said, PR observed that the street remains fairly clean overall, although several hedgerows could do with cutting, as we do

seem to have regular City Council street cleaning sessions most weeks. Recycling week always generates high level of plastic

bottles and metal cans, in particular, because nobody flattens them, and whilst this can be awkward, there is no excuse with

cardboard packaging. Overspills can attarct rats and other vermin and does make the street untidy for all of us. The next litter

pick takes place on Saturday 20th December 2014, starting at 10am outside Park Auto Sales, and we are looking for some new

recruits for what amounts to no more than an hour of your time. The City Council may face further cutbacks in the budget for

2015/16, and if this occurs, our own efforts may become crucial! Councillor Brigid Jones confirmed that our street was not due

to be reviewed for the purposes of its suitability for wheelie bins until the middle part of next year.


Under the AOB section of the meeting, it was identified that the Broadcourt letting agency hoarding outside of 128, Warwards

Lane needed to be collected, as it was kept loose in the front garden and had blown onto the road several times. Wendy

Pearson suggested that we work with other local organisations, such as the Ten Acres Residents Association, in identifying

existing HMO's, that would be preventative of other such buildings cropping up in future. Please report any suspicions to the

City Council and ourselves. Councillor Brigid Jones also confirmed that after much discussions with the Park Corner

developers, they would now add the hedgerow clearance to the specification, although this would not happen until March of

next year.


The meeting then closed and some of us went off to the Dogpool for a well deserved swifty!