BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL NECHELLS WARD COMMITTEE – 30 JANUARY 2014

MINUTES OF THE NECHELLS WARD COMMITTEE HELD ON 30 JANUARY 2014 AT 1800 HOURS AT NECHELLS GREEN COMMUNITY CENTRE, MELVINA ROAD PRESENT: Councillor Chauhdry Rashid in the Chair; Councillors Tahir Ali and Yvonne Mosquito .

. ALSO PRESENT – Lesley Poulton , Head of Ladywood District Pat Whyte, District Support Officer Inspector Paul Dutton, West Midlands Police Sergeant Pete Snape, West Midlands Police Sergeant Simon Graham, West Midlands Police Paul Johnson, West Midlands Fire Service Jay Mistry, Environmental Health Officer Richard Lane, Environmental Warden Kyle Stott, Public Health Louise Collett, Environmental Health Janet Bradley, Environmental Health Jim Crawshaw, Ward Champion There were approximately 30 residents in attendance. _________________________________________________________________ MINUTES 790 The minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2013 were agreed and signed as a correct record. _________________________________________________________________ PETITIONS 791 No petitions were submitted. __________________________________________________________________ COMMMUNITY SAFETY SERVICE ISSUES Police 792 Inspector Dutton reported that overall crime had increased by 1% compared with the same time last year which represented an additional 70 crimes. Digbeth had been the most successful in reducing crime, Small Heath had the highest arrest 230

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rate and Nechells had been undertaking a considerable amount of work around Star City and was the lowest crime causing neighbourhood. With regard to Digbeth, work had been progressing with the night time economy and between 9pm and 2am there had been meet and greet patrols on the streets resulting in a 25% reduction in violent offending. Sergeant Snape added that in response to complaints regarding parking around Horton Square there had been an enforcement day on 13 December and 16 parking tickets had been issued. On 17 January officers had undertaken a walk through of the local pubs with drug dogs and street cautions had been issued to those found in possession. Planning had commenced for the St Patrick’s Day Parade on 16 March and a licensee meeting had already been held. A local resident said that last years St Patrick’s Day Parade had been very successful and it was suggested that the police officers be allowed to join in with the festivities and that two officers be on duty on each pub door. A request had been made last year for the policing report to be shared with the NTG and the same request was made for this year’s event. With regard to the police statistics a local resident said that while he welcomed the news that crime in the ward was decreasing he would like to have some meaningful statistics to compare Nechells Ward with other Wards in the District and to be able to compare the current year’s statistics with the previous years. He said that he relied on the figures presented at the Ward Committee and had compared them to the figures presented at the September Committee and there was a discrepancy in the total number of recorded crimes of about 400 incidents and he therefore requested that clearer more meaningful statistics be provided to future meetings. Inspector Dutton said that there would always be a small discrepancy in the numbers as reported crimes subsequently found to be an insurance scam were removed from the figures but he undertook to report back to the next Ward Committee and to the local resident in the meantime. Sergeant Graham reported that community speed watch was continuing and a Free@Last volunteer would be starting a weekend speed watch with a view to training a team to use the lazer. The team was proactively policing Star City in relation to a range of crimes and once a month had a stand in the atrium. The Nechells/Bloomsbury part of the Ward had the lowest crime rate with September to December total recorded crime reducing month on month compared to the same time the previous year. Drugs warrants had been issued and officers worked in conjunction with housing providers to also enforce tenancy conditions where required. Fire Paul Johnson reported that a trend had come to light across the Ward whereby contractors were putting covers over fire alarms when decorating and forgetting to remove when the work was complete therefore presenting a safety hazard and he asked all residents to be aware of this if having work undertaken at their homes. With regard to fires in dwellings there had been 2 which was below the year to date statistics with no injuries from fire. The numbers of arsons, fires in nondomestic buildings, arson vehicle fires and rubbish fires had all reduced compared to the same time last year largely due to the proactive work being undertaken by the Fire Service, in particular around rubbish fires where there had been an effort 231

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to reduce the numbers and a considerable amount of information had been received from residents to assist with this. Advice was being given to premises where there were continual false alarms from the premises and the FRV vehicle was sent to these to prevent an appliance being used unnecessarily. A local resident expressed concern that the fire at a shisha lounge on Christmas Day had not been recorded and that he was aware there had been an injury associated with that fire that had also not been recorded. The Committee was advised that the statistics were formulated centrally, however an injury caused to a person who escaped a fire by jumping out of a window for example would not be recorded as an injury as a result of a fire. The fire at the shisha lounge had been a head line incident and when investigated there had been adequate means of escape from fire and therefore the injury had not been recorded as fire related. A local resident referred to a shisha lounge opposite The Adam and Eve pub and reported that rubbish was being burnt on the pavement and at the rear of the premises which was in close proximity to a paint factory and there was a fire risk. The rubbish needed to be collected rather than burnt. The Committee was advised that the paint factory would have a fire risk assessment which would take into account the effect on the community around it but Paul Johnson requested that he be advised of the location of the rubbish and he would address the issue. Councillor Ali expressed his disappointment regarding the recording of the injury associated with the fire at the shisha lounge on Christmas Day as he was aware that 11 people had been evacuated and a person had suffered broken bones fleeing from the fire. He therefore requested that the figures be re-visited and an answer be provided as to why such an incident that had occurred in the Ward had not been recorded. The Chairman expressed his concern regarding the way the information was recorded as it was obvious that without the fire occurring the injury would not have been sustained and he was therefore at a loss to understand how this could not be recorded as a fire injury. Councillor Ali requested that the criteria for the collection of the figures and how they related to incidents be reported to the next meeting, together with the Home Office guidance relating to West Midlands Fire Service data. It was queried that the data relating to the fire might not have been recorded as the reason for the fire might not have yet been determined ie whether arson or accidental and therefore the incident had not been included in these figures. The Committee was advised a fire report had to be completed within the week of a fire and the cause of the fire recorded to be included in the statistics. There were no arson fires recorded in the statistics and therefore the shisha lounge fire on Christmas Day had not been treated as arson. Councillor Mosquito while congratulating the police and Fire Authority regarding the statistics presented especially in the face of reductions in public spending expressed her concern relating to the recording of the fire that occurred on Christmas Day and said she would also welcome a fuller explanation at the next meeting. __________________________________________________________________

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DISTRICT BUDGET SAVINGS PROPOSALS 793 Lesley Poulton presented the Ladywood District budget strategy for 2014/15 and 2015/16 and advised that following staff briefings during the week the proposals would be posted on the Ladywood District website. The Committee was advised that in view of reduced Government funding, the equal pay bill, an increase in the ageing population and the statutory responsibilities of the City Council there was a budget gap of £825m over the next two years. There had been consultation on the Service Reviews relating to all City Council services to seek views on how to spend the remaining budget after the statutory services had been taken into consideration. The Sport and Leisure services were being considered separately and in Ladywood District due to the population demographics it had been recognised that all facilities in the District would be funded via Health money to support health outcomes. There was a need to focus on providing services that would make the most significant difference to residents and to achieve this through targeting services better, co-locating, working with the third sector and releasing under used buildings. The District budget had been determined having consideration to the population and deprivation in Ladywood and it had been decided that £1.8m of savings were required to be made over the next two years which represented a 50% cut to the current budget. The District Committee had reviewed the situation and agreed that to achieve the savings target only one facility would be retained in each Ward as a hub and in Aston Ward it would be Birchfield Library. The expansion of work with partners to provide multiple services from one building, exploration of co-location and use of volunteers would be explored. Other proposals included; • Revision of car park charges • School crossing wardens – charging agreement with schools • Increase income generation at Ladywood Health & Community Centre, Summerfield Centre and The Lighthouse • Develop Stanhope Hall as a well being centre • End play service provision • Review staffing in the District to reduce levels and reconfigure roles. The budget would be considered by Cabinet on 17 February and agreed by City Council on 4 March. The District Committee would make its final decision with regard the savings proposals at its meeting on 11 March. In response to a question the Committee was advised that the proceeds from the disposal of any building would come back to the District to be reinvested. The Chairman expressed his sadness that Bloomsbury Library was beyond repair and expressed his concern regarding the condition of Nechells Green Community Centre. Lesley Poulton said that money had been put aside for the repair of Bloomsbury Library but under the last administration the funds had been 233

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reallocated. A survey of the life of Nechells Green Community Centre had been requested. Councillor Ali said that Curzon Street Station was part of the HS2 project and that Duddeston would be part of the development of that scheme and he had therefore requested a Master Plan for the area from the Ring Road to Melvina Road including a care village for the elderly and community facilities that were fit for purpose. The Master Plan would change the geography of that part of Nechells. Concern was expressed that if the community facilities for the Ward were centred in Small Heath it would be difficult for residents from other parts of the Ward to access. It was suggested that the District employ a bid writer to bring in funding for community projects as was the case in Kingstanding Ward. Councillor Ali said that a bid writer had been considered some time ago but it had not been possible to employ one that would work on commission alone. However the Area Action Plans for the Ward were bringing in investment and Star City offered employment for local people. The Council had also invested in local parks and local streets. Councillor Ali made reference to the investment also made in Digbeth and the efforts made by the residents in that area but that while use of one off pots of money brought benefit it was not a sustainable source. Neighbourhoods needed to work together and across boundaries to bring in investment. Councillor Mosquito said that due to the current climate services had to be delivered differently and therefore the City Council had to work with the 3rd sector so that services could be sustained. The proposals had been outlined but decisions had not yet been made and therefore residents needed to voice their priorities and suggestions for ‘doing things differently’ A local resident expressed concern regarding the closure of the play centres and queried the assistance that would be given to working parents who were unable to pick up their children from school. Lesley Poulton explained that the play centres offered a ‘drop in’ service rather than care services but that if residents felt they should be retained then those comments should be made via the consultation but it should be borne in mind that savings would have to be found from elsewhere. A local resident felt that the play centres should be retained as employers were not flexible and working parents would be unable to continue working if affordable care was not available. Councillor Mosquito asked how many children used the play centres and the Committee was advised that only 5 to 7 children used the centre in the winter and 15 -17 during the summer. There were existing services that could offer child care. A local resident also expressed concern regarding the closure of the play centres and while understanding the need to save money felt that the matter was more about the children and families. None of the schools offered a before and after club and single parents in particular required this service as it was local, affordable and parents felt comfortable to leave their children at the play centres. It was not safe to let children out alone. Even if the service only catered for a small number of children it was still an important local service. There were few facilities in Nechells and there had been no new investment for some years. It was important that children saw a future in their area which would not be the case if their facilities were closed. 234

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Councillor Ali said that if the City Councils budget reduced as predicted then some services could not be maintained. As the Government had reduced grants to Birmingham the City Council had to live within its budget. Alternative ways of delivering services through, for example Community Asset Transfers would be considered but if the play centre service was not cost effective then he queried whether residents would prefer to see it continued at the expense of the library which was used by substantial numbers of children to access computers etc. It was not possible to keep all facilities open given the budget situation. However the views of residents regarding alternative proposals were welcome. A local resident suggested reinvesting funding into the 3rd sector so that match funding could be sought. Libraries should be open 7 days a week as a hub. It was felt that children’s services were a priority and much of the service was provided by volunteers which would be lost if the play centres closed. While CAT’s were a good idea in principal residents needed assistance, support and time to be trained to be successful. Councillor Ali said that it was recognised that the location of libraries made it difficult for some residents to access therefore discussions were taking place with schools so that children could access libraries in schools out of normal school time. Sara Park buildings had been brought back into use by Nechells Councillors but were only used by a small number of children during the week but more extensively used at the weekend and this service could be successfully provided by the community through a CAT. It was suggested that the money saved by closing Sara Park should be given to those willing to run the service. Councillor Mosquito thanked Lesley for the work she had undertaken with regard to the budget and urged residents to make their views known. ___________________________________________________________________ ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES 794 Jayantilal Mistry reported on the work undertaken in Nechells Ward which had included responses to 112 calls to rats in gardens, 129 to rats in houses, 196 rubbish removals and food inspections. Work had concentrated around the Bordesley Green area and Digbeth High Street to remove black bags and litter from the streets and all businesses had been visited to ensure a trade waste contract was in place. Of those visited 50% did not have the appropriate contract for rubbish removal so owners had been issued a notice and advised on treatment for rats. Due to the amount of street litter generated by the businesses enforcement action was being taken to ensure that business owners cleaned their areas and this had been enforced in Horton Square and Oliver Street and action was being taken in Digbeth and Bordesley Green. Proactive work from pest control was also being undertaken in those areas. Concern was expressed regarding Warwick Street as black bags were being left on the street which acted to attract more bags of rubbish which took longer to have removed. The bags were coming from businesses and therefore he invited the Environmental Health Officer to attend Digbeth Residents Association to discuss a way forward. It was noted that businesses were leaving Digbeth due to the amount of rubbish and rats in the area. 235

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Councillor Ali queried the number of notices that had been served on McDonalds, Coventry Road in relation to rubbish compared to the numbers served on smaller fast food outlets. Councillor Mosquito said that the community had to take responsibility for their locality to keep it clean but to also report those that dumped rubbish. In response to questions Councillor Ali said that as part of the savings there had to be an end to bulky collections and a reduction in street cleaning frequency. However Nechells Ward would be one of the first to receive wheelie bins. It was reported that medical waste was being dumped in Whitehall Road. Richard Lane provided details of the work he undertook in the Ward including service of notices, removal of waste, advancement notices, litter enforcement and the compilation of an abandoned vehicle register. Alleyways had been cleared of black bags, food waste and cleansed to eradicate vermin. In particular he had worked with the environmental health officer in relation to businesses without trade waste contracts. Richard Lane undertook to provide a further update to the next meeting regarding a litter enforcement initiative. ___________________________________________________________________ DISTRICT CONVENTION NOTIFICATION 795 The Committee was advised that the Ladywood District Convention would be held on 8 February 2014 at 9.30am at The Council House. The change of venue was noted. __________________________________________________________________ MATTERS OF URGENT LOCAL CONCERN a) 796 Shisha Lounges

On behalf of the Digbeth Residents Association the Committee was advised of residents growing concern regarding the increasing number of shisha lounges opening, particularly the associated fire risk as highlighted by the fire on Christmas Day and a previous fire at the Carpenters Arms that had re-opened as a shisha lounge. Requests were made for information relating to future planning applications and how issues associated with fire, nuisance, health and crime could be addressed. Residents, especially in Digbeth felt let down by the planning process and commented that there was not a planning officer with specific responsibility for such premises. The police were urged to submit robust responses to future planning applications. Paul Johnson said that shisha lounges were on the Fire Service agenda and due to concerns a list of all lounges had been made and concerns shared with partners. The Fire Service had legislation that could be used to ensure that there were adequate means of escape from fire at shisha lounge premises and if not adequate the Fire Service would enforce. Responsibility for shisha lounges fell to a number of agencies and Steve Graham was the West Midlands Fire Service point 236

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of contact and was part of a task force group looking at issues via a multiple agency approach. Councillor Mosquito undertook to raise the matter at the Licensing and Public Protection Committee. Kyle Stott advised that as part of the tobacco lead for Birmingham Public Health, shisha lounges fell under his responsibility. Work had been undertaken through the Tobacco Control Alliance and a robust set of guidelines would be issued to all new and existing lounges. There was a multi agency approach to the issues associated with lounges but planning officers had a limited ability to impact on shisha lounges although public health had a wider responsibility and were continuing to gather information and strengthen responses. The Tobacco Control membership was being refreshed and a community representative would be an important new member and invitations would be sent out in due course. Janet Bradley said that she was the smoke free lead for environmental health and dealt with shisha lounges in that capacity. She worked closely with the police and would be undertaking more work in the Digbeth area. Kyle Stott referred to the education aspect associated with shisha lounges to teach people that it was not a healthy pastime and an analysis of associated health issues was being compiled. A local resident asked that Councillors be minded of the issues when notified of planning applications. The elderly were being affected by shisha lounges because of the noise and St Annes Community Centre had to close because of the nuisance. It was agreed that an item on shisha lounges be included on the agenda for the next meeting so that there could be further discussion and that planning officers being invited to have an input. Further that the Fire Service statistics discussed earlier in the meeting be further considered in relation to this item. b) 797 Quad Bikes

Inspector Dutton undertook to investigate the issue of quad bikes racing through Bordesley Village creating a danger to pedestrians. c) Hoardings Digbeth

798

Councillor Ali requested that the details relating to the dangerous hoardings in Digbeth be emailed to him __________________________________________________________________ ITEMS FOR FUTURE AGENDAS

799

The following suggestions were made for agenda items for future agenda; Shisha Lounges Environmental Issues including rats. __________________________________________________________________ 237

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GOOD NEWS ITEM 800 The following item of good news was reported; - The POD had been visited by the Bishop of Birmingham and the Chief Executive in relation to the work undertaken with the community from birth to the elderly. - Congratulations were extended to the police and fire service for the work undertaken in Nechells and with the communication on night time economy and joint working with residents - Phoenix Hall had been nominated for a national award for family learning. __________________________________________________________________ DATE OF NEXT MEETING 789 It was noted that the next meeting would be on 20 March 2014 at 6pm at Stanhope Hall __________________________________________________________________ The meeting ended at 2040 hours.

……..……………………………. Chairman

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