Minutes of Outer Avenue Residents’ Association (OARA) Meeting of Monday 08 March 2011
MINUTES OF THE OUTER AVENUE RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION MEETING
DATE: 19:30 on 8th March 2011
VENUE: Bevois Town School, Cedar Road, Southampton
PRESENT: (as identified on the Attendance List):
- Peter Wirgman
- Tim Knapp
- Barbara Matcham
- Dave Rounce
- Julia Clarke
- Heather Soper
- Zdenka Petrov
- Olly Simpson (Chapter1)
- Helen Muscat
- Carol Massey
- Kate Laven
- Harald Raykowski
- Liz Haslam
- D Campbell
- Petrina Boddington
- Richard Long
- Susan Silva
- Susan Swallow
- Jayanti Shah
- Maggie O’Connor
- Dorothy Haslehurst
- Jane Mitchell
- Mandy Leigh
- Brenda Breden
- Peter Taylor
- Mary Hockey
- Gordon Gillies (Chair)
- Lynn Murphy (Secretary)
- Andrew Haslehurst (Treasurer)
- T Jacobs (Vice Minutes Secretary)
- Rosy Maguire
- Paula Noyce (Minutes Secretary)
- Richard Hill (Vice Chair)
- Phine Dahle
Southampton City Council
- Malkeat Singh
- PCSO Lee Scott
- PC Steve Blandford
- PC Gasan Shaladan
- Katryna Curtis
Out of Area
- Stephen Connolly (Guest)
- Adrian Ford (Local Government candidate)
- Richard Hill (Vice-chair)
- Dean Spencer (OARA Planning Officer – elected in absentia at this meeting)
- Judith Payling
- Justin Noons (Hampshire Constabulary)
- Jaz Rai
- Louise Buxton
Gordon opened the meeting by welcoming all of the attendees and the visitors from Hampshire Constabulary, Southern Electric Contracting, Chapter One and local government. He asked that attendees sign the attendance list which was circulated, and drew attention to the collection box made available for anyone wishing to make a voluntary annual subscription. He then asked if the minutes of the previous meeting could be agreed as a true record (agreed), and whether anyone wanted to address any matters on the list of actions which had been circulated with the proposed agenda (nothing raised). He then outlined the previously circulated agenda for the meeting:
- Police Matters
- Street Lighting
- Projects 2011 Update
Gordon introduced the Hampshire Constabulary officers who were in attendance to give an update on the reorganisation of resources and give some information about new volunteer opportunities. These were:
- PC Steve Blandford from Portswood Police Station, beat officer for the OARA area as part of the Safer Neighbourhood Scheme, to explain the restructuring of policing across the city.
- PCSO Lee Scott, who replaces Hayley Taite. Hayley has moved to Highfield and Lee has come to Bevois from St Denys where he was doing the same job.
- PC Gasan Shaladan from the Traffic Unit, to outline volunteer opportunities in the community speed watch scheme.
- Martyna Curtis, extended police family co-ordinator, to whom application forms should be returned.
Essentially, the police are hoping to increase community involvement with the issues that affect them. The Community Speedwatch is a program which hopes to involve local residents in tackling speeding in their local communities; typically in areas where 30mph and 20mph limits are in force. Volunteers would be trained by the police in the use of speed guns and a database would be kept of those cars found speeding. Initially, warnings are sent to the offending driver, explaining the negative effect speeding has on local areas. Repeat offenders would then be dealt with more seriously by the police. Ideally the police are hoping for two teams of three people, each team to be assigned to their own particular road on each beat (Bevois and Banister Park is Beat 1) where traffic related issues have been identified (such as mopeds/young drivers, speeding at certain times of day). Some training on equipment and low level vetting will be necessary for anyone considering volunteering.
If anyone is interested in volunteering or would like more information, Paula has some application forms, or Martyna can be contacted on 023 8053 3240, or by email to Martyna.firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to the Community Speedwatch, local residents can also volunteer to help out the police in their local areas by volunteering to undertake tasks to allow more police to be seen on the beat. For anyone considering volunteering, the tasks one would be expected to carry out are updating information, victim call-backs (by telephone, a re-assurance that they are being looked after), or leaflet drops. However, the ways in which individuals are able to help the police via volunteering are many fold and would depend on the skills of the individual.
PC Blandford then briefly outlined the restructuring of policing across the city. Southampton Central and Shirley ‘blue lights’ divisions are merging, as are Portswood and Bitterne, with the ‘blue lights’ operating from Southampton Central and Bitterne. He reiterated that the response times for Shirley and Portswood would be maintained and gave assurance that Portswood officers would be staying in Portswood. More officers would be available for the Neighbourhood teams (a team being one beat officer and five colleagues).
PCSO Lee Scott then introduced himself, and said that he felt it would not take long for him to make himself known and pick up the necessary local knowledge. PC Blandford said he would provide specific information regarding one question raised in relation to the number of police officers stationed at Portswood before the changes and after.
PC Blandford reported that there was good news; there had been some successful prosecutions which had resulted in crime figures for the OARA area falling by half in the last six weeks. However, he stressed that this still remains a police priority because of victim impact.
One question raised was whether playing football in the street was a criminal offence. PC Blandford said it was not a crime unless criminal damage was caused.
Gordon introduced Ollie Simpson, Project Manager from Chapter One, who attended to advise of some dates for community projects. These were:
- Sponsored Sleep-out on the Common on September 9th 2011.
- Family Fun Day on the Common (date not set). An application will be made to the Council for a licence for a barbecue at this event.
Maggie offered two dates for events she thought it would be helpful for Ollie to take back to Chapter One, these being
- A plant sale the Greening group have organised for 24 May, at the corner of Gordon Avenue and Alma Road; and
- The Community Big Lunch (Part of Eden Project) on June 5th.
Gordon then introduced Adrian Ford who will be standing in the forthcoming Council elections so that OARA members could put a face to his name.
4. STREET LIGHTING
Gordon introduced Martin Dance and Samantha Angus from Southern Electric Contracting who gave an update on the renewing of the street lights in the area.
Martin began with an overview and explained that their role was maintaining the street lighting in Southampton and to that end they would be replacing 13,000 lamps and columns over the next 23 years. He said the replacements met European standards, and that the busier routes would have a higher level of street lighting. He admitted that that there is actually very little flexibility in this scheme but added that the police were happy with the proposed lighting even though SEC are aware that some people are not. He added that if the Council has identified any ‘dark spots’ then lights would be installed.
He drew attention to some copies of the proposed plans that would be available for people’s perusal at the end of the meeting for any queries to be raised. He said that generally the existing lights were being replaced, but moved from the front of the paths to the back. He explained that the new lights could be directed and that if people felt the direction of the lighting was adversely affecting them it is possible to have a shield fitted to the light free of charge within three days. He then explained the decision to change from sodium to fluorescent lighting. This is because the fluorescent lighting runs on a lower wattage and also the colour is better, which means that in any area where there is CCTV the operators can pick out faces much more easily. The energy consumption across Southampton will reduce by 17%. The new lighting can also be dimmed and some will be dimmed by 25%, and some by 40%.
The whole network is run by the Mayflower remote monitoring system operating from their depot at West End. The system can tell when a light is going to fail and is constantly looking for lights that have failed or are about to fail. In certain areas the lights can be switched on, off or dimmed from the depot. The lights cannot be dimmed on an individual basis; the shielding solves individual issues. These changes will make Southampton’s carbon footprint more efficient.
In answer to the question raised about what was to happen to the old lampposts, Martin said these are being removed, refurbished, sent away for structural testing and put into parks. In response to other questions, he explained that the lights were being replaced ward by ward and that it was anticipated they would complete Bevois Mount by the end of May, that the cost of each lantern and column was £800 and that Southern Electric Contracting would be paying for the mistake made in Rose Road (where lamps were originally not intended to be replaced). Regarding resurfacing the footpaths he added that SCC and SEC were working together to get things back to how they were, but he explained that Balfour Beatty hold the budget for this. The paint marks where the lampposts have not been put are biodegradable and will disappear after a couple of months. With regard to the old lampposts, Lynn asked if any would be used to increase lighting on the Common. Martin replied no, but that the park areas going towards the port would receive the old lights. Rosy raised the fact that the new lighting column installed in front of her house has some corrosion on it. Martin said that all the replacements were quality assessed by independent certifiers and would be made good if found not to meet standard.
Lastly, he talked about SEC’s involvement in community projects, such as the coppicing done over at Peartree, and invited any applications for support for any good community projects to Sam.
5. PROJECTS 2011 UPDATE
Sue reported there have been several meetings held at various people’s homes with several ideas forthcoming.
The first idea was planting trees in pavements. The Council said no to this, although if there is a tree already there it will be looked after, and replaced if it died. If people wanted to plant trees in their front gardens, the Council would help choose suitable trees (for example, some tree leaves are difficult to biodegrade and a fruit tree would NOT be suitable as falling fruit would be a hazard) and order them at wholesale price. A council representative had met with the team and walked around the area with them, and explained that there are grants available to residents’ associations.
The second idea was using the brick planters; the Council is agreeable to this on the basis of a shared care agreement, and flowering or trailing plants could be used. A bench and/or planters could be put in large enough spaces as gathering areas (for example, the corner of Gordon Avenue/Alma Road), although there are no planters available at the moment.
It was also pointed out that residents can call Action Line for items to be removed from front gardens.
Tree preservation orders to prevent landlords from chopping down trees are dependent upon the type of tree.
Maggie then introduced an idea for encouraging people to ‘colour up’ their front gardens by growing things in containers. There is a ‘Plant Swap’ to be held on 24 May (a Tuesday evening) at the corner of Alma Road and Gordon Avenue. Leaflets for this have already been produced, and the event will be on the website, along with details of those people already involved in the Greening group (Maggie, Sue, Phine, Judith, Lynn and now Heather who helped highlight the need for contact details for each working project to be available on the website).
A further idea was donating trees for front gardens. Malkeat would get in touch with Sue regarding funding information for this type of thing.
Maggie then gave some information regarding the Community Big Lunch, set up for 5th June. The Council have guidelines on how to get the Police to close roads for this event. Malkeat can provide details of how to arrange this.
5.2 Street Cleaning
Barbara reported on the pilot street clean of Alma Road on 27th February; much was learned. Nine or ten people had turned out to clean up and leaflet. It took under one and a half hours. Barbara had hoped for more volunteers so the project would take less time. One of the biggest lessons was that the litter pickers provided by the Council were not enough. Stiff brushes for sweeping gutters and along garden walls were also required. A couple of volunteers had brought brooms. Jane at the Council had been very helpful. Malkeat gave information about the Southampton City Council community payback scheme, which could provide funding for this sort of equipment (brooms, pickers, gloves, bin liners) if the activity is to be done on a regular basis. Some before and after pictures were taken and a photo of all the bags of rubbish collected reflected the effort put into the exercise. Leaflets were put through the doors of Alma Road so the residents were aware that OARA had been in their area making improvements.
The question of when to hold the street clean ups was raised, since Sunday mornings were probably not going to be ideal if we hoped for student involvement. It was reported that three students had done a litter pick in Gordon Avenue, and that it might be a good idea to contact the university to see if the students could work with the residents’ association.
ACTION: Barbara to contact the university
Unfortunately, neither Richard nor Dean could attend this meeting, so Gordon gave a brief outline of Dean’s comprehensive report concerning whether residents’ associations can influence policy, enforcement, HMO’s and planning, which will be posted on the website. The report highlighted the requirement for an OARA Planning Officer to be elected in order for their name to go on the Stakeholder’s List at the Council Planning office. Gordon said that Dean was prepared to stand for election to this post, but asked if anyone else wanted to put themselves forward. As no-one did, Gordon explained that Richard had, in absentia, seconded and agreed to deputise for Dean as OARA Planning Officer. Dean was duly elected.
Peter Wirgman said that in his role for the Southampton Residents’ Association he was liaising with the Council regarding Housing Strategy Management, and that it may be useful for Dean and Richard to have a chat with him.
ACTION: Dean and Richard to contact Peter Wirgman
5.4 Working with Landlords
Gordon reported that he had spoken with Fiona and that the plan was to map the area to find out how many properties were owned by which landlords. Phine and Brenda volunteered to help Fiona.
6. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Malkeat explained that the community development team was being reduced due to budget cuts, but that he would look into funding advice for the Big Lunch event. He explained his role as a conduit for communications and information between the Council and Resident Associations. He also mentioned that the upcoming Big Society would probably involve RAs a great deal. Gordon expressed surprise that start up funding was not automatically available for the Residents Association, given that this had been promised when we were starting up. Malkeat explained that the grants department was looking at how they give grants. He also said he will look into grants for trees.
Peter Wirgman also suggested that the Southampton Residents’ Association might also be able to provide some funding for OARA.
ACTION: Peter and Andrew to liaise on this.
Richard Long asked about the pothole survey, Lynn said this had been put on the backburner until the bad weather had finished.
6.3 Street Reps
Gordon reported on the discussions regarding the role of street reps. It was felt that the role should remain fairly flexible, but that an understanding of their particular areas, bringing street-(or street section-) specific issues to the attention of the Committee, and some responsibility for leafleting would be a reasonable expectation.
Maggie expressed a question mark about the name of the association. She felt it was not a very snappy title. Gordon explained that the RA had now been operating under this name for 6 months and that changing it might confuse residents.
Phine thought some signs welcoming people to the association area done by local artists would be a good community project, but it was felt that signs might be problematic from the Council’s point of view.
Date of next meeting
Due to the closeness of Easter and the Spring Bank Holiday this year, the Committee will decide whether the next OARA meeting will be late April or early May.
Action: OARA Committee to decide on date for next meeting