Present:

  • Sue Swallow
  • Gordon Gillies (Chair)
  • Barbara Matcham
  • Claire Gilbert (SUSU V-P Engagement)
  • Andy Haslehurst (Host & Minutes)
  • Liz Haslam
  • Chris Jackson

Apologies:

  • T Jacobs
  • Rosy Maguire
  • Phine Dahle

Introduction

Gordon opened the meeting by welcoming the Committee Members and Claire Gilbert from Southampton University Students Union (SUSU). The apologies were given. Gordon asked Claire to introduce herself and tell us what SUSU’s plans were.

1. SUSU Activities and Community Engagement

1.1 Claire’s role

Claire introduced herself – she is the VP Engagement. This role covers the Union’s charitable activities, fund raising, student enterprise activities and companies, social enterprise, Not-for-Profit activities and events like book swaps where second and third year students can pass on text books etc – they recover something and the purchaser saves money compared to buying new. She is also responsible for SUSU’s communications to its membership, to try to make sure students know what is going on and take part as citizens in the local community.

1.2 Past and future projects

Claire was unhappy at the low level of interaction last year, and felt that the sabbatical officers of Solent Uni Student Union had done a better job of engagement with the local residents than SUSU. Claire wanted to use this, plus successes with, for example, the Beach Clean project where student volunteers had cleared up litter etc from 1.5 kilometers of beach, and a similar smaller scale exercise in Glen Eyre. For the future, she is putting together a programme of activity requests for Student Volunteering Week in late February. This will be a mixture of whole-day projects and a number of smaller 1 or 2 hour activities. If OARA wishes to request any activities, we should pass them to Claire.

1.3 Discussion and questions

There was discussion about the adverse effect of landlords’ and agents’ “To Let” signs, and Claire confirmed that the students don’t like the signs as they are an invitation to break in and steal stuff. Sue asked Claire whether the SUSU encouraged students to take photos of the condition of a let when they move in to assist at the end to get some or all of the deposit back. Claire confirmed they do. SUSU are issuing postcards which students can fill in and pop through a neighbour’s letterbox, and that plans are being made to ensure a ‘useful info’ newsletter is to be prepared for next year. Gordon thanked Claire and invited her to stay for the rest of the meeting and contribute as topics of interest came up.

Street Cleaning, Bins etc

1.4 Street Cleaning

Barbara confirmed the rota as the first and third Sunday each month at 11.00. She reported that there had been 5 people at the most recent one and that because of the low numbers, the planned area had been cut back a bit. Barbara mentioned that even if she was able to join to the remaining events up to Christmas, she had too many commitments to organise the last three street cleans of the year.. It was mentioned that Kingsley house had done a street clean of their own a few days earlier (see KH item below)

1.5 Recycling and Wheelie Bins

Chris confirmed that every house in the OARA area should by now have had the recycling pack from the City Council. Claire, who lives outside the immediate area said that they had also received them. Members all felt that it was still an uphill struggle to get people to follow the correct protocols. It was agreed that the City’s strategy needs further development and communication, and probably had to be seen to enforce some of the worse offenders

Greening Group

1.6 OARA Barrels etc

Sue reported that she and Maggie had removed the geraniums from the barrels and replanted them with spring bulbs – some donated and some bought. Sue also reported that unless a member was prepared and able to look after the barrels, it was unlikely that the tenants would look after them. Chris volunteered to take the responsibility for the barrel at the care home on Cambridge Road. Sue also reported on the work done by her and Phine on the footpath between Gordon Ave and Westwood Road which nobody else appears to be willing to maintain. Some of the worst vegetation was weed-killed, and other areas were planted with bulbs.

1.7 Signature Trees & Fundraising

So far, another 5 or six OARA residents have shown an interest in having a tree. There is a suggestion that there should be a push to try to interest more landlord take-up. The latest fund raising for the Tree project was a table top sale on 27 October which raised £108.40. Hillary has now joined the Greening Group.

1.8 Livingstone Road/Gordon Ave junction

No further action has been agreed for this site. Councillors Derek Burke and Jacqui Rayment are looking into ways of getting this area improved, but as a multi-departmental site, the red tape is significant. Derek has identified a bricklayer who would be keen to build a seat / planter feature, but until the planning permission was sorted out, this could not be progressed.

Action: Councillor Jacqui Rayment is pursuing the SCC departmental issues

Planning

1.9 Houses on Alma Rd and Gordon Avenue.

OARA, with help from Jerry Gillen, is following up with Dr C Lyons of SCC Planning whether or not the two houses concerned are properly authorised to operate as HMOs.

1.10 New student residence complexes.

Committee members and Claire discussed the possible implications of the three large schemes now under development in the City – at Swaythling, Mayflower Theatre and ex-Gas Board HQ. There is concern that there are conflicting needs to be balanced, from safety of the students, to parking and other nuisances to other residents.

Kingsley House

1.11 Meeting with City Councillors

All three councillors for the ward attended the recent meeting to discuss the issues with Kingsley House (KH). The Council is looking at changing the ground rules for establishments like KH. For Claire’s benefit, it was explained that KH is home to a transitory population of about 25 youngsters with problems and that there was clearly inadequate supervision outside normal office hours. The City Council’s potential policy change is at least in part driven by budgetary considerations as well as the social considerations. There have recently been 60+ incidents recorded by the Police in Alma Road, of which at least 25 directly relate to KH, and a probability that some of the others involve KH residents.

1.12 Evidence

Barbara is compiling a record (20+ pages so far) of correspondence re KH over the years, concentrating on the last two years, but including some from the 1990s and 2000s just to make it clear that this is a problem that has been unresolved for over 20 years and which has at times been so unpleasant that at least some of her neighbours have moved out after receiving threats from KH residents.

History Project

1.13 Open Day 3rd November

The Portswood Sainsbury has a community room upstairs beyond the restaurant. John Hayward arranged to use it on Sunday to have an open day for the OARA History Group to display what it has so far discovered and to invite members of the public who dropped in to contribute more. It is a fairly small room, and was very well attended during the afternoon. Many documents and maps showing the development of the area and the bomb damage suffered in WW2.

1.14 Facebook page

The History Group has launched a Facebook page accessible to all at: https://www.facebook.com/bevoismounthistory

It is expanding fast and is already got some interesting photos, many from old postcards.

Any Other Business

  1. Christmas events include Carol Singing on 17 December (Maggie organising) and the OARA Christmas Party at the Bent Brief on 15 December (John’s band performing).
  2. Website hosting charge for 2013-24 held at £30 through Matt Conrad. Gordon wondered whether OARA could find a sponsor for this.
  3. Possible spring party (Barbara) and maybe for next year an OARA Christmas card, possibly with a photo by Rosie. Claire pointed out that there is now a print shop at SUSU which is reasonably priced and any profit it does make is for SUSU’s benefit.
  4. Gordon canvassed opinion of Committee members as to whether OARA should become officially affiliated with the SARA / NARA organisation that Peter Wirgman is involved with. Consensus of the meeting was yes.
  5. Gordon invited Claire to comment on what had been covered by the meeting. Claire said that, as a History student, she was impressed with the History Project and believed that it offered an opportunity for involvement to interested students. She also felt that the Greening Group activities could well be of interest to students on Environmental Studies and Conservation courses. She hoped to be able to include references and links to OARA activities in the next SUSU newsletter. It might also be possible to get U of S students involved in the street cleaning activities, although SUSU has no information about the local addresses of members, so would not be able to contact those living locally.

Dates for 2013 Meetings

OARA General Meetings

  • Tuesday 21st January 14 AGM

OARA Committee Meetings

  • Monday 16th December 13 (Host: Gordon)