As identified on the Attendance List

Alma Road

  • Peter Wirgman
  • Heather Soper
  • Richard Soper
  • Julia Clarke

Avenue Road

  • Judith Payling

Earls Road

  • Richard Long

Gordon Avenue

  • Maggie O’Connor

Other attendees

  • Jerry Gillen, Highfield RA
  • PC Stephen Blandford
  • PCSO Victoria Stuart

OARA Committee

  • Gordon Gillies (Chair)
  • T Jacobs (Membership Secretary)
  • Andy Haslehurst (Treasurer)
  • Sue Swallow (Planning Officer)
  • Rosy Maguire (Committee Member)
  • Barbara Matcham (Committee Member)
  • Chris Jackson (Committee Member)
  • Phine Dahle (Committee Member)


  • Cllr Derek Burke, Cllr Jacqui Rayment, Cllr Stephen Barnes-Andrews
  • John Hayward, Margaret Chiari, Barbro Fitzjohn, Mary Hockey, Dorothy Haslehurst

1. Welcome

Gordon opened the meeting by welcoming all of the attendees. The apologies were given.

2. Street Cleaning

2.1 Progress

Barbara Matcham updated the meeting on the progress of the regular street cleaning schedule. We are largely on top of the litter situation but the gutters desperately need sweeping and clearing. At the Street Clean on 7th April, we concentrated on the arterial roads from The Avenue end and have done up to both sets of planters.

2.2 21st April 13

The regular Street Clean planned for the 21st April will start at 13:00 rather than the usual 11:00. This is to accommodate some volunteers from the IBIS Hotel Group.

2.3 Potholes

Peter Wirgman reported that the council have been responding quickly to reports of potholes. Barbara added that the council need the precise location of the pothole in order to act ie: the nearest house number. Anyone can report them on 08005 19 19 19.

3. Membership Cards

T informed the meeting that 81 cards have been sold to date. Rosy and Barbro have also knocked on doors to sell cards and there has been a lot of interest in and approval of what we are doing. The cherry trees and spring bulbs in particular have caught people’s attention.

Judith Payling asked that the desire to plant more signature trees be promoted when selling membership cards.

4. Greening Group

Judith Payling updated the meeting with the activities and plans of the Greening Group, which has been very busy.

4.1 Signature trees

It is planned to plant another 25 trees this year so around £500 will need to be raised to support this. Some potential new tree sites have already been identified and it is hoped to encourage more landlords to participate.

Laminated labels have been produced by Heather Soper to identify OARA signature trees, not only to celebrate their planting but also as a way of encouraging others to plant new trees in the future.

4.2 Other plans

  • There are several half-barrel style planters on various corners throughout the area containing spring bulbs. Several more are planned.
  • The Greening Group want to construct an archway between the two planters at the Gordon Avenue / Alma Road junction.
  • More sturdy notice boards are planned to promote green activities.
  • This year’s plant swap will take place on Friday 7th June at 18:00 at the Gordon Avenue / Alma Road planters
  • There will be a table-top sale on Sunday 9th June at 11:30 on the forecourt of Headmasters hairdressers on Portswood Road.
  • A function (talk /social event) is planned with a local green charity.
  • CDs and DVDs are still very much needed for fundraising. Please deliver them to 35A Avenue Road.
  • A history day, where residents who have lived in the area for a long time will be invited to share their experiences / photographs, is planned for September.

5. Planning Issues

Gordon invited Sue Swallow to update the meeting on the current planning issues.

5.1 8m extensions

Sue reported that there are not many current planning applications but that the main concern is the proposed 8m extension without the need for planning permission. This is being debated in the House of Commons on 16th April and it is hoped that sense will prevail. The Local Government Association, councils, MPs and councillors are against the proposal. Jerry continues to lobby all three of our MPs, and is working with the National Organisation of Residents Associations (NORA) to protest.

5.2 Current breaches of planning regulations

There has been no progress on the two test cases which have been raised repeatedly with OARA’s councillors. Jerry Gillen advised that we should write to Cllr Asa Thorpe (Cabinet Member with responsibility for planning) to complain that council officers are failing to do their jobs and threaten them with judicial review.

5.3 Highfield RA’s AGM

Jerry invited members to attend the Highfield RA AGM on 18th April where their planning barrister will be present. Many of the Committee members are unable to attend due to prior commitments. Gordon will attend this meeting on behalf of OARA.

5.4 Amber Antiques

Judith reported that the current site of Amber Antiques at the Portswood end of Gordon Avenue is to be redeveloped into two retail units with flats above. It is unclear whether the current planning permission has lapsed. Sue agreed to find out.
Action: Sue Swallow

5.5 Landlords’ To Let signs

The issue with Landlords’ To Let signs was on the Agenda for the 18th January Planning meeting but this was poorly attended due to bad weather at the time. Peter will ensure that it is on the agenda at the next meeting on 10th May.
Action: Peter Wirgman

6. Police Report

6.1 Anti-social behaviour caused by alcohol

PC Blandford reported that the anti-social behaviour (ASB) caused by alcohol is being addressed by opposing a new off license in Lodge Road, and adding colour-coded labels to all alcohol containers to identify where they have come from if they are dropped as litter in the street. He asked litter pickers to keep a note of where such containers may be found as this will be used as evidence to present to the council. The council may then review the appropriateness of licences.

6.2 Op Bang

PCSO Victoria Stuart reported that Op Bang is a new initiative which targets street drinking, begging and homelessness. Regular patrols include the UK Border Agency to enable them to deport illegal immigrants. Genuinely homeless people are given help to enable them to be rehoused. Street begging is illegal and there is now a strong emphasis on prosecuting persistent offenders. Big Issue sellers are NOT street beggars.

7. Street Party

Maggie reported that this year’s Street Party will be held under the auspices of the Eden Project’s Big Lunch as before. The Street Party will be held on Sunday 2nd June. We have to apply to the council for permission to hold one for road closing purposes and public liability insurance.

However, this year, the council is proposing to charge each street party £105 to close the roads. There followed some debate about how we can resolve the cost issues. These included considering other venues and exploring options for sharing the cost of road closures with other street parties. The following actions were agreed:

Action: Maggie to explore the sharing of costs option

Action: Gordon to find out from our councillors whether the costs can be challenged.

Maggie highlighted that we have to apply for road closures by Friday 26th April. A Working Group will be set up to plan the Street Party and will meet at Barbro Fitzjohn’s house at 7:30 pm on Tuesday 23rd April. Anyone interested in helping is welcome to attend.

8. Newsletter

Gordon invited Rosy to give an update on our plans for the next newsletter. Rosy responded that the next newsletter is planned for June / July and it is hoped that the journalism students will be able to help produce it again.

Her ideas for the next issue are:

  • Information: an article on the new brown topped garden waste wheelie bins and a visit to the Mayor’s parlour on Tuesday 30th April @ 7.30 pm by Committee members in recognition of the success of our RA.
  • Resident profile: an interview with Catherine Wright who lives in the OARA area and who runs a local business and ukulele orchestra.
  • Images: the signature cherry trees in bloom.
  • Our forthcoming events:
    2nd June: The Big Lunch / Street Party
    7th June: Plant swap
    9th June: Table top sale.

9. Conclusion

Gordon concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for their attendance and contributions.

OARA General Meetings

  • Tuesday 25th June 13
  • Monday 14th October 13
  • Tuesday 21st January 14 AGM

OARA Committee Meetings

  • Monday 13th May 13
  • Monday 15th July 13
  • Tuesday 5th November 13
  • Monday 16th December 13