2014-2015 Chair’s report

Chair’s report June 2014 1st October 2015

1. History

London Road Area LAT has been running 6 ½ years.

Following publicity in Sept 2008 the first LAT meeting was held 10th December 2008. During 2009 a constitution was agreed, Chair and Vice-Chair elected, and a pattern of meetings was established i.e. first Tuesday of the month 6.30pm in the Gates Room of Calvary Church, Viaduct Road.

The area covered is East to the Level, North and West to the railway line, and south to St Peter’s church.

2. During the period June 2014 – end of September 2015

A number of big “impending” changes have now come on stream, various factors have combined for good and London Road has changed vastly for the better.

During the period of the report:

  • work on “former Co-op” has been completed, with first students coming into residence 5/9/14. A visit was organised 12th November 2014

  • work on Providence Place gardens is nearly finished as of September 2015 having started in September 2014 – but suffered from problems elsewhere in the City diverting resources (e.g. collapse of arches on seafront)

  • new businesses have started up (e.g. Fatto a mano, Presuming Ed, ) and some have closed down (e.g. John’s camping)

  • the Greenway has gained “friends” – Friends of Greenway have been active in looking after that lovely piece of land

  • the Rosehill Tavern closed and also gained friends hoping to run it as a community asset

  • the Portas Pilot scheme came to an end, having put in place a welcome/safety team (Town Centre Liason Officers) and a website “VisitLondonRoad.co.uk” among many other achievements. The planned CIC has yet to happen, and a business improvement district (BID) is likely to be consulted on.

  • we got to meet and hear a little from prospective MPs – Clarence Mitchell and Caroline Lucas – sadly not from Purna Sen (who was definitely invited!)

  • local and general elections have taken place. Our MP Caroline Lucas (Green) was re-elected, the Council administration changed to Labour, one of our local Councillors Ian Davey stood down and was succeeded by Cllr Lousia Greenbaum

  • local service providers have all changed over – meaning that our links with CRI, Equinox etc have all gone back to square one.

a. summary

  • meetings were held 2014: June (22 in attendance), July (22), September (35), October (20), November 4th (17), Dec (24), 2015: Jan 13th (23), Feb (17), Mar (28), April (25), May (20), June (16), July (18), September (18)

N.B.in June 2013 we had had to move to a larger room with attendances mostly of 30+

in addition special meetings were held regarding Stanley Rd May and June 2014

We have been grateful for all help received but are aware that we function on limited volunteer time, and volunteers with time and willingness are not easy to come by. We also run on a shoe-sting budget.

Many of the urgent matters that plagued London Road have either been dealt with successfully, or are much more under control – and numbers of [angry, dissatisfied] attenders has been lower this year. Planned future cutbacks in public services will probably mean that voluntary/community groups will still have a valued role to play in the future.

  • Our main policing priorities have been much the same as last year

    • tackling shoplifting in London Road,

    • combating intimidating behaviour on London Road

    • challenging street drinking and associated anti-social behaviour on Level

  • Saga 1:-a lot of effort has been put into trying to raise the standards in Viaduct Road with limited success.

  • Saga 2: Valley Gardens – although only slightly within our area we have taken an interest in this as it has morphed, gone forwards and gone backwards. Decisions are still awaited at the time of writing

The office-holders for this period have been Chair: Philip Wells, and Vice Chair: John Holden till June 2014, then Cathy Reeves and Lucy Dunleavy, Treasurer: Mike Hedgethorne. Thanks also to Ruth Muinde and Lindsay Debach for notetaking and setting up the room. Many thanks to these for their valuable contributions!

We express our gratitude to Simon Bannister, Cllr Ian Davey, our PCSO’s Sharon and Nic for their hard work and support. Appreciation is due to all LAT members who have attended faithfully and the various Council Officers and special guests who have attended from time to time.

b. Month by month

  • June 2014 – John Holden steps down – Lucy and Cathy appointed as V-Cs

Joe Nichols (Portas) and Kara (Watkin Jones) are regular attenders

Viaduct Rd issues mooted as subject to tackle

  • July 2014 – Buxtons re-development presentations

As summer arrives bullying on the Level is an issue

September 2014 – Cascade Creative Recovery are welcomed

ROC chaplains are mooted for the Level

James Watts tells us his plans for “Providence Place Hotel”

Abacus opens

We are told that £750k for London Road has become £40k with voting on priority area.

  • October 2014

– Portas has ended

-DoY have plans for outside seating

– Viaduct Rd: Damien Murmara (City Clean) comes to speak

– one letting agent turns up in regard to Viaduct Rd

  • November 2014

– Viaduct Rd : we try the student angle with UOS and UOB

– Abacus site visit

  • Dec 2014

– we meet the new Inspector Brian McCarthy

London Road wins an award (“runner up”) at Great British High Street – Houses of Parliament – Penny Mordaunt MP.

– Martin Heath tells us some options for traffic calming on Viaduct Rd

  • January 2015

– we are told that Wetherspoons is willing to come and talk to us

– LAT (via Cathy) makes a representation at the “Private Rented Sector” scrutiny panel

– Martin Heath returns to LAT

– Mat Gest talks about enforcement of condition of properties in Viaduct Rd.

  • Feb 2015

– plans discussed for traffic calming via low-budget interim plan. Much controversy – even reported in the Daily Mail.

  • March 2015

– Viaduct Rd: traffic speed much reduced

  • April 2015

– visit of Katy Bourne who tells us upbeat things, but fails to mention cutbacks will threaten PCSO attendance

– Southdown Rise residents Association find our work “inspiring”

– squatters in Barclays Bank

– big discussion of Wetherspoons planning application for change of use

  • May 2015

– visit of Mike Slagter (HMO licensing)

– Wetherspoons planning application is rejected

– good bye to Ian Davey

  • June 2015

– Insp Brian McCarthy comes to LAT to tell us about cuts in resources

  • July 2015

– PCSOs and LAT – we hear that the police are still committed to LATs

– Mike Everett tells us about “Study Group”/Bellerby’s expansion plans

– Level Open day has 15k visitors

  • September 2015

– Providence Place Gardens nearly complete

– Level receives adverse publicity in Argus “like downtown Beiruit”

4. Media and social media

In addition the website was launched January 2013 and has been added to and refined – and has recorded 15168 views to date.

The @londonroadlat twitter account functions as the premier account dedicated to sights, scenes, businesses and general interest in the London Road area. Local business tweets are usually retweeted for wider coverage. It has 1,313 followers and has tweeted 3433 tweets – 1949 in the past year.

5. other meetings

Pressure of time has not permitted attendance at many other meetings apart from:

– Community Safety Summit

– LAT chairs meetings (July and September 2015)

[addition/correction] London Road Town Team (aka Portas Pilot) 1.5 hr meeting every fortnight, on average.

Philip Wells 6/10/15, 29/10/15