LAT minutes 3rd February 2015

Minutes of Local Action Team
3rd February 2015, 6.30pm

Cathy Reeves (Vice-Chair), Cllr Ian Davey, Ruth Muinde (stand-in minutes taker)
James Wood, Cascade Creative Recovery, Justin Blincko, Equinox, Jonathan Ridley
Sandy Crawhurst (North Laine Community Association), Marie-Louise Maeder (Portas Town Team)
Tora Colwill, Penny King, PCSO Sharon Birt, PCSO Nicola Harrison
Simon Bannister, Tony Firmin, Lucy Dunleavy
+ 2 late arrivals
Philip Wells (Chair), Charles Dudley, University of Sussex, Jan Rooney, Substance Misuse Services, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Andrew Keeffe, Brighton University Housing Officer
Amanda Healey, Head Teacher, St Bartholomews CofE Primary School, Andy Winter (BHT)

1. Welcome, apologies and introductions.

Stand-in chair, Cathy Reeves, called the meeting to order at 6.30pm

2. Minutes from the meeting on 13/01/15

Approved by the quorum.

2b. Dates of the next meeting

The next meeting will be held on 3rd March at 6.15 for a 6.30pm start. The Chair invited everyone present to think about questions to ask Katy Bourne, Police Crime Commissioner, when she attends LAT on 14th April.

It was resolved to hold the discussion on the community response to improvements along Viaduct Road (item 4 on the agenda) at the end of the meeting.
3. Policing Priorities and Licensing

Cathy Reeves asked if the quorum wanted to review the policing priorities detailed in the agenda.

PCSO Sharon Birt was invited to share on these ongoing points. She highlighted that shoplifting was still rampant – ‘we didn’t think we’d make the meeting because of [it]’. She describes it as ‘dead’ at The Level currently, since the toilets at The Level have been closed. There is still drug using going on in the mornings in that area. Significant levels of drug use have been pushed to the McDonald’s toilets, which are now being policed.

PCSO Sharron Birt brought up the increase in the number of homeless people begging in certain locations along London Road. She mentioned local police officers’ fight ‘tooth and nail’ for Section 35 to be authorised in particular cases. She mentioned the issue of people camped in doorways – outside Aldi, for instance.
She raised the issue of people getting aggressive when they don’t get money and a particular individual’s intimidating behaviour; asserting that many homeless people are ‘just looking for shelter’.
Regarding Section 35, she said that the police ‘need ‘X’ amount of issues before authorising Section 35’.

The consensus seemed to be that the three stated police priority matter in the agenda remain the same.

3A. Equinox

Justin Blincko from Equinox shared about their work with street drinkers on London Road and The Level. The Charity’s focus is to help these people access treatment and get into fruitful community settings and voluntary work. They have links with the police and trading standards agency.
Justin Blincko spoke very positively of the scheme to stop traders selling high strength alcohol to street drinkers, but suspects that some are selling below the counter out of concern for whether their fellow traders are following suit.

The scheme has received ‘good feedback from Dr Worthley at Morley Street’, who has said that people have been helped to be stabilised by the measures. There also seems to have been a reduction in antisocial behaviour since these measures were backed.

Justin attested to there not being many people on The Level; and those who are there are known by Equinox workers. He also mentioned a certain bench on/around which some intimidating behaviour is taking place. The Equinox team are ‘familiarising [themselves] with the patterns of behaviours’ taking place there.

Justin Blincko asserted that the ‘complexion of street drinking is changing’ and services available are changing, but because some of the people are sleeping rough, Equinox finds that individuals are ‘popping up’ and it is taking longer to get to know them.

– comment: noted that the cross-section of people using The Level deserves concentration as there are lots of people sitting there and being a bit antisocial.

Justin Blincko said that it is not the job of Equinox to move people on but that, with a bit of help forced upon them people seem to be responsive.

Justin Blincko shared that most off-licences have joined the scheme to stop traders selling high-strength alcohol to street drinkers. However, there is a concern that some traders are worried that their competitions are not doing the same. Lewes Road is fully signed up for the scheme

PCSO Sharon Birt made the point that street drinkers aren’t drinking strong strength alcohol anyway, but lower strength alcohol like Frosty Jacks.

3b. Cascade Creative Recovery (32 Baker Street)

James Wood shared about this charity which he described as a ‘safe space for people in recovery’. He made the point that while the detrimental behaviour is visible (in the local area), recovery processes are often not visible. He extended a warm invitation to Cascade’s next AGM on Friday 13th February.

5. Jury’s Inn

Simon Bannister reported his visit to the building works, adding the building manager was very optimistic about the outcomes when they reopen. He asked when Philip Wells will return, as there will be a half day security safety summit in conjunction with economic development at Sussex County Cricket Ground on 12th March from 9.30am. LAT volunteers are sought to attend. There will be a free breakfast and lunch.

5a. Valley Gardens

This will take place in summer 2015.

5b-f. London Road improvements / Hanging Baskets / Banners / Town Team / Portas Town Team Developments / Stanley Road / The Level / Stanley Road / AOB.

Marie-Louise Maeder shared updates about handling funding for the Town Centre Liaison Officers. They finished their contracted period at the end of last week. They are still trying to source funding for these positions to continue.
The town team have found it hard to set up a bank account for this.
The Traders’ Association has a bank account set up already and there has been a proposal to use that, but a final decision about this can be made on Phil Wells’s return.

The hanging baskets were also mentioned but the Town Team aren’t responsible for these – it was asked who is responsible for them.

The Town Team will be putting up banners in summer 2015 but are looking into a possible redesign.

Simon Bannister said he will find out where the Baker Street banner made by David Fisher had gone.

Environmental improvements in Stanley Road: no update to report.

4. Preston Circus/Viaduct Road

Ian Davey said there is ongoing work around Preston Circus. Consultants will be appointed to conduct a topographical survey of Viaduct Road to get an idea of what changes are possible. Ian proposed that the quorum have a look at a map (which he brought) of the local area to discuss possible changes. It was agreed that this was a good idea.

*Interactive map session* chaired by Cllr Ian Davey

What problems can we identify/address?

Cathy: Cycling lanes – you can cycle only so far then the cycle lane stops. Could road markings be introduced? Or perhaps a signpost? (although that might be less good as it would clutter the area)

Penny: The trouble is the cyclist’s interest in finding the shortest possible distance between two points.

-comment: There is a problem of people cycling on the pavements down Viaduct Road.

It was agreed by the group that the traffic goes too fast UP this road and it often seems like a race track. It was proposed (once again) that it would be good to break up the flow of traffic.

Ian: The council will be introducing a short term intervention of units at the bottom of Viaduct Road in an attempt to slow traffic down.

Cathy: Because of the current gas works, traffic is naturally going more slowly around the Preston Circus area.
There was an agreement that such obstructions make people drive more cautiously.

-comment: We spoke at the last meeting about having narrower lanes (along Viaduct Road), wider pavements and communal bins.

Also offloading bays. It was observed that there are still about 6 wheely bins left out on the street a day-and-a-half after the last bin collection.

Ian noted again that consultants had been appointed to survey the area.

-comment: It was asked how feasible it would be to have loading bays along Viaduct Road.

Ian: it is not just an issue of traffic but also of air quality, particularly at the Ditchling Road end of the street. It was suggested that a ‘monitoring point’ should be identified for this issue.
He asked what people would like to see on the road. A number of those present said it would be nice to have trees down the side of the road.

Ian then suggested that you don’t have to go far from the source of the pollution to find cleaner air – and it was agreed that trees would help with this issue also.

Various people proposed another traffic light or zebra crossing. Simon Bannister suggested that road markings would be a cheaper options and that ‘desire lines’ should be identified along the street where signage/markings/lights would be optimum, as it was agreed that people running across the street is a problem as one can’t always gauge the speed of cars.

Simon Bannister asked whether the consultants would be looking at Beaconsfield Road, too, and whether efforts should be made to slow cars down at that stage as it is a ‘stressful’ road, with lots going on.

A number of parties agreed that drivers feel frustrated at that stage and so try to race the lights when they eventually get on to the straight stretch of Viaduct road.

-comment: drivers also feel frustrated coming down to Preston Circus from Seven Dials and so are racing to get to the Ditchling Road lights.

It was felt Upper Lewes Road is so much calmer now since traffic calming measures were introduced.

Various parties suggested that this was because: there is less traffic there comparatively, Upper Lewes Road is two-way.

-comment: It was suggested that driving lanes could be addressed and made clearer on approach to Viaduct road from New England and Old Shoreham Road as people are often not indicating when turning into Preston Road.
-comment: It was suggested that, at the bottom of the A270 (i.e. coming down New England Hill) there should be a clearer lane distinction for LEFT (up Preston Road) and STRAIGHT AHEAD (along Viaduct Road).

-comment: recounted that in small Spanish towns they have traffic lights which go red when the approaching driver is going over the speed limit. Could that system be used in this country?

Ian Davey asked whether, when the consultants are appointed to assess the area, we should invite them to a LAT meeting. This was fully endorsed by the quorum.

Cathy: could there be a cycle lane up Viaduct Road?
-comment: would rather see the communal bins accommodated – Stanley Road would be better to cycle down.
-comment: Could there be benches along Viaduct Road? Ian noted the general surprise as to how many people use the benches around the Seven Dials roundabout.

-comment: you could get away with 2 communal bins along Viaduct Road; one at each end, for instance.

Ian noted that any measures concerning road/traffic alterations would be done under the umbrella of ‘speed measures’.

Other business

Private Rented Sector – Scrutiny Panel
Cathy attended the Scrutiny Panel on private sector housing on the 23rd Feb. This was set up to hear what is going on regarding the Private Rented Sector in Brighton, and how to deal with HMOs.
LAT was invited to attend this.
At the meeting she shared about:
The mess on Viaduct Road
the expense of renting property in Brighton
the fact that you do not get many landlords or letting agents from Viaduct Road engaging voluntarily with LAT
She suggested that there should be ‘scores’ for agents/landlords, to improve the quality of concern for properties. It was also suggested that landlords with HMOs be licensed.
The minutes for this meeting will be up on the city council website after 13th February 2015. The next meeting of the Scrutiny Panel will be the 23rd February 2015.

It was clarified that such a committee is set up prior to evidence being collected and a portfolio officially given to a department of the council – most likely to the Planning Office (contact: Mike Guest), who would then take action based on evidence presented.

Simon Banister, Penny King (and Philip Wells) went with Matt Gest along Viaduct Road 14/1/15 morning to discuss issues of concern. Half the houses need something done to them and only a handful are inhabited by owner-occupiers. It was agreed that, initially, Matt would send out letters to the occupants of houses in a bad state of repair, before any more serious action (or cautionary letter) was sent out.

Cathy suggested that Brighton and Hove Cityclean is a good resource.

Close of Meeting

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