LONDON ROAD LOCAL ACTION TEAM
MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 5th MAY 2015
1. Welcome, apologies and introductions
Eve Jacobs-Bannon DRARA and local resident
Bob Chilton Local resident
Martin Dunleavy Local resident
Andy Winter Brighton Housing Trust
Tony Firmin Local resident and trader
Mike Hedgethorne Local resident
Tora Colwill Local resident and trader
Christopher Tucker Sussex University Accommodation
Mohammed Asaduzzaman Local trader
Richard Barraball Local resident
Chris Sevink DRARA and local resident
Elspeth Broady DRARA and local resident
Andy O’Keeffe University of Brighton Accommodation
Caroline Lucas Parliamentary Candidate
Cath Miller Assistant to Caroline Lucas
Simon Bannister Brighton & Hove City Council’s Policy and Communities Team
Mike Slagter Brighton & Hove City Council’s Private Sector Housing Officer
Cllr Ian Davy Ward councillor
Cathy Reeves Notetaker and local resident
Philip Wells LAT Chair
Amanda Healey Head, St Bartholomew’s School
Tim Reid Community Safety Team
PCSO’s Sussex Police
Lucy Dunleavy Vice Chair and local resident
Sandy Crowhurst North Road Community Assn
Marie-Louise Maeder Town Team
Ann Townsend Town Team Chair
Elspeth Broady (Co-ordinator of DRARA) said a group, the ‘Friends of Brighton Greenway’ (the strip of green walkway beginning in Stroudley Road stretching to the railway bridge over Old Shoreham Road, parallel with New England Road) has formed to help look after the site.
Their AGM is on 18th May at the Church of Christ the King in New England Road.
There is an Action Day at 12.30 on Sunday 10 May to clean up the greenway and contribute ideas as to how to develop a strategy to maintain it and keep it looking lovely. Volunteers are welcome.
Noted the Greenway will stretch to Brighton railway station. The new section will be ramped and stepped.
Richard Barraball asked for an Item of Any Other Business to be raised and that Caroline Lucas to respond to pre-election propaganda leaflets around abortion. Cathy says: I didn’t keep the leaflets so don’t know exactly what they claim, but it seems they suggested that the MP was ‘in favour of voting for foetuses to be aborted if their sex was female’ …
[One leaflet was from Christian Concern referrring to Ms. Lucas’ voting record in Parliament, the other was from Abort 67 making reference to the issues of “free speech”. ]
The MP rejected the claims outright: “The implication of what they (the leaflets) say is untrue. The groups that have produced these have an ulterior motive. This is about closing down the debate around abortion”. She said “Women have been really intimidated (outside abortion clinics). I have met with residents, staff and police and its clear laws around anti social behaviour aren’t enough. BPAS (British Pregnancy Advice Service) is looking at buffer zones,” she added. “These leaflets make it look like I am against free speech and anyone that knows me will know that is simply not true.”
The Chair commented that debate around abortion is a very, very, sensitive issue and not a matter to be dealt with by sloganizing or simplyifing the matter. Instead a calm and thoughtful way might be the way forward. He undertook to research the matter with Christian Concern, and that this matter, having now been aired, would not go forward to “Any Other Business”.
2. Minutes of the last meeting (held 14 April 2015):
(2b.) Dates of the next meetings are 2nd June and 7th July. The Chair said one ought to be the AGM.
3. Policing and Licensing
The Chair reported an email from Sussex Police had advised that PCSO’s will no longer routinely attend LAT meetings. Instead the police will attend if there is a specific matter raised by the group and the local police inspector will keep up-to-date with LAT issues via minutes sent to him.
Alarm was raised around the implications of this. LAT feels the PCSO’s presence is vital to the success of the group’s progress. PCSO’s listen and are often able to respond to concerns raised at meetings or provide instant feedback during discussions.
The Chair said: “To be told this isn’t going to happen any longer, just seems to pull the rug from under our feet really. What can be done?”
Mike Hedgethorne said: “The LATS have been performing well because of the mix including police.” He called for the Police Inspector to come to the next meeting, adding: said: “If PCSO’s aren’t coming on a regular basis, issues will get lost.”
Cllr Davy said the London Road area is very different to other parts of the city, adding: “Katy Bourne omitted to mention the fact that our PCSO’s will be withdrawn locally.”
Martin Dunleavy added: “This is a sign of the times. This is austerity in action. I think police have to prioritise. An issue has to be raised to get them here. I think we will have to get used to it.”
Caroline Lucas called for LAT to put their concerns on the record by writing to Police Inspector (Brian McCarthy) and (Police and Crime Commissioner) Katy Bourne.
Simon Bannister said the police are trying to find different ways of working. “Some of their aspects have to be withdrawn but they are developing other strands. There are other things in the Policing Plan that may come forward.” He urged members to read the Policing Plan.
Richard Barraball noted that the withdrawal of the PCSO’s was just another marked a deterioration in the area as a whole.
The Chair agreed to write a letter expressing concern to Katy Bourne.
Following discussion it was agreed that setting policing priorities for the area would postponed until the next meeting.
Additional Agenda Item – as Ms Lucas had not taken up the 5 minutes allocation in the “introductions” item.
Caroline Lucas MP introduced herself and described her local and national workloads. In brief they are:
MP for Brighton Pavilion for the past five years.
Described the recent improvements in London Road as an extraordinary transformation and rejected Wetherspoons application, adding: “it’s the very last thing you need.”
She is the FSB (Federation of small businesses) Parliamentary Champion, calling for lower business rates for small enterprises and lobbying for a reduction on VAT tourism arguing if you reduce it, residents would benefit.
Nationally she is working on reducing fuel poverty and increasing energy efficiency by working to make grants more available.
The MP supports getting the NHS back on to full public ownership and repealing privatization measures.
She is for bringing the railway infrastructure back in to public ownership, cheapening fares and getting a better rail service between Brighton and London.
The MP would introduce a cap on rents, is against selling off council housing but for building more homes at a generally affordable rent.
Chris Severink thanked the MP for the last five years’ work.
Cllr Ian Davy
The Chair gave a thank-you card to Cllr Ian Davy who is stepping down as the ward councillor after seven years service, on 7th May 2015. “On behalf of everybody, thank you so much for all you’ve done here at LAT and the London Road area. I would like to say you’ve been so faithful in coming along. We really do appreciate that. You’ve always answered emails and been there and talked about things, your ward and this area.”
Ian Davy acknowledged the thanks adding: “I think we have achieved an awful lot over that time. It’s been an honour to be part of that.”
3(a). Francis Street update
Simon Bannister gave a brief update: “Francis Street serves as an access point for the Open Market. It is a through-route and a residential street. The residents say they’d like it to feel more like a home. They’ve got issues with the benches: they’re not helpful where they are (placed). They attract anti-social behaviour. They’d like planters and seating to cut down on speeding traffic. Its all on- going. We want to challenge some of the anti social behaviour issues they face. There’s an online discussion group and we need to collaborate to see what we can do there.” Contractors are being signed off but there is still a bit of snagging going on. Residents want a car club bay. Parking is intended to be restricted down the street. It is mostly a ‘no parking’ street.
3(b). Wetherspoons update
The Chair reported no reply had been received from Wetherspoons to LAT’s invitation to attend this meeting. The planning application was unanimously rejected by LAT on the basis it was tipping the balance away from retail and on a technicality that some of the proposed frontage would be non-retail.
Chris Tucker reported no formal response had been received from Abacus House student population (via the Student Union) as to the Planning Application for a Change of Use made by Wetherspoons, but that students would be encouraged to expresses their democratice opinions.
4. Viaduct Road update
Design consultants PBA is to undertake a feasibility study and consultants are being appointed to do the design work on traffic and traffic calming measures. They would be invited to attend the next possible meeting.
4(b). HMO’s / Viaduct Road
Mike Slagter from the council’s Private Sector Housing Team gave a short lecture about HMO’s and the council’s role in licensing and enforcement action and ran through a range of questions posed:
Check out http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/housing/general-housing/licensing-houses-multiple-occupation-hmos for general information, more frequently asked questions, a list of licensed HMO’s and standards that apply.
He reported there are no HMO conditions specific to Viaduct Road but, as it is in St Peter’s & North Laine ward, it is in one of the five wards of the city where all HMOs of two or more storeys with three or more occupiers must be licensed (as opposed to three or more storeys with five or more occupiers, which applies in the remaining wards). There are also additional planning controls in these same five wards, administered by the Planning team, relating to creation of new HMOs.
There are several requirements under HMO licensing in terms of control of refuse within the property, including any front yard or garden. While we would be able to apply some pressure in licensed HMOs in respect of bins and recycling boxes left outside the property I think that issue would generally fall to to the Highways team in terms of extent of highway obstruction.
Under HMO licensing conditions, no rubbish should be left long term in the front of any licensed HMO. Licence holders are expected to arrange for the removal of large quantities of rubbish etc., left behind at the end of any letting period, without unreasonable delay.
We investigate complaints received relating to licensed HMOs, including those received from neighbouring residents concerning, for instance, accumulations of rubbish. We also investigate any properties reported to us that should be licensed but where no licence application has been made. We can also become involved in the condition of any privately rented property, though only to the extent that any problems might impact on the safety of its occupiers or visitors. We cannot, for example, become involved purely on grounds of visual appearance, though the council’s Planning team has some powers in this respect, as mentioned here http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/planning/planning-enforcement. When terms we are responsible for are not complied with we have to consider each case on its individual merits in accordance with government enforcement guidance. Again in accordance with this guidance, we generally take any issues up with the landlord or agent initially to try and resolve them informally. If this is unsuccessful and/or if we become aware of persistent offenders a number of possibilities arise depending on the particular legislation that applies. In some cases we might be able to issue formal requirements which if not complied with give rise to a criminal offence. In other cases failure to comply with terms can constitute an offence straight away and serious breaches, especially if persistent, are likely to result in prosecution.
To report persistent nuisance from an HMO ring 01273 293156 (Monday to Friday during office hours) an environmental health or technical officer will investigate.
Chris Tucker from the University of Sussex urged LAT to let him know if a student house was causing nuisance.
The Baker Street pedestrian crossing timings: The Chair to email the council for an update.
Proliferation of A-Boards down London Road: Next meeting
Valley Gardens: Updated visuals are on the council’s website. Ongoing.
London Road improvements: The improvements are good. The pavement outside the front of the Duke of York’s cinema is now finished. Planters are to be installed and an artist has been commissioned to create something for the triangle of paving.
Ditchling Rise Risdents and the Greenway gardening: A community notice board is now in the left-hand side window of the cinema. There is a panel each for the DRARA and for the LAT
Bellerby’s College has written to LAT. They want to enlarge their premises on land in Blackman Street, Station Road and Cheapside. There is an exhibition of proposals (prior to formal planning applications) on 3rd and 4th June at Bellerby’s College, Billinton Way, Brighton, between 4-7pm.The Chair to find out more.
Please comment on the Air Quality Action Plan – http://consult.brighton-hove.gov.uk/portal
Visit London Road website and Town Team / London Road Business Association: There is no money for Town Centre Liaison Officers to patrol London Road shops. The current project is for traders and businesses to dip in to their own pockets to fund help. (e.g. £10 per month) The more businesses that chip-in, the more time the officers will be around.
Providence Place Gardens update: See LAT website.
Any other business:
Mohammed reported a cultural day to celebrate diversity will be held at the Open Market on Thursday 21st May. He called for an International Cultural Day to be held every year in Brighton.
The ‘toblerone’ pyramid removed from the end of Baker Street during building works had still not been put back in place. Debate ensued around who had paid for the pyramid (the traders or the council). David Fisher to be asked for clarification.
There is a homeless encampment on the Greenway, but the people there are not causing any nuisance and have been careful about disposing of rubbish. The Greenway is owned by Sainsbury’s supermarket, not the local authority.
Andy Winter from BHT reported they are becoming aware of people begging on popular pitches. Richard Barraball commented that this sometimes affects Big Issue sellers especially in Queens Road outside Tesco Express.
The next meeting is on Tuesday 2nd June, at 6.15 for a 6.30 start.
The meeting closed around 20.00