LONDON ROAD ACTION TEAM
MEETING NOTES FROM 3RD MARCH 2015
Philip Wells, Chair and resident
Cathy Reeves, Vice Chair, note taker and resident
Ruth Muinde, church employee, housing officer and resident
Penny King, resident
Marie Louise Maeder, London Road Town Team/Portas Project
Tara Colwill, Duke of Yorks cinema
Colin Blatchwell, The Barrows resident
Richard Barraball, resident
Isobel Pulpolits, resident and project worker
Alex Nunn, resident and project worker
Jo Wadsworth, Brighton and Hove News website
Cllr Pete West, local councillor
James Wood, Cascade Café, Baker Street
Karen Miles (assisting Clarence Mitchell)
Clarence Mitchell, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (Con)
Sylvia and Bob Chilton, residents
Eve Jacobs-Bannon, Ditchling Rise Area Residents Association (DRARA)
Elspeth Brody, DRARA and London Road Station Partnership
Andy Winter, Brighton Housing Trust
Simon Bannister, resident, Brighton City Council
Chris Severinck, Ditchling Rise Area Residents Association (DRARA)
Gabriel, Warleigh Road resident and Sussex University student
Justina, resident and Sussex University Anthropology student
Andy Keefe, Brighton University Community Liaison and Housing Advice Officer
Amanda Healey, PCSOs Sharon and Nic
Justin Blinko (Equinox Care) – who emailed:
The outreach team are continuing to target the area and are actively engaged with several drinkers based on London Road (Aldi) and four men who are basing themselves near the Level.
Together with Trading Standards we are targeting the last remaining off licenses that are selling super strength beers on and around Elm Grove and are anticipating one vendor in particular joining the Sensible on Strength Scheme. This will have a positive impact on the area and we are optimistic that there will be fewer alcohol related problems around the level and London Road this spring/summer
Daniel Wright : Managing Director the Joker
Jonathan Ridley – community safety caseworker
St Peter’s Medical Centre
Sam Bryant – sussex community rail partnership
Cllr Davey – had attended Budget meeting
PCSOs Sharon Birt, Nicola Harrison
1. Welcome and Introductions
The Chairman read out LAT’s Constitution as a reminder of the local action team’s aims and terms of reference.
The Chair read out LAT’s Constitution as a reminder of the local action team’s aims and terms of reference.
The Chair invited people attending the meeting to introduce themselves and for newcomers to spend a few minutes explaining their interest in LAT/role in the local community.
Clarence Mitchell, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate reported his interest in having a credible view point on local issues if he wanted to be elected in May’s election.
Fine Art and Interior Architect Graduates Isobel Pulpolits and Alex Nunn introduced themselves to LAT. The pair are designing a piece of public artwork for the London Road area as part of its regeneration. They have been consulting and running local workshops to gather ideas and feedback from people who live in the area, as to the nature and shape of the project. The project is six months long. The finished piece, a permanent installation of some sort, is specified to last for 10 years. Alex said “It’s got to make an impact and say what’s unique about London Road. We want to find out what people want or need.” The pair invited local residents to contribute ideas to the project and make themselves known afterwards.
James Wood from Cascade Recovery Project reported the café (at 23 Baker Street, opposite Bardsley’s) has been very busy with users making stage props and costumes. A choir and drama group is also being formed.
Sussex University students Gabriel and Justina reported they are working on projects studying what local people think of the area including their likes and dislikes.
Eve Jacobsen and Elspeth Brody volunteer by working on the local neighourhood planters and contribute to the work of DRARA.
Andy Winter reminded us that Brighton Housing Trust employs 80 people and has had a role in providing the shipping containers sited in New England Road for homeless people.
Jo Wadsworth (www.brightonandhovenews.org) reported their website has now been running for five years. There are quite a few articles on the website about London Road.
2a. Minutes of the last meeting (held on 3rd Feb 2015)
Simon Bannister agreed to locate the whereabouts of the ‘pyramid/toberlone’ signpost missing from the end of Baker Street. It was noted the traders had paid for the sign, but it was removed when works on the Open Market/The Barrows began. [result: it was reported that the large majority of traders had not wished to continue contributing to this advertising]
2b. Dates of next meetings
14 April, 5 May, 2 June and 7 July 2015.
Philip Wells reported he had been invited to attend the Independent Police Advisory Group Community Safety Summit (March 21st morning) and to give a talk on “The re-birth of London Road” for Springfield Road Area Residents Association (March 21st evening)
3. Policing and Licensing
Review of policing priorities:
Agreed to keep the priorities the same: Prevention of shoplifting and intimidation in London Road and surveillance and tackling anti social behaviour of drugs and alcohol misuse on The Level – but discussion regarding Francis Street is noted, as below.
February’s police statistics are on the website and can be read at (www.londonroadlat.wordpress.com)
PCSO Sharon Birt emailed:
Nic Harrison and myself have been made aware of drinkers around the benches and drug use in the bin areas of Francis St, since it’s been finished. We have also had a couple of calls about homeless people getting into the blocks. We have been paying passing attention and advising those drinking to go elsewhere, as and when we catch them. The reports of the homeless inside the blocks seems to have stopped, unless we’re just not hearing about it. We will continue to pay attention to the area but certainly do need people to call in any ASB as it’s happening so we can have the best chance of getting to them.
Colin Blatchwell reported The Barrows residents association is run by Ross Harper, the elected chair in conjunction with Hyde Housing Association. There are 62 flats in The Barrows. Residents are keen to work with the traders of the market for the benefit of the area. “We wish to work with traders and improve the area as a whole,” he said.
It was also reported there are problems in Francis Street with anti social behaviour (street drinking and drug dealing), the benches being used by drinkers and noise from delivery lorries servicing the Open Market at 6am some mornings – causing a huge noise issue for residents. It was discussed whether early loading is against the agreed operating terms of the market. Skateboarders are using Francis Street as a main thoroughfare and there is a lot of noise and pollution from lorries and cars, even on Sunday mornings.
Mohammed said: “Nobody is allowed before 7am. Sunday traders are not allowed before 7am. The problem is sometimes the blame comes to the market traders but it’s not always us.”
It was noted that Police Inspector Brian McCarthy is working with traders on addressing the drug problems at the Open Market.
“Anti social behaviour is extending down in to Francis Street including graffiting down to outside Aldi. There were men intimidating boys over drugs. Outside Forfars people were drinking, dealing and so on.”
Simon Bannister supported moving the benches adding Francis Street looked a bit bleak.
It was noted there are a lot of vehicles and foot traffic in the street.
Tony Firmin asked where the parking was in Francis Street adding he thought it looked like pedestrians have the right of way.
Colin Blatchwell thought there wasn’t going to be on-street parking (resident permits): the deal was there would be a new city club car placed in Francis Street. There are a number of people with mobility difficulties. But there was no disabled space for the city car club and trees hadn’t materialized either.
Philip Wells/Pete West said residents and traders needed some sort of good communication to be put in place. Cllr West added “Cllr Ian Davy has been very involved with the development, parking and dealing with the anti social behaviour problems in the street. It’s much easier when you have a residents association (to work with). Police have been responding to the anti social behaviour complaints. Other agencies have been mentioned too. It think the presence of the benches acts as a magnet for this. It’s up to those affected to decide what the right answer is for them.”
Resolved to add the benches in Francis Street to the policing priorities on the Level.
Cllr West is to ask the Parks Dept and Police for statistics about anti social behaviour in the toilets (at the Level and Open Market).
Noted no formal application from Wetherspoons to open in the former Co-op building, but reported are looking at the site. Debate as to whether to approve or object to any possible planning application. Marie-Louise Maeder said it’s not just about alcohol, it’s about the affect on nearby businesses. There is a re-focusing to attract trade, (eg. food).” But Cllr West said competition is not a consideration in the planning process. “It’s about the alcohol impact in the area.”
Andy Winter: “we don’t want to see a vertical drinking establishment in London Road – to do so would cause a huge fight .”
Philip Wells reported he spoke to Wetherspoons’ area manager who assured him he would come to LAT to hear what people had to say if there was an application submitted to open in London Road.
4. Viaduct Road update
Philip Wells reported LAT and the council had been working together to push for improvements to the look and layout of Viaduct Road. Noise, rubbish and rubbish bins, fly-tipped furniture, recycling and recycling boxes, wheely bins, property repairs and redecorations and traffic calming were all under scrutiny by various arms of the council and roads unit including City Clean, the Planning Department and HMO Enforcement.
Planning wrote a blanket generic letter to 119 houses and flats in Viaduct Road on 19 February 2015 suggesting works be carried out to maintenance and redecoration of property. Owners are invited to respond to the council within 21 days proposing a timeline for the works to be carried out. This will be followed up and reviewed in about a months’ time. The next step will be to focus in on individual properties where the appearance is causing significant concern. Letter is appended to minutes.
HMO licensing (Mike Slagter) were willing to attend, this needs to be booked in.
Penny King commented “It’s a prompt to people to look at what they might be responsible for. Presumably those that are not up to standard (about half in the road). Many of the worst are those scratch are those in multiple occupation”.
There was comment that bins are collected on Mondays but on Thursdays bins are still left out on the street. Some people leave them out continually.
Penny added: “I do think there’s been some improvement. The people that usually leave them out from the day after collection should be the ones that are targeted.”
Simon Bannister reported the a similar problem in Hove saw the local LAT and police knocking on peoples doors inviting residents to clean up/spruce up their properties.
Andy Keeffe from Brighton University housing unit reported students are advised of their responsibilities as to bin and recycling collection days when they move out of halls in to the private rented sector.
“I do think they take it on board but there’s a small minority who don’t. If you give us specific details, we can ascertain who they are (and act).” Andy agreed to check on house numbers after the meeting and try to determine which are student houses.
Cllr West said something needed to be done to encourage people to put bins out.
Mike Hedgethorne called for a few community bins, eliminating the need for every house to have wheely bins.
Philip Wells reported that Charles Dudley (UOS) had mentioned a mobile app or text messaging scheme. Andy Keeffe suggested HMO’s have a brass door plate with managing agents telephone numbers on them.
Viaduct Road Traffic Calming update
Philip Wells said the white lines (on Viaduct Road) and signage has improved the responsible movement of traffic. There had ben a lot of knee-jerk adverse reaction to it. The average speed has reduced from over 30mph to an average of something over 20mph. He asked: “Is it doing what the meeting last time was hoping for? Do we feel this is a step in the right direction?”
Marie-Louise Maeder said there was a minor crash in the road involving about three cars and a pedestrian. Philip Wells said the police report specified that there had been a drunken altercation and the perpetrator had stepped in to the road.
Cllr West added: “It definitely didn’t have anything to do with the planters (being in the road). It was mis-reported in the newspaper. There haven’t been any accidents in relation to the planters.”
Clarence Mitchell added: “Speed needs to be dealt with. But the planters simply appeared. Essentially putting a large immobile object (in the road) is inherently dangerous even at 20mph. Wing mirrors get clipped. We have concerns about cyclists who have to move out of the way, except on the pavement. We believe overt signage with a speed camera would begin to do the job. We don’t think a chicane is the way forward.”
Penny King commented that speed cameras were only put where there are accidents, therefore there was no question of cameras at Preston Circus. Others said that the advice we had received was that speed cameras were not a viable option.
Cllr West argued the planters were one way of seeing how speeds could be brought down in response to residents’ requests. Because of the gas works (at Preston Circus), the planters were moved (in to Viaduct Road) under delegated powers.
Mike Hedgethorne: If the planters were painted white they might stand out more.
A vote went in favour for the trial of planters to continue. Concern raised about how long the trial will go on for.
Philip Wells said he didn’t think calming is optimum yet but consultants were looking at it along with communal bins. “Lets keep working at it and when the experts come back, look at how we can tune it up.”
Nothing to report.
5b.London Road improvements
Railings have been taken down and de-cluttering is taking place. Bike racks are going up.
5c.Ditchling Rise Residents Association and the Green Way gardening project
Elspeth from DRARA revealed the Green Way runs from New England Road, along Stroudley Road and extends to the station. It used to be the railway sidings. “For some years it has been a rather attractive pedestrian walkway to Brighton Station but recently it has fallen in to lack of care and various groups like DRARA, Prestonville, the CCK church and the council have got together to get people to come along and help clear it up and make it a lovely place to walk along again.”
The group has bid to the Heritage Board for funding, explaining it is a vital piece of Brighton history.
5d. London Road Traders
Marie-Louise Maeder said the Portas Town Team is talking about merging the Town Team with the Traders Association to form London Road Area Business Association. The Town Team would develop ideas and the Traders would put them in to place. Meanwhile the Town Team is launching a campaign to persuade London Road traders to contribute towards funding for Town Centre Liaison Officers. The website http://www.visitlondonroad.co.uk is trying to attract tourists, visitors, customers and traders. The events page is underway. Please contact Marie-Louise to promote ideas. Email email@example.com or via the contact page at www.visitlondonroad.co.uk
5e. Environmental Improvements / The Level / AOB
copy of Matthew Gest’s letter about Planning Enforcement 24/2/2015
Further to our meeting on site and my attendance at the London Road LAT in January I am writing to give you an update on our actions. We have now written to all the properties in Viaduct Road (including individual flats) and sent them a copy of the attached letter. In all some 119 individual properties were written to as part of the initial exercise.
As we established during our walkaround, a very high number of the properties on Viaduct Road required works of some kind in order for those properties to be considered as “properly maintained”.
As our first action we have written to all the properties on the road identifying and suggesting works to be carried out. This has been sent to every property and the letter is generic. We will then review this situation again in approximately a months time and see what information/indication of works we have received and then our next step will be to focus in on individual properties where the appearance is causing significant concern.
We have begun this process with a “blanket” approach to see if works could be “stimulated” in the most resource efficient a way as possible. We also wanted to let everyone in the street receive the same correspondence, again, in the hope this may work as a collective “stimulus” to achieving an improvement in the character and appearance of the street.
If you require any further assistance or clarification at this stage, please do not hesitate to contact me. In any event, I will write to you again in the near future to update you on further progress.