Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities
Thursday, 10th January, 2019 3.00 pm

Venue: Diamond Room 2 - Council House. View directions

Contact: Michelle Rose  Tel: 024 7683 3111; Email: michelle.rose@coventry.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

33.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no disclosable pecuniary interests.

 

34.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 128 KB

(a)  To agree the minutes of the Cabinet Member (Policing and Equalities) meeting held on 25th October, 2018

 

(b)  Matters arising

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 25th October, 2018 were agreed as a true record.

35.

Petition - Reduce the number of Councillors in each ward pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

 

To consider the above petition, bearing 24 signatures, which has been submitted by the petition organiser, who has been invited to the meeting for the consideration of this item.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which responded to an e-petition bearing 24 signatures, which had been submitted to the City Council on 29th September, 2018 and closed on 23rd December, 2018. The petition entitled “Reduce the number of councillors in each ward” stated “There are 18 local wards in Coventry and 54 councillors. We want the council to reduce the number of councillors in each ward from 3 to 2 and hold elections once every 4 years instead of the current cycle. This will save money and make the council more efficient.” The petition spokesperson was invited to the meeting but was unable to attend.

 

With regard to reducing the numbers of councillors in each ward, the report noted that local authorities had no powers to alter the number of councillors. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England was the independent body responsible for carrying out electoral reviews.  An electoral review was an examination of a council’s electoral arrangements covering:

  the total number of councillors elected to the local authority;

  the number and boundaries of wards or divisions for the purposes of the   election of councillors;

  the number of councillors for any ward or division of a local authority;

  the name of any ward or division.

 

The Commission were responsible for setting their own work programme and may consider carrying out a review of a council for two reasons:

  at the request of the local authority; or

  If the local authority meets the Commission’s intervention criteria:

a)  If one ward has an electorate of +/-30% from the average electorate for   the authority

b)  If 30% of all wards have an electorate of +/-10% from the average   electorate for the authority.

 

The timeframe for such reviews was normally around 18 months and would involve the commitment of human and financial resources from the local authority to support the review.  While a local authority was able to request a review, the decision on councillor numbers was made by the Boundary Commission which may not recommend any change.  For comparison, the report detailed the population, number of councillors and ratio for all of the seven West Midlands Metropolitan Councils.

 

With regard to changing the pattern of elections, the report noted that Elections to Coventry City Council were by thirds; elections take place three out of every four years with each councillor being elected for a term of four years.  Legislation allowed for alternative models including whole-council elections. Whole-council elections would take place every four years with every seat being up for election at the same time. 

 

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (as amended) enabled councils to consider moving to whole-council elections from elections by thirds or halves.  If a Council was considering passing a resolution for whole-council elections, it had to take reasonable steps to consult such persons as it thinks appropriate on the proposed change.  The final resolution must be passed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.

36.

Petition - Anti-Social Behaviour at Cephas Court, Hillfields pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

 

To consider the above petition, bearing 15 signatures, which has been submitted by Councillor O’Boyle, a St Michael’s Ward Councillor, who has been invited to the meeting for the consideration of this item along with the petition organiser.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which responded to a petition bearing 15 signatures, sponsored by Councillor O’Boyle, a St Michaels Ward Councillor, which had been submitted to the City Council on 26th October, 2018.  The petition reported that Anti-Social Behaviour issues associated with Cephas Court were having a detrimental impact on residents and the wider community.  The petition specifically mentioned acts of alleged drug dealing, property damage, forced entry to communal areas and access doors, use of drugs and other substances. The petition spokesperson and Councillor O’Boyle were invited to the meeting and spoke on behalf of a number of residents who also attended.  The Police and Orbit Housing were also invited to attend.  The Police attended and spoke to the Cabinet Member about their experience of the issues concerned.  Orbit Housing sent their apologies.

 

The report noted that with regard to anti-social and criminal behaviour, the main issue concerned a spate of ongoing incidents during 2018, during which some local resident’s witnessed the main entry door being vandalised to gain entry and using the communal areas to use drugs, by unknown persons.  Coventry City Council’s recorded data regarding Antisocial Behaviour from 1st January 2018 to 1st December 2018 showed two reports directly related to Cephas Court logged with the City Council for various issues.  One reported unsightly land / fly tipping and the other reported drug misuse which council officers passed to the Police.  In response to the petition, officers from the Council had made contact with the lead petitioner on 13th December 2018.

 

Police data for the same period showed a total of 33 logs for Cephas Court.  A large proportion of these logs related to criminal damage, reporting of drug taking, smashed windows, gaining entry to the building via breaking the fire door and main doors.

 

The report noted that West Midlands Police, Orbit Housing Group and the Council were monitoring the situation.  Extra patrols took place as duties allowed and individuals found to be causing issues were challenged and appropriate action was taken.  From a housing perspective Orbit Housing Group had responsibilities to manage the Anti-Social Behaviour in their building and land.  Orbit Housing Group had written to the petition spokesperson outlining some of the remedial steps that they had taken in response to the issues raised. 

 

The Petition spokesperson, Joan Haywood Centre Manager at St Peter’s Community Centre, was invited to speak on behalf of the petitioners.  She indicated that issues were regularly reported regarding the residents’ concerns and she noted that the strength of feeling was reflected by the high number of people in attendance at the meeting in support of the petition.  Anti-social behaviour in the area, drug related litter, lack of security and property conditions were having a real impact on the community.  There was a fear for the safety of residents and their children.  The following impacts were discussed:

·  drug use and ambulances were witnessed

·  washing cannot be put outside,

·  evidence of damp  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Petition - Measures to prevent illegal encampment at the Ponderosa, off Jardine Crescent pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

 

To consider the above petition, bearing 5 signatures, which has been submitted by Councillor Male, a Woodlands Ward Councillor, who has been invited to the meeting for the consideration of this item.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which responded to a petition bearing 100 signatures, sponsored by Councillor Male, a Woodlands Ward Councillor, which had been submitted to the City Council on 22nd June, 2018.  The petition requested that the Council undertake all necessary measures to ensure that the Ponderosa, otherwise known as Jardine Crescent Sports Ground, off Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill, was made secure in order to prevent further illegal encampments.  The petition spokesperson Councillor Male was invited to the meeting and spoke on behalf of petitioners.

 

This report noted that the site was managed by the Councils Greenspace Service and contained several football pitches and an associated changing rooms.  The changing rooms were leased to Mount Nod FC who use the pitches as their home ground.

 

Approximately 3 years ago the City Council’s Streetpride & Green Space Service created a line of ditches and mounds along areas of the site’s periphery as a defence to prevent unauthorised traveller incursions.  The report noted that ditching and mounding was thought to be one of the most effective methods of preventing such incursions. 

 

Despite a vehicle access gate being installed at the same time, some localised flattening of the mounds seemed to have taken place.  It was found that a resident football club had been accessing the site with their vehicles over a long period of time by driving over the mounds and ditches.  This had in one location flattened the defences and consequently, the travellers had the opportunity to gain unauthorised access onto the site in 2018.  Subsequently the mounding was bolstered and no further such incursions had occurred.  Following discussions with the football club a key was issued allowing the club to gain access to the site via a locked gate (with height barrier).

 

The report indicated that officers would continue to maintain and review the existing defences to ensure that as far as can practicably be achieved within the existing resources, unauthorised incursions onto the site would be restricted and or prevented in the future.

 

Councillor Male discussed the disruption to the local community caused by the incursion on the site.  He questioned the cause of the incursion and the quality of the defences.  He also discussed anti-social behaviour on the site.

 

The officer present discussed the cost of defences and had spoken to rangers who weren’t aware that the defences had been damaged.  The officer agreed to visit the site and inspect the defences along with the Ward Councillors.  If they had been reduced they could be bolstered with in house resources.

 

Councillor Khan clarified that no illegal encampment had occurred since the defences had been bolstered in 2018 and suggested that officers be contacted as soon as possible if there were concerns about the defences.

 

RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:

 

1)  Consider the content of the petition and note the concerns of the petitioners’

 

2)  Note that action has been taken to bolster the ditching and mounding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Extension of Public Space Protection Order for Edgewick Park pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which requested an extension be made to the existing Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for Edgwick Park.  A PSPO was granted for Edgwick Park in April 2016 (the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure Sport and Parks minute 43/15 refers).  The order was created to address concerns at the park regarding Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), exacerbated by drugs, alcohol and anti-social behaviour. Appended to the report were the proposed draft order for Edgwick Park and impact statements.

 

The order gave agencies powers to request groups leave the park that were felt to be acting in a manner to the detriment of other park users, if they refuse to leave they would be committing an offence and liable to enforcement, either a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a summons to court.

 

The PSPO was in place following an extensive consultation exercise, the renewal required consultation with key local partners and agencies.  West Midlands Police, Parks and Greenspace colleagues and the adjoining primary school had been consulted and their responses were appended to the report.  All consultees were in agreement that the existing PSPO had been effective in reducing instances of Anti-Social Behaviour in the park and whilst not completely solving issues, a renewal of the order was recommended by all respondents.

 

Whilst the order had not entirely eliminated incidents of anti-social behaviour, mainly due to the difficulty of consistently dedicating resources to patrol, having the PSPO gave officers powers to deal with issues quickly and effectively.  Were the order to expire this would make enforcement at the park far harder than it currently was.

 

The report noted that local residents still expressed concern from time to time about gatherings of groups in the park.  Primarily these groups congregate because of their living conditions outlined in the report.  It was felt that the risk and incidents regarding CSE had greatly reduced however, it was not something agencies could be complacent about.  It was still felt that the presence of such groups was a deterrent to others from using the park as regularly as they would otherwise.

 

Patrols to the park from several agencies had been increased.  Whilst those patrols were not as regular as when the concerns were initially received it was still a location that Police and support workers from agencies such as Horizon (CSE) and similar attended and spoke to individuals and groups.

 

There had been physical alterations in and around the park to address matters.  Significant amounts of vegetation and undergrowth had been cut back and a toilet block had been demolished.  This had decreased the locations where it was felt there were potential for activities that would cause concern.

 

The report detailed the options considered were to extend the order or to let it expire, the extension option was recommended. 

 

It was noted the use of a PSPO was intended to be an additional tool for officers to use  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Drone Policy and Police Drone Permission pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which concerned the adoption by the Council of a Drone/ Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Policy (“UAV”) in relation to its land and grant the West Midlands Police permission to use Council land, for the launch and landing of drones in order to prevent and detect crime and maintain public safety.  Appended to the report were a UAV Policy, UAV Permission West Midlands Police and UAV Permission.  The Cabinet Member had received a large number of correspondence, following the publication of the documentation for this meeting, against the proposed policy and had agreed to let Mr Kerry Blakeman speak regarding the concerns. 

 

The report noted that over the last few years a number of concerns had been raised about the flying of drones in both residential areas and in open spaces including parks.  The concerns were about the nuisance caused by the noise of drones; privacy due to drones carrying surveillance equipment and the potential danger they could cause to wildlife, animals and people particularly when landing.  Advice had been supplied to residents stating that any problems with drone flying should be reported to the Police and the Council’s Community Safety Team who would carry out an investigation.  Council officers had asked drone flyers in parks to stop their activities.

 

However the Council does not have a drone policy and to date had dealt with any matters using vehicle and nuisance prohibitions contained in the Council’s Byelaws for Pleasure Grounds 1962.  Due to a growing number of issues with this type of activity, it now appeared appropriate to adopt a drone policy to prohibit their general use on Council land and regulate their specific use such as, for some police and professional or commercial operations.  Other Councils had adopted similar policies.

 

The Council was contacted by the West Midlands Police in 2018 requesting permission for Council land to be used for the launching and landing of police drones in order to prevent and detect crime and maintain public safety.  The Force Drone Team for West Midlands Police had stated that the operation of drones supported the reduction in local crime, helped to reduce anti-social behaviour and assisted in evidence gathering to support prosecutions.  It helped to tackle issues such as quad biking in public areas, drug dealing, vehicle crime and suspect searches.  Other West Midlands councils had already granted conditional permissions to the police to carry out this activity.

 

An option would be to have drone activity unregulated in parks and allow hobbyists unrestricted access to Council land to fly their drones as they chose. The Council was aware that drone activity caused a nuisance to other park users and concerned residents due to potential surveillance activity.  Flying drones could also cause a health and safety hazard to both people and animals. As a land owner and operator the Council was likely to be held liable for any damage caused to people or property as a result of it allowing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Outstanding Issues

There are no Outstanding Issues.

Minutes:

There were no Outstanding Issues.

41.

Any Other Business

To consider any other items of business which the Cabinet Member decides to take as a matter of urgency because of the special circumstances involved.

Minutes:

There were no other items of business.