Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
Note: Councillors N Akhtar, O’Boyle and Welsh and the petition organiser have been invited to the meeting for consideration of this item.
Further to Minute 3/17 the Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which was a six months progress report for a petition bearing 48 signatures and requested help with various concerns over anti- social behaviour in the vicinity of Priors Harnall and Cawthorne Close, notably focussed around the greenspace to the rear of 16-22 Priors Harnall. The petition was sponsored by Councillor’s N Akhtar, O’ Boyle and Welsh, the St. Michaels Ward Councillors and had been submitted to the City Council on 16th June, 2017 and considered by the Cabinet Member initially on 27th July, 2017. The petition organiser and Councillor’s N Akhtar and Councillor Welsh were present at the meeting and spoke on behalf of the petitioners, Councillor O’Boyle had sent his apologies.
The report noted that the petition highlighted residents’ concerns with anti-social behaviour notably that young children and youths congregate around the green open space between Priors Harnall and Cawthorne Close in the St Michaels Ward. The residents highlight that young children were playing ball games within the grassed area within Cawthorne Close. They also state that in the evening there were older youths who congregate to the rear of the garage area and it was believed that they were taking drugs. Residents felt intimidated and were regularly disturbed by the activity of these groups and stated that there were also numerous incidents of dog fouling, littering and fly tipping in the same area. This made the area look dirty and untidy and encouraged more flytipping. Residents were keen to have the issues addressed at the earliest opportunity.
The report listed the decisions from the previous meeting and updated on progress and actions taken by the City Council and West Midlands Police. The report noted that an outcome of the initial meeting was that the police and council agreed to carry out more proactive patrols in the area. Additional patrols had been carried out by both the police and the council to ensure that any Anti-Social Behaviour could be monitored. Reporting of incidents by local residents to both the police and the council over the previous 6 months, including Summer 2017 had been sparse.
Residents were encouraged to set up a Neighbourhood Watch in the area, records showed that residents from Cawthorne Close had one set up, and that Priors Harnall had made initial enquiries.
The local policing team were looking to work with partner agencies in the community in order to provide youth engagement, this was intended to commence once the warmer weather arrived.
It was agreed that a lamp column on the green space would be adapted to assist the police and the council in identifying perpetrators of Anti-Social Behaviour. Officers had requested that a lamp column be adapted in the area, this had been delayed however, it had now been installed in readiness for the lighter nights.
It was agreed that the ownership of the land and potential solutions would be investigated. The council own the land and it was officially designated as highways land, however due to logistical and operational arrangements it was maintained by the streetpride and grounds teams.
Several residents wanted the land to be closed off and turned into an allotment garden, however once this was raised with colleagues in highways / streetpride and also public health, they all felt that the land should remain how it was. It was a valuable piece of greenspace in a heavily built up area. Other residents had approached the Council and claimed that they enjoyed having a space where their children could play, within sight of their houses.
As part of the original petition it was agreed that a review would be undertaken 6 months’ from the original meeting. It was originally noted that the Police and crime commissioner could be invited, however in light of the low levels of reporting of issues this was not pursued.
The Cabinet Member discussed the following issues with the petition spokesperson, Ward Councillors, other members present and officers:
· Reasons for the low level of reporting
· Police presence
The Cabinet Member, Ward Councillors and officers highlighted the importance of reporting any concerns as soon as possible.
Officers agreed to pass on contact details of the petition organiser to the local police so that they could communicate directly as requested.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:
1) Request West Midlands Police and Council officers to continue their monitoring of the area and respond accordingly to residents requests for assistance.
2) Encourage residents to set up and create an active Neighbourhood Watch in the 2 area’s and report incidents of concern to Police and the Council as soon as they occur.
3) Request that some form of youth engagement be initiated in the area before the warmer weather arrives to mitigate the impact that large numbers of children may have on the area.
4) Look at the use of CCTV in the area if it felt that there is a need to monitor criminal activity.
5) A report back be considered in 6 months