Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which provided a report back on a petition bearing 39 signatures, sponsored by the St Michael’s Ward Councillors (Councillor’s Welsh, O’Boyle and Akhtar) which had been submitted to the City Council on 14th June, 2017. The report had been initially considered on 27th July, 2017 and a report back had been considered on 13th March, 2018 (minutes 3/17 and 16/17 refer). The petition was regarding concerns over; anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of Priors Harnall and Cawthorne Close, notably focused around the greenspace to the rear of 16 – 22 Priors Harnall. The Petition spokesperson and Councillors O’Boyle and Akhtar attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of petitioners. The Police sent their apologies.
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. The residents highlight that young children were playing ball games within the grassed area on 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 six month update was heard on the 13th March 2018, it was agreed that the recommendations agreed at the initial hearing were to carry on but also for residents to report specific issues directly to the local policing team using a non-crime number. This would allow a better picture of the issues to be obtained.
Officers had made contact with the local policing team to ascertain if there had been any further issues of an Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) or of a Police nature in the twelve month period since the original petition was raised. Inspector Meade had responded on behalf of the police. As a general overview of the situation, where possible officers respond to the reports of ASB in this area. The CCTV footage had been downloaded on several occasions and it showed very young children playing football on the grassed area. On every occasion that staff had approached the children, they had been polite with the officers and they had been advised not to kick their balls against walls and resident’s private property.
Officers had checked the council’s database for both locations and had ascertained that in the 10 month period 01/01/2018 until 01/10/2018 there were the following:
• 1 incident of flytipping reported to Street Services.
• 2 abandoned vehicles reported
• 6 reports of ASB – [also referred to the police]. These were duplicate queries already received by the police.
• 1 incident of flytipping reported to Street Services
• 1 reported by Environmental Crime
• 1 abandoned vehicle reported
• 6 Reports of ASB– [also referred to the police]. These were duplicate queries already received by the police
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 police had held meetings on site and had managed to get residents to sign up to the online reporting system.
The local policing team were looking to work with partner agencies in the community to provide youth engagement.
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 ASB. The camera had been in place for some time now and had allowed officers from the police to respond to issues in the area and provided valuable information.
Officers from the councils projects and planning team were working on a long term solution which may include developing the site, there were no firm updates regarding this proposal as yet.
The petition spokesperson spoke on behalf of residents about frustrations when reporting including the length of time taken to report an incident, not being registered on WMNow and that the cameras had now gone and when they were present the lack of signs meant that the information could not be used. Councillor O’Boyle discussed how the issues had evolved and the importance of the local residents being in agreement about possible different uses of the space.
Officers discussed potential ideas that would need investigating including the planting of trees.
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 continue to report incidents of concern to Police and the Council as soon as they occur, police to engage with those perceived to be engaged in antisocial activity.
3. Request that some form of youth engagement be initiated in the area to mitigate the impact that large numbers of children may have on the area.
4. To continue with the use of CCTV in the area if it felt that there is a need to monitor criminal activity.
5. To continue to look at the feasibility study into developing the greenspace [it is appreciated that this will be a long term solution].
6. Agree to look at the viability of planting trees in the green space and to investigate options in relation to the concrete area mentioned within the report.