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.
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 in properties including clothing and a doctors note
· a local school were also concerned for resident children
The Petition spokesperson noted that Orbit had made some progress with remedial action but they had not discussed the matter with residents.
Councillor O’Boyle provided some background to the issues and he felt that it was not acceptable that children witness people injecting drugs outside their homes. Councillor O’Boyle discussed funding, the building and bin area not being secure, poor lighting, violence, threats, damage to property, fly tipping and also being mindful of safety when reporting crimes.
Councillor O’Boyle and Councillor N Akhtar also discussed a recent meeting with Orbit at which they had discussed solutions.
The Police confirmed they had met with all residents and had increased patrols but were currently unable to source evidence to identify people involved. They had spoken to Orbit regarding supporting the management of antisocial behaviour with Whitefriars, another Housing Association in the local area.
The Shadow Cabinet Member recognised the quality of life of the residents was affected and supported responding to their petition.
The Cabinet Member and Deputy Cabinet Member thanked the St Peter’s Community Centre for supporting local residents including all those present at the meeting.
Those present felt that Orbit Housing were key partners and as they were not able to discuss concerns at the meeting the Cabinet Member agreed to contact Orbit Housing to highlight the urgent need to address some of the problems raised and to seek clarity for the residents regarding Orbit’s proposed solutions and also to bring to their attention the concerns regarding damp and vermin.
The Cabinet Member requested that the Housing enforcement team visit the property and that this area be considered during discussions about the wider Public Space Protection Order.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member:
1) Encourage residents of Cephas Court to report incidents of concern to Police, Orbit Housing Group and the Council as soon as they occur
2) Request West Midlands Police, Orbit Housing Group and Council officers to continue their monitoring of the area and respond accordingly to residents requests for assistance
3) The Cabinet Member agree to write to Orbit housing to seek clarity over the details of the recommendations they agreed at the meeting with Councillors, officers and residents on November 26th 2018, with the proposition that the works be carried out as soon as possible and within this financial year. Also bringing to the attention of Orbit Housing the conditions at the property including damp and vermin
4) Refer the issues discussed to the Housing Enforcement Team to visit Cephas Court with the petition spokesperson to see what action can be taken