Thursday, September 20, 2012

Public Protection Committee

Just to update readers. Following a decision by the cross-party Acocks Green Ward Committee, I attended Wednesday's session of the Public Protection committee to oppose proposals put forward by the police to designate the whole of Acocks Green ward as an area where they have the power to insist that people stop drinking alcohol in the street. The members felt that we would support these proposals on a targeted area where problems had been identified - such as the existing zone Shirley Road by the park, so it is not opposition to the idea, but to the breadth of the proposal.

I can report back that the police report has been deferred, as they failed to meet the standards of evidence required under the Act and their consultation was also not supported by evidence. There's a handy guide to Designated Public Place Orders here. I'd certainly be interested in any other views on this proposal - for or against.

Additionally, there was an interesting report from Trading Standards, who have led the fight against cowboy clampers in the city centre and have been imaginatively using their legal powers to prosecute, securing convictions and prison sentences for offenders and even seizing a ticket machine that was able to accept £2 coins, but would not register them. The officer present read a letter from a young mother, who returned with a young baby and a trolley full of shopping to her car to find it about to be lifted onto a truck just because she had parked with her bumper two inches across a poorly marked white line. It cost £350 for her to get the car back - an amount she had to pay in cash through the fence of a remote yard before they would release her vehicle. The good news is that from the 1st October, it will be illegal to clamp a vehicle on private land.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alexander Road Paper Recycling Collection

Apologies to residents on Alexander Road - the paper doorstep recycling collection was unavoidably left incomplete last Friday. Two trucks broke down and despite the best efforts of the crews, this was the only road that they couldn't complete on Friday. Boxes were cleared yesterday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Confirmed - ticket office opening hours to be halved at Acocks Green

Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Norman Baker has approved a swathe of cuts to ticket office opening hours at a number of stations in the area. Apparently, he is 'protecting passenger interests' by taking away the ticket office staff, who also play a valuable role in reassuring passengers about safety on these stations. Instead, more machines will be installed, the sort that 'baffle passengers', according to Which magazine
The consumer watchdog Which? says that almost one in seven train passengers buys tickets from machines. In a survey, its researchers found that some ticket machines displayed unhelpful or meaningless information and others failed to show the price of different tickets. Several machines required researchers to choose between different routes, but then failed to show how much the different routes cost. Researchers saw “any permitted route” often displayed on screen, but this does not mean that any route is permitted. Rather, that you can travel by any route permitted by the train company.The Which? researchers were very rarely told what that permitted route was, so unless passengers carried a detailed rail map in their head, the route allowed would remain a puzzle.
I understand that from early 2013, when new ticket machines are installed, the opening hours for the ticket office at Acocks Green (a very busy station on the network) will be as follows:
Mon - Thu:   0700 - 1600
Fri:               0700 - 1800
Sat:              0800 - 1600
Sun:             CLOSED

This is a poor decision, especially with the plans in place to encourage more usage of the station by installing lifts and improved access.

Spring Road will also be slashed, with staffing hours reduced to just 4 hours a day Monday to Friday and five hours on Saturday, with a closure on Sundays.
Mon-Fri:     0700 - 1100
Sat:             0900 - 1400
Sun:            CLOSED

Tyseley will also face a hefty reduction in staffing hours, down to just 2 hours a day Monday to Friday, with no ticket office service at all at weekends.
Mon - Fri:   0700 - 0900
Sat/Sun:       CLOSED

You can find full details here.

This is unrelated to any decisions that may yet arise from the McNulty report which proposed a swathe of office closures across the national network, but it doesn't look good for either Spring Road or Tyseley.

All this is despite objections from disability groups and 18,000 passengers across the Midlands. As the chairman of CENTRO said, "London Midland recently said that reducing staff will not save them any money,,, we fail to see what possible benefits there are to London Midland, the Department for Transport or, most importantly, the passengers in driving through these changes."

Policing Update

We've had a couple of local policing meetings with residents in the past few weeks - one over at Lakey Lane and one at the Baptist Church on Yardley Road. The news remains broadly good and crime remains low. We've had a statistical spike in robberies, but because we have very few across the ward, just one more makes a difference - although every robbery has a victim and a crime behind the number. We had eight burglaries from homes and two thefts from sheds. There has been another small spike in thefts from motor vehicles, predominantly from VW models along the Shirley Road corridor. Overall, though, crime remains low and generally down on last year. We've also had a problem with thefts of lead overnight - do please report any suspicious activity, although it only takes a few minutes to take the lead from an accessible domestic roof.

Residents over in Lakey Lane continue to report being disturbed by anti-social use of quad bikes and motorbikes. The police have been listening - they've been targetting the users and have issued warning notices to some of the riders.

Let me know of other problems in the area.

Planning Applications to 15 September 2012

No planning applications to note last week, but a crop of three this week. 

2012/05569/PA - Land adjacent 4 Grattidge Road
Erection of 5 no. four bedroom detached houses with garages and proposed landscaping works. 
This has come back again, so I'm very interested in views from local residents. Initial responses seem to be broadly positive in principle. This is actually the waste ground behind the new indoor play area on the Warwick Road, but would effectively form an addition to the Grattidge/Harrier/Osprey development.  

2012/06169/PA - 17 Cottesbrook Road 
Erection of two storey side & rear extension and single storey rear & forward extensions

2012/05760/PA - 4 Pool Farm Road
Erection of first floor side extension

You can find the details by inputting the reference number into the Council online database here

If you have any comments, you can submit them online - feel free to pass your comments on to me.