A brief report on Wednesday's ward committee meeting.
I started with a brief tribute to Trevor Wagg, the late husband of former Cllr Penny Wagg and somebody who - despite our differing political views - was one of the keystones of our community and passed away suddenly a few weeks back. Our civic society is built on people like Trevor who are prepared to get involved and keep things running. He will be missed by his friends and family, but also by the wider Acocks Green and Yardley community.
We had a brief on the role of the local delivery group in the overall community safety and policing structure and the drive to cut crime, engage with young people and work to marginalise extremism of all sorts. You can find the full details here.
Our Environmental Health Officer had to send her apologies, but she sent a brief report. She's rolling out Street Litter Control Notices and has been dealing with properties on Spring Road and Westley Road, but will be dealing with the Yardley Road next. Members of the public raised a couple of issues about rubbish along the Yardley Road, which I'll be forwarding to the relevant council officers for action.
On planning applications, it was noted that the plans to demolish the Glynn Edwards Hall have been withdrawn at the last minute and there is no immediate prospect of a resubmission. We had a look at the current live planning applications, although we did not decide to object to any specific applications. We also noted that 2013/04742/PA, which was refused permission in August, is now the subject of a planning appeal.
Moving on to the community chest applications, almost all of the 2013-14 spending was finally allocated, with £2478 set aside to supply some new computer chairs for the library to replace the existing ones, which can best be described as "well-worn." These are the same chairs that were provided for the new South Yardley library, so should be good enough for us too! I also updated the meeting on the progress of the repairs, explaining that the delays have been caused by the amount of additional work to be done and the days lost to the weather (although we have been remarkably fortunate this autumn). Cllr Stacey pointed out that allowing for time lost affects the overall cost of a contract and there is a trade-off between risking time overruns and paying more upfront. These repairs look to be overrunning by about a month - which is rather better than the experience with South Yardley Library, which remained closed for well over a year for roof repairs.
We also agreed to allocate £1000 to the police project to secure homes against burglaries. We've had a rise across the ward and this is key in reducing fear and protecting people. We also approved a grant of £1200 to support the work of Fox Hollies Green Neighbourhood Forum.
One interesting issue was raised towards the end of the meeting - that of neighbourhood planning. We'll be inviting a council officer with experience of the Balsall Heath pilot to attend a future meeting to discuss it. It is an innovation of the current government, but it is not an easy option - neighbourhood plans have to comply with national and local planning policies and there's a lot of work to be done before it can be put to a referendum of the neighbourhood. Although the term "neighbourhood forum" is used in the government information, they aren't necessarily equivalent to the neighbourhood forums that we have in Birmingham - although the chances are that they would generally pass muster.
There was also a reminder that we are about to start the formal consultation on the 2014-15 budget. There are a number of meetings planned. Next week, there's one at South Yardley Library between 6pm and 8pm. on Wednesday 11 December.