Saturday, September 07, 2013

Acocks Green Ward Committee - 6 Sept 2013

A quick report back on Wednesday's meeting.

We started with a report and a request for views on the discussion of future council services, in particular with regard to three specific service areas:
  • Adults and Communities
  • Education Services - this relates to the central administrative services for all schools, not to the schools themselves.
  • Support Services Part I - Back office administrative functions of the council
While David Cameron and John Hemming tell us that we're only facing small reductions, in the real world, Birmingham City Council will have to slash our controllable spending by MORE than 50%. This will have devastating effects on the services that this council is able to provide - we've already got rid of 27% of our employees over the past few years. I think the message is getting through to people about the challenges that we are going to face over the coming years. 

If you would like to read the discussion papers and comment, you can find the details here

Unfortunately, our environmental health officer was on leave this week, so her report was held over. 

We then moved on to the controversial issue of the redevelopment plan for the Acocks Green Baptist Church on Yardley Road. The Stockfield Community Association and the Baptist Church want to demolish and replace the Glynn Edwards Hall with a new building. That is intended to have a range of meeting rooms, a training kitchen and community facilities and they will also repair the Arthur Moore Hall and bring that back into full use, as well as complete repair work on the church itself. The Arthur Moore and the church building are statutorily listed, but that Glynn Edwards Hall isn't. It is fair to say that there was a full exchange of views, but little meeting of minds. This will continue to be controversial - the planning application is about to be submitted and it will be interesting to see the final designs. It is a genuine strength of Acocks Green that we have so many people who care deeply about the area. 

On that note, we then ran through some other planning applications that are currently live - nothing was flagged as particularly controversial, although the proposals for the former Johnsons dry cleaning site came up for some discussion. 

We then considered some community chest projects, agreeing funding for 
  • £1000 Laptops for the Friends Centre on Yardley Road 
  • £1000 towards Acocks Green Christmas Lights, replacing the money previously provided from central City Council funding
  • £3000 for the TUC Centre, which provides advice on social security applications and support to people in need. The service is provided by qualified advisors and in a range of languages. The centre receives funding from a number of wards, in relation to the number of clients from each ward. Most of the clients from Acocks Green are from the Yarnfield Estate.
  • £6300 for the Tyseley & Greet Employment Resource Centre. This also offers advice and will support those who are struggling with the government's changes to the benefit system, as well as those in dire need or dealing with pay day lenders.  
  • £1000 for Acocks Green Carers, to provide two events to give this local group a break over the festive season
  • £1000 for Gospel Lane Allotments. The members are improving paths through the site and we're helping them with funding for equipment and materials.
After years where I don't remember seeing any petitions presented, we had not one, but two offered to us this week. One contains about 300 signatures asking for more litter collection along the Yardley Road and we had another of around 50 signatures asking for an end to cuts. 

Our next meeting will be 7pm, Wednesday 23 October 2013 at Fox Hollies Forum. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Pavement resurfacing - Pollard Road

The existing pavement is due to be resurfaced with asphalt along the whole length of Pollard Road from Pool Farm Road to Gospel Lane.

The work is scheduled to start during the week of the 14-18 October 2013. It is expected to take up to four weeks and the crews will be working weekdays between 7:30am and 5pm. Amey will put signs on the road to confirm the precise start date. They may also work on Saturdays during the same hours.

You should be able to get to and from your property, but access may be restricted at times. When the crews are working on the footway outside your home, please ensure that you do not park on the road outside your home. If this is going to cause a problem, please contact Amey on 0121 303 6644.

As this work is being done, there is a special offer on footway crossings (dropped kerbs). These are required if you want to park in your front garden. They can be installed for just £226 (to cross a footpath 3.0m to 6.0m deep from the kerb line to your property), if you wish to have one installed, or if you wish to have an existing crossing widened, please contact the helpline on 0121 303 6644 (option 1). This must be done before the start of the work.

Properties with existing footpath crossings will have their crossing reinstated at no charge.

We can only install reduced price footpath crossings where there is a hardstanding area to your garden, or you have obtained planning permission for a proposed hardstanding area. Planning permission is required to install a hard standing area to your footpath crossing on your garden, for this please contact the City Council Planning Office direct on 0121 303 1115.

There are occasions where we will not be able to provide a discounted footpath crossing, common reasons are:

  • If there are trees / utility boxes & manhole covers / street lighting columns / cables in the way 
  • If the depth of your garden from the rear of the public footpath to your building is less than 4.75m 
  • Crossings are not allowed on a bend, at traffic lights, or on a road junction

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Road Resurfacing - Tibland Road

As part of the ongoing investment in Birmingham's roads, Tibland Road (from Pollard Road to Wildfell Road) will be resurfaced.

The work is scheduled to start during the week of the 23-27 September 2013. It is expected to take up to five days and the crews will be working on site on weekdays between 8am and 6pm. Amey will put signs on the road to confirm the precise start date.

As vehicles can't drive over hot tarmac, the section of the road affected will be closed to all traffic while surfacing is being carried out.

If you require access for medical/personal reasons, you can contact Amey on 0121 303 6644 (option 2), to discuss how access can be arranged. Pedestrian access will be maintained as well as access for emergency vehicles. That number can also be used for any other questions that you might have. 

During working hours, it will not be possible to park on the road. Cars left will have to be removed and this may incur a cost to the registered keeper. There are also likely to be speed and width restrictions while the work is carried out. 

Sorry for the inconvenience, but this work needs to be done and is usually completed well within the time allocated. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Planning Applications to the 31 August 2013

Just a couple to end the summer.

2013/06342/PA - 119 Olton Boulevard East, Acocks Green, B27 7NL
Erection of two storey side extension and front canopy

2013/06438/PA - 11 Roberts Road, Acocks Green, B27 6NF
Erection of single storey rear and two storey 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.

Gospel Estate Police Meeting Update

Last Wednesday saw the first in what will hopefully be a series of meetings to address issues of crime and anti-social behaviour on parts of the Gospel Estate. We had an excellent turnout - the local police inspector, Jim Gooderidge, PCSO Chelsie Beardsmore and PC Ian Davis, as well as Cllr Stacey and myself, plus the Victims' Champion for Birmingham, Cllr Jess Phillips.

The most impressive thing, however, was the number of residents who made the effort to attend and it was really positive to see such an attendance from people who aren't usual visitors to that meeting - there was scarcely any room left.

We heard from people who have been victims of crime and anti-social behaviour - including the youth worker from the Gospel Oak, who described how their summer programme had to be scrapped this year. We also heard from some of the young people on the Gospel - who I was particularly pleased to see attending the meeting.

I'm always aware when writing about this that Yardley has a problem with the worst level of fear of crime in the city, a fear entirely undeserved when you consider the actual levels of crime over recent years. The problems that we are seeing on this part of the Gospel is a spike in burglaries from sheds and other buildings, thefts from motor vehicles, use of quad bikes and motor bikes, etc. The police are determined to deal with this and we all want to see the estate become a better place to live.

Some of this work ahead will require cross-border co-operation - the estate sits on the edge of Acocks Green, Hall Green and Solihull, crossing police and local authority borders. I'll be liaising with my colleagues in Hall Green - we already work closely to support the Gospel Oak Community Centre, which sits in Hall Green, but serves many people on the Gospel Estate. We'll also be assembling a stakeholders' group (jargon, I know) of the key agencies - Housing, Youth Services, voluntary and third sector - to discuss what further action can be taken and what needs to be done.

There will be further public meetings and we'll also be trying to arrange a meeting involving some of the young people from the estate to identify their needs and see how we can support them.

It is clear that this will not be an easy fix - this area has been ignored for some years and it will take some time to improve things. This couldn't have come at a worse time - with council and policing budgets being slashed by government, our resources to tackle problems like this are severely limited. Cllr Stacey and I will certainly be making every effort to bring whatever resources we can to bear on the problems and I'm confident that my colleagues in Hall Green will be happy to help as well.

If we can maintain and widen the support from local residents, then we're in with a good chance of improving the life of people in that area of the ward.