Friday, November 01, 2013

November Diary

Tue 5 November - 2pm
Full Council - Council Chamber, Council House (livestreamed - #bcclive)

Wed 6 November - 7pm
Lakey Lane Police Meeting - Lakey Lane School

Thu 7 November - 2pm
HS2 Joint Scrutiny Committee Meeting - Comm Rm 3 and 4 (livestreamed - #bcclive)

Fri 8 November - 6:30pm
Surgery - Community Room, Archbishop Ilsley

Sat 9 November - 10am
St Mary's Church Autumn Fayre

Sun 10 November - 11am
Remembrance Day Service - Centenary Square

Tue 12 November - 6pm
Sustainability Forum - Council House

Wed 13 November - 7pm
Fox Hollies Green Neighbourhood Forum - The Oaklands School

Thu 14 November - 11am
HLB Walkabout

Fri 15 November - 6:30pm
Surgery - Community Room, Archbishop Ilsley

Sunday 17 November 10am
Westley Vale Millennium Green Autumn Cleanup

Mon 18 November - 10am
Partnership, Contract Performance and Third Sector O and S - Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House

Tue 19 November - 7pm
Housing Liaison Board

Wednesday 20 November - 7pm
Yarnfield Police Meeting

Thursday 21 November - 2pm
Yardley District Committee - Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House (livestreamed - #bcclive)

Fri 22 November
10am - Transport, Connectivity and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House
6:30pm - Surgery - Community Room, Archbishop Ilsley

Wed 27 November - 7pm
Fox Hollies Forum AGM - Fox Hollies Forum

Thu 28 November - 10am
HS2 Joint Scrutiny Committee Meeting - Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House (livestreamed - #bcclive)

Fri 29 November - 6:30pm
Surgery - Community Room, Archbishop Ilsley

This isn't by any means an exhaustive list of what I do - just the public meetings, although some are invitation only. 
This used to be in the sidebar, but I'm having problems posting it there. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Policing Update

The dispersal order on the Gospel Estate has been in force since the 14 October and two arrests were made within a couple of days. One was arrested for a public order offence and one for returning to the area after being ordered to leave. More positively, a number of the young people have been put forward for the November Prince's Trust course. There's also an outstanding application for funding under the Proceeds of Crime Act to support further activity. Reports of an aggressive beggar in the village are being tackled through anti-social behaviour legislation. 

Total recorded crime is up 20% year on year to date - but at the end of September, it was up 26%, so inroads are being made. Within that figure, burglaries are up 100%, robbery down 3%, vehicle crime up 9.9%. In September, there were nine burglaries - six of which happened overnight, which is an unusually high number to happen overnight. Six were burgled through the rear of the property, two from the front and one through the garage. Of those nine burglaries - four were properties left insecure. Robberies dropped by four last month, with just two recorded. Finally, there were 14 thefts from motor vehicles - two were left insecure with doors unlocked, two were incidents of number plate theft, five where goods were left on show (laptops and satnavs prove tempting) and one was a case of a digger on a trailer being stolen. 

Over recent weeks, a lot of effort has been focused on the Gospel Estate, with the additional patrols from other departments within the police, including traffic and the operational support unit. Even the firearms unit have been on the patch, but that hasn't been because of a need for their particular skills - just that officers not required elsewhere have been called to help out with high visibility patrols. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Acocks Green Ward Committee Report

A surprisingly busy agenda to get through last week.

Acocks Green Conservation Area
There have been plans to establish another conservation area in Acocks Green for a number of years and it looks like it could be getting closer. A conservation area allows greater control over the look of a defined area, because it has special historical or architectural value. This is given weight when planning applications are decided and permitted development rights are also usually withdrawn, requiring the owner to seek planning permission (for which there is no charge). It doesn't mean that changes can't be made, rather that special consideration is given before they are approved.

We already have one around the Three Magpies on School Road, which is a fine example of a 1930s' pub and is surrounded by housing of the period. The area around Arden Road, Sherbourne Road and along the Yardley Road to the junction with Douglas Road represents the development of Acocks Green as a railway suburb of Birmingham in the period around the turn of the 19th/20th century (when it was still in Worcestershire).

Thanks to government cutbacks, Birmingham only has two conservation specialists remaining in our planning department and the city council isn't able to progress new proposals, so a local group have retained Joe Holyoak - a specialist - to progress the proposal to the point where the city council can take a decision. Hopefully, we should be able to go out to consultation early in the New Year with the local community and we could see a decision by the City Council cabinet by summer 2014.

Environmental Health Feedback
We had a brief from Kate Stanley, our ward EHO, where we talked about fly tipping, litter and whether we have the power to carry out enforcement action against the Canals and Rivers Trust.

Service Reviews
We're continuing to look at the services that the council offers, in the light of ongoing government cuts and we need your views. What should we stop doing? What should we prioritise? As a council, we have to live within the money provided by the government - raising council tax to fill the gap isn't an option. Your views inform this process, so that we can come back with a detailed budget proposal for 2014/15.

Find more details here. 

Planning Applications
Current applications were discussed and it was agreed that the committee would object to the new proposal for 20 Dudley Park Road (2013/07567/PA).

Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum
The annual grant was approved for this local group, which is an excellent example of a residents' association in the ward - although it actually stretches over into South Yardley across to the east side of the canal.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Planning Applications to the 26 October 2013

Just one to work with.

2013/07403/PA - 1228 Warwick Road, Acocks Green, B27 6PL
Erection of two storey side and rear and single storey front 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.

Changes to green waste collections for 2014

The last green waste collections this year will be in the fortnight between the 15 and 29 November, depending on your normal collection day.

Collections will restart in the fortnightly cycle beginning the 24 February 2014. This will no longer be a free service - we simply can't afford to maintain it, thanks to swingeing government cuts.

You have to sign up to the scheme online and if you do so before 15 November 2013, you will only have to pay £30. Signing up afterwards will cost £35 and this price will apply until the 31 July 2014, when the price drops to £17.50 for the remainder of the year. .

We'll provide 20 collections over the collection season in 2014 - February to November. Most properties will be supplied with a wheeled bin, but some properties may be deemed unsuitable and will be supplied with 60 special green bags for the year.

You will also be able to take green waste to our Household Recycling Centres at no cost.

The best option for your green waste is to compost it at home - that cuts out all the carbon emissions from transporting it. You can get some advice on it here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Warm Homes Discount - Apply now!

The Warm Homes Discount scheme replaced the social tariffs that suppliers used to offer for their most vulnerable customers. It is a £135 credit on your electricity bill, usually paid during the spring for the precedin
g winter. There are two groups - the core group, who get the credit automatically and the broader group, who will have to apply and meet criteria set by their energy supplier. The major suppliers are all signed up to the scheme, but the smaller suppliers can opt in if they wish. It is credited to the electricity account as virtually everybody eligible will have an electricity mains connection, while rural customers are unlikely to have a mains gas connection.

You can still get the credit even if you are on a pay as you go or prepay meter. 

You may also need to be a customer of the same supplier when you apply and when you receive the credit. Check on this if you plan on switching in between. 

This year, if you were a pensioner on 20 July 2013, you can qualify for a warm home discount if you are either:
  • under 75 and only get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit – not the Savings Credit part
  • 75 or over and get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit - even if you also get the Savings Credit part.
Your name or your partner’s name must be on your electricity bill, and your energy company must be taking part in the Warm Home Discount scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions share their data with the energy suppliers, so the suppliers should be told who forms part of the core group. If you fall into this group, you should have a letter confirming eligibility during the autumn. If you don't get one, contact your supplier.

Unfortunately, this requires you to apply to your energy supplier. Each of them can set their own qualifying conditions and there will be a limited number of discounts available. Apply as early as possible! Follow the links below for details of each supplier's scheme.

British Gas or Scottish Gas
Equipower or Equigas (Ebico)
First Utility
M&S Energy - call 0800 072 7222 as their website is very unhelpful
Sainsburys Power (supplied by British Gas)
Scottish Hydro
Scottish Power
Southern Electric
SSE - 0800 980 8831 as they offer another unhelpful website

Generally, these suppliers will have filled their allocation by the end of January each year.