Bidston and Claughton Area Forum | St James Centre | 5th February 2013 | Part 1

Bidston & Claughton Area Forum | St James Centre | 5th February 2013 Part 1 | Proposals abolishing Area Forums

Bidston & Claughton Area Forum
St James Centre

Ian Brand (Lead Officer)
Tracey Smith (Community Engagement)
Jim Parsons (Community Rep)
Jean McIntosh (Community Rep)
Pat Lansborough (Community Rep)
Steve Preston (Community Safety)
Paul Murphy (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service)
Cllr Denise Roberts (Chair)
Cllr Harry Smith
Cllr Steve Foulkes
Cllr George Davies
Cllr Ann McLachlan

+ various members of the public

The Chair, Cllr Denise Roberts welcomed people to the Bidston & Claughton Area Forum and asked the Lead Officer, Ian Brand to read out a statement. Ian Brand said it was a standard statement that was being read at each Area Forum. A report proposing a new approach had been recommended in January and would be voted on by councillors in the coming weeks. The proposal was for four neighbourhood teams, with devolved decision-making and budgets. These would consist of multi agency teams including the local authority, police, health, fire and would result in the abolition of the eleven Area Forums.

These local committees would draw down and allocate resources based on a neighbourhood plan. The benefits would be that costs would be reduced and there would be better outcomes for local people. The area covered would be each of the four parliamentary constituencies which would each have a public service board, chaired by councillors. There would also be an overarching Wirral Together Public Service Board. If the proposal was agreed it would be implemented from May 1st [2013]. Ian Brand said he would be happy to go over any points people missed and answer questions.

Various questions were then asked of Mr. Brand. He answered that the new public service boards would replace the Area Forums covering the area of a parliamentary constituency (in this case Birkenhead). Details such as allocation of funding was yet to be finalised. Cllr George Davies pointed out that the Birkenhead public service board would cover the existing wards of Bidston & St. James, Birkenhead and Tranmere, Claughton, Prenton, Oxton and Rock Ferry. Cllr Roberts said that people would get more news at the next Forum.

Tracey Smith said that on one issue from the last Forum, on the changes to Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit, the finance department had provided a detailed response from Neil Powell which was attached to the minutes of the last meeting.

Cllr Harry Smith pointed out that he’d attended the last meeting, but that this wasn’t reflected in the minutes. Cllr Roberts apologised and asked if there were any questions arising from the minutes.

Prenton/Oxton Area Forum 1st November 2012 Part 1 Belmont Suite, Tranmere Rovers Football Club

Prenton/Oxton Area Forum 1st November 2012 Belmont Suite, Tranmere Rovers Football Club Part 1

Prenton/Oxton Area Forum
Belmont Suite, Tranmere Rovers Football Club

1830 to 2030

Louise Harland Davies (Community Engagement)
Cllr Tony Norbury Labour (Chair)
Steve Preston (Community Safety)
Sarah Goulding (Community Rep)
Kay Crook (Community Rep)
Brian Griffiths (Merseyside Police)
Ian Lowrie (Community Safety)
Chris McCarthy (Interim Director, Technical Services)
Cllr Stuart Kelly
Cllr Paul Doughty
Paul Murphy (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service)
Cllr Patricia Williams
Cllr Alan Brighouse
Cllr Denise Realey (arrived late)

The Chair, Cllr Norbury welcomed people to the Area Forum and informed people he had been elected as a councillor in May [2012]. He asked people to introduce themselves and gave apologies for a number of people who couldn’t make it including the Lead Officer.

Chris McCarthy, deputising for the Lead Officer who wasn’t present read out a brief statement on the suspension of the Neighbourhood Forum funds. He said the fund was frozen as it was “non-essential” and there was a projected £17 million overspend.

Ed – at the time the projected overspend as of September 2012 was £13.2 million not £17 million as claimed, as the figure for £17 million was the position five months prior to the November Area Forum meeting (June 2012). However no-one will know the true figure until the 2012/2013 accounts have been audited in September 2013, until then it’s “just a guess” and falls into the selective quoting of statistics Wirral Council is famous for, where incorrect information supplied by others is repeated until some of the press and public believe it through repetition.

Bidston & Claughton Area Forum 3rd October 2012 Part 5

Continued from Part 4.

Donnie said that was an interesting point and that the ten-year life of houses on Bidston Rise had been increased to thirty years. He wondered if there would be arguments for one or two bedroom bungalows.

Cllr Foulkes said that an important point was the ability of the registered social landlords to borrow money as there would be much less money coming in and they would have difficulty collecting the rent, which would terrify the banks. He said that they were a worse bet than they had ever been in history as a developer, but he had been told by some politicians that this change had been popular in the South-East.

A person introducing herself as Jill Smith, a project support officer with the Women’s Centre said that they were a small charity, but women were coming in were in an absolute crisis over fear of what was going on. She said it would have a big impact, that they received no statutory funding, but that the problem was only going to get bigger. Jill Smith said that they worked with women with mental health or emotional problems.

Cllr Foulkes said they were seeing more people in their surgeries.

Cllr Harry Smith referred to the lady who runs the food bank.

Jill Smith said that all charities would be put under pressure.

Reverend Jenny Gillies from St. Oswalds said that they should be creative over letting people know. She said they never used to have people wander off the streets, but there was confusion over Housing Benefit. Jenny said that Area Forums needed to think creatively over inviting the voluntary sector.

Cllr Foulkes said the demand on the third sector, was going to turn into a flood. They were asking people who had the opportunity in the consultation as to what services they should or could provide. However he wasn’t in Paddy’s camp as he didn’t like protests and leading people down cul-de-sacs.

Paddy said they should campaign to educate people to make rational decisions.

Cllr Foulkes withdrew his remark about Paddy.

Paddy accepted the apology.

Cllr Roberts asked for presentations from the partners.

Jim Thompson (Community Safety) said that Wirral was a safe borough, crime was falling, but despite the recession, crime hadn’t shot up due to vigilance. He said that people shouldn’t leave their houses in darkness when they go out or their windows open, he encouraging people to lock their doors and if they got people knocking on doors asking people to give them £200 for insulation, they were to ignore them and ring Trading Standards or the police on 101.

Leonora told the Area Forum of her experience of this.

Jim Thompson said that if it sounds too good to be true, it normally is. He said that nobody comes from Wirral Council and says they’ll take you to the cashpoint, well not yet (he joked) and that if people were concerned to ring the 101 number. They had a multi agency team looking at crime and disorder and information was shared so they could identify hotspots from the calls and prioritise.

A member of the public said they had called 101 when cars had been spray painted and that the police had been helpful and that they had been given the number for crime prevention, but after three days they hadn’t had an answer.

Jim Thompson said that the four crime prevention officers no longer existed, but if she wanted advice to ring 666 5443 and they would find somebody who could answer her query.

The member of the public said that if someone called from the police would the number be withheld?

Jim Thompson said the police and Council did call from withheld numbers and suggested that people don’t leave their house in darkness. He said the burglary rate was now less than twenty per a thousand whereas when he’d started it was forty-five.

Steve Preston said that 80% of burglaries were opportunistic, but this was no consolation for the 20% that weren’t.

Jim Thompson said that if it looks occupied they’d just walk past.

Paul Murphy, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said they were looking at a £9.2 million cut, but that the Chair was on the Fire Authority. Their target of 13,000 Home Fire Safety Checks (which would still be free) and he was asking if people knew of any vulnerable households to tell them, but that they were working with the Safeguarding Adults Board to identify people.

From the 22nd October they would be removing debris in the lead up to Bonfire Night, he gave out statistics on accidental dwelling fires, last year there had been eleven, so far this year there had been five. They had completed 622 Home Fire Safety Checks since the start of the year. On deliberate secondary fires there had been 222 last year and 74 so far this year. He referred to the tragic road traffic fatality in Claughton, but that road traffic collisions were low compared to other Merseyside authorities. He gave the phone number of 0800 731 5958 which could be used for Home Fire Safety Checks or from 22nd October to report rubbish that needed to be cleared. He said that Birkenhead Fire Station was due for completion in 2013.

Cllr Harry Smith asked if they would be based with the ambulance station?

Paul Murphy answered that in Croxteth they shared the same building. Cllr Roberts said there were no plans to merge.

Donnie asked a question about the ring fenced road safety funding for Area Forums?

Cllr Roberts asked if he was referring to road traffic accidents?

Donnie said he was referring to the bus hitting the car and the tragic fatality, but also the 20mph zones?

Cllr Foulkes said that the money allocated locally was a small fraction of the Highways Department budget, but that money would be put sadly where there had already been accidents.

Cllr Harry Smith referred to hotspots.

Cllr Foulkes said that after a major accident or fatality there was an investigation to see if it could have been prevented, such as the lights being purposely staggered slower but that he wouldn’t preempt the investigation.

George Thomas said he was frustrated by the cuts and drew attention to November 15th when it would be voting day for a Police Commissioner. He said it was “Tory ideology” and costing £100 million to create the position. He said the Chief Constable would be paid £155,000 and the Commissioner £85,000 but that independents couldn’t afford to run as they needed a deposit of £5,000.

Cllr Roberts said yes, yes.

Cllr George Davies said it was a waste of money.

Cllr Foulkes said he believed in democracy and pleaded with people to get out and vote.

Cllr Harry Smith said he wanted people to vote for the Labour candidate.

Jim Thompson said that Home Office funds, currently £122,000 were given to the local authority, as well as £150,000 to £160,000 from the Area Based Grant, however from April 2013 this would be given to the Police and Crime Commissioner instead.

Cllr George Davies disagreed with Jim Thompson over the change. He said he objection was that the change to a Police and Crime Commissioner was that it was one person compared to seventeen on the police authority.

Anna said they had a positive event to report as a person was coming to the library to talk about Viking remains.

A member of the public commented on the road conditions and said they were pleased that in the last four months it had been seen to.

Cllr Roberts said as there were no further questions, she would close the formal part of the meeting, the next one would be Tuesday 5th February 2013 in the Bidston ward.

Michelle Gray said she would advertise the venue and write to people.

Bidston & Claughton Area Forum 3rd October 2012 Part 1

Bidston & Claughton Area Forum
Bidston Avenue Primary School

Cllr Denise Roberts, Chair, Claughton
Cllr Jim Crabtree, Bidston & St. James
Cllr Steve Foulkes, Claughton
Cllr Harry Smith, Bidston & St. James
Michelle Gray, Community Engagement
Jim Thompson Community Safety
Paul Murphy Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service
Ian Brand, Lead Officer (Asset Management)
Jim Parson, Community Representative
plus about thirteen members of public

The Chair, Cllr Denise Roberts welcomed people to the Area Forum and asked those on the panel to introduce themselves. She then asked the Lead Officer, Ian Brand (Head of Asset Management) to make a statement.

Ian Brand said he was making a statement on funding, which was a standard statement that would be read to all Area Forums. In September the Director of Finance had reported to Cabinet. Due to a projected overspend, immediate action was taken to freeze non-essential spending and release a [£7 million] reserve, which meant the suspension of the Neighbourhood Funding grants program. He said that this doesn’t mean it is cancelled or removed, but suspended until there is a recommendation as to how to move forward. Mr Brand said that by end of the year they would know the status of applications.

Cllr Roberts said that Kay Smith, from VCAW Wirral was also here to talk about how Healthwatch would replace LINKS.

Michelle Gray gave an update on items discussed at the last Area Forum. On Buttermere Avenue, she said the work has been completed, but she had not been down to see it.

Cllr Harry Smith said that Cllr George Davies had had a site meeting and was satisfied, but another issue raised had been raised at the last Area Forum. He said that the siting of the telegraph pole was down to the developers Rowland Homes, however no one would move into the property unless work completed. On the subject of speeding traffic on Budworth Road, Cllr Smith said that in the program of works it wasn’t identified as priority, but there would be more information at the next Area Forum.

The Chair, Cllr Roberts asked for an officer to give an update on the Budget consultation.

Michelle Gray said she would give a brief update in two stages. The consultation was launched on the 10th September [2012] and would be running until the 19th October [2012] . They had visited Aldi, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons as well as community groups and resident’s groups. Once the consultation was finished all the feedback would be collated and there would be a full report, done around November or December time. The plan was to save £100 million over three years. The consultation would also feed into the three-year Corporate Plan and at the end the Budget would be cut by about a third. She gave out some statistical information and said that they has visited ninety-six events and distributed thirty-seven thousand of the questionnaires. So far three thousand six hundred had been completed online and there were more coming in daily.

Continued in Part 2

Bidston and Claughton Area Forum 12th June 2012 Part 1

The Bidston and Claughton Area Forum was held on Tuesday, so having previously mentioned it was happening as I was there I thought I should write up what happened.

Cllr Roberts welcomed people to the June Forum and asked those present from the public sector to introduce themselves. Apologies were given for Cllr Crabtree. She asked if there were any matters arising from the last meeting.

Michelle Gray said she wished to provide a follow up to item 5 which had changed that day, she gave updates on a number of different issues involving Buttermere Avenue, Tapestry Gardens and Beaufort Road. She also gave an update on a stolen grit bin.

Inspector Roy McGregor arrived.

A member of the public brought up the issue of a telegraph pole on Stanley Road. Cllr Smith asked her if it was in front of the new housing, she answered yes. Technical Services said they would investigate.

Cllr Roberts said if there were no further questions they would move onto item 3.

Rob Clifford gave a brief talk about the 20mph zones consultation. He said it would cost £1.1 million and be in two phases covering 132 areas between now and 2014. On the leaflet the blue areas within phase one would be consulted on over the Summer, with schemes started in October. The red areas would be consulted and implemented a year later. He welcomed comments and there would also be a consultation advert in the local newspaper, a leaflet would go to houses in areas proposed as 20mph zones by the scheme and plans would be available in libraries. He asked for comments on the postcards.

Cllr Roberts asked how long the consultation would be for?
Cllr Smith answered twenty-eight days.

Cllr Smith asked if the police would enforce the 20mph zones? He blamed it on the previous coalition Cabinet and said it wasn’t the police’s fault. He brought up the example of a 20mph zone in Oxton (where he lives) where he had seen the police driving at 30mph. He thought that the £1.1 million to be spent on 20mph zones was a waste of money.

Inspector McGregor pointed out that under strict criteria the police were allowed to go at up to 40mph, their response time for grade one calls was ten minutes.

A member of the public brought up the issue of ambulances using their sirens in residential areas and how the police used their sirens every night on Corporation Road coming out of the Custody Suite.

Inspector McGregor said the police received advanced driving training and if they didn’t use their sirens and lights when exceeding the speed limit and there was an accident, that the driver would be culpable.

Donnie was surprised the police nationally didn’t recognise 20mph signs in built up areas.

Cllr Crabtree arrived.

Donnie asked if Streetscene could be told that the Area Forum failed to agree on the 20mph schemes.

Cllr Smith said it wasn’t the police’s fault as police numbers had been cut. In his view they had their hands full and he’s heard crime was rising. He mentioned that the Council had to cut £80 million from its budget over the next few years.

Inspector McGregor said that although the majority adhered to the law on the current 30mph zones a small minority break the speed limit, but that enforcement wasn’t the only answer and that it partly relied on members of the community.

Cllr Smith said he’d agree to disagree.

Pat Landsborough from Grosvenor Road that the 20mph zone in Claughton had been very effective. Rob Clifford said they were implementing a 20mph policy across the Borough.

Cllr Smith said it would not be implemented in areas that didn’t want it following the consultation.

George Thomas said he thought it was a waste of public money and pointed to the scheme whereby members of the public were given speed guns.

Donnie asked now that Labour were in charge, were they in a position to rescind the £1.2 million? He called it “crazy”.

Cllr Smith said that the Labour administration was reviewing all budgets.
Cllr McLachlan mentioned the consultation.
Donnie proposed a vote.
Michelle Gray said the minutes of the meeting would be passed to Rob’s team as part of the consultation.
It was suggested that instead of moving rejection, people could make their point on the cards. Every house in the areas covered by the first phase of the scheme (in blue on the map) would receive a leaflet.

Michelle Gray gave an update on the Neighbourhood Plans which there were also handouts about. Local people had asked for more sporting activities and a lack of youth services on the Beechwood had also been highlighted. Road repair had also been an issue. Issues surrounding health and social lives of the elderly had also been brought up. More education and training was wanted, as well as courses on stopping smoking, alcohol, drugs, sexual health for young people and on losing weight.

IT training in the community centres was wanted and the existing free courses needed better promotion, one stop shops and libraries were suggested.

In the Your Economy theme, jobs was the main issue, the feedback on Reach Out was positive, but people wanted more job clubs and better advertising of the existing ones. In addition to this, people wanted help with CVs, mock interviews, volunteering opportunities and work experience.

Better service from the job centres for those made redundant was asked for as well as free training in basic skills such as maths and computers.

She also highlighted the funding available in two pots, Funds for You and You Decide. She have the example decided in a previous year of an extra foot patrol for Flaybrick Cemetery/Tam O’Shanter which had reduced antisocial behaviour.

There was also £35,000 ring fenced for road safety funding.

The application forms for funding would be available from the 2nd July 2012 with a closing date of the 17th August 2012. Initial applications would be filtered by officers to see if they met the criteria. They were looking this year for applications in community safety, environmental health (such as projects that would reduce litter or flytipping), public health, improvements to community life, projects benefitting children or young people, projects that would train people or offer skills and advice, projects that would support work experience or volunteering and projects that would help SMEs.

Pat Landsborough asked why it was £83000?

Michelle Gray said that for this financial year, it was because some areas with higher need were allocated more money.

Pauline asked about organisations applying that served people across Wirral?

Michelle Gray said they should tick all eleven Area Forum areas on the application form.

It was asked if the priorities were the same across all areas?

Michelle answered that each area had slightly different priorities, but there were some that were common Wirral-wide.

George Thomas said that Beechwood had been abandoned by Wirral Met and Birkenhead Sixth Form College who said they would provide courses such as employability skills, but can’t pay the rent. He said Reach Out had just made eight redundancies.

Michelle Gray asked if the rent was covered, was the training free?