Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum
Minutes of the meeting held on 13th February 2017, Stirchley Community Church
Present: 47: Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Members of the Forum’s management committee, Councillor Huxtable and Councillor Locke
Peter Walker took the chair and welcomed everyone to the meeting. The minutes of the meeting held on 9th January 2017 were circulated and agreed as a true record.
Tesco: it was noted that there has been no further activity on the site
Marianne Delaney outlined the activities of CT Furniture and Community Transport: the organisation collects unwanted furniture for resale and hires minibuses to community groups, with or without a driver. Any furniture donations must meet current standards for fire safety; they are unable to collect any furniture that does not meet these. There are many opportunities for volunteering and training is available for drivers who do not hold the relevant licence; Marianne was unable to say whether there was an upper age limit for volunteer drivers. In response to a question, Marianne explained that the organisation funds itself through furniture sales and by running passenger service contracts.
Sandra Cooper, Forum Planning Officer, updated the meeting on a number of outstanding planning applications.
Maj Raj, corner of Pershore and Twyning Rd: application for hot food takeaway; SC submitted an objection on behalf of the Forum
Unit 5 Avery Dell, Lifford Lane: application to create a training facility for a gymnastics club relocating from Birmingham University
Aldi/Magnet site: no further news. The Forum made a submission requesting a contribution towards community facilities; this is not required as the site already has retail use
Theresa Summerfield and Sandra Cooper shared the fantastic news that the library service is to remain in place for at least the next 12 months, although with opening hours reduced from 25 to 21 hours per week. The campaign to keep the Library open is building momentum, and a meeting on Saturday 11th February was well-attended with Cllr Ian Ward taking part in the discussion. Volunteer support will be essential to the library’s future and a Friends group is planned which will work with BCC and library staff. Anyone interested in getting involved can join up through the Save Stirchley Library facebook page. The next meeting is on March 11th, 10.30 am in Stirchley Community Church, all are welcome. The group are also putting together a survey to gauge community interest in the library: potential for volunteering, sharing skills and suggestions for new uses and activities.
The library building needs a new boiler and work to the roof which would allow use of the two upstairs rooms. Cllr Ward confirmed that BCC were unable to fully fund these repairs; he will pass on details of the costs. BCC is currently tied into Acivico for any building works but this may be open to change. A local resident questioned the nature of the relationship between any Friends group and BCC and suggested the city council would struggle to obtain funding. Sgt Andy Holder suggested the library may be able to benefit from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s Active Citizens Fund.
Martin from PSL Bowling thanked the community for their support in opposing the application from Lidl. PSL are looking to secure a new site, but will also continue to fight the planning committee’s decision, which Martin felt was a U-turn on the outcome of the previous meeting. PSL were particularly frustrated with the lack of communication from BCC. Mick Jones thanked Kerry Leslie for organising the protest outside PSL/Fitness First and showed photos of the event taken by local resident Fiona Cullinan.
Andy Foster, former Labour councillor and member of the planning committee, offered his perspective on what had taken place. He expressed his horror at the actions of the committee, and suggested planning officers had manipulated members to get the decision they wanted. Planning officers had recommended approval, and were motivated by a belief that Lidl would overturn a negative outcome on appeal. Andy was particularly appalled by the attitude of the transportation team, which did not challenge the creation of a supermarket entrance so close to an already awkward junction.
Andy contacted a retired planning officer who confirmed the decision of a planning committee can only be overturned through judicial review, which is extremely expensive. A more affordable alternative would be to send the planning department a letter of intent to go to judicial review as “a shot across the bows” which may have some effect on the application. A solicitor would be required to do this, and PSL suggested this was a cost they would be willing to bear. It was noted that intent to lodge a judicial review must be registered within 6 weeks of the decision (9th February 2017). The Environmental Law Group has been assisting local opposition and has offered the services of a junior barrister pro-bono. There was general support for issuing a letter of intent.
Lidl has agreed £50,000 of 106 monies and it was suggested these could go towards library repairs although SC suspected BCC would already have plans for these.
New police sergeant Andy Holder introduced himself and congratulated the Forum on holding such a well turned out community meeting.
Although burglary has fallen there has been an increase in vehicle crime: Sgt Holder reminded residents to remove all valuables from cars and to check doors were locked manually. With spring coming he recommended fixing broken fence panels and planting along boundaries to protect against opportunistic burglary. Following reports of ASB by youths playing “knock door run” police will visit local schools. Sgt Holder advised against giving money to apparently homeless people as many were professional beggars; instead he recommended giving to food banks or other charities.
WMP have introduced a new two way communications system, West Midlands Now, which imparts information and enables users to report crime anonymously. PW noted a problem with the system: it is not possible to forward information without sharing personal email addresses. Sgt Holder acknowledged the issue and explained the system was still being developed following a soft launch. Sgt Holder confirmed crimes should be reported via 101, or 999 if the crime is in action or a person is at risk; he is aware of the issues with 101 but added 60 officers have been transferred to the West Midlands which should reduce crime and therefore pressure on the system. In response to a question about the recent spate of graffiti in the area, Sgt Holder explained WMP had to prioritise resources but would work to identify landowners to remove graffiti and with schools to reduce the incidence. He reminded residents that fear of crime was generally far worse than the actuality.
Forum funding: PW thanked local councillors for the Forum’s annual grant of £700
Stirchley Hour on twitter: this was a regular Wednesday night slot from 8 until 9 pm; it is hoped this can be relaunched as #StirchleyHour to eliminate the need for a host
River Rea route: following a successful funding application, Su Jones announced plans to work with the park ranger and Wildlife Trust to improve this open space. She also expressed her concern that with so many community groups in Stirchley, without better communication they may end up bidding against one other for grants.
Christmas Lights funding: £73 has been raised so far; the target is £1000
Litter pick: 19th February in Hazelwell Park
Half term holiday club: Stirchley Community Church
Stirchley History Group: 7th March in Stirchley Baths
Big Bake in aid of Christmas Shelter: 18th March in Stirchley Baths, 50p entry
Stirchley Late Summer Bash: Saturday September 2nd in Stirchley Park
Date of the next mesuggestedeting
Monday 13th March, 7.30 pm in Stirchley Community Church
Disclaimer notice on behalf of the Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum Management Committee
1. The Management Committee does not normally have prior knowledge of items which will be raised as Any Other Business, but the Management Committee will help facilitate such items where it does have prior knowledge and which are in the interests of Stirchley.
2. The Forum is not aligned to any political party or one group and hence will hold a neutral stance in all political items which are raised at the meetings; the Forum may take a stance (positive/negative) on planning applications discussed at the meeting or on changes to community/neighbourhood services which affect the Forum area
3. The Forum’s Management Committee will not allow a person or organisation to use the Forum’s meeting as a means to any political end.
4. All residents and businesses within the Forum’s area have the right to attend and speak at the meeting. Business owners, not resident within the forum area, have a right to attend and speak at SNF meetings, but they cannot make up quorum.
5. The Forum or its Management Committee will not be held responsible for leaflets or other media which is handed out by third parties either at or following the Forum’s meeting. The views of any such leaflets or other communication are those of the distributor/publisher and not necessarily those of the Neighbourhood Forum.