Minutes for meeting - 14th April 2012

St Edmunds Road Residents’ Association
Minutes of the second meeting, Monday 2nd April, 7.30pm at Victoria Road Church, Lecture Room.
Present on the ‘Panel’: - Peter Strachan (Neighbourhood Co-ordinator, Borough Council), Reverend Michael Hills, Vicar of St Michaels Church, Danielle Stone (Borough Council), Winston Strachan (Borough and County Councils), PCSO Kevin Halfpenny (Northampton Police), Andy Langton (Neighbourhood Warden), Lucy Lilburn (Borough Housing Officer),  Anne Wishart, chairperson,  Jim Wishart, secretary,
Thirty two people signed the attendance register and there were at least a dozen others present.
Apologies from Tony Clarke, Treasurer.
It was agreed by the officers that regular business should give way to a question and answer session for this meeting and minutes approval will be dealt with at a later meeting.
1.      The Reverend Michael Hills gave a brief summary of the situation regarding the churchyard as far as St Michael’s church was concerned, the church being the owners of the plot. He pointed out that the land would remain in the church’s ownership that several groups in the past had shown an interest in developing the site but it hadn’t been progressed to a conclusion. He said that although the church were not using the site the Borough were maintaining it. He suggested that Lottery funds might be available as well as some other community financial resources.  Several people referred to the problem of drug abuse and rough sleeping which occurs occasionally in the churchyard.  Concern was expressed that the gravestones might be damaged or at least disrespected.  It was said by one person that if money was spent on improving the site it would only be damaged by vandals. PS said that if anything was made to be used it could be abused.  It was important to devise a scheme which would minimise the opportunity for vandalism. He suggested work that would need doing as a priority which included a thorough clearing of the area to rid it of needles and litter, removal of some of the bushes around the perimeter and a plan for patrolling by wardens. The police representative said that they had the site on a watch list.  Another said that it would be wise to do any development in a gradual way and not to try to complete the whole scheme at once. It would be better to be flexible. One contributor expressed concern that the legality of the plans should be ensured. Other people said that it was a good idea to open it to the public. Others said that it is an underused resource. The meeting was asked to vote as to whether they approved of the opening up of the churchyard to the public and the vote was an overwhelming ‘Yes’.  Eight people volunteered to join a small working party to progress the issue. [One later by phone] :- Michael Hills, David Johnson, Jim Wishart, Audrey Russell, Ruth Lowe, Sue Edwards, Kevin Evans, Danielle Stone.
2.      There was much unhappiness about litter
a.      Rubbish bags were being left out longer than allowed.  Some people thought that there should be fines imposed.  It was stated that warnings had been issued and fines imposed. 
b.      There was dissatisfaction with the use of the ‘picker’ litter clearance system when compared with the old system of a dedicated sweeper with a barrow. The latter was much more effective.
c.       There is a problem outside 51 Ethel Street with a mass of black bags. 
d.      The back yards of the shops and premises on St Edmunds Road have a derelict patch of land that collects rubbish.  It gives the road a very poor appearance. It was suggested that the shop-owners could be approached and asked if they would join in a community project involving the chairperson and a councillor and tidy up the plots.  The area could be seeded with suitable planting.
e.      It was reported that in the paved area of the Stockley Street garages there is often litter particularly broken glass matting and sharps.
3.      Parking was also discussed.  It was reported that more ‘build-outs’ were being considered for conversion to parking spaces. 
4.       Blocked drains and flooding were mentioned at 10 Woodford Street.  This will be followed up.
5.       Fly tipping was a concern.  An area of tipping in Woodford Street had been stopped by the provision of a landscaped area.  [However the basic problem is still there, what’s to be done?  Demand the local authority to provide a free service rationed by some means? 54 years ago JK Galbraith coined the phrase “private affluence and public squalor”. Secretary.  ] 
6.       Unsociable behaviour was reported in certain houses in the area. There was much discussion on this and the matter will be dealt with in conjunction with the police and will be monitored by the officers.  There was a complaint that occasionally noise is an issue. This often originates in student accommodation.  There was a complaint that occasionally there was unsatisfactory behaviour from “strange people”  at the garages at the junction of Alfred Street and Stockley Street.
7.       A resident  suggested that if there were three civic minded people in a street then that is enough for a community spirit to be generated. Another mentioned that ‘community activists’ can help with language problems. Another said that once problems were explained to people in their own language there would usually be co-operation.
8.       The MUGA, multiple-use games area. PS introduced this topic which has caused some contention in the past.  He said that it is necessary to make it safe and to control anti-social behaviour.  He thought a small sum should be found to manage the opening and closing of the gates on a regular basis and to keep the area clean and tidy. He also said that the Borough were looking at the possibility of combining the management of the ten MUGAs in the town to take advantage of scale. Other comments were that it is an asset for young people. But there was nowhere for parents to sit when supervising children.  It was said that the Briar Hill MUGA is a very good example of a well run facility. WS spoke about the history of the site and the campaign that was raised to keep the MUGA.  Another spoke of the importance of the Area and thought it should be kept open. It was of benefit to the town.
9.      The street lamp on the path connecting Woodford Street and Cyril Street has been switched off.  There was a strong feeling that this lamp should be reconnected. Recently efforts were made to have it reinstated, so far without success. The matter will be re-addressed.
10.  There is a problem with speeding vehicles in the area. [The problem is made worse by the fact that it is legal to travel at 30mph on these roads. Secretary.] The parking management scheme is unsatisfactory in the view of some. Practice in Portsmouth and Southsea was successful and should be considered.
Style of presentation of these minutes: -  I have deliberately omitted people’s names as far as possible in these notes. I have kept the original manuscript record on file.

Jim Wishart
SERA secretary.
Wednesday 11th April 2012.
There is a dedicated blog on-line here:-   http://stedmundsra.blogspot.co.uk/

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