Do you live in Frankley?

Are you aware that Frankley has a Parish Council? It is the only one in Birmingham.

How about, what a Parish Council does, or how it’s funded?

Well, on July 16th New Frankley in Birmingham Parish Council (NFiB) held it latest full council meeting. The following, is a summary of this meeting which, along with the questions raised above, I am hoping will encourage more residents to take an active interest in their Parish Council. This doesn’t necessarily mean standing for election, although it would be nice for an election to actually take place, rather than councillors being elected uncontested, just passing on your views, anonymously if need be, would be a good start.

Even though New Frankley in Birmingham Parish Council has been in existence since 2000, from my perspective, the amount of public engagement across the whole community is still rather poor. This, I believe, tends to lead to certain sectors of the community being given undue priority over others.

Given that NFiB Parish Council, like all parish councils, receives it funding from local residents, it is a little bemusing as to why more residents don’t engage with the Parish council, or more strikingly, why doesn’t the Parish council try to engage with residents more? From my observations, I think fear may play a part in this. Having been involved with the Parish Council for so long (I’m not talking about myself here), I wonder if certain councillors fear what residents may tell them, so they don’t bother consulting with too many.

Primarily, I am talking about New Frankley in Birmingham Parish council here, but if you live in an area covered by a Parish Council, this will probably sound familiar to them too, so why not go and find out what your local Parish council gets up to? I’m sure, all decent Parish Councils would appreciate greater engagement with residents.

Now, let’s get back to July’s meeting.

As always, the meeting opened with apologies for absence, of which there were none. This is disappointing, as out of the twelve councillors summoned to attend this meeting, three were absent.

Following the declaration of interest, there’s a public participation session, but once again, no members of the public attended this meeting, so none took place.

When it came to the Chairperson’s announcements, a regular item each month, there were quite a few this month. There was feedback on the recent flash floods, steps taken to alleviate flooding in future, grass cutting issues, information on the bulky refuse collection programme, the flood plan, progress of the alcohol free zone, an update of the planning application for a cemetery nearby, office opening hours, the role of parish councillors and the local hedge cutting programme.

Out of these, my attention is drawn to the alcohol free zone (AFZ). Is an AFZ really needed for the whole of the Longbridge ward?

Thanks to the lack of public consultation, the earliest this can go before the licensing committee is now the 17th September, so, if you don’t want to see an AFZ in Longbridge you need to get in touch with the relevant body and pass on your views. It’s only because of the lack of consultation that there’s not one in place already. Given how close Frankley is to the boundary with Bromsgrove, I’m surprised this approach is receiving so much support from NFiB Parish councillors. From the main shops in Frankley, where problems have been reported, it’s about a three minute walk to reach the Bromsgrove boundary, where this AFZ would be unenforceable. There may be an issue with problem drinkers in the area, but is an AFZ the answer? AFZs don’t just apply to problem drinkers, they apply to everyone.

A regular item on the agenda is planning applications. This month, there was a discussion on the application to erect a 2.4m high fence around Holly Hill Infants & Nursery Church School. Following this discussion it was agreed, the Parish Council had no objections to the application. Personally, I would like to know, why does every fence have to be green? Given its location, a nice rainbow fence might look good.

Another regular item Parish Councils deal with is grant applications. This month, there was application submitted by The Frankley Neighbourhood Forum for £7000. This is to cover the cost of producing and distributing six editions of the Frankley newsletter. Given that out of the 1000 recently printed, 500 went uncollected, I am surprised that without seeing what a revamped edition will look like, this grant application was approved in the manner it was. There was only one abstention, with all other councillors voting in favour.

Other items discussed this month included; the setting up of a working party to discuss the Parish Councils new website, problems with the lighting and paving slabs around the Frankley shops, the future of Lyttleton House and a number of outstanding agenda items dating back to May 2011. If you would like to know how these went, you can view the draft minutes by clicking here
*, or by requesting a copy from the Parish Council office (Tel 0121 457 9410). Alternatively, you can contact me by emailing TheFrankleyMan@gmail.com

In an effort to booster the amount of public engagement with the New Frankley in Birmingham Parish Council, I intend to post regular updates, but if you happen to miss any, or would like to pass comment on what’s happening in Frankley just email me on the above address. You can also find me on twitter, I’m @FrankleyMan.

The next full meeting of the New Frankley in Birmingham Parish Council, is scheduled for the 20th August. Members of the public are more than welcome. An update of this meeting will hopefully follow shortly after.

A Frankley Man.

Draft minutes –

http://www.newfrankleyinbirminghamparishcouncil.gov.uk/Council%20Minutes%202012-2013/Minutes%20-%20Parish%20Council%20-%2016th%20July%202012.pdf

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