Present – Councillor Valerie Seabright in the Chair
Councilors Steve Bedser and Peter Griffiths
Also Present :-
Richard Davies, Head of Northfield District
Jason Lowther, Ward Champion
Marcia Greenwood, District Support Officer
PC Marj Levy, West Midlands Police
Kay Thomas, Area Democratic Services Officer
(There were 13 Members of the public in attendance)
Many thanks to Kay Thomas for the Information provided.
I attended the meeting as Local resident and also in capacity as Kings Norton Neighbourhood Champion for the Housing Liaison Board.
The minutes of the meeting held on 9th January 2014 copies had been circulated were confirmed and signed by the chair.
Councillor Bedser referred to Minute no 1262 and in relation to item 5 on the agenda – Neighbourhood Workers programme, Fast Track Report – sought an assurance that there would be some progress with the trees on The Golf Course Estate. The Chair undertook to pursue the matter and ensure that action was taken.
Northfield District Budget Saving Proposals
Richard Davies outlined the Northfield District Savings proposals. He detailed the Government cuts in grants to the City Council resulting in it being necessary to reduce the budget across all services. The Northfield District was required to make a £940k reduction to its budget over the next two years.
As part of the consultation process on the District budget savings proposals further public meeting have been arranged where the situation could be discussed in more detail. one being on 18th March at Kings Norton Library.
Richard Davies undertook to attend the Next Ward Committee to provide an update.
The Meeting was advised that the draft proposals could be found on the Districts website. Savings proposals including transferring financial responsibility for school crossing patrols to schools, staff reductions and work with the third sector to deliver services differently in community libraries, the District Support Officer to be ‘shared’ with Edgbaston District thereby saving salary costs, transfer of community ownership of Hawkesley Community Centre with Age Concern.
The third sector would also be approached with regard to working through the Northfield Advice and Information Centre to provide Services at the main Vineyard Road Office and the administration function would be reduced and IT costs be reviewed.
With reference to school crossing patrols a local resident asked that the service be reinstated on The Green as the warden had retired and had not been replaced and the police were currently patrolling the crossing.The Committee was advised that where a pelican crossing existed, school crossing wardens would not be provided and the proposal to pass responsibility for the services to schools was a City wide decision and still under discussion. Councillor Bedser said that there were negotiations taking place with the schools Forum, the body that considered school budgets which was part of the uncontrollable budget allocated to the Local Authority, to see what services schools could assist with including school crossing patrols.
In response to a query regarding the future of tenant’s halls the Committee was advised that they had originally been set up as a facility for housing tenants and had been managed by the Housing Department. Responsibility was later transferred to leisure Services and there was now discussion underway in relation to the halls being taken over again by housing and operated through the Housing Revenue Account.
A local resident expressed concern regarding the closure of neighbourhood offices as they were a key referral point to food banks. Richard Davies said that Northfield Neighbourhood Office would be retained and that some services would be offered through Hawkesley Community Centre. Councillor Griffiths stressed the importance of neighbourhood advice to the District but that presently the homeless advice service was provided from Northfield Neighbourhood Office, paid for from the District budget but providing a service to the wider area and therefore proposals were being considered to pay for the service centrally. It was also hoped to work with community groups and the third sector to enhance the advice service offered and provide additional support.
Councillor Griffiths added that the savings figures for the District were set at £940k over two years but in reality additional amounts had to be found to pay historical debt and this added to the savings amount and would result in difficult decisions having to be made regarding future services.
The Chair stressed that no decisions had yet been made regarding where the cuts would be made and this presented an opportunity to be innovative about the way services were delivered and assets used it was important residents made their view and comments known.
In response to queries about libraries the Chair advised that the City Council owned the library buildings but the District paid for the upkeep, Through localisation the District had more control over local services and therefore make more decision about delivery and could rent out space. Councillor Bedser said that the city Council had a policy to devolve services and the District could influence the sale of an asset, although it did not have the power to sell but could ensure that the proceeds were reinvested in the District.
Planning Issues – Wychall Farm Primary School Nursery
Councillor Griffiths reported that Planning Committee had approved the demolition of the existing nursery and the building of a new nursery to provide an additional 13 places.
93 and 101 Rednal Road , in response to a question Councillor Griffiths reported that no response had yet been received in relation to the queries made regarding the application for a care home on Rednal Road and the traffic survey was still awaited. The Committee was assured that the concerns expressed previously had been taken into account by the Planning Committee, especially with regard to the dangerous position on the road for access and egress.
Flats 108 Wharf Road , In response to questions the Committee was advised that the planning application had not yet been submitted to Planning Committee although the consultation period ended. Councillor Bedser said that if included the dilapidated property then improvements to that would be welcomed provided the building was of appropriate quality. A local resident expressed concern regarding the entrance being on a ‘blind spot’.
Car Park Kings Norton Station , Councillor Griffiths said that the temporary car park used during the City Centre tunnel closures had been given permission to be made permanent and therefore additional spaces would be made available.
Matters of Urgent Local Concern , No Items Raised
Items for future Agenda , No items Raised
The date of the next meeting was given as 6th MARCH 2014 AT 7PM AT ARK KINGS ACADEMY, Shannon Road B38 9DE The Head Teacher of Ark Kings Academy will be giving a tour of the school at 6.30pm for anyone interested in having a look around.
The meeting ended at 7.45pm