Councillor Steve Eling reports back on the Bearwood Neighbourhood Forum meeting held last night (Wednesday 5th March) at St Mary’s Church Hall.
The Neighbourhood Forum was well attended by local residents with the hall being full and received reports back from the Council and police on local issues as well as raising new points.
Reporting back on previous issues it was noted that repairs have taken place to resolve the large puddle that has been forming in Rutland Road and issues around in Three Shires Oak Road where the property owner had been chased to clear up. Problems of contractors vans on Bearwood Road associated with the Kings Head junction works had also now been resolved with changes to the contractor’s compound.
Other issues included bus stops around Barclay Road on the No 53 route. I explained that I had written to CENTRO about this following an e-mail from them that was grossly inaccurate, but that I had not yet received a response. This was noted as ongoing with CENTRO. Street lights out of action on Harborne Road were due to failure of the electric supply and that the Western Power Distribution Company who own the power supply network had been urged to make the repairs quickly, which is what happened. Ongoing concerns about the condition of some properties in Beakes Road were also covered including some new concerns.
The police reported that there had been a drop in serious crime, but when taking account business crime (mainly shoplifting) overall crime in the area had increased. It was reported that Aldi were particularly effective at catching criminals in their store and that the co-op now have security, however this meant that police time is being taken up dealing with shop-lifters at the expense of spending time dealing with more serious crimes. A resident questioned the crime statistics with some further explanation that crimes reported were for serious crime but that there was other crime not categorised as serious by the police.
Residents are being urged to mark property in their homes with ultra-violet pens so that they can be identified if stolen. The police explained that burglars often try to sell stolen goods on through second hand shops and that the police were on to this. However, being able to directly identify where the stolen goods have come from enables the police to both recover the goods for the victims of the crime and secure a prosecution of the criminals.
In was reported that the pens and other things like personal alarms were available free at the meeting having been purchased by the local councillors from the local area budget, and will continue to be available from the police for the Bearwood area The intention is to provide them to the street Community Ambassadors – if you want more information on this contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other reports included details of local surgeries by Sandwell Housing; and activities at the library and the Thimblemill Brook.
The main issues raised by residents included the following:
Concern was raised the about brightness and asked about upgrading of the street lighting on Bearwood Road. It was explained that new LED lighting is to be installed on all main roads. In Bearwood these will be fitted in Bearwood Road; Three Shires Oak Road; Thimblemill Road; Abbey Road; Lightwoods Hill; Harborne Road; Pottery Road and Atkins Lane. The budget for these had been approved they will be fitted in the near future. A further question asked about LED lights in side roads were they were not yet fitted. It was reported that as concrete column post were replaced, the new ones would be fitted with LED lights.
An issue was raised about the proposed new pub in the former HSBC bank building on Bearwood Road and some concerns especially about there being no smoking area, which had not beeen taken into account when planning permission was granted. It was explained that this is a matter in the issuing of a license that had not yet happened.
Issues were raised about the smoking of illegal drugs around betting shops in Bearwood and the police were asked why they had not taken action to deal with this. Councillor Bob Piper suggested to the police that action should be taken to object to betting shop licences where criminal activity is taking place at these shops and that whilst we are not directly able to stop betting shops, all options should be pursued to deal with betting shops and crime which were part of the licensing objectives. If their gambling licence was threatened they would soon deal with the issue themselves.
A resident expressed his appreciation that the Council had continued to fund Christmas lights in Bearwood but was disappointed that some had failed and not been repaired by the contractors. A commitment was given to raise this with the contractors for future years as repairing any faults is part of the contract.
The next quarterly forum is likely to be held in June but no date has yet been fixed.
I was also pleased that after the meeting some residents expressed to me their appreciation of progress towards the restoration of Lightwoods Park and House; and how they were looking forward to the Mayday event in the park again this year.
Cllr Steve Eling