Dispelling the myths – CCC funding

It has been asserted that the grant awarded to CCC was for a one-year term.

This is not the case.

The committee, having made every effort to resolve the matter over a protracted period but to no avail, feel that there is no other option available but than to share details publicly.

We hope this will also serve to dispel the disinformation peddled by a small number of people intent on discrediting CCC.

Synopsis

The original committee secured the grant of £5K for a two-year programme but failed to commence the programme for a variety of reasons, including the sudden ill health of a key committee member.

A working group was set up and, with agreement from the Council,  they worked to establish plans for an initial series of meetings, as well as taking control of the social media for the organisation and establishing a website.

Not only was this produced but, iIn fact, the initial plans exceeded the basic requirements set out by the Council. Assured that sufficient planning had been put in place, the Council agreed that CCC could retain the funds and commence the programme for which funding had been awarded.

The newly elected committee commenced the agreed renegotiated two-year work programme in November 2013, when the AGM was held, at which the new committee was elected, a more inclusive Constitution was put in place, and the initial plan of meetings was shared with the members.

Although there were funds in the bank, the committee only accessed the funds in May 2014, due to irregularities on the bank account set up by one of the founding members. Up to this point, all activities were funded personally by the committee members.

Since November 2014, the committee have suspended use of the grant funds and have actively sought to resolve the matter.

The current committee are now funding the meetings out of unrestricted funds and their own purses.

The following three documents should help clarify the position.

1. The summary document that the committee provided to the Council:

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The committee have chased since, right up to the AGM, but still have not received a satisfactory answer or any documentation or correspondence to back up the claim that funding was for one year.

2. The email from a council officer, following the acceptance of the working group’s initial work plan as providing sufficient assurance to the Council for the working group to use the funds for the purpose for which they were granted. i.e the two-year work plan.

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3. The attachment included with this email from the council officer.

This attachment includes a copy of the original offer letter, the revised service description as only £5K was granted, and the standard funding agreement.

This makes very clear that the funding was awarded for a programme of work over two years.

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The current committee are committed to ensuring open public engagement in Croydon and hope to welcome you to one of the upcoming meetings planned.  The next is in Kenley on 30 September. Please book a place to help us plan for numbers.

Thank you.

Croydon consults on 20 mph speed limits

In response to a request for more information on the proposed consultation on 20 mph, we have been provided with the following detailed response from Waheed Alam at Croydon Council.

The council will be undertaking an ‘opinion seeking’ exercise which will start on 13th May 2015 and close on 24th June 2015.  This will be open for residents and businesses within the area where the 20mph speed limit is proposed.

In order to publicise the proposal, the council will put up street notices on lamp columns throughout the affected area.  The notices will briefly explain the proposal and provide a web link for those that need more information on the proposal.

An online questionnaire will also be available for residents/businesses in the area by which they can support or oppose the proposal.

Due to the scale of the area we are dealing with, it is not our intention in the first instance to write to everyone but we will be providing the information on line.  For those that prefer to receive the information as a hard copy, the on-street notices will explain how this can be requested.

The results will be collated following 24th June 2015 and put forward to the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, who at that stage, will weigh up the responses and pros and cons of the scheme before making a decision whether or not the scheme should be proceeded with.

If the scheme does proceed to the next stage a Statutory Consultation will be carried out allowing a minimum further 3 weeks for anyone wishing to make a representation for or against the scheme to do so.  Although no dates can be set for this as yet, it is likely that this will commence in early August.  If this does coincide with the School summer period, it is likely that the minimum 3 week period will be extended to say 4 or 5 weeks. 

Any material representations received during this period will be responded to and an Officer report will be put forward to the Council’s Traffic Management Advisory Committee who will then advise the Cabinet Member on how the council should proceed.

The final decision will rest with the Cabinet Member.  If the decision to proceed is made then the proposal will be implemented which could take a further 3-4 months.  Please see attached a map showing the area which is currently being considered.

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You may be aware that although the current proposal is for the north of the borough, the council will provide an opportunity to other parts of the borough to consider whether or not a 20mph is right for them.

For this purpose, the council is looking to seek the opinions on an area by area basis (north of the borough being Area 1).  As we plan to have offered this opportunity to the whole borough by 2018, it is very likely that whilst the north of the borough is being looked at we will start the same exercise i.e. opinion seeking, in other parts simultaneously.   

Waheed Alam
Engineer
Place Department
Streets Division
Highways Team

CCC will advertise the link when the consultation is launched.

We would like to advertise how those not online can access a hard copy to respond so hope these details will be made available, not just on the on-street notices.

Feel free to leave comments on this post.

Download a copy of the map here: 20mph area-opinion seeking survey map -Area 1

Addiscombe meeting update – Old Ashburton Library

The following update has been provided by Cllr Stephen Mann, in response to questions that arose at our meeting in Addiscombe.

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Cllr Mann advises,

“Work is progressing well on the library and hoardings went up last week.

We are awaiting the feedback of a condition survey before progressing full steam ahead.

Friends of Ashburton Park (FOAP) are working very hard in dealing with the park overall and liaising about uses etc. Do keep track of their Facebook and website for their updates.”

Images of the library before works began:

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In regards to the consultation on the future use of this building, Cllr Mann has advised that there are still plans for this consultation to take place but there is nothing confirmed at this stage.

You can find the FOAP website here, and their Facebook page here.

We hope to have an update shortly from Cllr Maddie Goulder, on the other point raised at this meeting.

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Update from CI McGarry – emailing local policing team officers

A concern was expressed at our January meeting that using the online form to send an email to the local policing team by clicking the ‘Contact us by email link for the local policing team‘ meant that the sender received a response but this did not include the original email sent.

CI McGarry has provided the following response to a question tabled at the January meeting concerning replies to emails to Neighbourhood Policing Teams.

He writes,

When an officers replies to an email there are two options:

1. They can select a reply which will mean that any attachments will be lost and only the text body of any email chain will remain in any reply given.

Our system assumes the original author has retained copies of any attachments.

or

2. They select Forward which will then include and attachments included in the original email.

As I understand it this is all related to limiting the size of our email traffic.

Officers will only forward a message if requested in the body of the email. Otherwise the standard response would be to use the reply option.

CCC Croydon Jan 15

CCC note that the Croydon Policing SNT ward updates now being sent out do contain an email address to contact the local team. This would give the sender a record of the original email sent.  Copies of these can be found on our website, although not all teams have yet produced a newsletter for their ward.

Clarification – from CI McGarry

In response to a request received, Chief Inspector Peter McGarry has asked that we publish clarification in relation to the impact that body-worn video cameras has had on the number of complaints received regarding the use of stop and search powers by Croydon officers.

The notes from our January 2015 meeting read,

In Croydon a number of officers have body-worn cameras, which gives video evidence of what has taken place. Numbers of stop and search complaints have decreased significantly as a result. It was explained that officer turns the camera on when necessary and as a matter of course when an interaction with a member of the public occurs. The recording starts 30 seconds prior to the camera being actively switched on.

If there is an incident when the camera should have been switched on, but wasn’t, the officer would have to explain this. These body-worn cameras will be rolled out during this year to every officer.

CI McGarry, writes further, to clarify,

“For the rolling 12 months, Feb 14 to Jan 15, five such complaints have been received.  That’s a 62% reduction when compared to the previous 12 months total of 13.

Although the reduction in complaints is significant at present it is my assumption that this is down to the trial of Body Worn Video which started in July 2014.

Further analysis will be required before the trial and reduction in complaints can be directly connected.”

CCC Croydon Jan 15

Stronger Community Partnerships – initial meeting with RAs

An interesting meeting tonight, with lots of food for thought.

Representation

But who was aware?

It appears around 20 Residents’ Associations (RAs) were invited to attend. There were fewer than 20 in the meeting,  and only apologies from one undisclosed RA.

The sheer size of the board proposed was considered unworkable, and the minor representation of resident groups proposed was raised as an issue.

How to properly represent the resident voice in Croydon

The idea posed at our recent Sanderstead meeting of RAs and community groups being represented by networked quadrants, as detailed here, was put forward both before and at the meeting but appeared to be rejected by David Freeman, the Council officer linked to communities.

Representatives from RAs were concerned that individual RAs did not have a mandate to speak for others and were hard pushed to cover their existing work in any case, so found the proposal of just four being represented on this board as unworkable.

CCC are aware that community groups had not received an invitation to be represented. I attended on behalf of CCC, although told I could do so only as an observer as the council were only seeking representatives from RAs.

The questions raised included how would community groups be represented on this board? Whilst it was stated that lack of communication in some RAs may contribute to some not knowing of the invitation it was astounding to think that the Council recognised and invited just 20 or so groups.

The effectiveness of different RAs to engage and communicate with their communities, and their willingness to work together to share ideas and work on issues was raised. There are areas where RAs and community groups work extremely effectively together to tackle issues. The Purley, Coulsdon Kenley network was an example noted, working together to discuss issues around Purley Hospital.

We know, from experience, that groups such as Norbury RAs are well networked and that South Croydon Community Association reaches out to others across Croydon communities.

Some are less well represented, including those served by an RA such as the one local to me, who do not allow members to speak at committee meetings or receive minutes of meetings, and those where no RA exists at all.

Building networks

CCC have been working with the council to build up a list of RAs and community groups. That only 20 RAs were invited was astonishing to those attending this meeting, and adds weight to the evidence we have that many have not received the notice of meeting. We are volunteers and a small committee but we have already identified at least 50 RAs, and plan to post a link to these on our website shortly, in order to build this to include more.

But, whether a group represents a road, a ward, and area or an interest group – Friends of Park Hill Park, Old Town Croydon, Broad Green Business Forum or Croydon Transition Town comes to mind – does it really matter? ALL these groups have a view and represent the residents’ voice. This voice needs to be heard.

The outcome

A Forum will be established, with groups helping to build up the list the council hold.  CCC have invited all present to offer ideas on the list we plan to put up in the next few days, as a result of research undertaken by our committee member, Janet Stollery.

Four representatives were agreed to go to the first meeting on November 11, as interim reps for this group. This includes me, representing SCCA, as CCC is not eligible as a residents group, but I was told that CCC will be represented by another group attending – although we’ve not heard from anyone, to date, on this!

Concerns were raise regarding the effectiveness of this group to effect change..  Those present did not appear sufficiently convinced that the board would make a real difference. After establishing a Forum and deciding on how this would work, time-bonded targets and results need to be achieved to secure faith in the board..

Going forward

We’d like to know:

Was your group consulted and therefore represented?

RAs and resident groups give of their time to fulfil a role many wouldn’t. We are interested in learning whether community groups and RAs were contacted.

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Finally

We’d love to hear what you think of this plan.

And I’d recommend reading Sean Creighton’s detailed post which explores the issues.

http://historyandsocialaction.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/challenges-facing-croydons-stronger.html

Post written in haste but posted to highlight the main points.

We look forward to hearing your views.  Please post a comment.

Elizabeth Ash

Chair, CCC

Update on land opposite entrance to Riddlesdown Collegiate, Purley

A plot of land opposite Riddlesdown Collegiate in Honister Heights, Purley, has been cleared and a fence has recently been erected.  This high metal fence has been reduced on the side facing the roadway.

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In response to questions raised at our meeting in Sanderstead, Cllr Yvette Hopley updated the meeting, and promised to send further information, which she did the following day.

Cllr Hopley writes,

From my previous enquiries I have established that none of the land on which the fence has been erected is Council owned land. A related query raised by others is whether any of the land affected is classified as highway. Steve Iles has asked his officers to investigate this issue and should be able to comment on this shortly.  Maps have been located by RRA which show part of the land maybe adopted highway.  Discussions are continuing with the council.

At the time of our initial visit there had not been any damage to protected trees. The contractors on site and the land owners Berkshire Homes have been informed of the presence of a tree preservation order and the need for appropriate care in continuing the erection of new fencing. The clearance of brambles and small shrubs as enabling works would not be in contravention of the TPO. The fence in this location would not need a grant of planning permission provided its height does not exceed 2m.

I have examined the latest photos and note that there has been damage to mainly small specimens in the wooded area. As previously advised a tree officer had examined the where the fence was being erected; he was satisfied with his findings at that time and spoke with those erecting the fence about taking care in the proximity of protected trees

It will be helpful to set out the legislative background. The trees are not protected by individual or group preservation orders whereby the specified mature trees would be protected from the date of the order. They are protected by a woodland order and as such all trees that grow within the defined boundary lines will be preserved even after the order has been made. So the smallest of self-seeded saplings would be covered by the woodland owner. As such any damage to any tree could constitute an offence. The same rules apply for other woodland orders that are made in the general Riddlesdown area where the public are able to pass.

So in theory it would be possible to gather evidence of offences along the line of the new fence with a view to mounting a prosecution. The test in the courts would not be has there been any damage to any tree but whether or not the integrity of the woodland order has been compromised.

It is probable that some of the saplings that have been damaged would not die but would survive, even if the shape of growth is changed. This is not unusual in locations where there are woodland orders and the public have access and are able to undertake a range of recreational activities.

I shall arrange for the site to be inspected again and for any visual evidence of damage to trees to be noted. However, from the evidence I have seen to date, my initial opinion is that the integrity of the woodland order has not been compromised and that the damage is relatively minor and as such, that it would not be expedient to seek a prosecution when there would be very little chance of success.

Ridds fencing public footpath