Agenda item

Responses to Public Questions Received and Open Discussion on Local Issues

(a)          Police Priorities

Minutes:

32.1.    The Chair introduced Sergeant Vicky McParland of the Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), who provided the following update on policing priorities:

32.2.    A recent Suffolk Constabulary restructure has resulted in 100 officers being allocated across the SNTs; this means that for the Ipswich Central SNT, there would now be 1 Inspector, 3 Sergeants (previously 2), 12 PCs (previously 6) and 3 PCSOs (previously 8, some of whom have since been deployed to other roles within Suffolk Constabulary). The additional Police Officers would provide more resource to tackle town centre issues in the evening, and there would be a Link Police Officer who would work closely with the PCSOs.

32.3.    The setting of SNT priorities, previously based on local data, was now being done across the Southern Division as a whole; the current priorities were as follows: Operation Velocity (tackling drug dealing), Operation Notion (tackling organised crime in the community) and tackling acquisitive crime (burglary, theft, robbery). Intelligence from the community was vital and non-urgent crime could be reported via the website, email (ipswichcentral.snt@suffolk.pnn.police.uk) or via ward Councillors.

32.4.    In response to the enquiry at the previous meeting about inappropriate comments on publicity materials/social media relating to proposals to convert the Mulberry Tree into a community centre, Sergeant McParland commented that the pamphlet distributed in the St Margaret’s area had been carefully worded and was not considered as an offence, although it might have influenced some people’s views.  The postings on Facebook had been made through a closed account and the Police had not received the details of the posts; if anyone had screenshots of this information, this could be forwarded to the Police for investigation.  In general, if members of the public were unhappy about any information posted on Facebook, they could report it to Facebook and this would be removed quicker than if the Police were to issue the same request to Facebook.
Councillor Cook commented that he had seen some of the comments on Facebook, so it couldn’t have been part of a closed account, and added that he had consulted a legal representative who advised that some of the content could have been considered an offence due to the inflammatory and racist nature of the comments. Sergeant McParland commented that any information could be forwarded onto the Central Desktop Investigation Unit for further investigation.

32.5.    In response to the enquiry at the last meeting about street begging in the town centre, Sergeant McParland reported that this was a longstanding issue and the Police were working with the Ipswich Locality Homelessness Partnership (ILHP) and other agencies to tackle it. There was still a group of individuals who were difficult to engage with, but the Police would now have additional Police Officers on the streets.  Sergeant McParland added that some individuals had complex issues to address and not all street beggars were homeless.

32.6.    Councillor Lockington asked when the names of the Police Officers would be updated on the Ipswich Central SNT webpage as this hadn’t been done as yet.  Sergeant McParland commented that she would highlight this to the Suffolk Police ICT Team.

32.7.    Councillor Jones reported that there had been drug dealing and young people congregating in Providence Street and in the South Street car park.  Sergeant McParland reported that additional resource had been used to patrol these areas and arrests had been made.

32.8.    Sergeant McParland confirmed that PC John Cuff had been assigned as the Police Community Engagement Officer for Central Ipswich, based at SNT office on Museum Street, and would be supervised by the Sergeant leading on Crime Reduction and Engagement.  PC Cuff would be undertaking public engagement events at schools, University, Open Days and on the radio, acting as the face of the Police within the community.

32.9.    Councillor Cook reported that he had been in Alexandra Park recently when there was police activity taking place and he had asked Police Officers what was happening, and they had advised him to speak to the Martlesham Press Team.  Councillor Cook reported that they had been undertaking a sweep for drugs/blades and commented that the Police could have been more open as this was a positive action being undertaken.  Sergeant McParland reported that the default response for Police Officers was to refer queries to the Press Officer.

32.10.The Chair reported that 2 questions/issues had been received in advance of the meeting.

32.11.Question/Issue 1: Local resident

“Suffolk County Council (SCC) Councillor Paul West attended a Kings Avenue residents meeting on 26th March 2018 to hear residents’ concerns with traffic in Kings Avenue. Paul West confirmed that SCC was currently looking at ways to improve traffic in St Helen’s Street and that Kings Avenue would be included in this review. Given the update provided in the Minutes of Central Area Committee meeting 5th September (24.3), can I ask what steps will now be taken as regards traffic issues in Kings Avenue and when might we know more about the future of the proposed review of St Helen’s Street congestion?”

County Councillor West reported that investigations were still ongoing with regards to improvements to the St Helen’s Street corridor, including what could be done for Kings Avenue.  As yet, no decisions had been made.  In the last 3 months, SCC Officers and Councillors had met with Ipswich Borough Council and Sandy Martin MP to discuss the issues and had also visited the area. There would be a further meeting with Ipswich Borough Council’s officers and Portfolio Holder, Councillor Smart, in late November.  After that meeting, SCC intend to be in a position by the end of 2018 to provide information on options and to share this information with Officers and Councillors.

Local resident: If, after the further discussions, there was no further movement on this issue, would SCC consider a scheme just for Kings Avenue?

County Councillor West reported that he hoped that Kings Avenue would be included in the overall review, but no options were ruled out at this stage.  In response to County Councillor Gaylard, County Councillor West reported that discussions to date had been held with himself, County Councillor Mary Evans and Councillor Phil Smart; once options were available, this information would be shared with County Councillor Gaylard and IBC ward Councillors.

32.12.Question/issue 2: Local resident

“I have now raised two reports regarding concerns with the SCC building in Rope Walk opposite St Edmund House. Serious littering and fly-tipping plagues this abandoned and empty building together with general decay, neglect, overgrown plants and vandalism. Nothing has been done about this eyesore or about my reports to IBC. Given the importance that is placed on the physical environment, (reference Cllr Jones in the Minutes), can I ask when this site will be cleaned up to remove the rubbish, clear the site of overgrown weeds and remove the unsightly metal barriers, and more importantly when will this building be either reinstated as a useful building or be demolished?  Rope Walk has its problems and I feel that leaving a building like this adds to them and may even attract them.”

County Councillor West reported that the former SCC canteen and social club building on Rope Walk had been sold in 2005 and therefore SCC was not responsible for the maintenance of the site since that time.  The site was currently owned by DBS Contracting Ltd and in October 2017 planning permission had been granted for a new development of homes and offices on the site.

Councillor Jones added that the Council had pursued getting this site developed in order to make the area safer; the site was privately owned and had planning permission for a development, but the owner was currently looking to sell the site on. Councillor Jones added that the Council had the power under Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 to require that land be cleaned up if adversely affecting the amenity of an area.

Councillor Cook commented that vacant sites often attracted rubbish and fly-tipping and added that he had reported this site to Council Officers and the area had recently been cleared up. 

32.13.With regards to the request for a 20mph scheme on Anglesea Road, County Councillor West reported that the costs of the proposed scheme had been forwarded to County Councillors Chambers and Lockington today, who had both agreed that the scheme go ahead.  The scheme would now be passed onto the Operations Team for implementation and a start date would be programmed within the next 14 weeks.

32.14.With regards to the request for a 20mph scheme on Woodbridge Road, County Councillor Gaylard reported that this was being progressed, albeit slowly, but it would only include Woodbridge Road and Palmerston Road, not St Helen’s Street; Suffolk Highways engineers were currently drawing up plans for speed cushions on these roads.