Agenda item

Responses to Public Questions Received and Open Discussion on Local Issues

(a)          Police Priorities

Minutes:

7.1.       The Chair introduced Inspector Richard Burton of the Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), who provided the following policing updates:

7.2.       A day of action took place on 4 April 2019 across the SNTs in the Southern area of Suffolk, targeting premises of vulnerable people who were being used for drug-related activities, which resulted in a number of drug warrants and arrests. This was followed by a week of action from 13 May 2019, when 11 addresses were visited, with the SNT Link Officer working closely with the Council’s Tenancy Services Team.  Acting on County Lines intelligence, drugs and cash was recovered from premises in Woodbridge Road, resulting in a closure order and 4 arrests.

7.3.       Anti-social behaviour (ASB) in Arras Square: As a result of dedicated patrols and working with security staff in the Buttermarket, the level of ASB in Arras Square had reduced.

7.4.       Town Centre Begging/Street Drinking: A Community Protection Notice had been served and work in partnership with the Street Rangers was ongoing.

7.5.       Operation Parkland: This annual operation to tackle ASB and knife crime during the summer months was currently in its consultation stage, gathering feedback from the public to build up a picture of where the ASB hotspots were in order to allocate resources accordingly.  A drop-in surgery would be held in the town centre on 15 June 2019 with the Police Community Engagement Officers from the Ipswich SNTs in attendance.

7.6.       Local resident:  St Stephens Lane, which ran down the side of the Wilkinsons store, had an unfortunate nickname as it was frequently used as a toilet. Last weekend due to the hot weather it was particularly smelly.  Whilst it was steam-cleaned by the Council most Monday mornings, it needed to be cleaned every Saturday and Sunday morning after having been used as a toilet the night before.  This unpleasant environment affected all who used the lane.  The Council’s Cleaner Ipswich Team have been made aware of the issue and have promised to improve the situation.
Inspector Burton added that if the incidents were reported, they could be dealt with as public order offences.

7.7.       Councillor Jones asked whether the level of ASB in the Jubilee Park area had lessened recently. 
Inspector Burton reported that the situation was positive. Officers had been engaging with known individuals and many had since moved on; there had been some incidences of alcohol being confiscated.  Councillor Jones asked whether extra Police would be assigned as per last summer.
Inspector Burton reported that Operation Parkland would run again this summer and the feedback from the current consultation would inform the ASB hotspots; the Jubilee Park area would be one of the areas targeted by the operation. 

7.8.       In response to the request for Operation Parkland to start earlier this year, Inspector Burton reported that as the operation was coordinated across all the SNTs in Suffolk, it needed to be run on the same timescale for all areas, i.e. from 15 July until September.

7.9.       Councillor Leeder welcomed the community engagement prior to the start of Operation Parkland and asked how this would be promoted.  Inspector Burton reported that the initial drop-in event was being held in the town centre where there was greater footfall, but residents from all areas of Ipswich could attend as the Community Engagement Officers from all the Ipswich SNTs would be present; this event would be advertised in the Press and via Councillors.  A further drop-in event was being considered for another location within the Central Ipswich area.

7.10.    Inspector Burton reported that speed awareness action had been carried out on Anglesea Road by the SNT Community Engagement Officer, with advice being given to drivers, and Suffolk Highways were looking into making the 20mph signage more visible.

7.11.    Local resident: What was the difference between being released on bail and being released under investigation?  Offenders could be released on bail providing criteria had been met in terms of preventing further incidents; if released under investigation, the offender would be released and then contacted with a date to return once investigations had reached a conclusion.

7.12.    In response to the request to attend the St Margaret’s Neighbourhood Watch meeting, Inspector Burton reported that the Community Engagement Officer would be attending their next quarterly meeting on 11 June 2019.

7.13.    The Chair reported that the following question had been received in advance of the meeting:

7.14.    Question/Issue 1: Local resident

“Will the Ipswich Borough Council Central Area Committee support and request a priority is given to a Traffic Order reference Suffolk County Council reference 242967 for prohibited areas to be set up outside schools in the Ipswich Air Quality Management Areas to allow the fining of vehicles idling their engines so that the last item in ‘Simple Ways to Improve Air Quality’, ‘Environmentally friendly travel’ of “Turn off engine when stationary, if it is safe to do so” can be achieved as detailed on the web page: https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/airqualitymanagement?”

7.15.    Local resident:  The context of this question was that there was previously no Clean Air Plan in place, but the Council now had an Air Quality Action Plan.  On the website, Councillor Ross commented that the Clean Air Day campaign provided ‘an opportunity to find out more about pollution, share information and make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone’.  Since submitting this question, Suffolk County Council (SCC) had responded and reported that local authorities have the powers to issue fixed penalty notices to drivers whose car engines were idling whilst stationary if a driver had refused to turn off the engine having been requested to do so. Rule 123 of the Highway Code states: “You must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road”. The local authority has the powers to issue fixed penalty notices, but I have not seen tickets being issued for this offence.

7.16.    County Councillor West clarified that there was a technicality in that Ipswich Borough Council would need to apply to the Government to become a designated authority in order to be able to issue penalty notices in Air Quality Management Areas to drivers whose car engines were idling while stationary where the driver had refused to switch their idling engine off after being requested to do so.

7.17.    Local resident: In that case, I would like to request that Ipswich Borough Council apply to be a designated authority and that prohibited areas be set up outside schools where children were most vulnerable.

7.18.    Councillor Kreidewolf clarified that it was Suffolk County Council that was the Highway Authority and that Ipswich Borough Council had delegated powers from SCC and the Police to issue parking enforcement notices.  Councillor Kreidewolf questioned why Ipswich Borough Council was being requested to enforce rules that were not their responsibility as it should be SCC as the Highways Authority. There would also be a revenue implication for this additional enforcement, which was not covered by Ipswich Borough Council’s Council Tax precept.

7.19.    County Councillor West commented that he had spoken to SCC Officers, and as this matter related to the Air Quality Management Areas, it would be the responsibility of the district authority as it fell within that area of legislation; therefore, the district authority would need to apply to the Government to have the powers to enforce.

7.20.    Councillor I Lockington commented that Ipswich Borough Council was leading on the Clean Air Act and Air Quality Management Areas and she had spoken to the SCC Public Health Officer who had confirmed that Ipswich Borough Council would be the lead authority on this matter.

7.21.    Councillor Kreidewolf commented that Ipswich Borough Council’s Air Quality Action Plan could not be enacted in isolation and could only be done with the cooperation of SCC and the Government.  However, Ipswich Borough Council did not have responsibility for enforcement and would need to increase its Council Tax precept in order to do so.

7.22.    Local resident:  SCC Officers confirmed that a Traffic Regulation Order would not be required for enforcement action to be taken against idling engines in a specified area.

7.23.    The Chair proposed that this matter be discussed with Officers and Portfolio Holders to seek clarification and a response would be sent to the resident.