Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Annual report from Cllr Brian Collin
Over the past 12 months, I have had the honour to serve on the City Council’s Cabinet. My portfolio has been “Healthy and Inclusive Communities”. Not reflected in the name is a lead role on Community Safety or, as the Government puts it “Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships”. I prefer to think positively about it and call it community safety.
We have had a very good year on Community Safety.
The new licensing laws (sometimes labelled 24-hour drinking – though no pubs in Winchester applied for 24-hour drinking) were implemented successfully. There were no administrative hitches. And at worst, nothing changed. In truth it seems as though the City Centre is slightly better now as the numbers of people all coming out of pubs at once has gone down and the same number of taxis are able to get more of them home safely and without fuss.
We have focussed on responsible drinking. The first item in our Community Safety Strategy is to Create a Safe and Enjoyable Late Evening economy. Drinking is fun, for most people most of the time. Drinking to excess causes problems and we held a very successful Community Safety conference which got all partners and representatives of the community (people from OB Neighbourhood Watch attended as well as the Chair of BF Parish Council). WE heard from young people and 20-somethings about novel ways of getting younger drinkers to ensure they reduce the risks they take when going out for a longer time to drink and ensure they get home safely. The medical message was also there strongly.
The police have had an excellent year in reducing overall crime slightly more than their target figure. Violent Crime has gone down in the City area by 30% this year alone. We are hoping and working to make sure that’s a permanent reduction and not just a fortunate downward blip.
I am also proud of the record of the Council last year in Social Inclusion.
We successfully implemented the Neighbourhod Warden Scheme in Highcliffe and Stanmore. There were 3 wardens and their manager and they’ve made a visible difference to the communities there. There’s less anti-social behaviour; less vandalism and graffiti and what does happen is cleared away quickly. The wardens engage with young people and sometimes even arrange for things they can do – such as football competitions in the summer holidays. They’re in this section on Social Inclusion, but they have a major impact on Community Safety too.
In Highcliffe, led by the Wardens, we implemented a Teen Shelter. For years – generations, kids had been hanging out in an area called “the Circle”. In previous generations, there was less on-street parking – fewer people had cars. Now the Circle is too congested to play and we had complaints of damage to vehicles and, when the residents remonstrated with the youths, they were confronted by foul and insulting language. This is now a thing of the past. The Teens have their own area and so far they are treating it with the respect it deserves. The wardens will make sure they keep it well.
We implemented the Alcohol Exclusion Zone in the City Centre and Orams Arbour. This removed all the on-street drinkers and drunks from the High Street and Abbey Gardens. Abbey Gardens is now a pleasant place to sit, relax and have sandwiches at lunchtime or sit and chat in the evening. There are no drunks there. We have had some displacement issues into the River Park area and we are now investigating what should be done about it.
I have had responsibilities for the development of new communities. There are three major ones in the City Council’s area; Whiteley, Knowle and the future major development of 2-3,000 houses West of Waterlooville. I took over the West of Waterlooville Forum which was in a very difficult situation. It’s a combined body for Havant members (Waterlooville is in Havant but the development area is in the Winchester District) and Winchester and County members to discuss the new community and I’m pleased to report that it was a success this year. We did all the things needed to plan for the new community and the developer, who until January had been rather truculent and not particularly cooperative has changed their project personnel and has come up with an imaginative and very appropriate design for the new community which I’m sure is an improvement.
In Health, we have continued to make progress involving many new initiatives and the overall partnership can claim to be ahead of the targets set for health improvement and avoidance of disease.
So I’m claiming that my portfolio has made significant improvements to the lot of the citizens of Winchester and therefore of Olivers Battery over the past year.
Other areas of the City Council’s work have also gone on. Planning and Development Control are important areas and we have seen earlier this year, the publication of our Local Plan. This was a success for Olivers Battery in that it ruled out for another 6 years any development in the fields to the south and east of Olivers Battery, rising towards Yew Hill. I am grateful for the support of many residents in writing to the Inspector to ensure he heard your voices in support of the City Council’s plan that that area should remain countryside and not be developed.
You will hear about waste disposal from David Baordman this evening, so I won’t go into that in this statement. We had a visit from East Hants District Council (which happens to have a Conservative administration) and from Eastleigh (Lib Dem) who both have a similar collection system and they both declared that our system was better than theirs. We have high hopes for improved recycling rates and less landfill.
There has been a multitude of individual case work issues for me and David Spender to attend to. I’m always pleased to be helpful to anyone.