Present: Anne Orange (Chair), Michael Grimwood (Secretary, note taker), Helen O'Brien, Jane Pickard, Gabrielle Garton Grimwood, John MacDonald, James Slattery-Kavanagh, Pat Fisher, Joe Ward, Anne Ridley, Graham Fearon Wilson, Gerald Slaughter, Simon Berlyn, Richard Moore, Councillor Tony Grayling, Jeremy Baker, Rod Brown, Heidi Nicholson
Apologies: Daphne Slaughter, Councillor Robert McConnell, Councillor John Whelan
Minutes and Matters Arising from Previous Meeting
1. Michael Grimwood said that the list of prizes for the Garden Competition should have included a further bouquet donated by the Floral Hall which was given to Nickie Philbin. With this amendment the minutes were approved.
2. Simon Berlyn said he had attempted to send his apologies, but the person by whom he sent them had not attended the meeting. Anne Orange said that she had not yet written the letter agreed at item 10.
3. John MacDonald said that Waylett place had been improved but the parking area was now surrounded by a fence and permanently locked gate, with no notice to say what was happening. James Slattery-Kavanagh said that the provision of parking on Waylett Place had been compensatory provision when parking restrictions were imposed on Norwood Road. It was unacceptable for it to be lost. It was agreed that Rod Brown would write to the council parking officer (Leo Ward) to find out what was happening to Waylett Place.
4. John MacDonald said that the CCTV camera at Hannen Road had still not been repaired, 4 months had now passed since it had been damaged by a bus. Lights were also missing. John had complained to all the ward councillors and to council officers. Richard Moore suggested a question about this matter should be put to the council Scrutiny Committee and he provided a copy of the necessary form. It was agreed that the question should cover the camera, the lighting and whether the Council was providing for maintenance of the CCTV cameras. Councillor Tony Grayling would also query the position and copy his letter to NAG.
St Luke's Gardens
5. Anne Orange reported on the first meeting of the project group which had taken place in December. Luke Wickings had been elected Chair. The group had talked through the ideas of all members and considered possible visions for the future. They had decided to find out more about the work on previous proposals for the gardens to help identify what people had wanted. The group was also moving ahead with a link to the University of Greenwich. Students would be able to produce a range of possible designs. The group would next meet on 15 January.
6. Gerry Slaughter asked if the council "Gateway" scheme was definitely dead. Anne Orange, Richard Moore, Jane Pickard and Councillor Grayling confirmed that it was. The ring-fenced money had not been carried over into 2001/02. James Slattery-Kavanagh asked if minutes from the group could be placed on the Virtual Norwood web-site. Simon Berlyn said that he was secretary to the group. He had drafted minutes of the meeting and an agenda for the next meeting and these were with the Chair. Simon would be happy to channel any ideas about the project from NAG members through to the steering group. Anne said that after Steering Group meetings information would be passed to James.
7. John MacDonald asked if the council had given the group information gathered by consultants for the Gateway scheme. Jane Pickard said she had an electronic copy of the consultants report and would take copies to the next steering group meeting. Jane had also, at Simon's request, asked Asit, the Town Centre Manager, about accessing the funding agreed by the Norwood Board for St Luke's Gardens this financial year (one of 5 grants of £2000 from the environmental budget which the Board had had to distribute). Asit had sent off the necessary forms and was waiting to hear. Anne Orange said the January steering group meeting would consider how to spend the money and she would give an update at NAG's February meeting.
8. Michael Grimwood said that only half a dozen of the forms asking for views on priorities had been returned to him. James Slattery-Kavanagh said that NAG's visibility was an issue, it was important to give NAG a profile. John MacDonald thought it had been agreed that NAG should not clash with what the Town Centre Board was doing. Jane Pickard said the Board had town centre regeneration and environmental issues quite well covered. Transport was not much addressed by the Board, which was more focused on matters for which the council had responsibility. Improving east-west bus routes might be one issue. Other things NAG might pursue could include improvements to the Christmas lights or the future of the Old Library.
9. Rod Brown said that on transport it seemed the Thameslink 2000 proposals might not proceed, the responsibility might be transferred to Transport for London. Councillor Grayling said that it might be worth waiting for two important developments before agreeing further action: the Inspectors report on Thameslink 2000; and the Governments decision on the future of Railtrack.
10. Jeremy Baker said that tree planting ought to be an issue for NAG. Simon Berlyn said he was concerned about the apparent difficulty of getting small things done locally eg lighting improvements or repairs to pavements or road surfaces. Gerry Slaughter said that at a recent Neighbourhood Watch meeting police officers had said that on such issues organisations, like NAG, were more likely to be listened to than individuals. Gabrielle Garton Grimwood said she thought NAG had agreed to focus on wider strategic issues rather than individual niggles.
11. Joe Ward didn't think it would be right for NAG to assume that it should not take an interest in an issue just because the Board did. James Slattery Kavanagh did not think it required much in depth consideration to identify issues to pursue, nor was it necessary to spend time discussing procedures. Richard Moore said NAG should pick several issues to pursue but should look at how to improve its finances, eg to support surveys. It might also look to making links with other groups. There were various sources of funding. Graham Fearon Wilson said that NAG was not completely broke and that, as Treasurer, he would provide a report to the next meeting.
12 Anne Orange identified the issues on which members views had been invited, or which had been raised subsequently as:
Gardens Competition - NAG's own initiative.
Parking - a subject on which NAG could certainly raise concerns.
Safety -- a subject on which NAG could certainly raise concerns.
Transport - on which NAG ought to be more pro-active, buses being a particular concern.
Environment - pursued by the Board, but there would still be issues for NAG.
Old Library - Graham Fearon Wilson observed that it had not been possible to achieve much on this in the past. Gabrielle Garton Grimwood thought there might be a chance to seize the initiative following the collapse of the Council's youth survey. Councillor Grayling said things were happening, West Norwood Community Development now had offices in the building and the Town Centre Manager was chairing a group linked to the library. The new survey would cover wider community needs and views. Jane Pickard agreed to report the position to the next NAG meeting.
Anne summarised the position as being that all the items were important to NAG.
Any Other Business
13. Jane Pickard said NAG ought to agree to nominate a candidate to stand for the Board as one of the community group representatives at the elections later in the month. Rod Brown who was NAG's representative on the present Board indicated that he was prepared to stand again. John MacDonald asked Rod what he had achieved for NAG on the Board. Rod had attended the Board's meetings and, had he been asked to by NAG, would have raised any NAG concerns on matters before the Board. John thought this indicated that NAG needed to be better at identifying issues for its representative to raise or comment on. Jane pointed out that Rod had chaired the Board's Transport sub-group. James Slattery Kavanagh suggested a show of hands to indicate support for Rod standing again for the Board as NAG representative. Members present were unanimously in favour of Rod.
14 Richard Moore tabled for discussion a copy of a paper from the Town Centre Manager to the Council on the work of the Board and Forum. Jane Pickard explained that the report was intended to be an overview, prepared by the Town Centre Manager in consultation with her, not fully detailed account and that she would have an opportunity to speak on it to the Council.
15. John MacDonald was concerned by lack of consultation about the report and because it covered things not discussed at the Forum. Jane Pickard said that the more frequent meetings of the Board meant it discussed more issues than the Forum. Gabrielle Garton Grimwood said that as Board vice-chair she had also seen and commented on the report, which was being made to the Council by an officer. Much of the material was quite old. She did have some concerns, for example about the recommendation in respect of a secondary school. Simon Berlyn said there was a perceived need for a school. Gabrielle said that that was precisely the point. The idea needed investigation to establish evidence, not simply perception, of both need and of community support for a new school.
16. Richard Moore said he thought the report gave a misleading and rather rosy picture of the area - this provoked general disagreement. James Slattery Kavanagh thought the reference to Norwood Eye as a popular way of keeping people informed was incorrect - the readership was much smaller than that reached by the Virtual Norwood website - and this reflected a rather superficial feel to the report as a whole. Simon Berlyn was concerned by references to land assembly, wondering if it implied the council would be pursuing the idea of a supermarket in West Norwood. Jane Pickard said the Council's powers in this respect were mentioned because their use was one of the limited things the Council could do to support regeneration.
17. Richard Moore said he had been advised by Councillors Whelan and McConnell that stakeholders, such as NAG, could make representations to the Council about the report. He thought NAG should ask to be heard at the meeting when the report was presented. Anne Orange wondered why the report had had to be produced quickly without consultation. Jane Pickard did not know why this had been the case. Michael Grimwood suggested that the issues about the process by which the report had been produced - the short timescale and lack of consultation - were really matters for the Board, which NAG could ask Rod Brown to raise at the Board. On the other hand, it was difficult to see any reason why NAG would want to do anything other than agree with recommendations 1 and 2 of the report which seemed to be precisely aligned with what NAG wanted to achieve.
18. Jane Pickard said she would try to convey the flavour of the debate in NAG to the Council. Michael Grimwood proposed that Rod Brown should be mandated to raise NAG's concerns about the way the report had been produced at the next Board meeting, particularly the concern that the report and recommendations had not been considered and approved by the whole Board, or by the Forum. This proposal was carried with none against
19. Helen O'Brien that she would not be distributing copies of papers to members who had not renewed their subscriptions.