Present: Anne Orange (chair), Michael Grimwood (note taker), James Slattery-Kavanagh, Gerry Slaughter, Simon Berlyn, Cllr Robert McConnell, Cllr John Whelan, Joe Ward, John MacDonald, Councillor Geraldine Evans, Richard Moore, Helen O'Brien, Romano Barca, Lesley Dingley, Khadiru Mahdi, Linda White, Paul Tobin,
Apologies: Gabrielle Garton Grimwood, Bernie Bullbrook, Jane Pickard, Jeremy Galloway, Jeremy Baker, Cllr Janet Grigg, Cllr John Whelan for late arrival.
1. It was resolved to send a card to Bernie Bullbrook who was ill in hospital.
2. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
2.1. Simon Berlyn mentioned that the name of John Brushe had been mis-spelled in the draft minutes. Councillor McConnell had sent apologies to the meeting. With those amendments the minutes were approved.
2.2. Anne Orange explained that, although he had not arrived, Michael Douglas, deputy to Michael Bridgeman, had arranged to attend for the agenda item on Chestnut Road traffic proposals. Councillor Whelan was subsequently able to explain that the proposals had been dropped by the new administration.
2.3. Linda White asked if the planning proposal by Big Yellow had been approved. Councillor McConnell said that, following appeal, it had been approved by the planning inspector. The approval was subject to certain conditions though not to the requirement the council had sought for simultaneous construction of the various elements. Councillor McConnell said he would bring copies of the inspector's report to the next NAG meeting. There would still be an opportunity to oppose the detailed designs for the site, though not the overall use. Romano Barca said that there was little to object to in what he had seen of the designs. Richard Moore asked that councillors ensure enforcement of the planning conditions imposed by the inspector, something the council had failed to do in the past.
2.4 Simon Berlyn said that at the previous meeting he had wanted to say more about the, as he saw it, chaos caused at Tulse Hill by the 68 bus route improvement works and about the risks to pedestrians. It was a disgraceful state of affairs with obscenely narrow pavements. The junction would be very dangerous for wheelchair users to negotiate. James Slattery-Kavanagh said that, while he respected Simon's point of view, he thought the unplanned roadworks in Elder Road were a more serious problem.
2.5 Gerry Slaughter noted the discussion on shop rents and rates and mentioned that shop rates in Norwood could be £4,000 to £5,000 per year. The Council ought to address this to help regeneration. Richard Moore said that business rates were set by central government, not the council. Romano Barca said that there were surveyors who could help businesses appeal against unfair rates. It was agreed that NAG should draw the attention of local businesses to the possibility of appeal and to the RICS list of surveyors. Linda White would check the RICS web-site for useful information.
2.6 Khadiru Mahdi said that there was to be a meeting of the business forum the following week to try to create a common agenda of concerns to take to the council. The Town Centre team's project officer had been writing to and ringing businesses about the meeting. John MacDonald said the company he worked for had not been approached and Richard Moore said he knew of businesses that had never been contacted.
3. St Luke's Gardens
3.1 Simon Berlyn reported that he had received confirmation that the funding agreed by the partnership board would be made available. Khadiru Mahdi confirmed this. Simon added that the last Steering Group meeting had come to the view that restoration of the railings round the gardens was important. The group had also agreed that, with a view to obtaining grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, it would be better if work on the gardens was linked to restoration of the building, especially the bath stone portico. Richard Moore expressed his thanks and congratulations to those involved in this partnership between NAG and the Church. Councillor McConnell provided a copy of a letter and the deed of conveyance of the memorial gardens.
4. NAG Gardens Competition
4.1. Anne Orange said that the small group meeting planned at the previous NAG meeting had yet to take place. John MacDonald had obtained promises of 8 prizes from local businesses, but he needed to be able to give them details of the competition. James Slattery-Kavanagh was ready to produce posters, when he knew to where the applications should be returned. Linda White mentioned that to encourage children to enter, tallest sunflower competitions worked well. Anne said the details would be sorted out shortly.
5. Chestnut Road
5.1 As there was no longer an issue to discuss concerning Chestnut Road, Gerry Slaughter raised the condition of Waylett Place, which was obstructed by dumped cars and by cars parked illegally by businesses. Councillor McConnell had inspected Waylett Place. He had found no wrecked vehicles on the car park but none of the vehicles were parked short-term and there was no parking enforcement. Romano Barca thought that crucial issue was safety - wrecked vehicles preventing emergency service access. Richard Moore offered to write to the Fire Brigade to ask if the viewed Waylett Place as a hazard, it was agreed that he should do so. John MacDonald said he would monitor vehicles parked the following Friday. He had been pursuing the issue for a year. The problem was vehicles abandoned by garages and the Council should establish a specialist team to deal with it. Romano added that he was aware of intimidation when those dumping had been reported. He asked whether garages could be required to register. Councillor McConnell agreed to seek legal advice on the point.
5.2 Councillor Whelan said that this was the beginning of a new Council administration. It was very important to highlight local issues as there was a new agenda. This would enable local issues to be tackled. The new Council was committed to sorting out environmental issues and was already making progress, for example he was sure that Kavanagh Motors would go. It was important to raise issues through ward councillors. Views from NAG would help the council prioritise. He added that the problem of dumped vehicles was Borough wide, was recognised and a strategy was needed to deal with it. If the issue was highlighted in NAG's minutes he would draw attention to it. In the new administration five councillors were focused on environmental issues. The administration was committed to making a difference and the acid test of its performance would be whether it did so.
5.3 Romano Barca said that simply publicising the intention to act might have some impact. He suggested Councillors report on Kavanagh and Waylett Place at the next NAG meeting. John MacDonald said that NAG had much to contribute but better communications from the council, with less spin, were essential. Honest responses, even if unwelcome, were required about when issues could be dealt with. Joe Ward said that it was essential to give clear messages to the Councillors about the issues, for example in Waylett Place the issue was not just the car park but also the access roads.
5.4 It was agreed that the June NAG Meeting should focus on identifying issues to draw to the Council's attention, Anne Orange said a useful starting point would be NAG's previous discussion of priorities. Simon Berlyn suggested circulating a resume of issues previously discussed with the agenda. John MacDonald agreed to produce a paper for the meeting. Joe Ward suggested it would be helpful if the papers could be circulated earlier than usual.
5.5. James Slattery-Kavanagh said that NAG had previously focused on championing some particular causes, perhaps this should change following the change of administration. At the next meeting NAG could develop a shopping list of small issues to be pursued, if there were successes in dealing with these it could generate new members. Many of these things might fall within the remit of the Town Centre Management team, but there might be issues of which the team was unaware. Paul Tobin thought NAG might have been perceived as just a talking shop, this was an opportunity to change that.
5.6. Romano Barca suggested NAG might create a re-active sub-committee of people constantly in the area. Anne Orange said that possible re-organisation could be discussed at the next meeting. It would be helpful if people brought lists of issues. The need for any reorganisation should be considered in the light of what issues NAG agreed to pursue. Councillor Evans said that it was valuable to have issues raised by full NAG meetings because Councillors attended the meetings.
6. Any other business
6.1. John MacDonald said that NAG should consider responding to a letter from the Chair of the Partnership Board, which had appeared in the South London Press. He circulated copies. He also raised the poor response by Council and police following a stabbing in Norwood Road, not picked up by CCTV as the cameras were not working.
He thought police should know when the cameras were to be turned off and make appropriate deployments of officers to cover the situation. It was agreed NAG should write to the camera operators to ask why they had not been working.
6.2 Simon Berlyn thought it right to formally record NAG's welcome and congratulations to those councillors recently elected or re-elected and to thank former councillor Tony Grayling.
6.3 Linda White raised an issue concerning the South London Theatre. They wanted assistance as they would like to have a direction sign on the information sign post near the station. It was agreed NAG should support this.