Agenda and draft minutes

Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC) - Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR

Contact: Janette Collier, Senior Democratic Services Officer  01205 314227 email:  janette.collier@boston.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

20.

APOLOGIES

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Alison Austin, Deborah Evans and Yvonne Stevens

21.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To sign and confirm the minutes of the last meeting, held on 21st August 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Committee’s last meeting, held on 21st August 2019, were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

22.

UPDATE ON ACTIONS FROM THE MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING

To report progress on outstanding actions from the minutes of the last meeting, for information only.

Minutes:

The Head of Place and Space updated the Committee as follows:

 

Action: Examine the software that details the locations on the ‘before and after photographs’ of the report on the work of the BTAC Operatives.

 

The IT section had been consulted and they advised that the GPS system could not always access the exact location for these photographs and simply defaulted to the nearest reference point available. 

 

Action: Report back on the light levels of the new CCTV cameras to be installed in Central Park and whether they would identify faces at night, and whether they would be multi-head cameras.

 

The improvement of the quality of images following the replacement of the cameras was clearly illustrated in the report on BTAC Assets – Tour of Open Spaces (Minute 28 refers).

 

Action: Report back on the requirements of insurance, training etc. if a volunteer group was to be formed to lock the gates of Central Park.

 

Initially, it was for the lead organiser to submit a list of volunteers and, if there were sufficient to cover opening and closure of the gates twice a day on a 365-day rota, this would be taken forward as soon as possible.

23.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

To receive declarations of interests in respect of any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor Stephen Woodliffe declared that, as he was a member of Blackfriars’ Arts Centre and had a link with the Centenary Chapel through the Church, he would not take part in the debate or vote on the BTAC Small Grants applications from those organisations (Minute 27 refers).

24.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

To answer any written questions received from members of the public no later than 5 p.m. two clear working days prior to the meeting – for this meeting the deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday 27th September 2019.

Minutes:

No questions had been submitted two clear working days prior to the meeting.

25.

PUBLIC SPEAKING TIME

To allow members of the public to address the Committee.

Minutes:

A member of the public addressed the Committee and asked a question, but was advised that if he gave his contact details he would receive an answer outside of the meeting.

 

Inspector Fran Harrod, Boston’s Policing Inspector, addressed the Committee.

 

Giving a general overview of policing activity in August 2019, the Committee heard that there had been 1,351 calls for the service, compared to 1,219 in August 2018, and 578 crimes had subsequently been recorded (not all calls related to crimes).  There had been a significant increase in the number of crimes reported online.  The top 5 crimes reported were assault without injury; assault with injury; shoplifting; public fear / alarm / distress; and general theft. 

 

Since May, work had been ongoing to deal with the public’s fear of crime, mainly relating to street drinking and public urination and defecation.  Officers had met with Community Safety Officers, who were key to this matter, and had revised their approach to street drinking.  In August 2019, 27 initial advice letters had been issued with respect to the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) following the successful confiscation of alcohol.  Part figures for September were that 11 initial advice letters had been issued, 3 cases had moved on to the warning letter and one had received a community protection warning.  If a person who had received the initial advice letter re-offended, the information would be fed back directly to the Council’s Community Safety team.  Not having an address was not a bar to receiving a warning.  The next step would be to issue a notice, but this was not a police procedure; it was a matter for the Community Safety team. 

 

Inspector Harrod hoped that this gave reassurance that the police focused on matters known to cause distress and that they were listening to the public.  A significant amount of work was ongoing to improve matters in the long-term and Councillors who had shadowed the police had been quite impressed. 

 

The Police and Crime Commissioner had recently visited the Council to address Members and had acknowledged the high level of the fear of crime in Boston and confirmed his intention to secure officers for Boston in the next recruitment uplift.  Work was ongoing with Boston College to try to ensure that more future officers were from the local area.

 

With respect to homelessness and begging, work was ongoing with respect to enforcement and also with offering help and assistance.

 

Inspector Harrod suggested that information on the 101 service could be presented to a future meeting if Members wished.  Members of the public who had complained about the service had been asked to provide screenshots, but as yet none had been received.

 

In response to questions, Inspector Harrod reported that the Chief Officer of Police was working towards securing 350-400 officers for Lincolnshire and to achieve the capacity to train them.  (There were no longer national police training colleges and each force had to carry out training itself, which was a daunting task.)  It was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

BTAC 2019/20 FINANCIAL POSITION UPDATE AS AT 31 AUGUST 2019 pdf icon PDF 107 KB

(A report by Tim Sampson, Accountancy Manager - Revenues & Systems)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Accountancy Manager - Revenues & Systems presented a report to members which provided an update to members on the BTAC financial position, showing the budge and projected outturn (full-year spend) for the 2019/20 year, and the project BTAC reserve at the year-end 31st March 2020. 

 

As an update, it was reported that the funds available for unallocated projects now stood at £86,000 and the forecasted closing balance on BTAC’s reserve monies was now £122,000.

 

Members queried the amount of £70,000 as the minimum to be held to allow for contingencies.  It was explained that this was the amount that the Section 151 Officer recommended as the minimum.

 

Action: PJ

An explanation for the reason for the amount set as minimum for contingencies to be included within the finance report to the next meeting.

27.

BTAC SMALL GRANT SCHEME pdf icon PDF 128 KB

(A report by Maddy Eyre, Local Communities Development Officer and BTAC Grant Administrator)

Minutes:

[Councillor Stephen Woodliffe withdrew to the public gallery and took no part in the debate or vote on the grant applications.]

 

The Local Communities Development Officer and BTAC Grant Administrator presented a report which set out the details of the applications received in the current round by the Small Grants Working Group in respect of applications received for the current round.

 

The Local Communities Development Officer and BTAC Grant Administrator presented a report, which set out the details of applications considered by the Small Grants Working Group received so far in the Municipal Year.

 

Normally, there would be four rounds of grant applications, but the first round had been delayed due to the May elections and had been amalgamated into the second round.  A sheet detailing the Working Group’s recommendations and suggested awards was circulated to the meeting.

 

In response to questions, it was explained that Singing For Fun was an over-50s Royal Voluntary Services project and the group had a professional teacher and sang in homes across Boston.  The East Lincolnshire Downs Syndrome Family Support Group had identified a need within Boston and developed an independent group. 

 

During Members’ debate, there was appreciation that the message about the grant scheme was getting across and resulting in a variety of applications.  The issue of increasing the grants budget was raised, as it would be unfortunate to have to refuse an application when the Committee had a £70,000 contingency in the budget and it was agreed that the budget be increased by £5,000. 

 

Some Members felt that it should be a requirement of grant applications that local contractors be used.  The Head of Place and Space explained that the Council’s Procurement Rules allowed for local business quotes.  In response to further calls that the grant applicants be restricted to using local contractors, the Chairman suggested that wording be included in the advice to applicants to use local contractors if possible. 

 

Action: ME

Add to BTAC Small Grants guidelines “Where reasonably possible, look to local businesses to carry out work”. 

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.    The Small Grants Working Group budget be increased by £5,000 in the current year.

 

2.    The recommendations of the Small Grant Working Group be endorsed as follows:

 

Applicant

Project

Amount requested

Suggested Award

Working Group recommendations

Willoughby Road Allotments

Installation of an electric supply at the allotments

£934.92

£934.92

Award the full amount requested.

1st Boston Scouts

Purchase camping equipment

£1,000

£1,000

Award the full amount requested.

Singing For Fun

Purchase small percussion instruments, music stands, branded scarves and ties, and contribute towards volunteer expenses and travel to performance venues.

£1,000

£1,000

Award the full amount requested.

Forbes Road Bowling Club

Repairing the fence at the Bowling Club site

£1,000

£800.00

To award a contribution to the cost of repairing the fence proportionate to the number of BTAC beneficiaries.

East Lincolnshire Downs Syndrome Family Support Group

Assist with one year’s rent at St Christopher’s Church

£620.00

£620.00

Award the full amount requested on the condition that they have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

BTAC ASSETS- TOUR OF OPEN SPACES pdf icon PDF 114 KB

(A report presented by Phil Perry, Head of Place and Space)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Place and Space presented an update from the BTAC public open spaces tour on 21st August 2019 following a request from Members. The update outlined matters which were raised during the tour in order to progress improvements and for consideration to be made for future developments.

 

Details of specific discussions held during the tour were included in Appendix A.  Appendix B showed images, which compared the quality of cameras before and after replacement.  Appendix C contained consultation responses that included a ‘wish list’ of further improvements requested by the consultees.

 

During the tour, Members were pleased with the progress of improvements already carried out on BTAC open spaces and felt these had made a significant contribution to improving the quality of those spaces provided in the town and that the plans discussed for further development would encourage greater, more positive use of public open spaces.

 

It was anticipated that a future report would be submitted to BTAC by the sub group to provide cost details in relation to those improvements identified for 2019/20.

 

In response to a question, it was explained that consideration had been given to selling the Pavilion building, but the fabric did not have value if deconstructed.  The building would be taken down in-house, which would be significantly less expensive, though it was still subject to obtaining the necessary planning permission and other considerations.  The planning application would need to go through the Planning Committee due to the size of the building.  

29.

REVIEW OF 2019/20 EVENTS AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020/21 EVENTS PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 219 KB

(A report by Phil Perry, Head of Place and Space)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

[Councillor Alistair Arundell declared that he organised part of the Boston Bike Night event and ran the bar and that he was the Portfolio Holder for Events, but was speaking at the meeting as a Member of BTAC.]

 

The Town Centre Services Manager presented a report which provided an update on the 2019/20 programme for the Committee to note and options for a planned events programme for the 2020/21 financial year.  The report included budgeted financial breakdowns covering both financial years, to support the Committee in its deliberations.

 

The Town Centre Services Manager reported that the events during 2019/20 had been fantastic once again.  An additional document was circulated to the meeting with photographs illustrating the successful events held during the year.  The events had been funded by BTAC and the Boston Big Local and catered for the whole family.  The Events Team and Safety Advisory Group had also provided advice and support to a number of events within Boston run by external providers, which provided a more varied programme for Boston residents and drew more visitors into the town. 

 

The report then set out three options for Members’ consideration for delivering an events programme during 2020/21.  It was pointed out that the Christmas Market and Lights Switch-On event had been developed and fully funded through the Controlling Migration Fund programme, but that this funding was coming to an end during 2019/20 and would add cost to the events programme going forward. 

 

The three options, all of which included the Christmas Market and Lights Switch-On event, were set out as follows:

 

·         Option One: incorporates some larger scale events in addition to the existing community based events.  This option aims to keep all the free community events, which people have enjoyed this year but adds/combines some of the existing larger scale events, some of which would have or could have a charge on entry.  A major cost for the 2020/21 budget is the return of the Christmas Market & Lights Switch on event (not including the provision of lights) within the budget, which has recently been funded through Controlling Migration Funding.  Option one, would cost BTAC an additional £27,000 for the 2020/21 financial year and a detailed breakdown of this programme is appended (Appendix B).

 

·         Option Two: focuses on larger scale events within the BTAC funded events programme with a more limited programme of smaller scale community focussed events delivered principally through the BBL funding stream. This option could be delivered with an additional £12,000 for the 2020/21 financial year as shown in Appendix C.

 

·         Option Three: retains the existing BTAC budget at £41,500 and the programme is reduced to retain current spending as shown in Appendix D, again this option focuses on larger scale events within the BTAC funded event programme, and a limited programme of smaller scale events funded entirely through the BBL funding. 

 

It was noted that two events identified within all options had already been committed to for 2020 – a Teenage Market and a Through the Ages  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

UPDATE ON TOWN CENTRE OPERATIVES ACTIVITY pdf icon PDF 121 KB

(A report presented by Phil Perry, Head of Place and Space)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

With the Chairman’s permission, the Leader of the Council addressed the Committee on a matter of urgency.  Having taken the decision, in liaison with the Chairman, to keep the town’s public toilets open overnight on a 3-month trial basis, starting on 2nd September, with the Council to pay for the costs, the Leader reported the substantial damage that had since been inflicted on the facilities.  The decision had been taken in response to calls for the facilities to be available to reduce incidents of urination and defecation during the night.  As there had been no evidence of any reduction in such incidents during this period, the Leader asked for the Committee’s views on whether this trial should be terminated early, as considerable costs would be incurred if it was run for the entire 3 months.  Furthermore, the toilets were mainly for daytime use and it was reasonable for people to expect them to be in good working order. 

 

The Leader read out some of the details of the vandalism and costs.  A breakdown of the costs incurred so far had been shown to the Chairman and could be e-mailed to BTAC Members.  The damage was primarily to the Central Park toilets and drug paraphernalia was also left there, a health and safety risk in itself.  The Leader accepted that the trial could continue for the full 3 months if the Committee wished to have more data, but stressed the costs, health risks and facilities not being usable for the majority accessing the toilets during the day. 

 

During debate, there was a view that the trial should end immediately in order to prevent the waste of public money and protect the Council’s assets, which the Committee maintained and  that opening the toilets at night did not address problems of urination and anti-social behaviour. 

 

In response to an assertion that problems of vandalism etc. had been occurring when the toilets opened at their normal early-morning opening time, the Leader confirmed that the number of incidents occurring had dramatically increased since the facilities were left open overnight and had done so as soon as the overnight opening had commenced.  More innovative solutions to the problems referred to could be considered instead, though even if the vandalism and anti-social behaviour had not occurred, the 24-hour opening had not reduced incidents of urination and defecation so it would be difficult to substantiate the cost of, for example, anti-vandal toilets and how this would be funded.  Solutions working in other areas could be explored. 

 

Another view expressed was that the full trial period should, perhaps, be considered, particularly as the trial was started in response to issues raised at a meeting called by the public, so that the evidence was clear that the trial was not working.  Members then went on to discuss concerns about rough-sleeping, highlighted by one facility being used overnight for this purpose.  

 

Members discussed possible options.  As mentioned by the Chief Inspector, people congregated in Central Park; therefore, the other two  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 122 KB

(The Committee’s work programme for the current year for discussion and/or updating.)

Minutes:

The Chairman suggested Members e-mail him with details of an any other items for future agendas.