Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access
Contact: Mark Beeley 01628 796345 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Catherine Griffiths, Councillor Baldwin and Councillor Taylor.
Councillor Bond and Councillor Davey were attending the meeting as substitutes.
To receive any declarations of interest.
There were no declarations of interest received.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 8th July 2021.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 8th July 2021 were approved.
The Chairman opened the meeting with an update on contractors Tivoli, who were responsible for cutting the grass and maintaining public spaces across the borough. Operations had been affected across the country but the performance of the contractors had been unacceptable. The contract would be brought to Overview and Scrutiny by Members and the item could be discussed in detail there.
Councillor Clark gave an update on the work on King Street which had started that day. The work taking place was not in synch with the communications which had gone out to residents the previous week. A section of King Street was closed off, Councillor Clark had inspected the site and would be raising it with officers as soon as possible.
Councillor Singh said that he had been alerted to the work that morning, it was an urgent issue and was impacting on businesses in the area and their access to fire exits. He requested to meet Councillor Clark at the site to discuss the issue.
Councillor Clark said that there was open access to fire exits, they were clear and the work did not impede them. The walkway was the issue, he would pick up the issue the next day.
Thames Valley Police Update
To receive an update from Thames Valley Police on crime around Maidenhead.
Jeff Pick, Thames Valley Police, explained that he had circulated the latest crime stats to the Forum in advance of the meeting. There had been lots of cars being left unlocked, which made them easy targets. A brand new electric Jaguar had been stolen and tracked to Staines, where it disappeared. A stolen Land Rover was also tracked to Staines before it disappeared. Jeff Pick would be working with Susy Shearer and the Windsor and Maidenhead Cycle Forum to do some work on preventing bike thefts.
Councillor G Jones asked if there were any stats for crimes that had been solved or concluded.
Jeff Pick explained that the way crimes were recorded made it difficult to provide a figure. Crimes could only be concluded if an individual was charged, but this could take months and court convictions could be up to a year down the line.
Councillor Bhangra said that there had been a number of car thefts in Boyne Hill and asked what the police were doing to prevent this from happening. He said that a resident had been unable to report an attempted burglary to Thames Valley Police.
Jeff Pick said that he was helping to run a number of crime prevention evenings across the borough. Many thieves had been using relay boosters to steal cars and video doorbells could be used to capture important footage.
Councillor Bond said that the council had recently been consulting on an Active Travel plan but there had been a worrying increase in bike thefts. He was surprised that there were bike thefts reported outside David Lloyd leisure centre in King Street, as this was a busy area.
Jeff Pick explained that thieves would put their backpack on the bike and rummage through the cables which helped to disguise what they were doing. The police were unsure of what the stolen bikes were used for. A leaflet had been produced which showed how to lock up a bike safely and securely.
Councillor Davey asked if Members of the Forum could receive a copy of the leaflet so that they could distribute it to residents and raise awareness.
ACTION – Clerk to distribute a copy of the leaflet to Members of the Forum.
Councillor Davey asked what the issue was with Jaguar cars that were being targeted.
Jeff Pick explained that thieves were using relays which allowed them to boost key fob signals and steal cars. Other car makers had security features that made this more difficult, for example, Tesla required a card to be inserted into the car or it was locked at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. It was recommended that key fobs were kept in a Faraday cage to block the signal. Experiments showed that the key fob signals could travel quite far so this was important. The police were investigating where cars went after they were stolen.
Councillor G Jones asked if the police had used a tracker bike as a decoy for bike thefts.
To hear an update on the work of community wardens around the town centre.
Andy Aldridge, Community Safety Manager, explained that the new warden scheme had gone live on 1st June 2021 and was primarily focussed on four key areas:
· Anti-social behaviour and reassurance
· Enforcement and operations
· Crime prevention
· Community engagement
Andy Aldridge discussed an example of some good work that the community wardens had recently undertaken, where a rough sleeper had been found in the recent floods. The community wardens gained the rough sleepers trust and he was now living self-sufficiently in a flat which had been provided, following a link onto the Rough Sleeper Pathway. There had been an increase in anti-social behaviour within car parks, there had been a 35% rise in calls focussed on the Nicholsons Shopping Centre car park. This mostly consisted of young people on mopeds and skateboards causing issues, but they still needed to be targeted using wardens resources. Knife sweeps in parks around the town had also taken place, with two weapons being found in Grenfell and Kidwells parks. The warden team had planned their operations, with dog fouling being a particular focus. The team had spoken to over 200 dog walkers, with a lot of them being responsible.
Over the summer months, there had been a lot of work done around river safety with new signs being introduced. Having multiple landowners along stretches of river often made it difficult to gain permission, but it was important people were aware of the dangers of jumping into cold water. The wardens were making sure that contractors were held to account with the CCTV and that all cameras were working effectively. Generally, there was excellent CCTV coverage across the borough but new buildings could sometimes impede this coverage.
The night time economy had been very busy in Maidenhead after the reopening of bars and clubs. Violence had increased but the wardens had been working extensively with Jeff Pick and Thames Valley Police to help deal with this. Violence reduction should be a priority and the warden team were looking to employ a violence reduction officer.
Councillor Stimson said that the wardens made a significant contribution to Maidenhead and she thanked the team for all their work and successes. She said that the skatepark in Kidwells park was causing issues as it was being used overnight, which created noise for nearby neighbours.
Andy Aldridge agreed that it was an issue that had been going on for a while. A fence of some sort could be needed to stop the park being used at night. Kidwells Park was a focus point for the wardens team, with the neighbourhood team working until midnight. Andy Aldridge encouraged residents to report any issues to the team so that they could be logged, each time an issue was raised it would add to the data and create a more compelling case to change things.
Councillor Davey suggested that it would be good to have Andy Aldridge also attend Windsor Town Forum to provide an update on the work of the wardens. He asked ... view the full minutes text for item 127.
To receive an update on parking in Maidenhead.
This agenda item was deferred to the next meeting in November, so that the Cabinet Member for Parking, Councillor Cannon, could attend the meeting.
To receive an update on various items of interest in Maidenhead.
Steph James, Service Lead for Economic Growth, explained that footfall in Maidenhead had started to recover. There was a lack of office workers in the town centre at the moment with footfall still 30% down on pre-pandemic levels but this was a similar picture across the country. There were 53 empty premises, which was up 18 on last year. Five units on King Street would be lost due to the redevelopment, while other closures were due to national brands choosing to vacate. Car parking across the town was still down, with surface level car parks still proving to be the most popular.
There had been a number of events taking place recently which were worth highlighting. Norden Farm had hosted a kite festival which had over 1,000 attendees. Maidenhead Waterways was hosting a fun day on 25th September, while the Christmas light switch on would take place at the end of November. Development of the Landings site was also planned to start soon. There was a significant amount of investment in Maidenhead which was very positive. The new Maidenhead Town Manager would be starting this week and they had already been involved with lots of events.
Councillor G Jones commented on parking spaces and that a number had changed from open to disabled only bays, this was detrimental to encouraging people to visit the town centre. He asked if there were any special plans for the Queens Platinum Jubilee next year.
Steph James said that the disabled bays were put in to cover for the loss of parking elsewhere. A working group had been set up to consider how Maidenhead and the borough could help celebrate the Jubilee next year. She was happy to pass any ideas Members had onto the working group.
Doug Watts believed that the decline with parking started when the advantage card was discontinued. The old ‘Three’ building by the station was offering parking for £1. Regarding the Waterways, it was only possible to travel up to the weir and Doug Watts asked what would be done about that. Parking on Providence Place had been changed so that the bays had been changed to disabled bays, this prevented people being picked up from Sainsburys with their shopping.
Steph James confirmed she had seen the £1 parking that was being offered, which gave residents a choice of where to park. The Waterways group were responsible for maintaining the Waterways so it would be best to speak to them to see what they could do. Steph James said that she would pass on the comments on parking in Providence Place to the parking team.
Councillor Bhangra said that it was good to hear that footfall had been increasing. He had attended the kite festival which had been a big success.
Councillor McWilliams said it was good to hear that investment was coming into Maidenhead. He said it would be good to understand the project that was taking place to develop the Landings site. Councillor McWilliams asked what ... view the full minutes text for item 129.
To receive an update on the progression of the Borough Local Plan.
Ian Motuel, Planning Policy Manager, explained that the Borough Local Plan (BLP) was part of the wider regeneration which was taking place in Maidenhead. There had been a hearing on the BLP late last year, following which the inspector published their post hearing advice note. This contained the modifications which were needed to the BLP. The main modifications were incorporated into the plan, with a recent consultation on the changes from July to September which lasted around 7 weeks. Officers were currently reviewing the responses received in the consultation and these would be passed on to the inspector. Around 100 responses had been received from around 300 individuals. The inspector would review the responses and then determine if any further changes to the BLP were needed before the final report was published. Ian Motuel was confident that the inspector would find that the BLP was sound, with the plan for the BLP to be taken to Full Council by the end of the year with the recommendation that the BLP was adopted.
Councillor McWilliams said that the BLP set out clear housing targets. He asked what it would mean for housing delivery targets.
Ian Motuel said that once the BLP was adopted, there was expected to be a rapid increase in the delivery of housing across the borough. There was currently a big need for family housing.
Councillor Stimson asked how quickly the sustainability SPDs (Supplementary Planning Documents) could be in place.
Ian Motuel explained that the interim sustainability statement was in place but more was needed. The council wanted to see more sustainable development coming forward.
Councillor Davey said that one SPD which kept getting pushed back was parking and it had last been reviewed in 2004. The inspector would like to see more solid figures in the BLP and Councillor Davey asked if the council was progressing the parking SPD.
Ian Motuel said that he was not involved with the parking SPD but work was ongoing and was progressing. It was hoped that this would be available soon.
The Chairman asked for clarification on if the inspector was expecting to see a new policy on parking.
Ian Motuel confirmed that they were not, but some changes had been made by the inspector to the policy on parking.
Doug Watts commented on a number of offices around Maidenhead being turned into flats. He asked if the figure which had been reported on which the golf course would relinquish the land was correct. Doug Watts asked for confirmation that any development would not affect the woods and wildlife already at the site.
Ian Motuel said that he was not involved and could not comment on the negotiations that the council had had with the golf club. The inspector had not raised any concerns on this allocation and the area contained a number of requirements for biodiversity and open space so there were safeguards in place. With regard to the loss of offices, the government had introduced permitted development initiatives that ... view the full minutes text for item 130.
Item Suggestions for Future Forums
The Forum is invited to make suggestions for future meetings.
Councillor McWilliams suggested inviting the developers of the Hub site to discuss their application. Another suggestion was for the new Managing Director of the RBWM Property Company to explain the relationship the council had with the property company.
Councillor Singh said there should be an item discussing a night time levy and extend the invitation to Maidenhead Pub Watch.
Councillor McWilliams clarified that there was no mention of a levy being brought in, the discussion earlier in the meeting had asked for Andy Aldridge’s opinion on the levy.
The Chairman said that if a levy was to be proposed, it would be useful to have it discussed at the Town Forum.
Dates of Future Meetings
All future meetings to be held on the following dates (at 6.15pm):
· Thursday 11th November 2021
· Tuesday 11th January 2022
· Thursday 17th March 2022
· Thursday 12th May 2022
The next meeting would take place on Thursday 11th November 2021, starting at 6.15pm.