Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Windsor. View directions
Contact: Wendy Binmore 01628 796251
Apologies for Absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillor S. Rayner.
To receive any Declarations of Interest.
To confirm the Part I minutes from the previous meeting.
The Chairman went through the actions arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.
Parking for veterans during civic events – The Civic Team Manager confirmed that he had investigate other potential areas for veterans to park that were very near to civic events in the Town Centre but, other than Windsor Library which had very limited parking, there were no other sites that were suitable for veterans to use for parking. The Civic Team Manager would continue to seek suitable parking sites and if any became available, he would inform the relevant veterans.
Construction Management Plan for York House – The Property Service Lead confirmed the plan was in the public domain and was available on the council’s Planning Portal for that application.
RBWM Residents using Chalvey Tip – it was confirmed that residents could continue to use the Chalvey Tip without charge if they presented their Advantage Card.
High Street Clock – the Town Manager confirmed the clock was meant to be reconnected but, it had not taken place as yet. He expected the clock to be reconnected imminently.
The old Fenwicks Site – the Property Service Lead confirmed he had a meeting with the management company who had informed him that the area around Fenwicks had been tidied up some weeks ago. The Town Manager said he would have a walk round the area and make sure there was nothing that could be improved.
Terms of Reference for the Windsor Town Forum – Helen Price requested the Terms of Reference which makes up part of the Constitution on the Windsor Town Forum be consulted on to increase the number of times the Forum met each year and to make the Forum more consultative with more input from residents and attendees. It was noted that Parishes had been invited to attend Neighbourhood Plan group discussions but, attendees of the Windsor Town Forum had not been invited to attend those discussions. The Chairman confirmed he would speak to the Lead Member and find out how residents could be more included and involved in amending the constitution for the Forum.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 October 2017 be approved.
Windsor Riverside Update
To receive an update on the Windsor Riverside area.
The Property Service Lead had invited representatives from GL Hearn to address the Forum. They highlighted the following key points:
Ø GL Hearn were approached by RBWM in 2017 to undertake a feasibility study to look at options for the Riverside area
Ø They had a remit to expand how the area and integration between areas could be improved.
Ø The consultant team undertook fact finding which then moved on to a consultation phase
Ø The team were now moving on to looking at possible options which included looking at planning development and the heritage aspects of the Town.
Ø They understood the local economy, property market dynamics and movements such as foot, car, rail and cycling.
Ø Windsor had many historic assets which needed to be thought about sensitively.
Ø The BLP was progressing and there were issues such as housing pressure and local environmental issues that were being examined.
Ø There was a lot of room for improvement in the public realm of the town centre for residents and visitors.
Ø The Town as a whole had a volume of surface parking which faced pressures as there was not enough.
Ø The Windsor Link Railway was an emerging option
Ø A draft report was being provided to the Council
Ø The team had met with a lot of Councillors, local groups, land owners and partners for the consultation to take place
Ø They had engaged with Forums and Neighbourhood Plan groups and businesses in order to get a clearer picture of the wider objectives
Ø Issues raised included:
o Parking – all groups said the issue was fundamental to how the Town Centre worked
o Many groups highlighted the importance of the coach park but queried whether it was in the right place
o Movement – there was a real sense of clear improvement to the public realm but there could be better wayfinding with pedestrian and cycle connections and opportunities to improve those.
o Visitor experience – needed to widen the appeal of the Town Centre and lengthen visitors’ stay and increase their spend
o Opportunities for new Riverside activities were raised by groups
o Stakeholders raised issues with car parks by the river – they should be a priority
o Urban and public realm – flagged wider green element to increase experiences; Alexander Gardens could be improved. The Urban Real had historic assets so would need to have a good heritage strategy
o The role of Eton in the wider offer should be considered as part of the Riverside strategy
Ø There was a merging set of objectives and the team were using them to guide their thinking around a range of options which would be discussed with Councillors
Ø Any changes needed to support and diversify the Town and work for residents, businesses and visitors.
Ø Overall, the team wanted to enhance the experience for anyone visiting Alexander Gardens
The Chairman started he was glad that lots of groups had been consulted. There was a ... view the full minutes text for item 69.
Night Time economy / violent crime
Thames Valley Police’s Neighbourhood Inspector gave a brief overview on the issues of the Night Time Economy (NTE) and violent crime in Windsor. The main points highlighted were:
Ø Thames Valley Police (TVP) had embarked on a full review of the NTE and a meeting was scheduled to establish safety hubs so that violence resulting from the NTE had a multi-agency hub to tackle issues.
Ø The Neighbourhood Inspector reviewed all crim that went on and there were long term objectives to improve staffing levels and to make Windsor a safer environment
Ø She attended meetings which address Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) which occurred in Victoria Street Car Park.
Helen Price said rapes and a murder had occurred more recently which had been very disconcerting; she therefore, did not use car parks at night. Young people were using taxis to get home late at night instead of taking a very short walk home, because they did not feel safe to do so. Helen Price wanted reassurance that violent crimes were one-offs and that people could feel safe walking at night. The Neighbourhood Inspector stated that the murder as a one-off event, and although there had been a number of sexual assaults, some of those had resulted in prosecution; although sadly, others had not. After each case, she reviewed how that area had been policed and to see if any improvements could be made.
The Neighbourhood Inspector stated she acknowledged there had been a number of incidents in a short time frame but, there had been no significant incidents of violence in the last month. She assured the Forum that every incident was investigated thoroughly and measures were put in place each time to improve safety during peak times between 1am and 4am.
Helen Price mentioned that the Street Angels played a role during the NTE. The Neighbourhood Inspector stated they were looking to extend their role and had recruited 26 volunteers. They currently worked Fridays and payday weekends and were looking to merge with the Safety Hubs; they also interact with Ascot race goers during Ascot week looking after approximately 4,000 people. Their service was vital.
Councillor E. Wilson said the Council was about to finish its LED lighting programme. At that point, it would be useful to review how the lights were working to reduce crime or the fear of crime. He wanted to identify if the lights had made any difference. The Neighbourhood Inspector stated audits of street lighting were conducted. During the NTE, if lights were not working, they would be reported to make areas safer. The police did look at lighting in locations to see if it could prevent crime but, she was unable to tell the Forum if the new LEDs had reduced crime. Councillor Da Costa said some street lights had been in the same place for a long time. The Neighbourhood Inspector responded auditing was carried out to see if lighting was in the right place. It was part of that the Police did ... view the full minutes text for item 70.
To discuss the results of the most recent Visitor Survey.
The Chairman asked Julia White, Visitor Manager, what happed to all the data and statistics collected. The Visitor Manager confirmed the team had 10 years’ worth of economic impact data which was used to inform their three year plan and formed the basis of their strategies. She added as there was no marketing budget the team had to work with business partners, such as hotels and transport partners to achieve the action plan objectives. They worked together to create overnight stay package deals and had an accommodation booking service with an online shop to sell tickets for attractions and events.
Councillor E. Wilson stated people came from London and the Home Counties to see the castle, a few stayed over and then leave. He wanted to encourage visitors to stay and enquired if there were any deals on parking as it was difficult to park in the Town and could be expensive. The Visitor Manager stated there was not the budget to get in-depth qualitative data, all the team was able to do was push the positive message of what was on offer and publicise the next big event that was due to take place in the Town. Councillor Alexander stated Windsor Racecourse used the data compiled by the Visitor Management Team in order to obtain planning permission for their proposed hotel.
The Visitor Manager confirmed the number of visitors to the Town had increased; however, the figures were usually a year in arrears. She thought there was a decline in day visitors but a rise in staying visitors but, the methodology of how figures were collected had changed last year so it was not possible to make an accurate comparison.
Councillor Bowden stated the Town was in competition with several sites. Windsor was essentially day visits driven by ongoing royal events. He added he had seen a document somewhere describing Windsor as London’s country estate. The Visitor Manager confirmed her team had been using that to position Windsor as a place to visit to the Greater London and international audience. Councillor Bicknell queried if day visitors were repeat visitors as that made Windsor tourism more sustainable. The Visitor Manager confirmed the Borough as a whole received 7.5m visitors per year and a large proportion were repeat visitors. The figures were skewed a little by nearby catchments for shopping and dining.
Councillor Bhatti stated social media posting accounted for two per cent of visitors. The Visitor Manager said the team were new to social media and were still learning. Their following on social media was growing and they had set up profiles on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The two per cent were made up of people aged 16–35 years but, they were also seeing an increase in more family groups. The team were talking to partners about how to best market the Town as a family focused destination. There had also been discussions about whether or not there was a gap in provision for older children and teenagers.
Michael, a ... view the full minutes text for item 71.
Highways to show what has been agreed following resident feedback.
David Scott, Head of Communities, Enforcement & Partnerships, gave a brief verbal update on the new plans for the roundabout at Stovell Road by the leisure centre. He stated the scheme was designed and the contractors were already on site to make the trial roundabout a permanent feature. There would be a zebra crossing to the left of the roundabout on the relief road side of the road. The Chairman said he had received a lot of feedback regarding the new roundabout and all of it had been very positive.
Royal Wedding arrangements
To discuss the arrangements being put in place for the Royal Wedding.
The Chairman stated that the capital programme of works that were planned for Windsor Town Centre had been brought forward to be completed in time for the Royal Wedding. Andrew Scott, Civic Team Manager, explained the civic team were working with partners following the announcement of the wedding in December 2017. So far, only the time of the wedding and the procession route had been revealed and so arrangements were in their infancy at that point. In order to make sure visitors were looked after, the team had been working with rail companies to ensure there were enough train carriages and more trains running during the event. Temporary car parks were to be introduced to help with parking and the team would manage people along the route so that they were in a safe environment. The Civic Manager added he was working with the police to ensure the day ran smoothly and was also working with neighbouring authorities to ensure all traffic was managed.
Councillor Bowden stated he noticed scaffolding was being erected in the Town and hoped it would be removed in time for the wedding. The Civic Team Manager said he would ask contractors to move the scaffolding but, he suspected it was being erected ahead of the weeding to make the local buildings look their best come the big day. The Chairman explained to the Forum that the York House site would be appropriately covered in time for the wedding and the local residents would have some involvement as to how that covering should look. The Chairman said letters would be sent out to residents that lived along the procession route.
Susie Shearer stated there were a number of key buildings that required repairs to stone work such as the Guildhall. The Chairman responded the capital programme of works had been carried forward to carry out repair works to the Guildhall.
In response to questions regarding the removal of anti-vehicular attack barriers in Sheet Street, the Civic Team Manager confirmed he had raised the removal of barriers with the police and the military.
Councillor E. Wilson stated he looked at the £2.6m investment of capital spending and said to Full Council it was a lot of work to undertake in a very short space of time. But, the improvements would benefit the Town and not just for the wedding. It was a very big list of capital works so he wanted to know how that was being communicated to residents and who was managing all of the works. Councillor Bicknell stated it was a very fluid picture as there was so much to do. The commissioning team were working on the programme day and night to get it all completed on time. Some manufacturing dates would not be met in time for the wedding deadline such as the anti-vehicular attack barriers; but, new tarmac was being laid through the procession route and the pavements on the High Street and Peascod Street were due to be completed in ... view the full minutes text for item 73.
Anti-Social behaviour / street dwelling
To receive the above update.
The Chairman stated at the last Forum, a request was made for an update on what the Council and partners were doing on the issue of street dwellers and anti-social behaviour (ASB); since then, things had moved on and a paper had been presented to Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny Panel. Following that meeting, the Council had received feedback from residents that the paper should have been split in to two individual papers and that more work would be carried out on it so it would not be presented to Cabinet till March 2018; it was also decided that the papers would be consulted on to make sure the approach taken was the right approach.
David Scott, Head of Communities, Enforcement & Partnerships explained to the Forum that since the draft report was presented to Overview and Scrutiny, the Council had listened to feedback from residents and partners and the paper was withdrawn, split into two parts and would then not go to Cabinet until March 2018.
The first paper would look at rough sleeping and support for those sleeping rough and the other paper would look at the ASB aspect. It was a subject with very strong views and it had become clear that there were mixed messages and misunderstandings around the complexities of the issues. There were no simple solutions. The Head of Communities, Enforcement & Partnerships added that he had provided Overview and Scrutiny with an update but things had again changed since then.
The Borough had seen significant increases in reports of ASB and some of that could be attributed to rough sleepers. The ASB was coming from different sources which also included the night time economy (NTE). The Borough had seen an increase in street dwellers with some dwelling during the day, while others were dwelling throughout the day and night. The Council was determined to provide support for individuals that found themselves in hard times. The Head of Communities, Enforcement & Partnerships confirmed his team were working with the Windsor homeless Project to help provide support and temporary accommodation. The Borough had invested in facilities for the homeless which exceeded the national minimum criteria and officers from the housing team and community wardens had been speaking to individuals and ensure the Borough’s approach was unique to each homeless individual.
The Head of Communities, Enforcement & Partnerships stated sometimes temporary accommodation was taken up and others refused it so the Borough adjusted its offer and had some more success but, some people still did not want to engage. He added he had learnt over the last few months from comments received and he now had a much better idea of the issues. He was trying to take a number of stakeholders input on board which helped to shape the longer term plan. Officers and the commissioning team were all working with third parties to find solutions and the Council was trying to remove barriers to helping individuals. Homelessness was a national problem and the Council were looking at ... view the full minutes text for item 74.
Town Centre Update
To receive an update from the Town Manager.
Paul Roach, Town Manager, gave a very brief update on activity and footfall for Windsor. The key points of his update included:
Ø Review of Christmas – the Town Centre did better than Christmas 2016. Footfall was down 6% despite the Town Manager presenting the largest Christmas programme to date. Specific events did very well.
Ø Footfall – declined since September 2017. January 2018 is still showing a decline but, last week, numbers had increased for the first time. The Town Manager feels the decline is due to a number of factors, such as the Lexicon opening in Bracknell, an increase in online shopping, car parking impacts etc.
Ø Some business had seen a higher basket increase but, unit vacancies stood at 5.9% but was still less than the national average.
Ø 10 new units opened but some had closed.
Ø Legoland had opened a pop-up shop in the old Fenwicks site which worked well, they would consider doing that again.
Ø Smaller unites looking likely to remain empty in Windsor Yards due to building works taking place.
Ø Car parking was just under 5% which mirrored footfall figures.
Ø There was two shopping centres in Windsor and both had marketing agents so, the Town Manager had been working with them to try and increase footfall in those areas.
Ø The Town Manager was looking at holding events to encourage people to visit the town.
Ø Wifi was launched in the Town and 38k people had registered to use it.
Helen Price stated to encourage residents into Windsor, the Town Manager should encourage people to use their advantage card for discounts and parking. The Chairman stated all the parking machines in the Town were getting their parking machines replaced so that they could accept the Advantage Cards. Councillor E. Wilson stated Paul Roach, the Town Manager was doing a fantastic job; his role was very hard in the current climate but, things were changing with business rates which should help reduce the empty shops. He requested a session at the next meeting where the Forum discussed the impact of what the Town Manager was doing to increase footfall in the Town Centre.
v Action – The Chairman to add an item on the next agenda to discuss the work carried out by the Town Manager and how that impacts the footfall figures for the Town.