AGM 2019 Minutes

87th Annual General Meeting

held at Harris Primary Academy Benson
West Way CR0 8RP
7.30pm on Wednesday 8 May 2019

Present: SPRA Trevor Ashby, Andy Bebington, Allan Booth, Karen Crouch, Geoff Flook, Mick Gower, Mandy Hopkins, Suzy Stoyel, Colin Poole, Lawrie Rendle, Martin Shute, Winsome Thomas

Sarah Jones MP, Cllr Sue Bennett, Cllr Richard Chatterjee, Cllr Jason Cummings, Cllr Scott Roche, Cllr Gareth Streeter

PC Ross Bennett, Steve Dennington (LB Croydon), PCSO John Iles, Jill Manson (Shirley High School), Charles Marriott (AVRA), Sony Nair (MORA RA), Jill Latter (Shrublands RA), Bev Warner (Shrublands RA)

Approximately 60 members of SPRA

Apologies:    Victoria Forbes (Principal, Harris Primary Academy Benson), Maggie Jackson, Mrs Johnson (Coloma School), Mrs Martin (St John’s School), Paul Newton(AVRA), Cllr Steve O’Connell MLA, Jennie Rutter, Chris Rutter

. 1. Chair’s Welcome

Suzy Stoyel welcomed everyone to the venue. Apologies were received as noted above.

.2. Minutes of the AGM held on 22 May 2018

These minutes were approved as a true record of the meeting. There were no matters arising.

.3. Police Report

3.1 PC Ross Bennett and PCSO John Iles spoke to the meeting. In response to a pre-notified question from Mr Hoad concerning the Bridle Road junction, they said that any traffic manoeuvre there, for example those eastbound motorists on Croydon Road turning into Monks Orchard Road across the front of stationery traffic, would need to be viewed as causing a danger to other road users before the police would be likely to take action. TfL who have responsibility for the Junction and its configuration have indicated any change will be costly and very difficult. PC Bennett urged members to report dangerous incidents and near misses on the TfL website. In the meantime they gave an assurance that they would notify the traffic police of members’ concerns. Regrettably as local beat police officers they were not equipped to respond.

3.2 PC Bennett explained the recently implemented changes to the organisation of the Metropolitan Police as it affects Spring Park. The new Borough Command Unit (BCU) covers Sutton Bromley and Croydon and resources in this area are shared across the boroughs. This means that there are theoretically more resources available to us. In practice, users of the police service would notice no difference.

3.3 Addressing the matter of local crime figures, he reported that overall crime figures in Shirley are down. However vehicle crime, in particular theft from vehicles has increased in the last year. There was a spike in February, but they are now reducing in number. More resources will be gathered to deal with this offence.

3.4 A question from Mr Parmenter asked whether burglaries were really reducing or whether it was the reduction in reporting of crimes which were driving this trend. PCSO Iles said he was confident that all burglaries are being reported.

3.5 A questioner from the floor asked what the Police were doing about the abuse of the 20mph speed limit. Any reports by residents, which are encouraged, are passed to the traffic officers.

.4. Croydon planning report

4.1 Steve Dennington (Service Head, Spatial Planning in LB Croydon) spoke to the meeting. He addressed the fundamentals of current planning as they affect Shirley: Shirley is one of 16 ‘places’ identified by Croydon’s current development strategy. Croydon is targeted to provide 33,000 new homes between 2016 and 2036 and to help meet this target, there are 4 focussed intensification areas, of which one is Shirley. Windfall sites (unidentified sites) provide for approximately 1/3rd of the target to be delivered. A ‘Suburban Design Guide’ has been produced which provides guidance for developers to consider in their designs and provides clarity to residents regarding the form this development may take. Amongst its aims are to ‘raise the quality of designs’, whilst ‘demonstrating opportunities to optimise sites.’

4.2 Croydon’s current local plan is presently undergoing a review in the light of the New London Plan. This review is likely to provide for a significant number of additional homes, including affordable homes, over and above the existing Croydon Plan targets. The New London Plan calls for an increased focus on suburban development to meet need. One of the important elements in reviewing the Plan will be to re-engage with communities over its content.

4.3 The timetable for the Review shows that Pubic Consultation is due in Autumn 2019, a preferred option available by Autumn 2020 (for public examination in Spring 2021), and final adoption by early 2022.

4.4 Mr Dennington then gave an informative overview and update of the current development sites (retail, office and housing) in Central Croydon, including the Westfield site and the Fairfield Halls (Cultural Quarter). He informed the meeting about the plans for improvement of the 5-Ways Junction and the rail ‘bottle neck‘ at Selhurst, together with possible reconfiguration of the station at East Croydon and the surrounding area.

4.5 In response to a question about the present state of the Westfield development, which he had described as ‘under review’, Mr Dennington explained the presence of an extant planning consent and approved Compulsory Purchase Order, but stated that the depressed state of the retail economy was causing some delay in moving forward according to the planning consent schedule.

4.6 Another questioner asked about the definition of affordable housing. Mr Dennington said the Council negotiated this with the developer on a case-by-case basis in accordance with Local Plan policy and the definitions of affordable housing are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

4.7 Pam Lees asked about the availability of local infrastructure, for example school places, in support of new housing being built. It was confirmed that this was always taken into consideration and other agencies were involved.

4.8 Camilla Wick asked what the Council is doing about empty homes and bringing them back into use. Mr Dennington said there was a dedicated department in the Council, which has statutory powers to force properties back into use where necessary to deal with this matter.

4.9 Chris Harrington asked which green spaces might be acquired to build new homes. It was too soon to give a definitive answer, replied Mr Dennington, as the Plan was still being worked on.

[The meeting Chair thanked Mr Dennington and he left the meeting]

.5. Chair’s Report [ Full report published in SPAN May 2019]

5.1 Suzy Stoyel spoke on behalf of the three Acting Chairs. Reviewing the last year, there had been considerable change to the Executive Committee, with some members retiring or moving away and new officers and EC members being found to replace them. The most notable departures were Michael Wilson, who masterminded with others the delivery of SPAN through the Zone and Road Stewards, amongst other duties, and Colin Poole whose 7 years’ service as SPAN Advertisement Manager and recently Acting Chair have been most valuable. We also lost the services of Hilary Judge, Jennifer Williams and John Underwood. Suzy thanked them all.

5.2 She reported that Michael Wilson’s area of work was now covered by new recruits Mandy Hopkins and Lawrie Rendle, following an extensive exercise to work out resourcing and reshaping of this work. In this regard, the invaluable work of Mike Roberts and Ken Sheehan in data management and SPAN distribution needed again to be noted. Allan Booth had assumed the role of Treasurer, and Geoff Flook, who is part of the SPAN team had also joined the Executive.

5.3 There were still important vacancies on the Executive Committee and SPAN resources were still somewhat depleted so she urged members to come forward to help in whatever capacity they could.

5.4 Major activities for the Association this year were support for and attendance at the Millers Pond Fair, erection of the No Cold Calling Zone signs (still in progress), Remembrance Days poppies and the Christmas lights initiative. Our Executive actively monitored planning applications and advised members on the applications they felt were unsuitable and might be opposed. We opened and maintained excellent lines of communication with our local councillors, and through them achieved a number of local ‘successes’, such as the re-instatement of the Macdonald’s missing rubbish bin. We supported the ‘All About Shirley’ Facebook page, and of course communicated with residents through our website. The Association also revisited its Data Protection procedures to ensure they meet the requirements of new legislation (GDPR).

5.5 Finally she reminded members about the excellence of the SPAN magazine which is an added benefit of SPRA membership and an important mechanism for communication for the Executive and between members. She paid tribute to the network of Zone and Road Stewards whose unstinting efforts made sure that everyone received the magazine on time.

.6. Treasurer’s Report

6.1 Mr Booth spoke to the financial report presented to members at the meeting. This shows a surplus of £3790.17 for the year ended 31 March 2019, which is a healthy position. The SPAN accounts, which are held separately, show a deficit of £3012.62 of expenditure against income for the same period, he reported. The magazine is an important channel of communication and the Executive believe it should continue in its current form and the Association continues to support it financially with a monthly subsidy from SPRA funds.

6.2 The Association has balance sheet net assets of £30,355.14.

6.3 The Auditors have approved the accounts. Mr Booth reported that he would make the SPAN accounts mentioned in the hand-out available to members shortly.

6.4 A member questioned the frequency of SPAN publication, and wondered whether costs could be reduced by making it less frequent. Suzy Stoyel reiterated the Treasurer’s remarks about communication through SPAN and also that the vast majority of members are supportive of monthly publication. However the question is one that is regularly reviewed by the Executive.

.7. Croydon Local Plan & Shirley Planning Forum

7.1 Mr Ashby reported on important issues and gave important further information
following Mr Dennington’s presentation.

7.2 Shirley South Ward comprises an electorate of 8000 people, represented by Councillors, Jason Cummings and Scott Roche. They were elected in May 2018. Cllr Roche, and Cllr Gareth Streeter from the Shirley North ward, both sit on the 10-person Planning Committee of the Council.

7.3 Referring to the review of the Croydon Local Plan mentioned by Mr Dennington, he explained that this is being examined partly in the light of the independent Inspector’s queries in 2018. The proposed plan allows for removal of restrictions on back garden developments, removal of the density matrix and reduction in requirements for car parking in new developments, particularly near transport hubs. In addition the targets for homes to be built are likely to be increased significantly to meet the London Plan’s requirements. Importantly, though the Planning department is in the evidence-gathering stage of its review, it is important to say it has not yet consulted with the Residents’ Associations. This is a cause of some concern.

7.4 With respect to the revised London Plan, the density calculations proposed have been omitted. Derek Ritson, a SPRA member, will speak at the Public Inquiry on MORA’s behalf and will address this matter.

7.5 After a number of meetings of the Shirley Planning Forum, comprising the Shirley Residents Associations declined for the time being to move forward with the idea of devising a Shirley Neighbourhood Plan. Representatives decided that the effort and cost of doing so could not be sustained. A decision was taken therefore, as suggested by the Director of Planning, to work with the Council on amending the Croydon Plan. As there had been no contact from the Council in the consultation process, a letter was sent expressing concern

7.6 Locally in the SPRA area, we have been active in opposing the redevelopment of the Sandrock pub and the Koz/Helvadere front extension. We now have heard that the Council has thrown out the appeal from Helvadere restaurant which has been sent an enforcement notice to remove the extension. SPRA is keeping a close eye on the Shrublands Estate possible development and is working closely with the Addington Village RA on the Conservation Area review.

7.7 Finally Mr Ashby reported that members should be aware that developers are actively canvassing owners of properties in certain roads, with a view to making offers to buy for development.

.8. Approval of nominations for Life Membership of SPRA

Proposed by Mandy Hopkins, and seconded by Colin Poole, there was a unanimous vote to accept Jean Kelleher, Catherine Taylor and Steve Baldwin into Life Membership.

.9. Proposal to increase the annual subscription fee for Association from £5 to £6 with effect from April 2020.

Proposed by the Treasurer Allan Booth and seconded by Geoff Flook, the proposal was passed by the membership.

.10. Proposal to revise the rules to amend those authorised to approve financial payments.

Proposed by Allan Booth the Treasurer and seconded by Martin Shute, the motion to change the rules was passed unanimously

.11. Election of Officers, Trustees, Auditors and Members of the Executive Committee.

Colin Poole, the retiring Acting Chair, was asked to carry out the elections. The following were duly elected:

Officers : Trevor Ashby (President), Allan Booth (Treasurer), Mandy Hopkins (Zone and Road Stewards Secretary).

Members of the Executive Committee : Geoff Flook, Karen Crouch, Lawrie Rendle, Suzy Stoyel.

Trustees : Andy Bebington, Mick Gower.

Auditors :Brian Cantrell, Jonathan Baxter.

.12. MP’s presentation : Sarah Jones MP.

12.1 Since her election in June 2017, Sarah said she had dealt with over 13,000 cases, of which over 2,000 relate to Shirley North and South wards. These covered the issues of housing (26% of the total), Local Council-related topics (25%), as well as immigration, benefits, health, crime, education and employment. She cited an example of a recent case where she had helped a constituent who was being pursued incorrectly by British Gas for a debt. She is available at her weekly surgery with venues in different parts of the constituency.

12.2 Her Westminster work includes a cross-party group on knife crime, and she acts as Shadow Housing minister, where she has been working on post-Grenfell issues, especially the recladding of tower blocks.

12.3 At a local constituency level, Sarah reported that she was part of a meeting with the Westfield developer. A subsequent meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding ongoing problems with retail developments has resulted in the Chancellor agreeing to meet the developer. One idea being considered is a possible change to the Westfield scheme, in respect of the retail/housing/leisure mix of the project. She reported she has also been active in following through on the implementation of safety measures following the tram crash which in her view has been too slow.

12.4 She concluded by talking about her local involvement at events, visiting schools and local facilities. She is always happy to arrange tours of Parliament, and constituents simply need to contact her in this regard.

.13. Any Other Previously Notified Business

There were a number of previously notified questions.

13.1 Traffic flow problems at Bridle Road junction. In Steve O’Connell’s absence, Suzy Stoyel, was able to update members. A written communication from TfL, read by Suzy, indicated that a physical reconfiguration of the junction is not possible due to environmental considerations (for example felling of a large tree). However, they have agreed to undertake a review of the traffic signalling with a view to possible changes. The review is ongoing, but TfL report they are unable to give a timeline for completion of this work.

13.2 Problems with communication with the Council (Mr Hoad and Mr Harris). Cllr. Roche responded to concerns about the difficulty of getting through the Council call centre by saying that dedicated telephone numbers are available for all the major departments. It was agreed these should be published in SPAN and on the SPRA website. Fielding a further question about whether those without internet access were excluded from reporting an issue (a SPRA member had been told by the Council call centre that telephone reporting was not possible), Cllr Roche said this was incorrect. Internet ‘reports’ were easier to track, but telephone contact (followed up with mailing of photos if necessary) is quite acceptable.
13.3 Issue with road cleansing and potholes in Langland Gardens (Mr Harris). Cllr. Roche has researched this with the appropriate departments and reported these matters have now been attended to.

13.4 Poor maintenance of recycling point and fly-tipping (Monks Orchard Road). (Mr Coulcher). Cllr Roche responded that he had asked officers in March to look into this. Council is aware of the fly-tipping issue at the site. He has asked for additional signage and further checks to be done to discourage fly-tippers. He has also asked the contractor Veolia to be attentive to any overflowing bins.

13.5 Koz (Helvadere) restaurant planning dispute. (Mr Hoad). In response to the questioner’s concerns over appropriate licences and other statutory checks Cllr Cummings confirmed these were in order in respect of the restaurant. Following a recent Planning meeting to discuss the restaurant’s appeal to the previous refusal of permission, a notice has now been served for the restaurant to remove the structure.

Suzy Stoyel thanked everyone for coming, and formally closed the meeting at 9.35 pm