Agenda item - Public Involvement

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Agenda item

Public Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:

 

(a)          Petitions: To receive any petitions presented by members of the public to the full Council or at the meeting itself

 

To consider the following petition referred from Full Council on 18 October 2018 in relation to Hove, Carnegie Library (extract from Council attached)

 

(b)          Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 26 November 2018.

 

(c)          Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 26 November 2018. The following referred from the meeting of Full Council held on 18 October have been received to date : (copy attached)

 

Child Refugees – Spokesperson Ms Ortiz;

 

IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism – Spokesperson Ms Edmond;

 

IHRA Definition – Spokesperson Ms Sharpe

Minutes:

32a     Petitions – Hove Carnegie Library

 

32.1    The Chair, Councillor Daniel, noted that one petition had been received signed by 202 people which had been presented at Full Council on 18 October 2018. The wording of the petition is set out below and the lead petitioner Mr Hawtree was invited forward to present and speak to his petition:

 

To receive the following petition signed by 202 people, presented by Councillor Wealls and referred by the meeting of Full Council held on 18 October 2018:

 

“We ask that with next Libraries Plan, due in January in, this Council includes a report to the Committee to explain the situation which has led to a disproportionate reduction in the number of new books being brought for Hove’s Carnegie Library. Indeed, it has seen a cut to the previously ring-fenced Book Fund greatly exceeding the stated overall cut of 25%.

 

            We also ask that there be a reversal of this Administration’s reduction in the Carnegie’s opening hours.

 

What’s more, with funding and new books steered towards Brighton’s Jubilee Library, we ask for a review of the method of overall stock selection (many good books are not being chosen in advance for any library). Our town’s central, Carnegie Library now appear to be regarded by the Administration as merely a branch library. Such an oxalic attitude to the Carnegie Library is counter to its stained glass and lift door, which proclaim: “Floreat Hova.”

 

32.2    The Chair responded in the following terms:

 

            The next Libraries Plan is not due to be presented to council until 2020, as the current plan covers 2016-2020. The book fund for Hove Library for this year is exactly the same as it was last year and the reduction in spending on stock over the last five years has been fairly similar in Hove and Jubilee libraries as shown:

 

Over last 5 years:

2013-14

2017-18

% reduction

Hove Library

£80,800

£59,591

26.2%

Jubilee Library

£218,250

£167.323

23.4%

 

            The percentage of book fund spent reflects the level of use by the public, and Hove library already has 32% of the amount of book stock compared to Jubilee Library, yet it receives 27% of the number of visits.In addition to this spend on stock for the specific library locations; the Libraries Service also purchases a significant amount of electronic books, newspapers and magazines which can be accessed by all library members, regardless of location.

 

For many years, Hove Library was open for 45.5 hours per week. In August 2016 this was increased to 50 hours per week including opening on Sundays. Budget pressures and low levels of visits to Hove Library on Sundays lead to the removal of Sunday opening in April 2017, bringing the opening hours down to 44 per week, only 1.5 hours per week less than before August 2016. Any claim that many good books are not being chosen in advance for any library is totally rejected. Brighton & Hove has a healthier book fund than many other library services, and there is a stock policy that sets out in detail how stock is selected and managed and this was approved by Members some years ago.  Stock selection uses information about the local library communities, and stock profiles of each type of stock, supplemented by information on what is borrowed or asked for in each library. This informs the choices of new publications and back lists to fill gaps. Anyone can recommend new purchases if they feel there is something missing. The significant investment in the refurbishment of Hove Library this year, and the success of plans to make the library sustainable though the attraction of new partners into the building, belies the claim that Hove Library is regarded as ‘merely a branch library’. There has been some great feedback from library users since the refurbishment:

 

“Love how it all looks and the staff desk is more welcoming and in the right place”

“This library looks wonderful, so light and spacious can’t wait to rediscover it all”

[Children's lib] "This looks so good, I love the soft play area and the new kinder boxes”

32.3    Councillor Nemeth stated that the Committee had the ability to request a further report on this subject should to wish to do so. The Legal Adviser to the Committee, the Deputy Head of Law. Elizabeth Culbert confirmed that whilst that was the case, in this instance the Committee would need to indicate its rationale for doing so as a full review of the current Library Plan detailing and seeking approval of proposed spending for all Brighton and Hove Libraries would be put forward for consideration in the new year looking at the service in totality. To consider this matter if it was considered to be urgent would require an urgency meeting of the Committee.

 

32.4    Councillor Daniel confirmed that having noted Mr Hawtree’s concerns she was willing to ensure that the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee were aware of them when considering the next budget. Mr Hawtree confirmed that was acceptable to him and the Committee therefore agreed to note and receive the Chair’s response.

 

32.5    RESOLVED – That the content of the Chair’s response to the petition be noted and received.

 

32b     Written Questions – Out of Hours Service, Measures to Protect Residents - Student Houses

 

32.6    It was noted that a written question had been received from Mr Mead who was invited forward to put the following question:

 

            “When is Brighton Council going to implement a strategy to protect their residents? Urgent Actions needed are:

 

            Re-instating the “Out of Hours Service” and a complete review of the rules;

            All universities must manage one central database for student accommodation details;

            Ensuring that all HMO’s have a plate outside every front door giving their contact details;

            Letting Agencies must include a night time noise clause in all contracts – Otherwise, I really do fear anarchy will inevitable ensue.”

 

32.7    The Chair’s response is set out below:

 

The out of hours Noise Patrol service currently operates Friday and Saturday 22.00 hours – 03.00 hours.

 

Since 2011 the total number of complaints to the weekend Noise Patrol Service has declined.  In 2017 there were 221 complaints.

 

Two officers work together and deliver the service Citywide, which depending on the call pattern can result in significant travelling times, and delayed response times for our customers. Concerns have also been raised about the safety of the staff.

 

Changing environment and changing social trends are presenting new risks to the staff that deliver this service.   Where someone is causing a disturbance and under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol then stopping the noise that night rarely happens for a variety of reasons, access denied, risk, and lack of cooperation.   What can practically be achieved on the night to stop the noise safely and without risk is becoming an increasing challenge. 

 

This is an opportunity to look again at how our residents are protected from unreasonable noise.  A safer more effective out of hours noise service is being launched from the 7th December.  This is part of the new Field Officer Team working across the city 7 days a week.   Core hours for the team are12.00 to 20.00. However, flexible contracts will enable Field Officers to work outside of these hours to meet community needs. In addition the Environmental Protection Team will still be responding to more complex cases and are able to visit out of hours and leave recording equipment in resident’s homes.

 

Since the initial launch of the Field Officer Team in September 2018 all new domestic noise complaints are investigated by a Field Officer with the aim that perpetrators will be visited to discuss the impact of their actions.    We are already seeing the value and benefit of this face to face contact and how it is stopping cases escalating.  It is proposed that this face to face approach will continue as part of the review of how we deliver noise services out of hours.

 

From 7th December 2018, residents will be able to email or phone in noise complaints at weekends, and a Field Officer will be in touch within 24hours with the offer of a visit that day. This allows face-to-face dialogue immediately following an incident and an environment where the impact of a disturbance can be properly discussed and, hopefully, stop the problem escalating.

 

Currently there is no single database for student accommodation details. This is data held by a number of different student accommodation providers and not under the control of the Council. However, where noise arises from a premises  occupied by students we work closely with letting agents, Sussex and Brighton Universities and the other student colleges to resolve complaints.

 

The Council is not party to the terms of private tenancy agreements between individuals and private landlords and is therefore not able to impose conditions on these third party agreements.

 

The Council is unable to require the contact details of occupiers to be displayed on the front door of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

 

The introduction of the field officers is an opportunity to modernise how we deliver noise services out of hours, and review how this resource could better serve our communities and be better value for money. As the role of Field Officer is developed throughout 2019/20 the delivery of out of hours noise services will be kept under review. “

 

32.8    The Chair invited Mr Mead to as a supplementary question should he have one. Mr Mead did not, save to re-iterate that the incidents of late night/early morning disturbance which he and his neighbours had suffered over a prolonged period of time had had a detrimental impact and that he had welcomed the opportunity to raise that in a public forum.

 

32.9    The Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing stated that in order to seek a resolution to the problems currently being experienced by Mr Mead and his neighbours, precise details would be obtained from him separately in order to enable them to be addressed. The Regulatory Services Manager confirmed that she would speak to Mr Mead following the meeting.

 

32.10  RESOLVED – That the position be noted.

 

32c     Deputations

 

32.11  The Chair noted that three deputations had been forwarded from the meeting of Full Council held on 18 October 2018. She had given a full response to each of them at that time and so each of the deputations was to be presented to the Committee for noting and receiving, she had also however used her discretion as Chair to invite each of the deputees to address the Committee. The wording of each petition was set out in the circulated Committee papers as was an extract of the minutes of Council in respect of each setting out her detailed response.

 

            Child Refugees

 

32.12  Mr Moore addressed the Committee on behalf of Ms Ortiz who was unable to be present. Mr Moore stated that he welcomed the opportunity provide an update in respect of the current position. He explained that 10 places would be made available this year and a further 10 the following year and that the “Hummingbirds” scheme operating in Brighton & Hove was part of a larger scheme run by “Safe Passage” with the aim of creating 10,000 child refugee places over a 10 year period. Those representing the organisation had met recently with Emily Thornbury MP to brief her about their work and to explain their strategy going forward. The involvement by the city council and expression of continued support going forward greatly welcomed and in concert with pledges by other local authorities had a positive impact.

 

32.13  RESOLVED – That the contents of the deputation be noted and received.

 

            IHRA Defintion of Antisemitism

 

32.14  Ms Edmond referred to her original deputation to council stating that in view of the decision taken at Full Council at its meeting on 18 October that was the decision which was currently in place. There were however, 10 questions/additional matters which she (and those whom she represented) wished the Council to consider and respond to.

 

32.15  The Chair responded that as the deputation had already been responded to it was not possible to consider these additional matters without prior notification. Details of these questions were provided to the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing in order that they could be addressed and responded to further.

 

32.16  RESOLVED – That the contents of the deputation be noted and received.

 

            IHRA Definition

 

32.17  The Chair stated that she had received prior notification from Ms Sharpe that there was nothing which she wished to add to her original and that she was happy therefore for it to be noted and received.

 

32.18  RESOLVED – That the contents of the deputation be noted and received.

Supporting documents:

 


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