Streetscene, clean and green

The third Talking About St James Street meeting will take place on November 13th, and for this event we will be considering our local environment – cleaning, greening and transport – and thinking about the feel of our streets and parks and how they can be improved for residents, traders and visitors.

This follows on from the more general meeting held earlier in the year, and the focus on crime and community safety last month.

The meeting on the 13th will be attended by Police and council staff, and the findings will be used to develop collaborative proposals for improvement, and to inform the developing Queens Park Neighborhood Action Plan.

The meeting will start at 10am – we look forward to seeing you

Talking about St James Street #2

Following the Talking About St James Street community event which took place in June, the Police and Council are putting on a second event on October 16th. Where the first event was a broad look at issues and concerns, the second event will focus in on crime and community safety, which came up as an urgent issue and priority for many people.

To help make sure that as many people as possible can come, two events are being run on the same day – one from 10am to 12 noon, and a second from 6pm to 8pm and attendees can chose which they would like to attend.

We hope you are able to come to one or the other (or both!)

Any help promoting this by sharing online or displaying a copy of the poster (below) would be hugely appreciated.

Talking about St James Street

At the end of June, the council and Police hosted a community meeting.

The aim of the event was…

“to find better ways to  work with residents  and businesses to  improve the area so that it feels a safe and welcoming place for all, to involve  those who live and work here more closely in decisions  about how services operate, and to look at ways we can collaborate more closely with the community to enable you to develop local ideas and ambition for your neighbourhood.” 

On the day around 80 residents and traders turned out for a lively and productive debate about the neighbourhood, what needs improving and who might be able to take action. Starting with an open table discussion giving everyone the chance to share the issues and oportunities most important to them, the second half of the meeting focussed on three themes suggested by the points raised:

  • Cleaner and Greener
  • Transport and Environment
  • Safety on St James Street

Participants were asked to break down the theme areas into:

  • Three aspects that you like or are happy with and three three aspects that you don’t like or are unhappy with:
  • What would an improvement look or feel like? Give THREE suggestions:
  • What is needed to make these things happen? (People, Activities, Resources, Services, Facilities…)

Responses were collected by facilitators at each table, and here are the results….

‘Cleaner and Greener’

Positives

  • Amount of Bins
  • Conditions after pride
  • City bikes
  • Lighting in St James Street itself
  • New restaurants and shops

Negatives

  • State of pavements/ street
  • Shop fronts
  • Emptying street bins/ rubbish collection
  • Not enough street cleaners
  • Parking expenses
  • Drug dealing in ‘green spaces’
  • Use of the street as a toilet
  • Lack of greenery in area

Suggestions for improvements

  • More flowers/Greenery/ Hanging baskets
  • Tree Guards for newly planted greenery
  • Nicer Pavements
  • Less empty/ damaged shops
  • To get rid of street clutter/ More regular cleaning of streets
  • Signs for dog fouling
  • More recycling – Variations of plastics in particular
  • Tighter enforcement on cleanliness
  • Safe areas for drug taking
  • Map of the area showing green spaces and places of interest

Requirements to make this change possible!

  • Lower business rates in order for shop owners to have budget for maintenance
  • Flatten off shop fronts at night so less groups can hang around causing damage/ and leaving rubbish
  • Power clean all pavements at least twice a month (Jetwash)
  • Community Waste bins / Recycling bins
  • Christmas lights – Community initiatives
  • Money
  • Activities organised by community to clean up Graffiti etc
  • Volunteers and other agencies providing aid (Cleaning etc.)
  • Communication between community and business’ around the reasons for why individuals are homeless and the issues around this, plus safety
  • Community events
  • City Parks
  • Local Councillors/ Local business owners

 

‘Transport & Environment’

Positives

  • Access
  • Bus links (Regular and reliable)
  • Good variety of bus routes
  • Electric Buses
  • Illuminated bus information signs

Negatives

  • Too many buses
  • Bus fumes/ dust/ air pollution
  • No public transport on seafront
  • Parking on pavements
  • Narrow pavements – too crowded
  • Cyclists going incorrect way on a ‘one way’ street
  • Cycle lane
  • Decisions being made without consultation
  • Streets look rundown
  • Too noisy
  • Cost of parking – impact on economy
  • Illegal street trading
  • Inconsiderate bus/taxi drivers
  • Lots of people being hit by buses

Suggestions for improvements

  • Bus link to promote Madeira Drive
  • Improved north and south bus links
  • Pedestrianise or shared space on St James Street
  • To reduce air pollution in the area (Fewer buses or reduce cost of buses so less people use their own transport)
  • Local Business’s to contribute with greenery (Flower baskets etc.)
  • Fewer incidents/accidents on the roads
  • Speed bumps
  • Safer area for cyclists
  • Speed limit signs
  • Community notice boards
  • Economic Strategy – More independent shops/ Links with Amex development
  • Construction – Welcome arches
  • Restrict delivery hours – I.e. deliveries can only be made before a certain time etc.
  • Improved training for bus and taxi drivers

Requirements to make this change possible!

  • Consulting/ proactive meeting with Brighton & Hove Bus Company
  • Meetings with taxi companies
  • Highways
  • Council to sanction removal of bus stop outside ‘Morrison’s’
  • Visible Police presence
  • Community Garden protests with council/ corporate sponsors
  • Council transport partnership – local cyclists
  • For all of the above to be working in unison, and not divisions based on personal requirements and issues

 

Safety on St James Street

Positives

  • The feel of the community/ informal support networks
  • Vibrant and well lit
  • Café culture
  • Diversity
  • Diversity of shops
  • Street security workers
  • Bus service
  • Lighting on street

Negatives

  • Lack of Police presence at night and in general
  • Lack of CCTV
  • Amount of drug dealers/ Substance (drug and alcohol) abuse – Happening on street
  • ASB
  • Violence
  • Assaults and homophobic attacks
  • Theft and fear of crime
  • Homelessness
  • Passive/aggressive begging
  • Party houses – creating noise
  • Cash machines
  • Cyclists

Suggestions for improvement

  • More/ improved CCTV
  • Legislation around party houses
  • More visible Police presence
  • Sharing of information on a wider scale (With other public services; initiatives like ‘Pub Watch’)
  • A point of contact for drugs and associated dealers – building a report of patients
  • More in-depth interaction with Police officers and staff – Knowing your officers
  • Remove graffiti – More Art
  • Planting greenery
  • Sympathetic medicals for drug users but no tolerance for ‘dealers’
  • Housing
  • Remove ‘dark’ spots on street – especially side street
  • Drug consumption rooms
  • Bid for this area?

Requirements to make this change possible!

  • Support for homeless people – More cohesive approach to problem (Charities to work together)
  • Alarms for local businesses and residents
  • Further Police and council resources
  • Help from support services (Or more of it)
  • Further support and resources from the local community
  • Liaison Point with Police – Closed Facebook or WhatsApp group
  • Increased Police patrols (On foot) at all times of the week
  • More central and creative use of support services to be used for drug/alcohol addicts – Set up places for them to go – focus on treatment
  • All services to have financial aid
  • Voluntary agencies
  • Recruit Volunteers – Provide incentives

What will happen next?

Those attending the meeting – from the police, the council and local residents and traders – felt generally that the meeting had been useful and the discussions helpful and interesting, but it was only of real value if it led to action. From the council and police perspective, this is about being able to work more closely with residents in identifying what the issues are and developing a stronger and more positive collaborative approach toward addressing them, and for the residents and businesses this was about seeing tangible changes on the street, and improvements that made a real and immediate difference to them.

The meeting offered quite a broad understanding of a range of issues and perspectives – to turn them into actions and initiatives, we need to look more closely and the meeting responses, and our proposal is to put together further events looking at each theme in more detail.

We would like to hold a second meeting in October. To help chose which theme we should focus on first, please complete the poll below;

Details of the next event will be available in early September – we hope you will be able to attend

 

Our AGM and the future…

On Friday June 14th The St James Community Action Group held its AGM – a lively event attended by around 30 residents and traders – thanks to St Marys for kindly hosting the event and all those who took part in organising things.

The main business of the AGM was approval of the accounts and election of a new committee for the coming year. Whilst the finances seem in good shape, we were unfortunately not able to find people to step forward and join the committee, which leaves us in the difficult position of …not existing…  According to our constitution we need a group of residents to come forward and take on key roles for the year ahead, and without this, we are not a thing…. Awkward!

So why are we here?

OK – so people don’t want to commit to a committee, but just  turning up showed commitment, so the next part of the meeting invited everyone to share their reasons for coming – what they liked about the area and what they would like to change…and here are some of the things people said; (summarised)

We like… the diversity, the Pride events, the architectural character, cultural aspects, the uniqueness of our area and sense of place, vibrancy and interest. We want to celebrate our area as a special place

but

we don’t like…. that many people use the area for buying and taking drugs, and this means that our streets can feel dominated by dangerous criminals and by people under the influence of drugs who can be chaotic, intimidating and unsettling, and that the impact of these things can seem to overshadow everything else about the area. We don’t like that street drinkers also seem a fixture on our streets, because they can be intimidating and make our streets feel unsafe, and we don’t like aggressive begging which also takes place.

We also don’t like… some aspects of the Pride party, lack of cleanliness of our streets, a feel of neglect and being forgotten about by the council, with investments going to other parts of the city, unregulated letting businesses poorly run and undercutting existing companies, the number of isolated elderly people needing support in our area.

What we want to happen….

Our area should have a higher priority. We need to send a deputation to the Police and we need the council to invest in our community. We need cleaner streets and a more attractive ‘gateway’ to the area at the bottom of St James’ Street. We would like to think about pedestrianising St James’ Street and improve the layout. 

We would like better CCTV, and more patrols – we are interested in Community Guardian patrols. We are interested in ways to raise money in our community – maybe through a Business Improvement District approach, or through other – to carry out local improvements

So where does this leave us?

Although there was little take-up for the Community Action Group, substantial appetite for Community Action is evident.  People spoke of developing a shared manifesto for the area, and there was real enthusiasm for finding ways to tackle problems and bring about improvements.

It was agreed that…

Rather than trying to continue with the Community Action group in a formal sense, we would try to find a different way forward. Instead of a chair and commitee, all members would now become an ad-hoc working group helping to find the future.

Constitutionally however – and mostly because there is money in the bank – something needs to happen to the  Community Action group, and it was decided that a general meeting will be held in September with a proposal that the group be dissolved, which will take place according to the constitution, unless any other proposals emerge in the meantime.

Themed meeting events

Regardless of the future of the formal group, the issues raised at the meeting need to be explored. Simon and Tom (from the council) agreed to facilitate a series of open community meetings to look at the various topics and subjects brought up in the meeting. They also told people about the coming ‘Talking About St James’ Street’ community conversation on June 27th, which the Police and Council are putting on to see how they can work better in the area and to think about a Neighbourhood Action Plan, and members were urged to attend.

Thankyou and goodnight

Thankyou to all who attended, to St Mary’s for hosting the event, and especially to Dave Spafford for all of his work keeping the Community Action group afloat and overseeing the accounts and financial matters for the group.

Proposals for future events will be circulated here, on our Facebook group   and via our email list.

Talking about St James Street…

Posted on behalf of  Chief Inspector Rachel Swinney’ Brighton & Hove Prevention’ Sussex Police.

The event will be supported by police and council staff and aimjs to find ways that they can work more closely with the community to improve the area.

All welcome

“The Police and the Council are holding a public event to talk to people about the St James Street area.

We want to find better ways to  work with residents  and businesses to  improve the area so that it feels a safe and welcoming place for all, to involve  those who live and work here more closely in decisions  about how services operate, and to look at ways we can collaborate more closely with the community to enable you to develop local ideas and ambition for your neighbourhood.

Please join us at the Dorset Gardens Methodist Church on Thursday June 27th,  10am – 12 noon for a community conversation, looking at the issues, opportunities and ambition  for your area, and to think about how we can better work together to bring about improvements”

Community Action Day – 6th September

 

Litter buster 2

The problems we are going to tackle are graffiti, wire ties, advertising stickers, clearing weeds and abandoned bikes and other issues highlighted by residents and businesses.

You can help by volunteering and joining one of our action days.

Thursday 6th September- 10am to 12 noon
Meet outside 
St James’s house High Street

We will work our way up St James’s and the surrounding streets.

Brighton and Hove city council will be supplying tools and paint.

Don’t wear your best clothes!

St James’s Community Action Group is supported by:-

Brighton and Hove City Council,, Brighton and Hove Hotel Association, the Sussex Crime Commissioner, Brighton Pride Community, Payback Fund