Q1 There are a lot of larger Victorian and Edwardian properties in Acocks Green which lend themselves to a variety of uses. in recent years there has been much discussion in regard to the preservation of roads as residential roads. A recent decision on a planning application (see this link) gives some support to the idea that residential roads should where possible be retained as such in order to help preserve the community atmosphere of the neighbourhood. This issue becomes even more pressing in regard to applications to turn larger properties into what is technically known as ‘C2’ (Residential Home) accommodation. What is your view both on the general preservation of residential roads as such, and in particular on the clustering of a number of C2s in a small area, which because usually Victorian/Edwardian, will often be part of the proposed Conservation Area as well.
A I am opposed to the clustering of a large number of C2 (Residential Homes) in small areas. Such residential homes, when well-run, are a valuable part of a diverse community. However, when they are too concentrated, they undermine that diversity and reduce the strength of the community in which they are based. I will oppose planning applications which lead to such clustering or increase it where it already exists.
Q2 We are currently awaiting a decision from the Boundary Commission upon the final boundaries of Acocks Green ward. The subject generated considerable heat earlier this year. However, regardless of what decision is finally taken as to where the boundaries should lie, we will become smaller as a ward, and we will have fewer councillors handling a larger number of households. In the light of what is in effect going to be reduced involvement and support from elected representatives, what is your view on Acocks Green setting up its own parish council, and would you be willing, as a councillor, to help support this? To help you here are two links (1) from Hebden Royal Town Council and (2) Notes by David Treadwell, Chair of Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum on parish councils
A Thanks in part of the efforts of the community in Acock’s Green in opposing the original Boundary Commission proposals, we will have another draft version we can comment on, which will be issued on the 10th of May and I welcome this. However the essential point of this question is around a potential parish Council for Acocks Green. I will indeed to be happy to support this, if these initial discussions develop positively.
Q3 Recently, in Douglas Road Acocks Green there was much publicity, see link here following a seven-car pile-up after a speeding incident. It has so far proved impossible to charge the driver, who cannot be identified by the police. Fortunately, and amazingly, no-one was hurt. However, are you confident that a 20 mph sign in the road will prevent this kind of incident occurring in the future, or do you believe that physical traffic-calming measures may need to be installed on some of the longer and more vulnerable residential roads in Acocks Green?
A No, I don’t believe a 20 mph sign will prevent this kind of incident occurring in the future. Where a driver doesn’t obey a 30 mph limit its unlikely they will obey a 20 mph limit. Physical measures should remain an option, if the local community is in favour, where exhortation fails and a significant speeding problem remains.
Q4 Fly tipping and garden waste collection both continue to be issues of concern in this area, especially since some free council services have now become paying services. It is not disputed that government cuts to local councils present a strong challenge. What measures would you therefore put in place to prevent unsightly and in some cases insanitary, eyesores accumulating in the area this summer.
A I believe the Council has major mistakes in cutting waste management services and this has led directly to the huge increase in reported cases of fly tipping in the recent years. I believe the Council should reintroduce one free bulky collection per household, per year and bring back the free waste green collection scheme and increase enforcement to prosecute fly-tippers. These measures would result in significant saving in the costs of clearing up fly tipping, helping to reduce their overall cost which can be met within the Council’s generous contingency budget.
Q5 Do you believe that local ward meetings are important? What views do you have on the continuation, structure (e.g. top table/formal or informal around a shared table/circle etc) and advertising of local ward meetings? (There is a reason for including this link – see where it takes you!)
A Yes, it’s important to have a regular schedule of meetings where residents can discuss local issues with all their ward Councillors. These don’t need to have the formality of the old Ward Committee meetings, but they do need a record of the agreed actions of the most recent meeting available online, together with the date, location and time of the next meeting.
Q6 We are seeing an increasing trend for planning applications in Acocks Green to involve the considerable enlargement of existing properties. Sometimes these applications can throw the visual appearance of a Victorian, Edwardian or 1920s or 1930s property ‘off balance’ and can also alter the street scene for the worst. Obviously, every PA is different, and all PAs need to be considered on their individual merits. However, do you have an overall view on this?
A There are links here to Q2 and to answer to that question. Given the current national shortage of housing, and the particular shortage of homes in Birmingham with 4 or more bedrooms, the trend to enlarge existing properties is likely to continue. It is very important therefore to make sure that this is done in way that is sympathetic to the needs of the local community and the street scene.
Q7 Can we count on you for positive support and vigilance once Acocks Green’s long-awaited Conservation Area is finally in place? See this AGFG post on the Conservation Area for further info (Note: a small part of Oxford Road leading away from Sherbourne Road is now also included, although not indicated in the boundary lines shown here.)
A Absolutely! I very much hope that the Conservation Area, which has overwhelming local support, can finally be brought into place soon.