Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Annex 1 - Public Questions

Minutes:

Annex 1

 

 

Public Questions

 

1.         Signage for St George’s Church

 

The following question was raised by Ms Dorinda Hooper, representing St George's Parochial Church Council as follows:

 

"In May 2017 St George's Church, Tolworth, approached the Council requesting consideration be given to the provision of street signage from the main traffic and pedestrian routes of Tolworth Broadway, Red Lion Road, and Ewell Road to the Church, in Hamilton Avenue, which is tucked away in the residential area behind The Broadway, and set well back from the pavement edge.  The church has no landmark spire or tower, and is only visible to the public when they are almost upon it.

A site meeting was held with an engineer at the end of May 2017, and a draft plan received a month later.  Our last communication with this engineer was at the beginning of July 2017. Despite numerous phone calls and messages, no response was ever received from the Council. In March 2018 we resorted to contacting our local Councillors for help.  Councillor Dunstone has been working tirelessly on our behalf, and secured another site meeting in August 2018.  We do appreciate that there have been staffing issues within the department, but despite continual requests, no plans or proposals have been forthcoming since that date, and the matter has now been ongoing for 22 months.

St George's Church, as well as being an important community focal point, also hosts one of the Borough's Food Banks.   It is often the case that recipients of the services of the Food Bank are embarrassed by the situation they find themselves in, and therefore do not use the one closest to them.  Instead they travel to one in an area they do not know, to avoid recognition.  We have experienced such instances, and witnessed the distress of clients, and volunteer helpers from other Food Banks in the Borough, when they have had great difficulty in finding us due to lack of adequate street signage.

As we understand that a new engineer is now in post, we are asking that the necessary street signage is agreed, and installed, without further delay.”

 

Tom Sharland, Senior Professional Engineer, in the Highways & Transport team replied as follows:

 

“The Highways and Transport team firstly apologises for the delay in resolving this matter. It is recognised that the issue was raised nearly two years ago, and a resolution is long over-due.  Unfortunately the engineer who attend the initial site visit in 2017 left the council due to ill health and there has been a lack of continuity within the team to take this matter forward at the required level.  Unfortunately the plan put together in 2017 was not in line with Department for Transport regulations on signing on the highway.

 

Current highway design guidance from the DfT and TfL is very much in line with reducing sign clutter, rather than installing new signs on the highway where not essential.  Current guidance advises against signing to schools, churches and GP surgeries for example.  While it is appreciated that there is existing signing in place for the church at junction of Ewell Road / Princes Avenue and signing for the nearby St Matthew's Church, this has likely been installed for some time.  Any proposal to add new signing should therefore ideally include consolidation of existing signing to reduce clutter and new signing to a number of destinations in the local area.

 

Council Officers have therefore been in touch with ShedX, who are delivering a number of community led schemes in the Tolworth area, including improved pedestrian signage.  Plans are currently being developed for a range of pedestrian signage across Tolworth, a trial of which is due to be launched in July.  Council officers have agreed with ShedX for the food bank at St George's Church to be included in this project.  Following the trial and feedback from the local community, permanent signing is due to be installed in the Autumn.  It is hoped this issue can now move forward with some urgency.

 

 

 

2.         Criteria for Housing Association nominations

 

A local resident, Mr Rob Robb, asked the following question:

 

“Following on from the recent Police Ward Panel I would like to know what criteria and vetting system RBK Housing department use in choosing residents to become their tenants. During the discussions with PA\Paragon Housing Association who attended the meeting it became apparent they do not have any say as to who goes into their premises.  It was disturbing that tenants with a possible history of drugs are put into the same building as young children, causing major Safeguarding issues.

It has also brought problems to a community that has not experienced problems at the level being experienced previously.

We were also told that all those chosen for housing in the Kingston Borough are existing Kingston Residents and not from outside the Borough, yet people say that they have found out this not to be the case.”

 

Responses were read to the meeting (and would be provided in writing to Mr Robb) from the following officers:

 

-       Written Reply from David Hill, Lead Officer, Accommodation Service, Community Housing, Directorate of Adult Social Care:

“Kingston Council and partner Registered Provider (Housing Association) homes are allocated according to the Council's Allocations scheme.  Details of this scheme confirming that criteria used to assess applications are available on the Council's website at https://www.kingston.gov.uk/downloads/file/173/allocations_policy_2017

Exclusion from the Register and therefore the allocation of property to rent as defined within the Policy is applicable where a member of a household has been involved in unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make them an unsuitable tenant of the Council or other housing provider including:

·         Giving false information to obtain or try to obtain a tenancy

·         Making a payment to obtain or try to obtain a social housing tenancy

·         Deliberately damaging or allowing someone else to deliberately damage your home (including unauthorised modifications if you are a council tenant)

·         Violence, crime or anti-social behaviour

·         Subletting any Council or housing association tenancy

·         Being provided with a home in connection with your work for Kingston Council and losing this due to your behaviour or actions

The process of application and verification is undertaken by the Council's Community Housing Service and where items identified within the applicable exclusions above are identified in this process the relevant action to notify applicants of their exclusion will be undertaken.

Partner Registered Providers (Housing Associations), who have entered into an agreement to let their homes through the Council's Housing Allocations scheme, accept nominations of households from the Kingston Housing Register who have met the requirements of the Allocations scheme.  Households applying to the Register who are excluded under the above provisions are not nominated to Registered Providers.

Within our nomination agreement with Partner Registered Providers the extent of any data sharing regarding applicants to the Housing Register is governed by requirements of General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679.

Within our Allocations scheme the requirement of residence is defined where applicants must have resided in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames for five continuous years immediately preceding the date of the application.  Limited exemptions to this apply for households of protected characteristic or where local residents are temporarily accommodated outside the borough by the Local Authority.  Full Details of these are available in the Allocations scheme.”

 

The former Neighbourhood Manager, Richard Dean, who was previously responsible in the Safer Kingston team for ASB has commented:

 

People who are the victims of the ASB or someone on their behalf with their (generally written) permission can complain about the ASB.

If the ASB relates to people in Housing Association housing then the complaint should be sent to the Housing Association as it is their legal duty to deal with it.

If however, the person is affected by ASB outside of the location that is nothing to do with the Housing Association so the complaint then should be sent to the Council or the Police depending on the nature of that complaint.  Both can be done via on line processes if the person prefers that.

If the victim (or the person on behalf of the victim) has complained a number of times to the authorities and they consider that there has been no meaningful response to those complaints, then they can invoke the Community Trigger Process and if the threshold is met, an ASB case review can be undertaken.  In order to qualify for this there has to have been three complaints made in a 6 month period (or more).

The link to that process is below.

https://www.kingston.gov.uk/info/200234/policing_crime_and_community_safety/436/antisocial_behaviour/3

The Community Trigger process is by far the most effective way of dealing with any complaint of organisational inactivity by the victim, if the threshold is reached, as the response of any authority in dealing with the issue will be assessed.”

 

 

3.         Sanger Avenue/ Durbin Avenue/Coutts Avenue redesign

 

The following question was raised by Mr Rob Robb:

 

 “What is the purpose and reasoning behind what appears to be very extensive and costly redesign of the junctions along with major disruption on the estate that includes Sanger Avenue, Durbin Avenue and Coutts Avenue?   I have concerns over the Sanger Avenue and Coutts Avenue junction as the large area of tarmacked pavement will lead to a vehicle being parked on it and it will make the ingress and egress of vehicles from Coutts Avenue dangerous, as they will be unsighted.   It requires bollards.   Also it looks like an afterthought that possibly the kerbs have not been lowered for people in wheel chairs and mobility scooters and the new expensive kerbing has had tarmac unprofessionally thrown at it to provide a ramp.   Hopefully this extensive work will include the refurbishment of the grass verge along with new protective wooden bollards in Durbin Road at the Junction of Gosbury Hill which has been damaged during these works along with the existing tree?”

 

Tom Sharland, Senior Professional Engineer, in the Highways & Transport team replied as follows:

 

“A traffic scheme was developed following petitions presented to this Committee in January and June 2018. The focus of the scheme you mention is to improve safety and visibility at junctions and to reduce traffic speeds.  These proposals were consulted upon and approved for construction at the September 2018 meeting of the Committee.  Double yellow lines will be installed at the junction you mention at Coutts Avenue/ Sanger Avenue to allow enforcement of any parking at the junction. We can see how effective that is – we can enforce the double yellow lines and we can enforce the footway parking. If it persists as a problem, we can consider bollards but that is something we resist as far as possible because of maintenance – but it is something we can consider in the future.  At the junctions you mention where there is the temporary tarmac which has been laid – they are due to be raised, so the work is not complete at those junctions yet – that’s Durbin Road and Coutts Avenue junctions. The carriageway will be raised so that pedestrians can cross at a level.  So that work is yet to be done.  Any damage caused to verges during the construction will be improved by the contractor. (re damage to overhanging tree by contractor vehicle) .I can take that up with my colleague who is managing the contract. I do note that some of this damage is historic so that will be a maintenance issue that we need to pick up but we can certainly look at that.

 

4.         467 bus route

 

Mr I Kirkpatrick asked if there is any progress on trying to improve the 467 bus route to Epsom which had been included in the Community Plan as an aspiration a few years ago. The 467 bus route finishes at 7pm and doesn’t work on Sundays. Epsom has a hospital and theatre and is a transport hub to Sutton, so an improved bus service would be of great benefit.  The Chair asked Robert Varney of TfL to try to obtain an update on this issue. 

[Mr Kirkpatrick also commented that several elderly residents had commented to him that having to put car registration number into new parking meters was not popular.]