Monthly Archives: November 2016

Fall in PCSO numbers prompts fears of crime rise

From The Argus

pcsos

Fears have grown that incidents of antisocial behaviour are increasing because there are fewer Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) on the streets.

Police crime data unearthed by the Argus shows that anti-social behaviour has increased sharply through the course of 2016 in Brighton and Hove, while PCSOs have been reduced in number and taken off their traditional street beats.

Brighton and Hove City Council figures also show a marked increase in anti-social behaviour in recent months and councillors are so concerned that there is all-party support for a motion calling for a rethink over PCSO changes.

Sussex Police stress that anti-social behaviour in the year to September is actually down 15 per cent on the previous 12 months.

But experts are concerned that this is a result of fewer PCSOs being available to receive reports from residents.

The Sussex Police crime map data for the city of Brighton and Hove shows that recorded anti-social behaviour jumped 35 per cent through this year from an average of 770 over January February and March, to an average of 1,036 over July August and September – the last months for which data is available.

However the monthly average for 2016 so far is actually nine per cent down on the monthly average for 2015.

Police anti-social behaviour figures cover incidents including people kicking objects in the street, shouting in the street, moving street furniture around and dumping a shopping trolley in a stream.

The council records anti-social behaviour very differently but their figures also show a spike of late, with an average of 28 incidents in the first three months of the year doubling to an average of 57 over the last three months.

Over this year Sussex Police have been decreasing PCSO numbers and, in July, changed their role from that of a ‘bobby on the beat’ to working in hubs and being used in targeted teams.

The city had 49 PCSOs in December of last year but that number fell to a low of 32 in July and August, though it has since risen again to 40.

Union boss Andy Stenning, head of Unison police and justice for Sussex Police, said: “Because they’ve cut the numbers they can no longer provide that service and they no longer put PCSOs on beats.”

He warned that official figures may be underestimating the scale of the problem because anti-social behaviour is no longer being reported since PCSOs are not around to hear residents’ complaints.

He said: “I’ve been associated with policing for 38 years and I can tell you that if there’s no way of notifying the authority of what’s going on, then people don’t do it.”

Councillor Emma Daniel, chairwoman of the council’s neighbourhoods committee, said: “Residents are experiencing more and more problems but they aren’t reporting them properly because they don’t have a PCSO to talk to.

“We’re jointly calling on [Police and Crime Commissioner] Katy Bourne to reverse her position on neighbourhood policing. We think more PCSOs are needed.”

Zoe Kyriacou, who was subjected to terrifying anti-social harrassment by a gang of youths in The Level last month, said: “The police do a sterling job, but everyone says The Level is getting worse, you can’t go there any more.”

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said that PCSO numbers reflected the assessed need, adding: “PCSOs continue to conduct foot patrols – however, working more flexibly, they are targeted to areas where we know they can make a difference.

“They no longer undertake random patrols as these are proven to have no impact on crime reduction.”

Click here for full story.

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Revised plans for Preston Barracks and Lewes Road housing scheme

From The Argus

A proposed pedestrian bridge over Lewes Road connecting all three Momentum Lewes Road sites

A proposed pedestrian bridge over Lewes Road connecting all three Momentum Lewes Road sites

Revised proposals have been put forward for a scheme that aims to revive an old barracks site.

The number of homes set for the former Preston Barracks site and university land in Lewes Road, Brighton, will go up from 350 to 376 while the height of the buildings planned has been reduced.

The scheme, called Momentum Lewes Road, will transform the dilapidated barracks site and also develop the University of Brighton’s Watts car park and Mithras House car park sites on either side of Lewes Road.

A bridge has been drawn up to connect the sites.

The developer, U+I Plc, expects to create more than 1,000 jobs as part of the transformation and bring in £500 million of economic benefit to Brighton and Hove’s economy.

The scheme includes more than 1,300 managed student bedrooms, a 50,000sqft hub for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs and a new home for the university’s Business School along with new teaching and learning facilities.

Debra Humphris, Vice Chancellor of the University of Brighton, said: “We are very excited about the proposed redevelopment of our Moulsecoomb campus.

“The plans are bold and imaginative and will help to transform a much-neglected stretch of Lewes Road. The new campus will deliver significant benefits for our students, staff and residents by creating a great place to live, work and learn.”

She said the 1,300 additional student bedrooms would take pressure off private housing elsewhere.

The developers said feedback during a public consultation held in April has been taken on board. The revised proposals saw the height of buildings reduced by five storeys on the Mithras site and three storeys on the Preston Barracks site. They also include small retail, café and workshop units for independent businesses and outdoor play equipment.

A transport and travel plan has also been developed for the proposals, following issues raised at the April consultation, detailing road junction improvements, 750 car parking spaces and more than 1,000 bicycle spaces.

Richard Upton from U+I Plc said: “We have taken the time to listen carefully to local people’s ideas and concerns and have taken them on board in our proposals, particularly looking at how to make a vibrant new area of the city that benefits residents and also students and staff at the university.”

Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said the development “was key to delivering new homes and jobs” and “driving economic growth which benefits the whole city”.

For more information, visit momentumlewesroad.com, a planning application is expected to be submitted by end of the year with a decision by spring.

Council launches childcare consultation

From 1 September 2017 the Government is increasing free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds from 15 to 30 hours per week.

In order to understand demand and help plan for the national roll out, Brighton & Hove City Council is keen to find out employers’ and employees’ needs for flexible and out of hours childcare.

Who is eligible?

The 30 hours free childcare will be available to families with children aged three and four where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and where each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage, and neither parent earns more than £100,000 per year. This includes employed and self-employed parents and those on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria.

Download more information about the 30 hours scheme.

To respond to the short on-line consultation please click here.

Call to tidy up ‘ugly’ graffiti

From The Argus

SHW request council action on ‘ugly’ illegal tagging and graffiti

SHW request council action on ‘ugly’ illegal tagging and graffiti

A property expert is demanding the city council take action against what he calls ugly illegal tagging and graffiti across Brighton and Hove.

Robert Perry, partner at Stiles Harold Williams, said there has been a lack of urgency to tackle the problem, and he feels there has been a general defacement of buildings in the city.

He argues thousands of pounds is spent on just one property to remove the scrawlings, only for them to be replaced within days.

Mr Perry said: “We can all applaud the satirical artistic merit of Banksy and his ilk, and some street art in Brighton and Hove is well done.

“However, a large proportion of it is just tagging which is an expensive blight on the city and its commercial and residential property owners.

“In 28 years property management in the city I’ve never known it as bad as this.

“Repeatedly trying to keep these buildings clean uses up valuable time, resources and money – and we would appreciate greater support from the council and police alike in dealing with the issue.

“Recent press coverage has focused on some of the more creative and eye-catching street art in the city, but many areas are covered with tags and ugly, thoughtless doodling.

“It is clearly displayed on the council website that it is illegal to graffiti on any surface without the owner’s permission.”

Brighton and Hove City Council has no responsibility for graffiti on private buildings, although it will clean off offensive graffiti such as anything obscene or racist.

For anything else, private owners must bear the cost in the same way they would for any other maintenance or criminal damage.

A council spokesman said: “Since our engagement of enforcement contractor 3GS earlier in the year, enforcement action against environmental crimes is at its highest level ever.

“We do clean public property such as street furniture and public buildings.

“There were 15 £75 fixed penalty notices issued for graffiti or flyposting between February and August this year.

“It’s obviously difficult to catch people doing this as it typically happens in the dead of night.

“As graffiti without permission can be a criminal offence we would suggest people report it to the police.”

Concerns over Council’s sale of downland

From The Argus

imgid87466503-jpg-gallery

Land near Plumpton Hill put up for sale by Brighton and Hove City Council for £150,000.

More than 100 acres of downland held in public ownership for decades is being flogged off in the biggest sale of its kind for 20 years.

Campaigners are calling for a freeze on the 120 acre downland sell-off by Brighton and Hove City Council warning of damaging repercussions for the South Downs with a loss of public access and reduced conservation at important wildlife sites.

The sales are being arranged by the cash-strapped council, which has to find £18 million of cuts in the next financial year and £145 million by 2020.

The sale includes two sites of special scientific interest, part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a 50-year old nature reserve and two vital parts of the Devil’s Dyke setting according to opponents of the sale.

Council bosses said the land represented just one per cent of its 12,000 acre Downland estate, the equivalent of around 7,000 football pitches, with the sale of “less valuable heritage assets” in a bid to help fund the £5.8 million Stanmer Park restaurant project.

Campaigners are concerned that the sales could be just the beginning of a wider sell-off but council officials insisted no more are planned at present.

Land sales causing campaigners concern include three acres of The Junipers at the old Sussex Wildlife Trust Saddlescombe Nature Reserve sold to a private buyer for the “paltry sum of £35,000”.

Environmentalists say it is the sole remaining site for juniper in East Sussex, a well-known site for rare orchid species and bats, and “the single most important plot” in the whole Downland estate.

Devil’s Dyke Field has been sold to its tenant while the ten-acre Park Wall Farm at Falmer was snapped up for £175,000 though the council said it would be protected as grazing land.

Campaigners are also unhappy about the proposed sale of the 22-acre site The Racecourse outside Poynings, “a wonderful fossil site” that is the match of the better-known Bridport Cliffs in Dorset, and the loss from public ownership of Plumpton Hill Scarp though the council has said this will continue to be farmed by Plumpton College with public access fixed in perpetuity.

Environmental campaigner Dave Bangs said all the land should be kept in public ownership in perpetuity.

He added: “These sales open the door to privatisation of Brighton’s entire Downland Estate.

“Without democratic public accountability we must expect threats to public usage, neglect, damage to important wildlife habitat, inappropriate development, and more shooting and hunting.”

Chris Todd, of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, said: “We have real concerns about this, most of the public is largely unaware of what is being done.

“I think people thought it was just a few minor old buildings or pieces of land of small value whereas they are proposing to sell hugely important wildlife sites.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “The sites chosen are non-core assets owned by the council, some of which are outside the city’s boundaries.

“Most of the Downland Estate is within the South Downs National Park and protected by the highest level of statutory protection possible.

“When the council sells land we take advice from specialist agents to make sure appropriate control mechanisms are put in place to protect the council and the city’s residents against future development or possible changes in use.”

Click here for full story.

Reported crime statistics for September 2016

Sussex Police have released the latest reported crime statistics for September 2016, the latest figures available.

Click on the map for detailed information.

crime-map-sept-2016

Here is a brief summary of the crime information for the past two months:

August 2016

September 2016

All crime

133

101

Anti-social behaviour

47

43

Bicycle theft

1

5

Burglary

6

11

Criminal damage and arson

9

6

Drugs

13

1

Other crime

2

1

Other theft

12

4

Possession of weapons

1

1

Public order

5

0

Robbery

1

1

Shoplifting

1

1

Theft from the person

7

1

Vehicle crime

4

7

Violence and sexual offences

24

19

Please visit https://www.police.uk/shape/AnxkDj/ for more information including outcomes for these crimes and contact information for your local policing team.