Agenda for Overview and Scrutiny Commission Ad-hoc Panel - Street Access Issues - Completed on Monday, 28th September, 2009, 5.00pm
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Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1, Brighton Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Tom Hook, Head of Overview & Scrutiny
12a. Declaration of Substitutes
12.1 Apologies were received from Councillor Jayne Bennett. Substitutions are not permitted on Ad-hoc Scrutiny Panels.
12b. Declaration of Interests
12.2 There were none.
12c. Declaration of Party Whip
12.3 There were none.
12d. Exclusion of the Press and Public
12.4 In accordance with section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, it was considered whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of any items contained in the agenda, having regard to the nature of the business to be transacted and the nature of the proceedings and the likelihood as to whether, if members of the press and public were present, there would be disclosure to them of confidential or exempt information as defined in section 100I (1) of the said Act.
12.5 RESOLVED- That the press and public not be excluded from the meeting.
13.1 These were agreed as an accurate record, no matters arising.
14.1 Concern was raised over the functioning of the hearing loop in the room. It was confirmed that everyone present could hear proceedings and as such the meeting would proceed. Officers would check the precise availability of hearing loops in the room for future reference.
Feedback from Site Visits
15.1 Since the last meeting a number of site visits had been undertaken.
Cllr Pat Hawkes:
15.2 Lewes Road, Boundary Road.
Cllr. Brian Pidgeon:
15.3 Washington Street, Scotland Street, Jersey Street, St. James’s Street
Cllr. Sven Rufus:
15.4 Western Road, Little Preston Street, Regency Square
Cllr. David Watkins:
15.5 Western Road/Church Road, Hove to Regency Square
Cllr. Jayne Bennett:
15.6 Church Rd, George Street, Blatchington Road, Goldstone Villas,
15.7 Ian Denyer, Senior Highway Enforcement Officer clarified a number of issues that Members had raised regarding their visits:
Evidence Gathering - Paula Murray - Head of Culture and Economy (Brighton & Hove City Council)
16.1 Paula Murray, Head of Culture and Economy at the Council was unable to attend but had submitted a written statement which was read out on her behalf.
“This issue divides opinion amongst traders, urban designers, policy officers etc
Similar to some of your earlier witnesses, we have been unable to locate any solid independent evidence on economic impact of A Boards on the success of businesses.
Most businesses, however, will assert that the use of A Boards does have a positive impact on their business and clearly in this difficult time of recession, we want to do all that we can to support our local businesses success.
You have some speakers on your agenda today who will be able to talk to this perhaps with some local evidence
In the case of small scale independent retailers, there is a case to be made for an A Board advertising what exactly the retailer has on offer – everyone recognises the brand of Boots for example and knows what is in there for sale – but the same cannot always be said for the smaller independent local unique retailers, and their role is crucial for the city’s economy and reputation and we do want customers to know they are there and support them.
I think there is also research that shows that restaurant offers (often advertised on A Boards) do play a major role in bringing people in off the street.
On the other hand, in terms of business success - there is also an argument to be made for a clear, clean streetscape and its attractiveness to customers as well as the accessibility issues which this panel is set up to investigate.
More space for pedestrians on our pavements is desirable and would encourage greater usage and footfall. Our Legibility Strategy: Public Space Public Life advocates some good principles of urban design particularly in terms of decluttering public spaces.
However – whilst clutter free is good, you are going to have instances where you absolutely need a bollard or bin or seating for less mobile/older people for example.
I think that what would be difficult would be to establish a “one size fits all” piece of guidance to street design. What people should perhaps do is judge each site on its merit. We have a draft new Street Design Guidance manual which advocates assessing the street and how it operates in each individual case.
An additional suggestion from colleagues in Environment as to what to do in places where you wanted to preserve ‘café culture’ – would be to work via licensing and request comments from an Access Officer for any licensing application and look at the impact on the street in addition and not just at the application in isolation.
I would suggest that the Panel might wish to invite someone from the Environment Directorate to talk to the draft Street Design Guidance manual which is in development and the Public Space: Public Life study if they have not done so already.
We will continue to look out for any independent research in this area for the panel as it concludes its enquiry.”
Evidence Gathering - Regency Square Area Society
Roger Hinton, Regency Square Area Society
17.1 Mr Hinton presented the Panel with some examples of problems with commercial waste being stored on the highway; a number of the problems are long running.
17.2 He advised that the there are two main issues relating to commercial bins; firstly it is unsightly in a conservation area and it also prevents access to various areas. The Society has had some success in having bins removed, the process is however very long and drawn-out.
17.3 He stated that the planning process should ensure that there is sufficient space within the building premises to store waste.
17.4 Members questioned Mr Hinton regarding how the Council respond to residents contacting them on these issues, whether he had been informed of Council policy on commercial bin placement and were these consistently applied.
17.5 Mr Hinton advised he had been sent the Council’s policy regarding the placement of commercial bins and would be happy to share this with members.
17.6 It was confirmed that Cityclean has responsibility for the enforcement of commercial bin placement.
17.7 Members thanked Mr Hinton for his evidence. (See also additional sheet with photos). There was broad agreement that the City needs an all encompassing policy regarding the use and licensing of street space.
Evidence Gathering - North Laine Traders Association
Sharon Thomas, Donna Rix-Martin and Peter Stocker, North Laine Traders Association (NLTA)
18.1 There was agreement from the Association that access is needed along pavements to promote trade. The Council’s current policy of 1.3 metre clear space was supported.
18.2 In the North Laines the access problem arises around specific bottlenecks that need to be sorted out. Traders in the North Laines see the need for good access as this allows people to shop and will attract more people to the area.
18.3 The will to engage with other groups is there but times are tough and there is anecdotal evidence that having the daily special on a board does lead to increased trade as people order it.
18.4 Traders would be happy to look at alternative forms of advertising to A boards. TH to send round to NLTA.
18.5 It was pointed out that the North Laines has always had that ‘market’ feel with goods etc displayed outdoors. Café’s have replaced grocers and butchers and the areas tourist appeal is based to a large extend on its ‘café culture’.
18.6 There was agreement from the witnesses that outside tables and chairs were vital for their survival. It was recognised however that this needed to be managed to promote the area as a whole.
18.7 There should not be a one size fits all solution as different streets have very different problems.
18.8 It was suggested that the removal of A boards would have a disproportionately negative effect on small traders. When asked whether there was an arms race with regard to A boards if was felt that it would hard to get to a fair situation for traders as some enjoy private frontage and therefore could keep a boards. It was reiterated that traders would welcome a discussion on alternatives, however issues such as cost and practicality would be important.
18.8 NLTA were happy to work with other interested groups to explore these issues as ultimately people need to be able to access the area and their shops.
18.9 It was suggested that the NLTA had a role in educating its members on access issues.
18.10 The NLTA was thanked for providing evidence and engaging in such as positive manner.
Panel & Witness discussions
19.1 There was no further discussions.
Any other business
20. There was no other business.