Demise of the Councils Streetscene Service – What next?

Recently all elected members received an email from Joe Blott, Strategic Director at Wirral Council informing us that the Councils Streetscene Department would cease and be replaced by an online reporting system for Members of the public, Councillors and MPs.  That email is reproduced below.

Its fair to say I have never been a fan of Streetscene for many reasons, not least of all the lack of a dedicated officer who can be held to account.  Consequently I remain to be convinced that this new system is any better.

This new system also disadvantages those people who do not have Internet access or are not internet savvy and I believe is an underhand way of dissuading people from reporting issues.   I believe the Streetscene telephone number will still be available with limited operators who will be able to ‘key in’ any issues that are reported by the public.   However the chances are you will be waiting a long time for your call to be answered, time will tell..

If you have any questions on this please contact Mr Blott on 691 8001.   Alternatively please contact me, Steve or Bruce and we will do our very best to help

Dear Councillor

This is a reminder that from 31st July 2015, the Streetscene@wirral.gov.uk email address will close.

All Councillors should report or request Streetscene issues through Councillor.Net, the dedicated site for all Wirral members.

If an email is received into the Streetscene@wirral.gov.uk email account on or after the 31st July the following will happen:

o From a Councillor
o An automatic email acknowledgment will be sent in reply informing the Councillor to submit a Streetscene request through Councillor.Net
o From an MP or MP’s staff
o An automatic email acknowledgment will be sent in reply informing the MP to submit a Streetscene request via a dedicated web link
o Customer
o An automatic email acknowledgment will be sent in reply informing the customer to go to Wirral.gov.uk

Submitting Streetscene requests via an online form on a web link automates the process, freeing up advisors to help those customers who can’t self- serve, either because their enquiry is too complex or because they are not able to get online.

Anyone without internet access can use a self-serve desk at any library or one stop shop for easy and quick access to online service. Our libraries also have free wifi so they can use their own phone, tablet or laptop if they prefer. Staff in our one stop shops and libraries can help people to get online, so in future they will be able to access more services on their own.

These changes in our customer services are nothing new and are not unique to Wirral. Councils around the country are encouraging residents to interact with more services online and, like Wirral, have been for a number of years.

As a Councillor, you can play a role in encouraging your constituents to use online services by becoming familiar with them yourself. As well as the public facing online services, as members you can use Councillor.Net to report issues or request services and track progress for services other than Streetscene. Councillor.Net is freely available to all members and can be accessed through the council website.

The changes in our approach will not only encourage more customers to go online, where it costs the council less to deal with their enquiry, but will also help us meet our ongoing financial challenges. The cost of a face to face transaction is over 20 times that of an online transaction

Regards
Joe Blott
Strategic Director – Transformation and Resources
Wirral Council
Telephone Number : 0151 691 8001
Email : joeblott@wirral.gov.uk

Reporting back #3

Over the last few weeks, and working with my colleagues Councillors Steve Williams and Bruce Berry, I have been calling on homes in this area to meet residents and discuss local issues. Thank you to everyone who answered their door and gave us their time.

This post is a report back on the action we have taken on some of the issues that were raised most often by residents. If you were out when we called, or if you have thought of an issue since then, please let me know using the contact details on this letter. We can’t promise to solve every problem, but we will try our best!

Meadowbrook Road: the issue raised by many residents was the ongoing problem of speeding traffic. The Town Hall has advised me that they prioritise the road safety budget on the roads with the highest recorded number of crashes and collisions. I have asked, again, for a new review of the traffic in this area and for possible solutions.

Dog fouling: sadly, a small number of owners are still not picking up after their pets. Some additional signage (for the owners, not the dogs!) would help, as would extra publicity for those people who are being fined for not picking up after their pets.

Harlian Avenue Pot Holes and flooding: people mentioned the condition of the carriageway and the ongoing flooding problem when it rains. We have asked the Council to look into the issues raised and come up with a solution.

Childwall Close and Oak Close parking: several residents asked about parking issues in this area and asked if improved lineage including yellow lines would bring about an improvement.

Childwall Avenue: residents raised concerns that Childwall Avenue was being used as a ‘rat run’ by vehicles to avoid Moreton Cross and have asked if any traffic calming measures could be introduced. We have asked the Council to look into this request.

Faulty street lights: we have reported those street lights that were ‘on’ during daylight hours.

Reporting Back #2

Over the last few weeks, and working with my colleagues Councillors Steve Williams and Bruce Berry, I have been calling on homes in this area to meet residents and discuss local issues. Thank you to everyone who answered their door and gave us their time.
I am now reporting back on the action we have taken on some of the issues that were raised most often by residents. If you were out when we called, or if you have thought of an issue since then, please let me know.  We can’t promise to solve every problem, but we will try our best.
Cobham Road: the issue raised by many residents was the ongoing problem of speeding traffic. While the Town Hall installed the ’20 Zone ‘ signs some time ago, there are still some drivers, using this road as a short cut, who are causing a problem for people who live here. The Town Hall has advised me that they prioritise the road safety budget on the roads with the highest recorded number of crashes and collisions. I have asked, again, for a new review of the traffic in this area and for possible solutions.
Pot Holes: people also mentioned the unfilled potholes, many of them marked to be filled. We have asked the Council to fill these as soon as possible.
Overgrown tree: we have asked for the tree near the junction with the Oak Close footpath to be trimmed at the based, to enable pedestrians to pass more easily.
Faulty street lights: we have reported those street lights that were ‘on ‘ during daylight, including one in Seawood Grove.
Dog fouling: sadly, a small number of owners are still not picking up after their pets. Some additional signage (for the owners, not the dogs!) would help, as would extra publicity for those people who are being fined for not picking up after their pets.
Willow Grove: we have reported the poor condition in some places of the pavement and have also asked for action on the overgrown weeds.
Altcar Drive: residents enquired about the overgrown piece of land at the entrance to the Drive from Cobham Road.  Planning permission was granted in April 2014 for a one and a half storey dwelling and a single garage on this plot. (Planning Application – APP/14/00106) The landowner has three years to start the build. In the meantime we have requested that the landowner maintains the land and the fencing so that it is not an eyesore.
Email bulletin:
several residents commented on our recently re-launched email news bulletin. If you would like to sign up to receive these monthly bulletins on local issues, please let me know.
Vehicle crime: in May, there was a reported theft from a vehicle in Childwall Avenue. Police are asking residents in the area to ensure that vehicles are kept locked, with no valuables left on display. Equally, that sheds and side gates are kept locked.
Finally, if you have any comments or questions on a ny issue in this letter, or anything else you would like to raise, please let me know.  Your three councillors work for all residents, regardless of how you may have voted in the recent election.

Cost Of Mayor Making in Wirral 2015

Now I fully support and respect the Mayoral position in Wirral, however I am concerned at the cost of the Mayor Making event, particularly  when so many Council staff have lost their jobs and others have had to take pay cuts, so I submitted a Freedom of Information request to determine the cost of the Event held in May of this year.

The Councils FOI Officer has responded with the information below.    The cost declared up to now is £3,720.40.   Do you think this money could be better utilised?

Cost of Mayor Making 2015 

Orders Placed Cost (£)
Badges – Past Mayor and Mayoress  914.00
Drinks in Mayor’s Parlour    40.00
Photographer  370.00
Catering 1432.00
Flowers   370.00
Mini Bus Hire for Cadets    43.00
Petrol    50.00
Hire of second car    31.00
Laundry (Table cloths)    50.00
Hire cost of chairs No charge
Staff Costs
Chauffeurs/Mayoral Attendants  225.40
Security Staff  165.00
Staff Travelling Expenses    30.00
Members’ Travelling Expenses* Not known yet
Total             3720.40

*Regarding the cost of Members’ Travelling Expenses, this figure will not be known until all claims have been submitted.  In accordance with Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we would advise resubmitting your request for this information at a later date by which time the Council may hold some recorded information.

The directly attributable costs for the Mayor Making 2015, as shown in the table above have been assigned to Civic Services.

Reporting Back #1

Over the last few weeks, and working with my colleagues Councillors Steve Williams and Bruce Berry, I have been calling on homes to meet residents and discuss local issues. Thank you to everyone who answered their door and gave us their time. Below is a brief summary of the issues and the action taken.

Maryland Lane pavements: the recently laid surface, near the bungalows is already lifting. Clearly not a job that was built to last. I have asked for the area to be reinspected and the lumps and bumps to be removed, before anyone else trips.

Lingham Lane Postbox: we have contacted Royal Mail and asked for the Postbox to be repaired or replaced as quickly as possible.

Rubbish hotspot – Old Maryland Lane: the litter at the rear of the homes on Barnston Lane has now been removed, following our requests to the Council.

Grass cutting: we noticed that several of the grass verges had not been cut and so asked for action by the Council’s contractor. I am pleased to report that many of the verges were tackled within two days of our request.

Bramble Way footpath and steps: this footpath to Pasture Road is, once again, being used for anti social behaviour. I have again met with council officers on site and have asked for action to tackle this.

Berrylands Road steps: access for some residents with prams or mobility scooters is difficult due to the steps leading to the footpath (behind Harvest Court). I have now met with Council officers to see if the steps can be turned into a ramp and hope to report back soon on this.

Overgreen Grove:the dropped crossing at the junction with Digg Lane is damaged. I have asked for action and the Council has agreed to repair it.

Parking Issues: residents in Digg Lane, Overgreen Grove, Netherton Road, Fairfield Crescent and parts of Berrylands Road are all reporting difficulties in parking – mainly due to the increase in car ownership and lack of off street parking. There is not a great deal that can be done although we have asked the Council to look at some extra parking where possible in some locations.

Netherton Road: I have also asked for ‘dropped crossing’ at the junction of Netherton Road with Digg Lane to assist people with mobility issues.

Litherland Avenue: residents have complained about wheelie bins being left out all week at the end of the alleyway to rear of Willaston Road, while residents of Willaston Road have also highlighted the litter in the alleyway.  We have asked the Council to take action to keep the area tidy and would also ask residents to put their bins away (this also reduces the risk of them being damaged or stolen). Residents with mobility issues can register for ‘assistance’ with their bins by calling 0151 606 2004

Pasture Road: tree roots are damaging sewers while overhanging trees (on the footway at the bridge) are also a problem. We have asked for action by the Council and Magenta Homes (who own the land where some of the trees are located).

Sunnyside: issues were raised by residents regarding the footway, grassed/weeded area and fly tipping. Unfortunately the Council tell us that Sunnyside is unadopted (ie not owned by the Council) and, as such, they will not take any action on these issues.

Meadfoot Road burglary: the latest report on the website http://www.police.uk includes a burglary in Meadfoot Road in April. Residents are asked to ensure they keep doors and windows locked, particularly ground floor at night or if they go out and the same for garages and sheds. If you would like help to set up a ‘HomeWatch’ scheme in your road, please let me know.

Finally, if you have any comments or questions on any issue in this letter, or anything else you would like to raise, please let me know. Your three councillors work for all residents, regardless of how you may have voted in the recent election.

Fly Tipping Carr Lane, Moreton

Fly Tipping Carr LaneEarlier today I received a report of Fly Tipping in Carr Lane, Moreton.   Two lots of household waste dumped one in the road and the other in a cutting to the side of the road.    I had only just reported this when another email came in reporting what appeared to waste from a cannabis farm, old plants, plant pots etc again in Carr Lane.

I requested an urgent response before any interest was shown, particularly by children and the Council responded immediately clearing both the Cannabis waste and the household waste in the road.   The other pile of fly tipped household waste will be removed tomorrow.

The household waste has lots of evidence of where it has come from, name and address and hopefully from that evidence the Council will discover who this (these) moron(s) who pollute our area are and prosecute them using the full weight of the law to send a strong message.

Thanks to the residents who reported these instances and thanks also to the Council for their rapid response.

Millhouse Pub Appeal – UPDATE

Last year the planning application made by Galliford Try for a three storey complex of flats was unanimously refused by Wirral’s Planning Committee who said:  The development would be unsatisfactory and undesirable having regard to its scale and massing which would be out of scale with neighbouring development. In particular, the proposed form and rectangular bulk would result in an unacceptable visual impact which would relate poorly to other residential properties and the domestic scale of the area, which the Local Planning Authority considers, would have a detrimental impact within this setting. The proposal is of an inappropriate scale and would result in a detrimental change in the character and appearance of the surrounding area. To allow the proposals would be contrary to Policy HS4 of the Wirral Unitary Development Plan

Well we know the applicant has submitted an appeal and that appeal has now started.  We know the applicant has requested that the appeal be dealt with by an exchange of documentation, however I believe this matter to be too important to local residents so I have requested that the appeal be the subject of a public hearing.   As soon as I know the outcome of my request I will write to you again.  Regardless of the method of appeal it is now a live matter and all representations to the planning inspectorate need to be submitted by the 10th August.

I would urge local residents to make representation to the Inspector and they can do this by writing to The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/09, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol BS1 6PN alternatively they can submit comments on the Planning Portal at: www.planningportal.gov.uk/pcs or via email to: teamp16@pins.gsi.gov.uk whichever residents choose please quote appeal reference APP/W4325/W/15/3022092

If we are to have this appeal dismissed then local residents need to come together as they did when opposing planning permission.