Archive for Crime Prevention

Minutes of AGM – 20th June 2018

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

Minutes of Annual General Meeting

held at The Lauries, Birkenhead

at 7pm on Wednesday 20th June 2018

Attendance:       11 residents plus 5 committee members.

Apologies:          1 apology

1. Welcome and Introductions

The chair and treasurer’s reports had been circulated prior to the meeting.   It was the committee’s intention that an informal style of meeting should encourage discussion and debate from those present.

2. Derelict Properties

The chair reported on meetings that had taken place over the last 12 months with councillors and representatives of the council’s housing department.   These meetings have produced little progress as the council has no powers in respect of private owners of properties.   However, key changes in planning law mean that councils now have to meet targets regarding building on ‘brownfield’ sites, so we wait with interest to see if this has any impact on the sites in Egerton Park.

One resident asked – if a new application was to be submitted to develop one of the derelict/empty properties/sites, what would be the council’s position in light of the highway department’s previous opposition to such developments?   The committee were unable to comment as we have no idea what the response of planning or highways might be to future applications.   All we can do is to monitor applications and keep residents informed.   The chair also confirmed that, contrary to a commonly held misconception, the committee has never opposed any previous planning applications, and a previous application to demolish 77 and replace it with houses was opposed by the planning department, NOT the committee or residents.   Finally, it has not been possible to establish the intentions of the owner of 4 of these properties despite communication by email.

As a way forward, residents suggested a petition to all residents.   However, this would require the involvement of many more residents to assist in this, the current committee not having sufficient manpower to undertake such a time consuming exercise.   Other suggestions included lobbying our local MP Frank Field, and/or emailing the owner of the derelict properties requesting an update.   The committee will continue to check the planning website for any new planning applications and will keep residents informed by emailing those residents for whom we have contact details.

ACTION: the committee to seek a meeting with local MP Frank Field to discuss residents’ concerns over derelict sites.

3. Road Maintenance

All present agreed that the road is now in a better state than it has been for some time and that repairs appear to be holding out well against cold weather.   The committee will continue to ask residents to assist us by identifying particular patches that need work, and will continue in our policy of repairing larger patches as opposed to individual potholes.   Residents commented on the particularly good patch that has been repaired at the top entrance and the use of good quality tarmac.

A resident suggested an increase in contributions to fund future repairs, however, it was agreed that it would be unfair to expect those residents who already contribute, to subsidize to an even greater extent, those who do not pay.

4. Drains and Infrastructure

i) Drains – residents reported that a number of gullies are blocked and some have disappeared or been concreted over.    As a consequence sections of the park, particularly towards the Byrne Avenue end, are prone to flooding.   One drain has been cleared (paid for out of the maintenance fund) and the chair has requested a quote from the same drainage company for all gullies, including those in the closes, to be cleared.   It was also noted that council road sweepers rarely sweep the road in the park and that, unless this is done regularly, the drains will soon block up again.   In conclusion, our only option is to do the best we can in the circumstances and use the maintenance fund to clear gullies if and when necessary.

There followed a discussion about the council’s responsibility for certain services and their refusal/avoidance in offering these services to residents of Egerton Park because of its unadopted road status.   This is despite the fact that residents do not pay a reduced rate of community charge.   This issue has come up in relation to surface water drains, fly tipping, fallen trees, and lighting.   Also it was noted that the road sweeper should clean around the park once a month but it is certainly nowhere near as regular as this.

ACTION: The committee to seek some clarification about residents’ entitlement to council services as full payers of the community charge.   To be raised with Frank Field MP.

ii) Entrance Pillars – these require some repair work and the chair will attempt to complete this work in the summer months.   Any offer of help with this would be welcome!

iii) Lighting in Delyn Close – one resident raised concerns about the lack of lighting in Delyn Close.   The committee had previously done a lot of work on this issue, including meetings with the council, and had proposed a solution in terms of contributing towards the cost of installing lights, but residents of the close had not attended a meeting where this proposal was to have been discussed.   Residents of Delyn Close are free to raise this issue again if it is causing concern.

5. Anti-social Behaviour

One resident reported sighting youths in his driveway and another reported a burglary in the last 12 months but these occurrences, fortunately, are now quite rare in the park.   It is worth reminding residents to take more care during the summer months when windows are left open, which could lead to an increase in opportunistic thefts.   Residents should also let the committee know of any such incidents so that we can send out an email alert to residents.

6. Traffic Issues

The park already has speed bumps and we have previously replaced old and damaged 10mph speed signs.   It is difficult to see what more can be done to stop some vehicles travelling at excessive speeds in the park.   Parked cars continue to be a problem particularly visitors to Salisbury House.

ACTION: the committee to look at possibilities regarding enforcement of parking restrictions on the road.

7. Committee Membership

The committee consists of just 4 regular members who undertake most of the work.   Two of these members are directors of the residents’ association.   Current committee members have been doing this work, sometimes in excess of 10 years, and are not getting any younger.   We are desperately in need of volunteers to help and contribute new ideas, and with a view to taking on some of the committee tasks and to support its work, or there is a very real danger that the current committee will fold.

ACTION: the future of the residents’ committee should be a priority for 2018/2019, with a letter to go to all residents making clear the situation if the committee should fold.

8. Action Plan/Priorities for 2018/2019

·        Future of the residents’ committee should be a priority for 2018/2019, with a letter to go to all residents making clear the situation if the committee should fold;

·        Develop a strategic approach to issues of empty & derelict properties in the park – to seek a meeting with local MP Frank Field;

·        Continue to pursue households that do not pay towards the residents’ association funds;

·        Continue with road repair/resurfacing;

·        Ongoing vigilance and surveillance of planning applications;

·        Reporting of anti-social behaviour and other nuisance issues;

·        Keep residents informed via newsletters and occasional emails;

·        To look at possibilities regarding enforcement of parking restrictions on the road;

·        To seek some clarification about residents’ entitlement to council services as full payers of the community charge.   To be raised with Frank Field MP.

9. Any Other Business

i) Lettering on Pillars – the committee to explore options for road name signs to be fixed to the entrance pillars.

ii) Grass Cutting – a request to fund grass cutting of the verge at the entrance to Delyn Close has been refused.   As this could not possibly be a one off payment, it was felt after discussion that this was not a good use of residents’ contributions.   A question was raised as to why this has recently become a problem?   How was this issue dealt with previously?

The chair thanked all those for attending and for their support to the committee, and also thanked the committee for all their hard work over the last 12 months.

The meeting closed at 8.40pm.

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Alert to all Residents – 7th July 2018

We have received information from a resident in the park about finding strange markings on a shed and downspout.   On contact with the police it is clear that these markings are used by thieves to communicate with each other and let each other know which properties are easiest to break into, and those which are not worth burgling.   There is information about this online and it was first highlighted by Lanarkshire Police in 2015.   A search for ‘burglar symbols’ will give you more detail.
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‘Meanings include ‘alarmed house’, ‘previously burgled’, ‘good target’, and ‘vulnerable occupant’.
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If you see any signs on your own property or anywhere in the park, the police should be contacted immediately and forensic officers are already investigating the case identified by our resident.
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We do not have everyone’s email addresses so please pass this message on to neighbours and particularly if you are aware of more vulnerable residents.   We do not want to over react and cause unnecessary alarm but felt it was important to keep residents informed.
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The committee would also like to know of any further incidents so we can see the bigger picture and have a view as to whether this is just an isolated incident or a more worrying trend.

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AGM 20th June 2018 – Chair’s Report

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

AGM     20th June 2018   –   Report of Committee Chair

At last year’s AGM you, as residents, set the following priorities for 2017/18.   These were identical to the priorities set in 2016/17.

  •       Develop a strategic approach to issues of empty & derelict properties in the park;
  •       Continue to pursue households that do not pay towards the residents’ association funds;
  •       Continue with road repair/resurfacing;
  •       Ongoing vigilance and surveillance of planning applications;
  •       Reporting of anti-social behaviour and other nuisance issues;
  •       Keep residents informed via newsletters and occasional emails;
  •       Consider holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’.

Derelict Properties & Sites

Throughout 2017/18 we continued to meet with Moira McLaughlin, Councillor for Rock Ferry ward; Councillor George Davies, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet member for Housing & Community Safety; and staff from the housing department at Wirral Borough Council.   The committee remains frustrated that because all the derelict sites are privately owned there is no “quick fix”.   You will also be aware that number 77 has now been destroyed by fire and the owner is awaiting a decision on its potential demolition.   At a recent meeting with our councillors and local authority it was agreed that they will now explore any available legal options to enforce the development of derelict sites.   Beyond that there has been little progress.

The Residents’ Association Funds

We have (again) carried out a regular and consistent campaign throughout 2017/18 to encourage those households that do not pay towards the work of the residents’ association that they should do so.   Every non-paying household has received invoices and reminder letters and we have responded to a range of individual queries and complaints from those who do not wish to pay.   We have continued to develop an effective database of all households’ contribution history and can tell at a glance who has paid, who is in arrears and have a complete history of contributions back to 2005.   The percentage of households paying their fees has gradually increased again this year and the majority now pay but there is still more work to do.   We propose that this remains a priority for 2018/19.

Road Repairs/Resurfacing Issues

Once again we have carried out a significant number of road repairs to both the north and south drives in the park.   By and large the road is probably better than it has been for a long time – some say it’s better than many council roads which are full of potholes!   In June 2017 we carried out £4,260 worth of road repairs and in April 2018 we carried out a further £2,730.   We hope to carry out further repairs this year before the onset of autumn.

Ongoing Vigilance and Surveillance of Planning Applications

The committee has continued to monitor any and all planning applications throughout the year although they have been few and far between.   We currently know of no major plans affecting the park.

Reporting of Anti-social Behaviour and Other Nuisance Issues

The committee remains vigilant about these issues and maintains regular contact with police community support officers and local councillors but there does not appear to have been any increase in the amount of anti-social incidents this year.   Occasionally there is some fly-tipping and we warned of a number of young people entering derelict properties, especially number 77 and this did indeed result in the arson on that property last year.

We ask all residents to remain vigilant and to report any matters of concern to the relevant authorities as and when they arise including Wirral Council’s “Street Scene” department, your local councillors and the police.   As always, the committee is happy to be kept informed of any issues but we have no special influence and rely on residents themselves to take appropriate action with the relevant department when a concern arises.   We had previously considered installing some CCTV cameras in the park but this was put on hold pending a survey of residents which we have not yet undertaken.   This will not progress unless residents are in favour.

Keep Residents Informed via Newsletters and Occasional Emails

The committee has continued to produce quarterly newsletters and our website  continues to have numerous visits throughout the year.   In addition to hand delivering the newsletters, we have posted onto the site information about a whole host of issues as well as uploading our newsletters, articles and pictures about Egerton Park history.   This seems to be very popular and we will continue to do this.   Numerous residents have used the site to contact us via email to raise our awareness on everything from local crime concerns to nuisance issues and to ask general questions or make suggestions to the committee.   If we do not currently have your email address please use the reply box below to send it to us with a note of what number you live at.

Consider Holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’

This issue has again slipped down our agenda so let us know your views at the AGM about resurrecting it.

The Committee’s Planned Priorities for 2018/19

We propose that these remain the same as in 2017/18 as above (subject to residents’ agreement at the AGM).

Once again we all owe a debt of gratitude to residents who pay towards the upkeep of the park and to the residents’ committee for their work throughout the year.

After last year’s AGM our treasurer stepped down and we were unable to find a replacement so I have been undertaking that role as well as chair.   We would really like to attract more committee members, and especially a treasurer, so if you can count to ten and think you could help us please get in touch.   We currently hold meetings about 6 times a year and it is not too onerous or time-consuming, so if you are interested in joining the committee please let us know.

Chair, Egerton Park Residents’ Association         –         May 2018

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Have I Been Pwned? – Eg Pk News (Christmas 2017)

No, it isn’t a spelling mistake!   It’s the name of a very useful website.   It seems that all too often we hear about major websites being hacked and email addresses being listed online; in some cases passwords are obtained too.   There was a particularly large data leak of 700 million email addresses in August of this year.   So we would all like to know if our own email address has been affected.

www.haveibeenpwned.com was set up by a cyber security expert to allow people to check just that.   It is a safe service that enables web users to check their email address against lists of known data leaks.   You’ll need to enter your email address but that is all.   If you get bad news and your email address has been included in a data breach, it would be sensible to change the relevant passwords.   Ideally, never use the same password for multiple sites, and it’s more important than ever to watch out for spam and junk messages.  If requested, the website can also notify you automatically when future ‘pwnage’ occurs and your account compromised.

To find out more, www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-41095606 is the link to a BBC article about the large spamming operation and the Have I Been Pwned website.   Help can also be found at www.which.co.uk/pwned (you don’t need to be a member of Which?).

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Report from our AGM – Eg Pk News (Summer 2017)

Our AGM this year was held at the Lauries in Birkenhead on 7th June and, despite the change of venue, there was a good turnout from residents.   Those who attended identified a number of current issues that they were concerned about in the park including fly tipping, blocked drains, wheelie bins being left on the road and litter.   But by far the issues that caused greatest concern were the derelict properties and abandoned sites in the park at 46/48, 77, 108 and the large building at 42/44 that was previously Englewood Nursing Home.   Not only do these sites make the park look uncared for and detract from what is otherwise a very pleasant place to live, they also attract criminal damage, vandalism, fly tipping, possible drug use, the daubing of graffiti and other forms of anti-social behaviour.

Your chair summarised the current stalemate in terms of progressing matters with the council and property owners about this issue, and the frustration of the committee at the lack of action despite their best efforts.  There were various suggestions from those present as to what further action might be taken including a petition to the leader of the council.   It was therefore agreed that, as in the case last year, the issue of derelict properties will remain the committee’s top priority for the next 12 months.

Other agenda items included our ongoing programme of road repairs and the proactive approach of the committee to encouraging all residents of the park to contribute towards our maintenance fund.   On 31/03/2017 (the end of the last full financial year) 88% of houses, 28% of flats and 100% of residential homes had contributed.  Road repairs completed at the end of May/early June cost £4,260.   A big thank you to all our contributors.

In the light of concerns about anti-social behaviour, it was suggested by the committee that residents might want to consider installation of CCTV cameras.   There were a range of views expressed about this proposal including some strong views that CCTV was ineffective as a deterrent, and that those intent on criminal behaviour could easily avoid being detected and could damage the cameras.   Others felt uncomfortable with the principle of CCTV which they felt would impact on the sense of community in the park.   It was agreed that there would need to be more consultation with residents about this proposal which would involve considerable expense from the maintenance fund.   The possibility of securing funding in the form of a grant to enhance community safety (crime prevention) should also be explored.

Finally, we were delighted to welcome two new committee members.  It is great to involve new people, some fresh (young!) blood and new perspectives.   Sadly our long term treasurer has decided to resign after 11 years as a committee member.   Many of you will know her and will be sorry to see her leave the committee.   Our thanks go to her for all her hard work over such a long time.   This leaves the committee with an unfilled role and the need to identify someone who can act as our treasurer.   The role is a pretty straightforward one and much less onerous now that we have set up our database (for which the treasurer does not have responsibility).   He/she receives payments and provides receipts, transfers cheques to the bank, pays invoices for road repairs etc., and produces figures for our AGM.   If you know of anyone in the park who has some basic bookkeeping experience or is good with figures, please let us know.

The full AGM minutes can be found on our website.

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Derelict Properties Update and Fire at 77 Egerton Park – Eg Pk News (Summer 2017)

Following our AGM, on 21st June your committee met with Ian Gordon (Wirral Council Housing Renewal Team) to discuss Egerton Park’s empty properties problem.   Ian informed us that a recent survey by the council had revealed more than 20 vacant properties in the park, and the council will be writing to all the owners of these properties with information about the availability of grants to support properties being brought back into use.   He also reported on a recent visit to 77 when they had found the property was not secure and had requested that the owner rectify this.

He informed us that there is little the council can do other than to encourage owners to take responsibility for keeping their properties secure, but the council is not financially in a position to undertake this work themselves.   He did however tell us that they log all complaints regarding empty properties and suggested this may provide the evidence to take a more proactive approach with property owners.

On Wednesday 28th June at approximately 9.45 pm two pedestrians reported a fire at number 77.  The fire blazed rapidly and then continued to smoulder for about 12 hours.  Five fire engines attended and reinforcements were requested from Crosby.  Needless to say, residents in nearby properties experienced a somewhat sleepless and frightening night.  At the time of writing the property is not secure and its future looks even more uncertain.  It is very sad to see what was such a beautiful Victorian villa reduced to a shell.

When residents become aware of any incidents or episodes of anti-social behaviour at any of the empty properties in the park, in addition to contacting the police on 101, they should email or phone details to the council’s Empty Properties Team.  The more residents do this then the greater likelihood there is that we will be able to put pressure on the council and property owners to do something about these sites.   The email address of the council’s empty properties section is emptyproperties@wirral.gov.uk.   Further information can be found on the council’s web page www.wirral.gov.uk/housing/information-and-advice/empty-properties.   For those without internet access the phone number is 0151 691 8132.

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Spoof Emails – Eg Pk News (Summer 2017)

Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address, and it is common for spam and phishing emails to use such spoofing to mislead the recipient about the origin of the message.

Most of us at some time have received these and they arrive seemingly from someone you know or from a genuine firm such as PayPal or HMRC.   Now and again the Egerton Park email account also receives them in the spam/junk folder, purportedly from one of our contacts saying ‘Hi Egerton’, giving a website link to click on but no message, and then signing off with the formal name of the supposed sender.   Needless to say all of these emails have always been deleted immediately.   No-one has gained access to our contacts list, and when we send out messages we ensure that all residents and owners’ email addresses are kept private.

Depending on your email provider and if you are using a desktop or laptop computer, both the name of the sender and their email address are often automatically displayed, for example – Egerton Park Residents Association (egerton_parkch42@yahoo.co.uk).   It is good practice to get into the habit of checking the actual email address, especially if you are unsure if the sender is genuine or not.   If only the name is displayed then the email address should be shown when you tap on or near the name.

Two examples received recently in a personal email account were From: online.inc@paypal-admin.co.uk (hassett5@optusnet.com.au) and From: HMRC Service Support (ata@atasite.org).   It is very clear that the email addresses within the brackets are neither those of PayPal nor HMRC.   All government departments such as Land Registry, HMRC, Vehicle Tax, Companies House, local councils etc., are part of the .gov.uk domain and certainly not atasite.org as above!

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