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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Letters to Absentee Landlords and Owners – Eg Pk News (Summer 2017)

You will note that only 28% of flat dwellers in the park contribute towards our maintenance fund.   There may be a number of reasons for this – some may be dependent on benefits or live in the park temporarily or for a short period.   The committee has therefore decided on a different approach and we are in the process of systematically identifying the absentee owners and landlords of these properties, and then writing to them with information about the residents’ association and our road maintenance fund.   We have requested they commence payments to our fund reflecting the size of their properties, the number of tenants and hence the amount of wear and tear caused to the road.   Invoices, due to be delivered in September, will also be sent directly to them rather than to individual tenants.   We have also highlighted that they are not covered by our insurance if an accident were to occur on the road outside their properties if they do not contribute.   We will keep you posted!

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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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Minutes of AGM – 7th June 2017

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

Minutes of Annual General Meeting

held at The Lauries, Birkenhead

at 7pm on 7th June 2017

 

Attendance:   A number of residents plus 5 committee members.

Apologies:      1 apology was received.

  1. Welcome and Introductions/Residents’ Concerns

Those present identified the following concerns:

  • Derelict properties
  • Blocked storm drains (resurfacing has created a problem outside 24 EP)
  • Fly tipping
  • Litter and weeds
  • Pigeons (derelict properties)
  • Lumpy road surface
  • Loss of sense of community
  • Bins and rubbish at 45
  • Timing of AGM to encourage greater attendance
  • Parking and traffic increase
  • Public bins at entrance – misuse and overflow
  • Could the committee prepare a handout (sheet of A4) with useful contacts – council, Streetscene, anti-social behaviour, etc. to assist residents to report problems themselves?
  • Others said they were happy to live in the park and mentioned the dawn chorus as one of the many positives.
  1. Derelict Properties

The majority of those residents present highlighted derelict properties as their major concern.   The chair summarised the current position and reflected the committees’ frustration at the lack of progress in this matter over the last 12 months and since our last AGM.   He then circulated an email regarding development plans for 42 & 44,(previously Englewood Residential Home), 46 & 48 and 77.   There followed a general discussion about what further action could be taken.   It was suggested that the committee organise a petition for residents to sign about derelict sites, including photos of properties, to forward to the council, media, and possible use of social media?   Two representatives from the council’s Empty Property team will be attending the next meeting of the committee who will continue to press for action.   It will continue to be the committee’s top priority for action for the next 12 months.

  1. Road Repairs and Funds

The committee will continue its proactive and persistent approach to non payers.   Contact is now being made by letter with absentee owners/landlords informing them about the association and requesting their contribution to the maintenance fund.   The increasing difficulties in getting the council to take action due to cutbacks and its claim that, as Egerton Park is unadopted, it is a private road rather than a public highway was noted.   The committee have challenged this.

  1. CCTV Proposal

The committee asked for residents’ views about the proposal to site CCTV cameras at the park entrances to act as a disincentive and provide evidence for prosecution of anti-social behaviour.   Reservations were expressed about the effectiveness of cameras, the need to monitor them continuously and that cameras were likely to be vandalised.   Other concerns related to privacy and opposition to the impact that installing CCTV would have on the character of the park – a community solution might be more effective such as Neighbourhood Watch.   It was suggested that those present were not representative of park residents, all of whom would need to be consulted on such a proposal.   The cost was likely to be in the region of £3000 per camera and such use of residents’ money would need to be discussed more widely.   It was suggested that dummy cameras might be equally effective and that the possibility of obtaining grant funding (crime prevention) would be worth exploring, as was the possibility of discussing the proposal with the local crime prevention officer.   There followed a general discussion about the loss of sense of community, and the lack of sense ownership of the park of some residents, including many who live in flats, and that this disinterest means they are less likely to contribute to our funds.

  1. Committee Membership

One resident has now become a full member of the committee and another was nominated at the meeting.   Agreed.

Sadly our current treasurer is resigning from the committee after 11 years.   Thanks were given to her for all her work for the park over this period.   We are anxious to recruit more members to the committee with fresh ideas, and particularly anyone with book keeping experience who would be prepared to take on the role of treasurer.

  1. Priorities for 2017/2018
  • Prioritise issues of empty and derelict properties in the park (petition, meeting with developer, council, media etc.)
  • Continue to pursue households that do not pay towards the residents’ association funds (including absentee owners and landlords)
  • Continue with road repair/resurfacing
  • Ongoing vigilance and surveillance of planning applications
  • Reporting of anti-social behaviour and other nuisance issues (wider consultation with residents re CCTV proposal – develop contact list for residents)
  • Keep residents informed via newsletters and occasional emails
  • Consider holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’ (fix date for litter and weed clearance)
  • Investigate storm drains and whether more clearing is needed
  1. AOB

Could a car boot sale be organised to raise funds?   The committee would provide support but would require additional volunteers to organise.

Speed bumps – could some of these be removed?   This is an ongoing issue with differing views about a solution.

 

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AGM 7th June 2017 – Chair’s Report

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

AGM     7th June 2017   –   Report of Committee Chair

At last year’s AGM you, as residents, set the following priorities for 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 issues;
  •       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 2016 we met with Moira McLaughlin, Councillor for Rock Ferry ward; Councillor George Davies, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet member for Housing & Community Safety; and David Ball, Head of Regeneration at Wirral Borough Council.   All 3 of these met with the committee and visited all of the derelict sites in the park on a number of occasions.   Because all the derelict sites are privately owned there is no “quick fix” and the council has to work with potential developers to encourage action rather than imposing it.   However, on balance the lack of any proactive steps by the local authority on our behalf has been the single most disappointing aspect of this year.   We have invited a member of the local authority to the AGM and will continue to “plug away” but at the time of writing sadly we have nothing positive to report.

The Residents’ Association Funds

We have (again) carried out a regular and consistent campaign throughout 2016/17 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 2017/18.

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.   In particular you will know that we carried out a major repair at the Bebington Road entrance to the park at the end of last year which involved closing the entrance for 2 hours.   In the current year we have spent £4560 on road repairs and, at the time of writing, another set of road repairs is planned for the end of May 2017.

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 appears to have been a decrease in the amount of anti-social incidents this year.   Graffiti has remained a feature but is less prominent than last year.   Another nuisance has been some limited fly-tipping and a number of groups of young people entering derelict properties, especially number 77.   In addition, spring saw the temporary return of our occasional travelling French man complete with his tent.   Residents are reminded that local homeless charities have done their utmost to rehome him and that feeding him or offering him money etc. only encourages him to stay here and stay homeless.   Residents who occupy the flats at number 45 seem to think that the drive and the road outside that property is a rubbish dump and permanently leave overflowing bins on the road.   We have sought assistance from the council and have written to the property owner and will continue to pursue this.   Eventually we hope our pressure will lead to a prosecution.

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.

One issue we are actively considering is whether or not to commission some CCTV cameras in the park to detect and deter anti-social and criminal behaviour as well as fly-tipping.   We have undertaken initial research and costings but need to discuss these at the AGM.

Keep Residents Informed via Newsletters and Occasional Emails

The committee has continued to produce newsletters 3 times a year and our website http://www.egertonpark.wordpress.com 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 items from 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 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 send it to us with a note of what number you live at using the comment box below.

Consider Holding a ‘Clear Up Egerton Park Day’

I think this issue slipped down our 2016/17 agenda so let us know your views at the AGM about resurrecting it.

The Committee’s Planned Priorities for 2017/18          (subject to residents’ agreement)

We propose that these remain almost identical to the previous year’s priorities as follows:

  •       Prioritise 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 – maybe install CCTV;
  •       Keep residents informed via quarterly newsletters and occasional emails;
  •       Consider holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’.

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 this year’s AGM our treasurer will be stepping down.   She has served the committee for 10 years so I thank her on your behalf for her hard work and ask that other residents think about standing or nominating someone to take her place.   We would welcome any new committee members to be nominated at the AGM.   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 2017

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Treewatch – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

Egerton Park became a Tree Preservation Area in 1970.   At our last AGM one resident asked whether it was possible to identify the trees in the park subject to this order and we are able to confirm that we do have a map with all areas with a preserved status identified.   If you are interested in identifying the trees in your garden, we found the following tips on the Woodland Trust website: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

All trees have clues and features that can help with identification.   You just need to know what to look out for.   This quick guide to tree identification will give you a few basic hints and tips.

The UK has at least fifty species of native trees and shrubs, and many more species of introduced non-native trees.   Some can be easy to identify, but others can be more difficult depending on your experience.

There are many features, or parts of the tree, that give you clues to what species it is.

  •       Look at the leaves or needles. Is it a broadleaf (usually deciduous) or is it a conifer (usually with needles or scales)?
  •       Different features will be present through the seasons.   You can use twigs, leaf buds and bark on leafless winter broadleaf trees.
  •       Take notice of the surrounding area such as hedgerows, fields, parks, woodland or close to water.   Some species are more likely to grow near water, in scrubland, parkland or in woodland.
  •       Use as many features as you can, the more you use the more certain your identification will be.   Take into account the overall shape and size of the tree, bark, leaves or needles, flowers, fruits, leaf buds and twigs.

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