Minutes of the May meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society

Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held on Monday 18th May 2015 at St Michael’s Church commencing at 6pm.

Present

Joy Cooper, Stephen Dunn, John James, Betsy Lafferty, Tim Lee, Lorna Morrison, Maggie Norton, Jenny Sunter, Tim Sunter, Dennis Whittaker, Norma Whittaker.

Apologies

Pat Cobern, Rachel Harris, Zafar Islam, John Martin

Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting had been circulated and were agreed as a true record.

Correspondence

JS gave informed the meeting of the correspondence received:
* NCVO general election briefing on the impact of the recent election on voluntary organisations
* Civic Voice weekly newsletter including details of the work on war memorials
* Information on the Community Rights pilot
* Details of NCVO workshops for volunteers

SD asked about whether Civic Voice had a website that he and other members could refer to. JS confirmed that this was the case.

Treasurer’s Report

DW gave the treasurer’s report:
* Cash in hand £53.46
* Bank account £1323.97
* Less money held on behalf of SNOW -£985.75
* Total £391.68

Organisation Sub

It had been agreed at the last meeting that an ‘organisation sub’ should meet to plan the future direction and activities of the Society. SD, TL, LM, TS, and DW had subsequently met at the Bull & Bladder (venue purely to support local industry).

Key points from the meeting were:

  • Need to have a balance in the Society’s activites between celebrating the past, action in the present and influencing the future.
  • Potential speakers with a historic perspective could be on the topics of Round Oak, Marsh & Baxter, the history of brickmaking in the area. To determine what actions the Society could take to improve Brierley Hill engagement with Dudley MBC cabinet members would be a positive step.
  • Partnership working with the public, private and voluntary/community sectors has the potential to achieve shared goals in the town.

Key actions to follow up were:
* To extend the Brierley Hill in Bloom meeting on 3rd June to involve the organisation sub and Christmas Festival team would be a good forum to start to pull partners together.
* Brierley Hill Civic Society to consider its priorities for action at its next meeting (i.e. tonight)
* Establish relationship with BHCF as there did seem to be overlapping objectives
* The chase Dudley Archives re a visit to the new facility with a chance to view materials in the Brierley Hill collection.
* To establish a programme of speakers.
* To consider whether the Society can offer any help to make the council’s forums more effective.

TS reported that following this meeting he had made contact with the archives. The Society’s meeting on Monday 20th July would now take place at the archives and we would receive a tour and then the opportunity to look at Brierley Hill materials. There would be a pass through charge from the archives of £4 and a minimum total charge of £40. It was agreed that this should be publicised as far and wide as possible to ensure maximum attendance.

Future activities

Following on from the organisation sub meeting the Society had been asked to bring ideas for future activities for the Society. The following ideas were suggested:
* Continued engagement with NHR and DMBC to try and get some regeneration activity moving in the area.
* Presentation of a replica of the Gibbons/Jordan painting for display in the town centre. Andy Gray of DCVS had indicated an interest for it to be hung in the Civic Centre.
* Restoration of the Brierley Hill war memorials
* Resolution of the difficulties with access to and use of Lawyers Field (Friends of Marsh Park are leading on this). There was talk of whether the plaque commemorating the opening was still in the park.
* Litter picking events together with anti-graffitti activities. Questions arose about the best way to go about this and advice from DMBC should be sought. The litter strewn state of canals in the area was also highlighted.
* The introduction of weight limits on roads which are being used inappropriately by heavy vehicles, North Street for example.
* Replacement trees for those that once flourished in the High Street
* The renaming of Venture Way to something more appropriately reflecting the history of the town
* A ‘blue plaque’ scheme celebrating some of the achiements of the town
* A cultural regeneration programme to attract more visitors to the town centre. A brass band playing in Marsh Park was one suggestion put forward.
* Getting the publicly visible clocks in the town working – St Michael’s and The Moor Centre were mentioned.
It was suggested that the organisation sub on 3rd June could pick up some of these ideas and put meat on the bones (thought: is there a vegetarian equivalent for this phrase?)

Brierley Hill in Bloom

TS reported than the planters were now fixed on Venture Way; lamp post baskets were suggested for along the High Street and it was aimed to have these in place for the winter planting; the plants for the summer had been grown and it was planned to put them out early in June.

Brierley Hill Christmas Festival

TS had met with AG from DCVS. AG was keen to get involved as it was a potential project for the Civic Hall. He would be attending the meeting on 3rd June.

DMBC review of criteria for locally listed buildings

A spokesperson from the planning department had now agreed to come to the next meeting to talk through the implications of this. There were some concerns that the changing of the criteria might weaken the ability to protect historic buildings in the town.

Regeneration update including planning matters

DW updated the meeting on progress.
A date for further engagement with NHR and DMBC was awaited. At the previous meeting priorities of making a pedestrian link between the High Street and Merry Hill together with environmental improvements in the High Street had been identified. Indications had been given that funding may be available for the link but it was doubtful whether funds might be there for the High Street.
Intu were interested in development of the Daniels Land site for residential purposes whilst Rachel Harris had put forward the idea for a white water centre.
DW was also creating a planning database to keep track of proposed developments in the town. He gave an exhaustive list of live applications:
* Two applications for residential and offices adjacent to Red Peppers including the former Doug Holmes Taylors.
* The Dock and Iron in Delph Road was saved following objections to its demolition by the council as the building is on the Heritage Assetts Register. Instead the proposal has been amended to keep the pub and to use the car park as a van hire centre.
* 81 Church Street – the former Radio Shack building – application to demolish and build one dwelling.
* Housing proposals for the former RDF site. The environment agency has no objections subject to safeguards being put in place. They had also expressed they concern with respect to the site being suitable for a waste site.
* ASDA car park for a self service filling station. Members expressed their concern that this ran counter to the AAP for the area, would undermine the pedestrian link to the area and would not be appropriate to front on to the proposed public square.
* Arc Alloys building on Moor Street adjacent to Foxdale drive. Two applications had been submitted for residential but problems remained about access to the site due to the hump backed bridge.
* The Plough has a residential planning permission and was sold at auction for £57,000. Work is presently taking place on the site.
* The former Alma Pub has an application for five flats upstairs, three on the first floor and two on the second floor.
* The Cottage Spring in Mill Street has had an application to turn it into a vets passed.
* The former Black Country Stoves shop on High Street has been approved for a launderette.
* HVC supplies in Bull Street has had an application for five homes agreed. An earlier application for six homes had been rejected because of lack of parking facilities.
* The former Round Oak Pub had been approved for a home improvements store on the ground floor and one flat upstairs.
* Harts Hill bus station – adjacent to hazardous chemical plants had had an application for a supermakret withdrawn as well and an application for 45 homes withdrawn.

DW is creating a 3 year database of applications to enable further close monitoring.

Any Other Urgent Business

There was no other urgent business.

The meeting closed at 7.30pm.

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