Alvechurch Parish Council Newsletter Spring 2014

Alvechurch Parish Council aims to issue four newsletters a year. Look elsewhere on the website for the responsibilities of the Parish Council and monthly highlights of Council meetings.

Rail project is on schedule

Councillors met with representatives of Network Rail and Bromsgrove District Council recently to discuss progress on the Redditch branch line enhancement. The project is on time despite the weather. Work on the station should be completed before July. The current closed-off area of the car-park (important for work on the station) will remain closed off till then. On 6 July the train service will be suspended for eight weeks while the track changes are made. During this period a special bus will run from the village to Longbridge, and trains will terminate at Barnt Green. The station car-park will be closed. The new line will reopen in September, with car-park, and in December the new train service is expected to start, with three trains an hour.

Some residents living near the current works have been disturbed by noise at night. Network Rail confirmed that their normal working hours are 8 to 6 Monday to Friday, but that sometimes night work has to be done, for example track-side while trains are still running during the day, or for occasional deliveries. Councillors asked for noise to be kept at a minimum.

All tree cutting work will be completed before the bird nesting season in March, and all replacements will be UK-sourced native trees.

Network Rail will drain and resurface the car-park, including some extra space bringing potential parking to 66 spaces (currently 42). However, it is London Midland who have to mark it out. Currently we do not know if there will be any disabled spaces. Councillors will be pushing for these.

As Network Rail do not have a mechanism for communication with the public once a project has started, the Parish Councillors suggested the Village magazine, and further meetings like this. There will be another meeting in May, and the PC will request a similar meeting with London Midland.

Community Safety Committee

Issues previously dealt with by PACT were discussed at a recent meeting. A presentation from our Safer Neighbourhood Team led to discussion on West Mercia Police’s response to a spate of burglaries in the Parish before Christmas. Residents were pleased to see more patrols in the area, though the Police stressed that burglaries tend to increase in the run-up to Christmas. The Village Society‘s Facebook group has grown significantly in popularity recently and was used to exchange information about the burglaries. Social media have encouraged residents to form new Neighbourhood Watch groups. Several members were at the meeting, Branden Road being particularly well represented. Kate Hawkswell, Community Co-ordinator for Neighbourhood Watch across North Worcestershire talked about how to set up a new group.

Neighbourhood Plan

Last month Alvechurch parishioners should have received a questionnaire with The Village. Please fill it in and return it by 14 March. We really want your opinions on the future of the parish, to help us make a Plan that you will support. We understand some people didn’t get a questionnaire: please contact the Parish Council if you need one, or extra copies for your household. The prize draw, and the results, will be on 14 April at the Annual Parish Meeting, to be held at the Middle School.

No increase in level of Parish Council precept for 2014-15

The precept is the amount the Parish Council sets within your council tax. The government made a “transitional grant” available to District Councils to support parishes in keeping the precept down, but we didn’t get it for the beginning of the last financial year. We have only just been paid last year’s £8,500 by Bromsgrove DC. We do not yet know if they will pay us the grant for 2014-15, but we have to set our precept now. The PC agreed we should keep the precept at the same level as last year.

A441 Hopwood

Despite many requests for a meeting with Parish Councillors, County Council Highways engineers say no more improvements will be considered (apart from very limited footway repairs) until another survey of traffic speeds and volumes has been done. Over 200 Hopwood residents signed a petition for action to improve the road’s safety in 2011, confirmed at a Highways Forum in 2012. The Parish Council is pressing for improvements as the road carries far more traffic than engineered for, and crossing is dangerous at times for children and elderly people. A pedestrian crossing/ refuge is one of those improvements being sought. In view of the lack of action, the Parish Council is considering bringing our MP into the debate, following a renewed approach to our County Councillor June Griffiths.

Alvechurch Medical Practice

The Council discussed potential difficulties of the Alvechurch medical practice being in the “wrong” NHS Clinical Commissioning Group area for services, development and funding. This anomaly is because the practice is a joint one with Northwood (Kings Norton), and therefore in a Birmingham CCG instead of Redditch and Bromsgrove. The PC has requested a meeting with the GPs.