Past projects

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Begging in the Bath Road

Have you noticed the proliferation of beggars in the Bath Road? Does it concern you?

At November’s meeting, the issue of an increase in the visibility of begging in the Bath Road was raised, provoking numerous questions:
Are beggars homeless? Are they begging to survive or to service substance abuse? Why is it happening? What is the Council doing?  What is anyone doing? What should we do?

Reactions were mixed: some people volunteered that they had given money, others said they had given food as the most direct way of helping. NARA decided to look at the issue, beginning with meeting the council at the Municipal Offices.

Meeting the Council

Local Councillor, Klara Sudbury, arranged a meeting with Mike Redman (Director – Built Environment) and representatives of NARA at which the following emerged:

  • Begging had increased noticeably over the last few years.
  • The council (CBC) do not prosecute as the likely outcome is a fine for someone who is not in a position to pay.
  • Beggars’ situations are typically complex involving drug dependency and mental health issues.
  • CBC targets Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), not begging specifically.
  • Unless ASB is involved, CBC consider begging is a matter for police involvement.
  • Most beggars are not homeless; however, CBC along with five other authorities have contributed £300,000 to Gloucestershire Outreach to identify and help the homeless.

Outcome

NARA requested that CBC provide:

  • Feedback on positive actions the community can take to support the initiative.
  • Bulletins of positive actions taken by Solace / P3 and other support agencies.
  • Advice on charities worthy of support as an alternative to giving money to those on the streets.
  • Details of how a publicity campaign might help identify positive actions which individuals can take.
  • Update on the outcome of the Cabinet report.

Minutes of the above meeting can be found here.

Outreach

If you are concerned that someone is sleeping rough you can contact Outreach on 0300 500 0914 and they will arrange for that person to be seen by one of their helpers.

Street cleaning

NARA were recently approached to assist with the jetting of drains in Hermitage Street, Francis Street and Naunton Lane, by informing residents and identifying owners of parked cars. NARA also put out bollards in Naunton Lane to enable a blocked drain to be jetted.

This was successfully carried out on 2 and 3 March 2017, when UBICO cleared the streets and pavements and EEG on behalf of AMEY jetted the drains.

Following the cleaning and jetting of Hermitage Street and Francis Street, NARA will be pressing for a timetable for the rest of the area.

BT phone box removal

In December 2016 we were consulted by the Council with regard to the potential removal by BT of the public payphone on the corner of Naunton Way and Naunton Crescent. Having circulated the proposals to residents on the NARA email list, the responses may be summarised as follows:

  • “The adoption of the old red box is a lovely idea for the Naunton Way spot, a bit of heritage (the ones on the Prom look super and make an interesting talking point). Not sure whether the residents close by would welcome it – would it encourage vandals, litter etc? So it would be useful if they could be involved to give their feedback.”
  • “In view of the fact that it has not been used, I personally do not see any benefit in keeping it.”
  • “I don’t have a view either way to be honest. I think mobiles are so affordable now hence the extremely low use of the current phone box, and what the more local residents feel, e.g. with Naunton Park School opposite, could they help in the adoption of a new red telephone box and its contents?”
  • “I had no idea it was there either and have no strong feelings about it.”
  • “I have a feeling there has been anti-social behaviour associated with this phone box in the distant past – I will call in on the lady who lives next to it to find out what she thinks. I’ve seen some red ones reused for defibrillators and that might be a good idea if we did have the option to ask for an old red box there.”

Given that not one call has been made from this phone box in over a year and the above responses, we can think of no reason to oppose the removal.

Following the above, Cheltenham Borough Council has now made its final notification to BT, which has been acknowledged, which agrees to the removal of 24 of the payphones, but objects to the removal of four of them, which are in Tennyson Road, Springbank Road, Lansdown Road and Hewlett Road.

Details of the final rulings can be found here: BT Phonebox Removal Response Jan 2017.