What You Can Get Away With » CDRP

Unfortunately, I had to leave the Castle Neighbourhood Action Panel meeting early yesterday because of it clashing with the Policy Review and Development Panel meeting, so I don’t have a huge amount to report from it. However, the problems of parking on new estates has come up again, and we’re continuing to try and find out from Essex Highways when certain roads might be adopted so we can bring them into our parking regulations. This is becoming a particular problem in certain areas where the developers aren’t interested in enforcing any parking restrictions, so a free-for-all ensues.

The other major issue I was there for concerned the structure of NAP meetings. At present, there are two sections to the meeting – an open one, where members of the public can attend and bring their problems and queries for the Panel to discuss and consider, followed by a closed session where the Panel can discuss the issues in greater depth. The question being asked is whether that’s the best way to proceed and whether its the model adopted elsewhere in the county and the country. The problem comes with the NAP being seen as secretive – especially when having to ask members of the public to leave once their particular problem has been discussed – but the counter to that is that certain matters, especially concerning information from the police and people who don’t want to be publicly identified as complaining about something, have to be discussed in private. I’d be grateful for any thoughts, comments or suggestions people might have on this.

I’ve also got the full schedule of meetings for the NAP until the end of 2010, which is below the ‘read more’ link:

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Just to let those of you in Colchester know, the next meeting of the Castle Neighbourhood Action Panel will be on Wednesday 23rd September, starting at 5pm in the North Committee Room of the Town Hall.

Any residents can come along and raise issues that they want the NAP to deal with, or if you can’t make it to the meeting, then please leave a comment or email me with your problem and I’ll raise it for you. For more information see the Colchester Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership website.

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Two in one

Two committee meetings in one night last night, as Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Panel was followed by the first meeting of Colchester’s Crime and Disorder Committee. This is a new committee we’ve been required to create by the Government to scutinise the work of our local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership. Rather than set up an entirely new committee to do this, we decided to make it part of the SOS Panel’s work – technically, it’s a separate committe, but it has the same membership as the SOS Panel, and meets after that meeting is finished.

So, we got to interview senior police officers and talk about crime statistics. I must admit that thanks to my TV-watching habits of recent weeks it was hard not see the similarities with The Wire and imagine myself in a Comstat meeting. Of course, it turns out that I wasn’t the only politician having delusions about parallels between Britain and David Simon’s vision of Baltimore, but I chose not to make a big speech about mine.

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Just got back from a Neighbourhood Action Panel (NAP) meeting on a day that looks as though it will be dominated by crime issues for me, as I have a Crime and Disorder Committee meeting tonight as well.

Anyway, the NAPs are an initiative by the Colchester Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) to get people from various bodies – the Council, the Police, Neighbourhood Watch, Residents Associations and the like – working together to solve issues, and it’s sometimes surprisingly easy how quickly you can get things done when everyone’s in one place and able to answer each other’s questions.

However, what they also need to operate is information – specifically, what problems there are out there that the NAP could be tackling. One of the issues the police raise frequently is that people complain about many things, but often the first they hear about these issues is when they come to meetings, because no one’s thought to formally report the crime in the first place. (And you can report non-emergencies to Colchester Police on 0300 333 4444) The NAPs are open to any resident of Colchester to come along and tell us what we should be doing.

One thing I realised I should do here – and not just for automatically generating posts – is to let people know when Castle NAP (the one I’m a member of) meetings are. So, from now on, there should be an automatic announcement of NAP meetings here about a week before they happen. Or, if you have an issue that you want raised and can’t make it to the meeting, you can post it in the comments or email me with it.

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