To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods updating Members on the work that Council Officers have undertaken regarding community safety and that of the Stronger Safer Gloucester Partnership.
31.1 The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods introduced the report and paid tribute to the Communities Team for their hard work. He explained that there was statutory provision in place for the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and the City Council regularly attended meetings of the Stronger Safer Gloucester Partnership (SSGP). It was noted that one Community Safety Officer was responsible for coordinating community safety work on behalf of the council, and worked in accordance with the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner’s priorities. The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods informed Members that some of the previous work of the SSGP included work on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) which had been integrated into partnership work, the establishment of the Bluelight Group which provided outreach work with entrenched drinkers, and NightSafe and Street Aware projects.
31.2 The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods explained that in 2021, the council had helped deliver a number of SSGP priorities, including an initiative to tackle health inequalities, promoting equality and diversity in Gloucester and had worked to increase awareness of support services specialising in domestic abuse and sexual violence (DASV). He advised that the council had also helped implement Safer Streets funding, working alongside Solace, and had undertaken reviews and renewals of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in Gloucester.
31.3 In terms of future work in 2022, the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods confirmed that priorities included tackling violence against women and girls, safeguarding and making public spaces safer. He also confirmed that the SSGP had been awarded funding to employ a dedicated lead officer to look at tackling youth violence.
31.4 The Chair expressed the view that the report was comprehensive and an interesting read. He referred to the work undertaken by the council to tackle food poverty at 4.1.3 in the report and commented that this was an issue of pertinence due to cost of living challenges. He asked for the Cabinet Members’ comments as to whether any progress had been made in this area and whether ongoing work was planned to tackle food poverty in the city. The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods confirmed that the programme was delivered over the summer holiday period and the Community Wellbeing Team Leader advised that the programme had been a success and would also be delivered during the Christmas school holidays. The Community Wellbeing Team Leader explained that a Community Wellbeing Officer was now leading on work to tackle food poverty and that the Communities team would backfill her routine work so that she could focus on this area. It was noted that the City Council would be progressing a food strategy towards the end of the year, and the Chair expressed an interest in requesting the strategy to come before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee when available.
31.5 Councillor Hilton referred to the Area Action Plan for Kingsholm and noted that he was pleased with the efforts of officers in tackling street drinking and that he had seen an improvement. He raised concerns about unauthorised camping in Hillfield Gardens and referred to the potential expansion of the alcohol free PSPO into the ward, noting that consideration should be given to amending the PSPO to allow members of the public to gather outside local pubs during sporting events. Councillor Hilton also raised concerns about the project to transform the Wellington Parade Garden or ‘Rose Garden’. He asked for an update on how the project was progressing, and whether works on the Rose Garden would be completed in October 2022. The Director of Communities reassured Councillor Hilton that the Rose Garden would be complete and open in October. She acknowledged that there were some challenges with the extreme heat weather over the summer, however officers had put lots of effort into the project and the council want to make sure it was a success to reflect this work. Councillor Tracey suggested that consideration be given to gating the area.
31.6 Councillor Pullen referred to the narrative regarding knife crime at 4.6.2 and the statement that the council had secured match funding for an engagement role. He asked for clarification on what community led action would look like, and what the purpose of the role would be. The Community Wellbeing Team Leader advised that the additional funding would enable the council to advertise an 18-month fixed-term role which would be advertised towards the end of October 2022. She explained that the appointed officer would be responsible for analysing serious youth violence in the city, and would be asked to engage with communities to understand the current landscape and identify future trends which would inform the CSP what needed to be done to tackle the issue. The Community Wellbeing Team Leader further noted that the hope would be to engage with young people with lived experience and the ultimate aim would be to develop a strategy and work plan to use as a basis for decision making, such as where to direct resources. The Director of Communities added that the feedback from local residents was clear that tackling issues around youth violence was important to them. Councillor Pullen was pleased to note that the role would engage with young people in Gloucester directly.
31.7 In response to a further query from Councillor Pullen, the Community Wellbeing Team Leader confirmed that the Community Wellbeing Team had met with Young Gloucestershire and were keen to work with them as a research partner.
31.8 Councillor Wilson expressed the view that the report was a good one, providing useful information and clearly setting out the work of the CSP. He asked whether the bid for Safer Streets funding was successful or still in the pipeline. The Community Wellbeing Team Leader confirmed that the team had been assured some funding. She further noted that the creation of a new Street Aware lead officer role would bolster the efforts of officers to engage with rough sleepers and understand the underlying reasons behind the issue. The Community Wellbeing Team Leader advised that they hoped to start advertising for the role within the next few days, and that Gloucestershire Constabulary had confirmed that they were happy to support a secondment should one of their staff be an ideal candidate for the role.
31.9 In response to queries from Councillor Sawyer regarding the Flare App and whether the CSP worked with planning developers regarding the location of public transport stop sites, the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods confirmed that the CSP had received positive feedback about the Flare App and that there had been around 2000 app downloads in early 2022. This said, the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods noted that there was a need to raise further awareness of the app. The Community Wellbeing Team Leader further noted that although initial app downloads were high, ongoing usage was something that the Police were exploring. She also noted that data from the Flare App would be explored further in the Safer Spaces Strategy, particularly in relation to hotspot areas. The Director of Communities further noted that the aim would be for the CSP to be a statutory consultee on planning applications, and the Community Wellbeing Team Leader confirmed that the option to work with the University of Gloucestershire on issues such as night buses would be kept open for when additional funding was made available.
RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.