Up to this point, most of the effort of the Safer Neighbourhood Board has gone into the administration of the funding process for project groups.  At the time of writing, I’m disappointed to have to report that the project teams still don’t have their money.  I gather that this is due to “teething troubles” with new accounting systems, first in City Hall, and lately here in the Town Hall, but I’m glad to report that we do now seem to have resolved the outstanding issues.  I hope and trust that money should be paid out next week.  Meanwhile, in a little while we’ll be hearing from YIAG and AHEC, who have both made significant progress – one with money, and one (remarkably) without!

We’re not actually doing that badly in comparison with our counterparts in other Boroughs.  We did get the mid-year report into City Hall on time, and from comments made at a meeting I attended there it seems likely that many London SNB’s did not make this deadline, and many still have money which is not yet successfully settled on projects.  Credit for our achievement so far must go to Julie, our Treasurer, who is the architect of our process, and to both Debra and Cameron of Democratic Services for their considerable hard work and persistence.  I was very sorry to hear that Cameron will be moving on later this month, and I’d like to express my very great appreciation of his contribution.

Staying with projects, you will remember that the Board allocated additional funding to the Custody Suite project to allow them to work with external evaluators in order to strengthen their ability to bid for future funding, assuming all goes well with the pilot which we are supporting.  Although we’d all agreed at the outset that this was a good idea, it turned out none of us had a terribly clear idea how to go about setting it up.  Thanks to a suggestion from Philip, Molly and I met with Alastair McCorkindale who has now arranged for Simon Bartlett to act as consultant for this purpose – this is particularly fortuitous as Simon’s team can also provide access to pivotal re-offending data which will greatly assist Spark2life.  You may be interested to note that Spark2Life are also seeking to establish a reciprocal arrangement with Hackney where offenders from one Borough are helped to find employment in the other.

I’ve attended a number of interesting meetings – the Stop  & Search group, ably chaired by Sandra, where we had a very illuminating presentation from the officer responsible for the complaints process in Waltham Forest.  Despite the dissatisfaction which some residents feel over Stop & Search, complaints are remarkably low – possibly due to a lack of confidence in the process.  I wondered if the Board might conceivably look into providing some sort of “advocacy” for potential claimants, and I now know that this has been trialled with some success in other parts of London.

I do find it very useful to meet with my counterparts from other Boroughs – I certainly learn a lot.  At a recent meeting of “LCP2” (effectively an independent forum for SNB Chairs), we heard from Martin Davis about a “summit” which has now just taken place, in which significantly closer interworking between agencies across London was to be explored, in order to achieve increased operational and financial efficiencies.  I’m sure we’ll here more about this.

Philip and I attended the MOPAC SNB Forum at City Hall, where we heard from A/C Helen King on the appalling choices which at that time appeared to lie ahead – this was before the Chancellor’s Autumn “Reprieve” (or partial reprieve).  James Tate (program manager) also spoke about projects, and I sense there is a wish to have Boards see MOPAC as more flexible and forgiving over the whole process.  We also had a preview of the new data Dashboard.  Previously, Sheridan and I had attended a technical workshop with the developer, and the new version clearly incorporated many of the suggestions that had been made.

This is going to be a change for us.  The data pack which is part of tonight’s agenda seems likely to be the last issued.  Instead, SNB members are encouraged to explore the superior and interactive facilities provided by a dashboard which was developed specifically for our use and which is password-protected.  If you haven’t requested a password please contact me, Debra or Cameron.  It’s really very good – I’ve already used it to confound a vociferous nay-sayer on Facebook by posting hard data in graphical format, so if you like winning arguments this is for you.  If there is a desire for this, I’d be happy to mount a workshop for one or more members in which I could take you through the facilities available.  Just let me know.

Between us, Sheridan and I have attended all SafetyNet meetings – and I’ve come to regard these meetings as an essential part of my education.  I’m pleased to note they clearly take an interest in our work.

You may know that my own interests include the development of various resident networks, including ward panels and neighbourhood watch.  I’ve found this quite hard going.  I did request some time ago a list of ward-panel chairs for the Borough, but this was cascaded down the reporting chain and with a few honourable exceptions the request simply fizzled out.  I’m pursuing this.  Similarly, since the departure in September of Bill Nisbet as NHW coordinator it’s been quite difficult to get a picture of what active groups exist in the Borough.  I’ve recently made contact with a PCSO who has been tasked with relevant responsibility, and I have the name (just the name so far!) of an (acting) police sergeant who also has a specific interest, so I’m hopeful there will be some progress soon.  I’ll be attending a meeting of London NHW Association at City Hall on the 16th to see what can be learned from other Boroughs.  However, I note that LNHWA seems to be afflicted by internal differences, but most of my attention will be within the Borough rather than beyond.  I do believe that the Board would be strengthened by better links with both ward panels and NHW groups.

Finally, prompted by successes reported by other Boroughs I’ve recently sought contact with the three teams from British Transport Police who operate in Waltham Forest – associated with Victoria Line, Central Line and “Overground North”.  If I get a positive response I’d hope they’d eventually want to assist us here.

Philip Herlihy – Chair 2014-2015