2017 Jan 24 Public Meeting

Approximately 101 members of the village turned up to the village hall on Tuesday evening to hear about some initiatives from Safer Maulden (a group working to reduce traffic risks throughout the village), the village hall committee (looking to build an extension to the village hall), and the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group  (explaining what neighbourhood planning is, and how the village can get involved.)

Timetable

The event running order, and links to documents and slides are below.

Time Slot Action Notes
19:30 Intro by Paul Downing
19:40 Table walks – collect Data Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden
19:50 Table walks – collect Data Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden
20:00 Formal Session opens with introduction David
20:10 Safer Maulden introduction Simon or Malcolm
20:20
20:30 Village Hall plans Chris Elliot
20:40 NHP Presentation David
20:50 Slides Slides 2017 01 Village Meeting NHP Intro Deck
21:00 Wrap and closing session Philip Jackson
21:10
21:20 Table walks – collect Data Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden
21:30 Table walks – collect Data Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden
21:40 Table walks – collect Data Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden
21:50 Table walks – collect Data Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden
22:00 Lights out Working group leads, SW/Safer Maulden

Safer Maulden

Simon gave some examples of ways in which funding and support could be obtained from CBC for traffic calming measures between the Co-op and the Knoll. The available schemes were limited by cash, the evidence from road surveys, the width of the road, and existing structures. The village is clearly very long, and there are perceived problems of traffic speeds throughout the village from all directions.

Evidence had been received from CBC that the average traffic speed, and number of vehicles travelling at a prosecutable level, in the zone for which traffic calming was suggested (between the Co-op and the Knoll), would not create a sufficient argument for CBC to conduct a full traffic management construction programme.

Some support is available from CBC, together with the £6000 (approximately) from safer Maulden’s own funding, which would support one of the three available visual road narrowing methods:

  1. using box planters – generally considered to be cheap, quick, and reusable but potentially suffering from problems of maintenance and obscuring the views of small children trying to cross the roads.
  2. concrete inserts to the road – generally considered to be cheap quick but permanent and may not work because of the road being very wide at that point
  3. raising the existing crossing point – likely to be more effective as it is a speed bump (properly known as vertical displacement of the road), but only operating at one point

Other suggestions were voiced including speed cameras, vertical displacement of the road at multiple locations throughout the village, and repainting white lines and using signage to turn the war memorial green into a “roundabout” which would have the effect of slowing down traffic on the two main access points before it could enter the busy parts of the village.

Some rough estimates were presented as to costs. A speed bump costs between £9000 and £12,000. A speed camera post costs around £6000, but cameras cost considerably more and the police approval. The scheme involving planters would cost about £1500 per planter, which was roughly equivalent to the cost of concrete islands or bollards. Signage and painting can cost around £2000 per white line, but requires maintenance every few this. It was also noted that there were significant problems in getting electricity and signalling to the relevant areas of the village as it had not been installed alongside the road.

This presentation was to be the first of several, and there will be an All Watch meeting which will cover SpeedWatch in February. The public would be invited to that event.

Village Hall

Chris very kindly described the four areas in which the village hall could be expanded, and the approximate costs. The scheme would provide additional kitchen, committee room, storage, and meeting spaces. The hall was already 50 years old, and these  extensions would be expected to have a useful life that made it worthwhile investing in them. There was certainly demand for additional space in the village hall.

Draft plans are available to view on request, and further updates would be given as the scheme progressed. If there are any villagers willing to make a substantial donation, this would be gratefully received. There was a positive balance on the village hall account, sufficient to start the process.

 Neighbourhood Planning

A presentation was given on the neighbourhood planning process, the volunteers who are trying to help produce the neighbourhood plan, the support given from Maulden parish council, and the approximate costs (under £9000 which would be covered by grants from CBC).

The value of having a neighbourhood plan was explained, alongside the need for it to fit within the national planning framework and the soon-to-be published Central Beds Council local plan

People from the village were invited to walk around tables that have been set up by the volunteers covering the following areas of work:

  1. the natural environment
  2. social and education
  3. housing and development
  4. infrastructure and roads
  5. businesses and  local economy

At each table people were able to answer questionnaires, write suggestions, ask questions of the work group leaders, and look at some maps and suggestions from other people.

A lot of data was collected at each table, and that will be released as part of the planning process. It should be noted that the data collected was from a self-selected sample of 101 people, approximately 30 of which answered questions at each table. The demographics of people in the room tended towards 50+, with very low representation from the under 35’s. Any answers and data should be read in the light of that sample information.

For example, the following graphs have been extracted from the data gathered in the housing and development area, where people were asked the following questions:

  1. Roughly how many houses do you think will be required over the next 15 years?
  2. Is it important that the village has a single centre?
  3. Is it important that the village develops as a ribbon along the main road?
  4. Who should we build houses for?
  5. What sort of houses should be built?

This information would go into the dataset for the neighbourhood plan, alongside the existing housing needs survey from 2013, and more rigourous data collection from later surveys and samples.

Gas: EMERGENCY NOTICE Loss of Gas Supply

Loss of gas supply in Ampthill, Maulden and Clophill area

Resolved: Just a brief update, as of 10pm 21 November 2016. Out of a total of 5111 affected properties NG have restored supply to 4719 leaving only 392 they haven’t been able to gain access to in the Ampthill Flitwick Clophill Ampthill areas.

This emergency notice will be retained for archiving.

A copy of the official notice about the loss of gas is attached to this post. The relevant official sources of information are on the links below. The official source of information is the coordination centre at Maulden Village hall. Information from that site supersedes anything else.

18 November 2016 [updated 19:20h]

Latest News

17:00 18 November
National Grid engineers have started to restore people's gas supplies in Clophill, and will be working into the night to do this as quickly and safely as possible. We will have over 100 engineers on site on both Saturday and Sunday to continue the restoration of supplies in Maulden and Ampthill. We hope to have the majority of gas supplies restored by the end of the weekend and will keep you updated of progress.
We are restoring gas supplies in stages as this is the safest, and quickest way to ensure that we provide a safe and steady service in all areas.
We have over 100 of our employees in the area working extremely hard to bring the gas supplies back to all properties by the end of the weekend.

See below – do NOT turn on your own supply until an engineer has called and made your gas safe to use.

Original Official Notice

Ampthill gas incident

Media update: 16 November 09:45

National Grid is working to repair a leaking medium pressure gas pipe in Flitwick Road, Ampthill, after contractors working on a new housing development damaged the pipe late this afternoon (15 November).

The incident has resulted in a loss of gas supply to homes and businesses in Ampthill, Maulden, and Clophilll.

Engineers are working to repair the leak as soon as possible and to work on restoring gas supplies to those affected.

If you smell gas or have lost your gas supply please ring the National Gas Emergency service on 0800 111 999.

To safely restore gas supplies, engineers will need to visit every affected property and switch the gas supply off at the meter.Engineers have already begun switching people off and this operation will continue tomorrow. Please arrange for someone to be at home so we can switch your supply off. The sooner we are able to switch everyone off, the sooner we will be able to restore supplies.

Once the repair has been made and gas is back in the mains, a second visit will be made to turn on the supply to each property and make sure it is flowing safely.

National Grid is liaising with the local authority to ensure elderly and other vulnerable residents are being identified and cared for. If you know of an elderly or vulnerable resident, please contact us on 0845 835 1111, so we can help them.

Every effort is being made to restore supplies as soon as possible. However, it is too early to say when gas supplies will be restored.

For more general information on incidents please see our incident page in our safety and emergencies section.

 

Fastest News: https://www.facebook.com/AmpthillGas/ 

Webpages for information www.nationalgrid.com/incidents or http://www2.nationalgrid.com/uk/in-your-area/emergencies-and-incidents/
Twitter www.twitter.com/nationalgriduk
Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalgrid
Telephone 0845 835 1111
Email *protected email*
CBC emergencies page  http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/emergency.aspx

A community response has been set up between the National Grid and Central Bedfordshire Council. They are coordinating the proper response to the approximately 6700 houses affected in the Ampthill, Maulden and Clophill area.

Oliver Street remains subject to a road closure overnight and CBC have a Highways team to maintain this overnight. This may continue.

What must you do?

Please comply with all the instructions from the engineer who visits your property. Please arrange for someone to be at home so Engineers (who carry ID) can switch your supply off. If you are not in, please arrange for a neighbour to have access to the property.

Please do not attempt to switch on your own gas supply or relight any appliances.

Doing so could be extremely dangerous, and will delay the resumption of full supply to all premises in the area.
This means not using boilers, gas heaters, water heaters, gas cookers, gas ovens, or any other mains gas appliances at all until you are told by a National Grid engineer personally that it is safe to do so.
You can switch off your gas at the main ECR tap or valve, but National Grid engineers will need to visit and confirm every property. You should not turn your gas back on if you or an engineer have turned it off.

What if I smell gas in my home?

There is a higher risk of gas leaks from non-ignited appliances because of the current situation. Please be extremely diligent and respond with reports of the smell of gas or gas leaks to the emergency services and emergency telephone number for the National Grid.

How long will this take?

There is no current timetable, but it is expected to be several days. You should plan accordingly.

Can I use electric heating?

Yes, but be aware that 6,000 people suddenly turning on 2 electric heaters and ovens and immersion heaters may overload the electricity grid as well. Caution is advised. For a while, it seems sensible to avoid having too many electric items on at once.

If you are fit and well, dress up warm, and keep active if it gets cold. Please allow services and power to help those most in need.

What caused it?

Pilings being driven at the Abbey Lane site fractured a high pressure gas main.

What are CBC and National Grid doing to help?

National Grid are putting together information letter for residents affected and will be distributing them. CBC Comms team are aware and will be picking up any warning and informing actions in the morning.

National Grid are sending 500 fan heaters and 200 hot plates to the scene for distribution to affected residents as needed. They will be liaising with UK Power Networks to ensure does not cause electrical outages.

CBC Have appointed a Vulnerable People Coordinator to identify potentially vulnerable people likely to be affected by the incident, and will be liaising with National Grid to ensure these people are prioritised for assistance as necessary.

CBC have set up Maulden Village Hall as an Incident/Assistance Centre and RVP for responding agencies. Liaising with Police and National Grid representatives at this location.

How can you help?

We believe it’s especially important that you help your elderly, vulnerable, long-term sick, disabled, or very young neighbours and friends. Please speak to them, and make sure that they are aware of what’s going on.

Provision has been made, by way of electrical cooking and heating equipment and other services and support for vulnerable customers. CBC and the National Grid are coordinating this. If you know a vulnerable person but they are unable to get to the village hall. If you can make that trip for them, with their permission, this would be very helpful.

EMERGENCY NOTICE Loss of Gas Supply
EMERGENCY NOTICE Loss of Gas Supply

Safer Maulden Meeting April 2015

Safer Maulden Village Meeting

Tuesday 28th April

6pm – 7.30pm – Baptist Church Hall

Introductions & Chair – Saqhib Ali

Organiser – Paul Ives

32 villagers in attendance

Chris Swallow – Ampthill Fire Station – guest speaker

CS said that he had been working closely with Paul Ives with regards to traffic issues in Maulden. On the day of their last meeting he was called to Maulden where a car had left the road by The Bothy. CS is very aware of the issues in Maulden and is keen to add his weight to any opportunity the village may have to put across the issues of traffic in the village.

 Gretel Nevolls – SpeedWatch – guest speaker

GN ran through the stats for the village from the SpeedWatch group which included

  • 365 vehicles over 35 mph
  • 36% more than 40mph
  • 10% more than 50mph
  • 7% more than 60mph
  • 23 cars caught more than once
  • And some seen using mobile also.

School hols – the same

GN was asked how these figures are escalated and at what point do the Police get involved. Apparently 3 letters are sent for repeat offenders then they receive a visit from the Police and action may be taken (see addendum below)*

Open Discussion

Saqhib Ali asked about rumble strips? Answer form the floor was that these are old tech – now use cameras mounted on lamp posts. One currently set up in the Brache

Chris Tate told the group that “buffer” 40 mph limits are coming in – in current national speed limits around the village. This will help slow traffic.

CT also commented that it was unnecessary for the SpeedWatch teams to erect temporary signs when they are scanning for speeders as we already have SpeedWatch signs on every entrance to the village. GN was unsure about this and asked CT to clarify this with her.

OSCAR – virtual car for kids to use. CS aware and Jayne Walker asked for OSCAR to be at Summer Fayre.

Discussions then ensued regarding which traffic calming measures we’d go for – these included Raised Crossings, Avg Speed Cameras, Speed cushions, chicanes and raised platforms. Also through raising awareness.

The floor had many questions for SA about the funds for SM. SA explained that the funds are safe in the charity account (about £6,200) and that there are new trustees to the fund – Simon Barnes and Paul Ives in addition to SA.

SA was asked why nothing had been done with the money to date – SA said that due to personal circumstances he had moved away from the village after having lived here with his family for 12 years or so. He had said that in 2006/7 he wanted to discuss using the money with the PC and that at the time they had refused to use the money that had been raised by the village. This is the reason it had been left in the account – where it still remains.

SA ran through figures of what villagers had asked for when quizzed 14 months ago. The floor asked how many people had been surveyed – 45 was the answer from SA.

It was asked if these funds could be “gifted” to the PC – it was explained by SA that this is not easy unless the charity trustees agree and the charity may then be dissolved. He also insisted that the money should be used for the reason that it was raised and for no other use.

Cllr Jamieson mentioned about the match funding by CBC each Jan/Feb of every year. The floor and the PC appeared unaware of this. Actions will be taken to apply for this at the end of 2015. The floor asked why the PC had also been unaware – no answer was forthcoming.

David Bailey, from the floor, offered his help and expertise to the PC and to the trust. This was met positively.

Cllr Buster Newnham then stood to let the floor and the chair know that he had been campaigning for 50 years to slow traffic down through Maulden. Having at one point sent drawings and measurements to the council – he did not receive a reply regarding his proposals and the council then changed.

His recommendation was that humps (or platforms) be put through the village – he didn’t think that flashing lights worked. GN mentioned that due to a bad back she would not support any campaign to put platforms of ANY sort through the village.

The group spoke about raising funds and what was possible. Traffic calming measures cost anything from £12k up to £200k.

PI said that for the record he thought we should try and be TOO ambitious and that he would personally campaign for two “raised” safer crossings and average speed cameras.

Various ideas were briefly discussed and will discussion will continue outside of the meeting.

It was mentioned that this should be the first of such meetings to attempt to gain the interest of the village and to see how it moves forward over the next year.

The meeting was brought to a close by SA at 7.30pm

 Addendum

*since the meeting this has been clarified to:

Reg numbers are taken and entered to a database and a letter is sent

If the same registration number is logged again then another letter will be sent advising that if they are caught again the information will be passed onto Roads Policing.

Persistent speeders can expect action to be taken by the Police after the 2nd or 3rd letter (depending on speeds recorded).

Bedford Road Safety Week 17 – 23 Nov

Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014) is the UK’s biggest road safety event, involving thousands of schools, organisations and community groups every year.

road safety week
road safety week

Brake, the road safety charity who are coordinating this week are asking everyone to look out for each other on roads, because being selfish can easily lead to tragedy.  They are particularly calling on drivers to protect people on foot and bike by slowing down to 20mph in communities, looking longer and taking it slow at junctions and bends, and giving people plenty of room. They are also calling on everyone to put safety first and be considerate to one another, encouraging people on foot and bike to never take chances, and make sure they can be seen.

Chief Inspector Richard Hann of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing unit said: “The roads can be dangerous and deaths and injuries often occur because no consideration is given to other road users.  Drivers, riders, cyclists, pedestrians and animals all share the road so I would urge all road users to look out for each other”.

Local authorities across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire will be delivering important key messages and education throughout this week.

Help spread the ‘look out for each other’ message, or raise awareness about any other road safety issue, by going to http://www.brake.org.uk/rsw and getting involved in Road Safety Week.

Road Survey in Maulden

You might have read about the Maulden Village Speed Watch before.  The general findings of recent speed monitoring by one of the local ‘SpeedWatch’ Teams.  This information has been posted on Maulden Voice (FB), and is in the public domain.

Each observation session covered about 2 hours. The number of sessions is not noted, but from information below was about 10 sessions, or 20 hours of observations at various times.

  • The locations included central Maulden and not just the entry / exit roads into the village.
  • More than half of the sessions were carried out when the road from Ampthill to Maulden was closed – so less ‘through traffic’ – and the schools were on holiday.

349 unique vehicles, in 365 events were recorded exceeding 35mph during these sessions.

  • 35% were driving at more than 10mph over the 30 limit.
  • 10 drivers were travelling over 50mph and 7 were over 60mph
  • 16 cars were recorded more than once.
  • A number of drivers were also spotted using their mobile phone – some of these were also speeding
  • The average number of vehicles recorded as speeding per session was 21, although two sessions recorded as many as 37.

If the Police had conducted these sessions, 79% (289) out of the 365 cars recorded exceeding 35mph probably would have been issued with a fixed penalty notice and probably 3 points on their licence.

Local Accidents and safety

To put that into perspective, there are many thousands of vehicle movements through the village every day.

You can see the accident history of the village on this map: UK ROAD ACCIDENTS SINCE 2005 by entering the village post code of “MK45” – which appears to show 23 incidents, including 5 serious injuries and one fatality in that period of 9 years. If you include the local major roads, that jumps to over 193 incidents in this post code area.

Maulden Village Area Road Safety Since 2005
Maulden Village Area Road Safety Since 2005

 

It is not just accidents

The perception of road safety is at least as important as the reality or statistics – the fear of road accidents for the young and the elderly affects their enjoyment of the village, and influences the quality of life around us.

Do your part

If you live in or near Maulden, PLEASE, drive under the speed limit. You will save, at best, a few seconds by speeding. You may lose your own life, have an accident that costs £000s, or injure or even kill another person. Accident rates and accident outcomes are very strongly influenced by speed.

Personal observation suggests that if I try to drive through the whole village at 29mph, I will be over taken at least twice by impatient drivers near the Dog and Badger or on Snow Hill. Please don’t be that person.

It should be obvious to slow down past shops, schools, pubs, recreation grounds and churches. I hope we all do, and pay extra attention to pedestrians in those areas.

Take extra care on Flitwick Road, especially at the junction of Abbey Lane as impatience can lead to pulling out in front of motorbikes or cars that are legitimately travelling at 59mph.

Help Educate Drivers

The SpeedWatch Team would be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to play their part in trying to educate drivers and thereby hope to reduce the level of risk to the public.

Or join IAM and take some proper training yourselves?

Latest Announcements.

News and Announcements

Herberts School Bus timetable. Maulden to Alameda and Redborne. 2014/2015 2nd Sept 2014
Redborne Alameda School Bus timetable
Pay as you go fares from Maulden and Clophill are £1.30 each way.

Term bus passes are available in the following document.
http://www.mauldenvillage.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Redborne_Alameda_Bus_Pass_Pack1.pdf.
Source: http://www.herberts-travel.co.uk/timetables/4574756944
Create a New Cycle Track Between Maulden and Ampthill - Petition
To: Central Bedfordshire Council
In recent years the number of people cycling has grown enormously and increasing numbers of children from Maulden need to travel to schools in Ampthill.
We would like a cycle path from Maulden to Ampthill to keep cyclists and other road users safe.

https://www.change.org/p/highways-department-create-a-cycle-track-between-maulden-and-ampthill. August 2014
Source: Me (page editor) 24th August 2014
Herberts Travel School Bus Travel Hello. This is Kylie from Herberts Travel. I just wanted to let you know that Herberts Travel are running a Pay-as-You-Go (£1.30 each journey - £2.60 per day) or term pass (£175.20 - £2.40 per day) service through Maulden starting in September 2014 going to Alameda MS and Redborne US. The Route Number is RA3. To apply for a pass or to view timetable please go to our website www.herberts-travel.co.uk for more details or phone our office on 01234 342 057. Have a great day!  Source: Maulden Voice, 19th August 2014
Road Closure - New Road, Maulden Notice from Central Beds Council - Proposed Emergency/Temporary Road Closure – New Rd, Maulden Application from: Amey for CBC – Ivor Mitchell - 03003008049 Reason: Emergency Tree Works Length affected: Junction with Flitwick Rd to A507 Date: The closure is expected to take place on Wednesday 3rd September from 0800-1800 Alternative Route : Head south on Flitwick Rd towards New Rd, At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto A507, Turn left onto New Rd , Turn left to stay on New Rd to site and vice versa. Source: Maulden Voice, 14th August 2014

 

Crime Reduction

We can all help with Crime Reduction.

There has been a lot of talk on the village forums in the last few months about the risks of crime and in particular the risk of burglary.

Would it surprise you to learn that simple things that society could do can reduce everybody’s chances of being the victim of crime to about 1/2 of the current rate?

Would it surprise you to learn that some houses have a risk of being burgled of 0.71 while the safest have a risk of 0.001  (a factor of 700 times)?

The monetary value of an average burglary is low (probably around £2000), but it costs about £50,000 to investigate and clean up. That is not the real cost to our village, though. Burglary is an insidious crime – it breaks up society and greatly harms its victims.

“Even where the monetary value of stolen goods is low, burglary often produces severe psychological effects for up to 12 months. Victims feel their personal space and sentimental valuables have been violated. Insomnia, depression and insecurity are typical symptoms (Nicolson 1994). Women report longer term anxiety (Coupe and Griffiths 1996:4). Burglary keeps home insurance costs high and, along with other ‘street crimes’, accelerates neighbourhood decay, retreat into private fortresses and recourse to private security services (Taylor 1995).”

When looking at crime it is ever so easy to fall into the “Daily Mail” knee-jerk reaction: to demand increasing tougher responses, and to cry out (at a very personal level) for retribution. Yet all the evidence shows that there is no solution down that road.

I would put it to the village, however, that what we really want is not retribution, but to be safe in our own homes, and for our lives to be free of the worry that crime causes. If this is true, then it would be reasonable for us all to support methods of crime reduction that actually work.

So we should take burglary seriously in our village, and work together as a community to try to reduce, if not eliminate it.

…But what works?

 

What Most People Believe Is (Partly) Wrong

What is surprising, given the importance of the subject, is when looking at effective crime reduction and home security, that the public perception of what is effective, and the newspapers’ view of what is effective are rarely linked back to reliable studies.

There is a common perception that having more police officers on the street, having more supervision through such things as CCTV, street and home lighting, and punitive treatment in jail will act to deter crime. That is mostly wrong. Study after study shows:

  • that there is almost no correlation between the number of police officers on the street and most sorts of crime.
  • CCTV has either no significant effect, or an effect which is an economic burden rather than a benefit.
  • street lighting and exterior home lighting not only fails to reduce crime, but can actually increase it.
  • punitive treatment in jails actual increases the general level of crime.

Number of Police Officers

There is no general correlation between the number of police officers and crime levels. No studies have shown a causal link between the numbers of police officers in an area and reduced crime.

There is, however, a small beneficial correlation emerging between increased police officer numbers and reduced property crime:

“Up until the mid-1990s there was very little evidence that increasing the number of police officers might result in a reduction in crime – or that reducing the number of officers might lead to an increase in crime. However more recent studies, using more robust methodologies, have suggested that there is indeed a link between the two. The weight of evidence is strengthened by the fact that the extant studies use a variety of methods. However the causal claims made by many of them are somewhat doubtful, and care should be taken when interpreting the results. Most of these recent studies converge on two key findings:

  1. Higher levels of police are linked to lower levels of property crime.
  2. Evidence for an association between police numbers and violent crime is weaker.

A summary of existing studies would put the elasticity of property crime in relation to police numbers at approximately -0.3 – that is, a 10% increase in officers will lead to a reduction in crime of around 3% (and vice versa).”

There is, however, very good evidence that more effective policing has a direct effect in reducing crime, although nobody can actually define what “effective” means.

A 2010 Report from Civitas said says there is “unequivocal” evidence that more sustained and effective policing cuts crime. “More detection is associated with substantial reductions in crime. It plays a sustained role in preventing crime,” says the study, which found that a 1% increase in the detection rate would prevent 26,000 burglaries, 85,000 thefts, 2,500 robberies and 1,800 frauds a year.

The conclusion that I would draw for our village is that we should support our local police force and encourage them to visit the village on a regular basis, that we should support Street Watch because it provides additional eyes and ears on the road, and we should all work to provide evidence and help to make our police more effective in what they do.

CCTV

The evidence for the effectiveness of street or communal level CCTV is extremely poor, other than in car parks, and inside office buildings.

There is a little evidence that CCTV on individual properties, particularly in the entrance points of properties, has a slight deterrent effect when burglars are able to choose between properties.

Evidence from the UK shows that its use may reduce theft of motor vehicles in car parks where there was also improved lighting and security guards, and some other forms of acquisitive crime. There is also evidence that it works best in small enclosed areas (Gill & Spriggs 2005). Research suggests that CCTV is most successful in reducing or solving crime when there is an active police interest in:

  • providing surveillance information to inform the setting up of CCTV
  • being involved in monitoring the CCTV
  • using the evidence it can provide.

But currently, the UK evidence suggests that because of the very low quality of evidence that most CCTV provides, it costs around £28,000 per crime in which CCTV evidence is bought court. Given that greatly exceeds the cost of other methods of crime prevention and detection, it is hardly effective.

The conclusion that I would draw is that CCTV does not form part of the solution to burglary in our area.

Street and Home Exterior Lighting

The evidence is mixed. The largest survey conducted in the United Kingdom said as follows

“The principal conclusion is that no evidence could be found to support the hypothesis that improved street lighting reduces reported crime

“The very wide extent of the study, covering some 3500 new street lights introduced over a period of nearly three years, was unprecedented in the UK. The change in street lighting standard was considerable; typically a four-fold increase in the intensity of lighting was achieved, with more lighting columns and white light sources being introduced throughout.

“The main database for the study consisted of over 100,000 reported crimes, although analysis was principally focused on some 9500 allegations in the most relevant locations and time periods. The area studied, an inner London Borough, has a high crime rate in a national context and thus represented a fair test for environmental crime prevention measures. In short, if street lighting does affect crime, this study should have detected it.”

However, another review showed that there was a reduction in local crime in areas that had high levels of modern street lighting, but, paradoxically, the reduction in crime, mostly occurred during the day and not at night. They found a complex mix of outcomes with criminals finding it easier to move around and select targets where areas were well lit, but the overall reduction was probably caused by other factors. In their words:

“Since these studies did not find that night-time crime decreased more than day-time crime, a theory of street lighting focusing on its role in increasing community pride and informal social control may be more plausible than a theory focusing on increased surveillance and increased deterrence.”

Indeed, studies in Bristol show that improving street lighting in areas around the town centre actually resulted in an increase of night-time street robberies of up to 50%. Not something we are likely to want in a semi – rural village.

Brighter external lights in gardens and driveways have been linked with an increase in crime, possibly because they allow criminals to see the best routes in and out, to see in through windows, and they dazzle witnesses and CCTV cameras, while providing contrast in areas of extremely deep shades to hide in. Overly bright garden and driveway lights are also very strongly linked with arguments between neighbours and a declining cooperation between neighbours.

The conclusion that I would draw is that increased street lighting or home security lighting is not likely to result in a reduction in burglary, and may well have a paradoxical effect of encouraging burglars to visit areas they currently ignore.

Jails

Again, there are very few good studies that show a positive correlation between prison (numbers in jail, or length of sentence) and reduction in crime overall.

However, there is now some emerging evidence that because most burglaries are committed by very small number of people, then keeping those people in jail for longer will directly reduce the number of crimes that the country, as a whole, suffers. Since burglars tend to work a “patch” then having your local burglar locked up in jail has a dramatic effect on the reduction of crime in your particular area.

“The research, carried out for Civitas, an independent thinktank, used local sentencing data released by the Ministry of Justice under freedom of information requests to track the effectiveness of penal policy and policing on recorded crime across the 43 forces in England and Wales between 1993 and 2008.

The researchers concluded that prison was particularly effective in reducing property crime when targeted at serious and repeat offenders. They concluded that an increase of just one month in the average sentence length for burglaries – from 15.4 to 16.4 months – would reduce burglaries in the following year by 4,800, out of an annual total of 962,700.”

Most famously, Steven D Levitt appeared to be able to show in 1996 that keeping one burglar in jail in the USA for one year implied 15 fewer crimes would be committed.

It took a few more years work for others to show that this was only true where the system was able to accurately identify and incarcerate recidivist criminals who made a career out of crime. Other researchers were then able to show that it was equally important that the justice system should also be able to educate, support, counsel, treat, and maintain younger people who were just setting out in criminality, and who could be deterred and helped to avoid this in future.

No study has shown that increasing the levels of retribution, harshness, or punishment in jails has any effect on reducing crime. Jail does not have a deterrent effect. On the contrary, harsher jail regimes are highly correlated with increased levels of recidivism, reoffending, and gang formation.

The conclusion that I would draw for our area is that whilst we should be delighted when career burglars are caught and served lengthy jail time, we should also be keen to ensure that they and their families receive education and support to encourage them not to return to a life of crime afterwards. In order to do this, we should provide information to our local police forces, be ready to act as witnesses. We should also challenge our local politicians to avoid retributive policies and ensure that a balance of detention and support for criminals is maintained.

So what does work?

The reality is that most crime, and especially burglary, is driven by perceptions of wealth and income inequality, lack of education, untreated mental illness, and breakdowns in family structures and untreated drug addiction. It is in tackling those things nationally, and in our environment, that the underlying benefit of crime reduction is likely to be found.

At a national level, the top 6 things (those correlated with more than 10% reduction in the relevant crime rate) are:

  1. Intervening from birth with low income and troubled families through nurse/family partnerships (38%)
  2. Providing proper care for the mentally ill (20%)
  3. Providing and ensuring education programs for offenders (20%)
  4. Having an effective foster care policy to take at risk children away from high-risk families (18%)
  5. Providing direct intervention for “troubled” families of criminal (18%)
  6. Intensively supervising treatment programs for drug users (17%)
  7. Ensuring access to playgroups for children from low income families (17%
  8. Providing access to psychotherapy for offenders (16%)
  9. Helping the families of offenders while the offenders are in jail (10%)
  10. Having specific courts providing access to treatment for young and first offenders (10%)

We may not be able to affect the whole of the United Kingdom, or the larger cities that surround us, but we are able to support our neighbours. All of the evidence shows that being good neighbours, and in particular being good neighbours to those who we might perhaps at first pass regard as “trouble”, is far more effective at reducing the risk and rate of crime in our village than any retribution, isolation, and name-calling.

We can volunteer in support organisations, we can work with and volunteer to help young people, we can encourage people to seek help when they first show signs of distress, we can look after the victims and the families of criminals. We can encourage local authorities to ensure that they provide all of the services required above to those in our village who need them.

The conclusion that I would draw for our village is that being ‘good neighbours’ is the single greatest thing we can do to be safe, and feel safe.

The shape of our village.

One of the harsh realities of crime reduction in the home is that an awful lot of the risk is created by the structure of the built environment around us, the designs and implementation of the homes in it, and our shared environments (including woodlands and common land). The design of footpaths, alleyways and road junctions all have a dramatic effect on the risks of burglary.

“Architects have suggested that crime can be prevented by manipulating the design and placement of many simple items, such as doors, bus stops, and park benches. Today’s airports prevent crime by replacing bathroom entrance doors with right-angle entrances that permit the warning sounds of crime to travel more freely and that reduce the sense of isolation. Countries throughout the world, such as Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, and the Netherlands have used architectural design techniques to prevent crime. The 2000 Sydney Olympics self-consciously employed architecture to reduce crime by modifying landscapes, restricting access to sites, changing parking patterns, and creating visibility around stadiums.

Unfortunately, for the past six decades, criminal law has focused on the specific characteristics of offenders (such as economic status, race, age, employment status, and mobility) and has largely ignored the location of crime. Yet just as individuals can be recidivists, so too can certain places. In City X, for example, three percent of locations are responsible for fifty percent of calls to which police respond, and similar patterns occur in other cities.”

While we cannot retrospectively change very many of these points in our built environment, we can take small steps to improve alleyways, footpaths, hedgerows, junctions, and shared amenity spaces so as to encourage public use whilst discouraging criminal access.

The conclusion that I would draw from this larger issue is that we should engage with our Parish and Central Bedfordshire Council, as well as with each and every proposed development in the village to ensure that it is designed in the safest possible way and does not increase the risk for people around it.

Crime reduction schemes

The village has a range of crime reduction schemes in place and currently operating. Farm Watch in the rural area, Street Watch in the village,  Neighbourhood Watch in many areas of the village, Pub Watch, and a Safer Communities programme.

The evidence for effectiveness of each of these programs is very thin. There have been no long-term studies of the effects of Farm Watch, Street Watch, or Safer Communities. That is not surprising as they are relatively new.

Street Watch

Given that Street Watch is effectively an extension of police supervision, it might be expected that there would be the same, small, impact and crimes against the home as from increasing police officers in the same area. That is, a 10% increase in presence caused by Street Watch patrols might likely reduce the level of burglary by around 3%. This is, however, still to be proven.

There was a study of the programme and its effectiveness in Birmingham that appeared to show small reductions in on street crime, and drug taking in public places, and a smaller reduction in burglary in the areas monitored. That survey also highlighted some of the risks of a Street Watch program in that it had also resulted in complaints and civil action from members of the public who felt they had been unjustifiably targeted by Street Watch.

The conclusion that I would draw from this is that Street Watch should be supported, its effectiveness monitored, and that it should continue to report to both the police and the community as a whole and what it is doing and what its priorities are.

Pub Watch

The evidence from Pub Watch is not of good quality yet, and it may be displacing alcohol-related crimes and violence from public places (where peer pressure restrains behaviour) to the private home, fuelled by cheap alcohol from supermarkets.

No conclusion yet

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood watch is the oldest of all of the community security and safety schemes. One would expect, therefore, that it would have excellent evidence for its effectiveness. Sadly, this is not the case. There have been no reliable studies done since the 1990s, and no studies that compare the effectiveness of the scheme with, say, merely putting stickers in windows of homes at random.

“The main finding of the narrative review was that the majority of the schemes (19) indicated that neighbourhood watch was effective in reducing crime, while only 6 produced negative results. The main finding of the meta-analysis was that neighbourhood watch was followed by a reduction in crime of between 16% and 26%. This review concludes that across all studies Neighbourhood Watch was followed by a reduction in crime. However, it is not immediately clear why Neighbourhood Watch is effective.”

Most extensive studies of the scheme, done in the last 10 years, have increasingly begun to conclude that the effectiveness of the scheme is actually due to an improvement in “community pride” and its visual expression in terms of more obviously cared for and maintained areas of homes.

The conclusion that I draw from this is that neighbourliness is, of itself, a great way of reducing crime in an area, and that joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme probably has an additional small but important benefit in terms of reducing crime, and especially burglary.

In terms of our own homes.

Some of the factors that lead homes to be burgled are very difficult to change once you live in them. It is well understood that expensive home standing alone on the corner near a main road with quick access to concealment are very much more likely to be the subject of a burglary attempt than others. Your first home security decision comes when you buy the house. Having bought the house, there are still very many things that you can do, alone and in combination with your neighbours that have a dramatic ability to reduce the risk that you face.

There is a well understood list of factors that make home is much more vulnerable to crime, and if you have any of these factors, it is urgent that you deal with them because in one study of 1000 incident reports of burglaries committed against single-family homes, it was clear that:

  • Doors without deadbolt locks were targeted
  • Windows with single panes were targeted
  • Windows with simple stock latches were easily defeated
  • Sliding glass doors without specialized pin locks were easily rocked off their tracks
  • Almost all targeted properties had numerous hidden points of entry concealed by high shrubbery or solid fencing

The difference that you can make insecure in your own home is incredibly dramatic – you can reduce your chances of being burgled by around 700 times through a careful choice of home, careful choice of anti-crime measures, and crime reducing behaviour:

The highest probability of burglary of 0.712 exists when the following uncontrollable factors exist. The house is expensive, is not located on a dead-end street, is a detached single family corner home located within a quarter of a mile of an exit from a major thoroughfare, and is adjacent to woods or a playground. As controllable factors are concerned, the house does not have an alarm nor a motion sensor or timer to turn lights on and off at night, and does not normally have a car parked in the driveway. To conclude the homeowners do not have a neighbour to pick up mail and newspapers when the house is vacant.

When all these factors reverse, the probability of burglary is reduced to 0.001”.

Based on a sample of offenders, the percent of respondents rating the following factors as a deterrent against burgling a property are:

  1. Belief that house is occupied (84%)
  2. Presence of alarms outside property (84%) (around a 40% reduction in risk of burglary in UK studies)
  3. Presence of CCTV/camera nearby property (82%)
  4. Apparent strength of doors/window locks (55%)
  5. A convenient approach and exit routes
  6. There being a ready market for the goods likely to be in the property.

Let us deal with each of these in turn:

Making a home seem occupied

This is not a single step, but a group of steps and behaviours that keep your house looking as if somebody is probably in. You’ve probably seen lists of good ideas made available through a number of schemes. While the evidence for any single one of these steps is rather poor, the overall factor of having an apparently occupied home is a very important one in deterring burglary as a crime. Some of the things that you should consider might include:

  • Leaving lights on timers to come on at reasonable times in various rooms.
  • Leaving a radio on at normal speaking volume, but not visible from a window.
  • Leaving a car (properly secured, locked, and with the keys concealed) on the driveway.
  • Having a neighbour move the bins, take in the post, remove milk bottles, and otherwise ensure that nothing hangs around outside the house that an observant homeowner would not have dealt with themselves.

Having a visibly maintained and operating alarm.

Alarms work. But only if they are clearly active, visible, used, and maintained.

Looking at just one study in the UK:

“The outcome is impressive. In broad terms, in the six months between April 2003 and September 2003, there were 19 domestic burglaries per 1,000 households in the Mansfield and Ashfield police force area. The average figure for the Safe and Secure Homes neighbourhoods fell to 11.7.

The project proves to be even more successful when examined in detail. The project has effected an average 40% reduction in domestic burglary rates in six months, compared with the same six months in 2002. But two thirds of the domestic burglaries that did take place in the Safe and Secure Homes neighbourhoods were on properties that had not yet had alarms fitted.

Fewer than 8% of the domestic burglaries, just 12 in total, were in protected properties. Just one burglary took place when the property was alarmed, eight were as a result of the burglar gaining entry to an upper floor beyond the reach of the system.”

And it gets better – if lots of properties in the neighbourhood have alarms fitted burglars often avoid the area entirely:

“In the first two Safe and Secure Home areas, where a higher proportion of alarms have been fitted, the reductions in domestic burglary over the past year are even more dramatic, with one neighbourhood seeing a reduction of 80% and the other of 66%. This indicates that as the remaining properties are secured the positive impact on the five neighbourhoods as a whole will be rapid.”

Some US studies are even more dramatic, showing decreases of around 75% in the risk of burglary for a property with a simple front mounted active alarm box.

It therefore appears that the single most effective thing you can do  (after buying a house in a safe place)  is to deter a burglar from targeting your home is to fit an alarm and keep it working.

Fitting really good locks

Ground floor access points are all very vulnerable to a thief. Fit the best locks you can, and keep them well maintained. Pay particular attention to ground floor windows, and even more attention to windows at the rear of the house and patio doors.

The general minimum requirement for a front door is a 5 lever mortise lock and a deadlocking night latch.

There are excellent British Standards which can explain the best sorts of locks to use on each sort of door or window, and it really does pay to go around your house and have a good hard look at what is securing it.

On some older windows, the weak point is at the hinge as much as the lock.

As a general rule, 2 good locks, or a lock and a bolt are better than one.

Fit Locks!

Shutting and locking doors, windows and gates.

It may seem incredible, but nearly 34 percent of burglars enter premises through an unlocked door or window. Simply shutting and locking the front door, no matter how briefly the time you are away is absolutely essential. If you’re in the back garden. The front door should be shut and locked. If you are in the front of the house, then always ensure that the rear doors and windows are shut and locked.

That goes for the back gate as well, – a simple sliding bolt or latch is simply not adequate. Back gate should be locked to prevent direct access to the rear of the property.

Keep it locked!

Keeping keys out of sight.

It will surprise few people to learn that their most valuable possessions are normally secured by keys. The car, the jewellery, cash tin, the garage and a garden shed. Thieves love keys for 2 reasons:

  1. they help them get at things that are valuable.
  2. they help them get away with things that are valuable

Pretty much the perfect crime from a burglar’s point of view is to go in the back, collect all of the valuable items in the property that are portable, unlock a large door to carry them out, and drive away in the family car. All in a few minutes.

Keeping your keys out of sight of any window or door is a very simple way of ensuring that not only deceives not get access to the things that you really value, but they cannot carry out the things that they have got is easily.

Hide Keys!

Keeping valuable goods out of sight.

Most burglary is financially driven, and the thief wants to know that they are going to make some money when they get into a house. Some of that decision is taken merely by looking at the exterior of the house, but peeping through the windows or letterbox will give a thief much more information on the likely haul.

Leaving laptops, phones, keys, or bags clearly, in sight of front or rear windows is basically an advertisement that readily available portable items may be obtained. While it may not be entirely practical to conceal the television, desktop computer audio equipment every time you go out of the house, siting them in a less obvious place does make sense.

Keep valuable things hidden!

In conclusion

So we can reduce the risk of being burgled, and the fear of crime, but it requires a lot of us all:

  • Encourage our local Parish and Central Bedfordshire Council to support effective crime reduction policies and strategies
  • Support good building and development at the outset
  • Care for our village environment
  • Care for your neighbours
  • Help the Police
  • Support Street Watch
  • Join Neighbourhood Watch
  • Fit an alarm
  • Fit locks, and use them
  • Secure your own home – the full list of home security things, is at SECURE BY DESIGN
  • Eschew retribution and knee jerk reactions

While rejecting the knee-jerk call for retribution and tougher policing, I’m left with strongly felt conclusion that the focus on crime and crime reduction of itself is an illusion. Almost all of the benefits to our village come from improved neighbourliness.

Talking to each other. Communicating with our police forces. Keeping our neighbourhood tidy. Sensibly securing our own homes. Working with our neighbours, so that when we are out our homes continue to be maintained. Looking after our built environment, pathways, woodlands, and alleyways. Supporting families who are in financial distress, and children who have issues at school so that nobody has to turn to crime. Making sure those with mental illnesses or drug addiction are properly cared for, so crime does not become one of their choices. Welcoming those who join our village, so they do not become isolated or resentful of those with apparent wealth around them.

A more caring Maulden  is in every way a safer Maulden.

 

Maulden view
Maulden view from St Mary The Virgin Church
 -----------------------------------------------
References
For an overview, visit https://www.crimesolutions.gov/TopicDetails.aspx?ID=10
  1. Victims and Offenders, Vol. 4, No. 1, November 2008: pp. 1–35 Victims and Offenders Evidence-Based Public  Policy Options to Reduce  Crime and Criminal Justice Costs: Implications - Elizabeth K. Drake, Steve Aos, and Marna G. Miller
  2. Diverting Children from a Life of Crime: Measuring Costs and Benefits - edited by Peter W. Greenwood
  3. Measuring the Costs and Benefits of Crime and Justice - Mark A. Cohen
  4. "Designing out Crime: Parks & Public Open Spaces" document - Greater Manchester Police
  5. The Influence of Street lighting on Crime and the Fear of Crime (Crown Copyright 1991).
  6. Cost-Benefit Analysis for Crime Prevention: Opportunity Costs, Routine Savings and Crime Externalities - John Roman & Graham Farrell
  7. Decision-making by house burglars: offenders' perspectives – Home Office
  8. Effects of improved street lighting on Crime: a systematic review by Farrington & Welsh
  9. Safe and Secure Homes Case Study - Mansfield Police
  10. The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports-  Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti > link
  11. Chula Vista home survey -> link
  12. The Impact Of Home Burglar Alarm Systems On Residential Burglaries – Lee > link
  13. Safe, Warm, Modern – Nottingham Business School > link
  14. Burglar Alarms And The Choice Behavior Of Burglars : a Suburban Phenomenon - Andrew j. Buck and Simon Hakim
  15.  Knowing Your Odds: Home Burglary and the Odds Ratio - Simon Hakim  & George F. Rengert at Temple University> link
  16. Preventing Burglary Tim Prenzler and Michael Townsley School of Justice Administration, Griffith University, Brisbane Second National Outlook Symposium. Canberra, 3-4 March 1996. Australian Institute of Criminology.
  17. Police numbers and crime rates – a rapid evidence review - Ben Bradford 1 July 2011
  18. "Acquisitive Crime: Imprisonment, Detection and Social Factors" published at civitas.org.uk
  19. The Effects of Prison Sentences on Recidivism – Public Safety Canada > link
  20.  The Effect of Prison Population on Crime Rates – Steven D Levitt > link
  21. CCTV has modest impact on crime -  – The Cambell Collaboration
  22. Reducing harm in drinking environments  Evidence and Practice in Europe -   Karen Hughes, Lindsay Furness, Lisa Jones and Mark A Bellis
  23. Community Policing: International Patterns and Comparative Perspectives  -  edited by Dominique Wisler, Ihekwoaba D. Onwudiwe
  24. The effectiveness of partnership working in a crime and disorder context A rapid evidence assessment - Geoff Berry, Peter Briggs, Rosie Erol and Lauren van Staden > link
  25. The Effectiveness of Neighbourhood Watch in Reducing Crime, Campbell Systematic Reviews, 2008:18 - T.H. Bennett, K.R. Holloway & D.P. Farrington (2008):
  26. Architecture as Crime Control -Professor Neal Kumar Katyal   > link

 

New Neighbourhood Watch Groups

Why Bother With Neighbourhood Watch?

Last year Maulden sadly suffered an a few burglaries in the Xmas period.  One year does not make a trend, but it is always a good time to raise our alertness and take basic security measures.  It is also true that after one bad year the statistics tend to “regress to the mean”, and that in the quiet times afterwards people tend to forget to be vigilant.

What is happening

Since the village hall meeting in January, the local reaction has been superb.

A great deal of useful information shared with members of the village, and a large number of people volunteered to join in with a range of community safety related projects (Street Watch, Speed Watch, and general community safety). The growth in terms of members of local Neighbourhood Watch groups may not be so obvious, but it is real.

It is therefore quite likely, therefore, that the single biggest improvement to community safety that has occurred in the village this year is in the growth of Neighbourhood Watch.

In adding more active schemes to that list. The village has substantially increased the coverage of neighbourhood watch schemes, made it much more likely that anybody passing through the village with ill intent will realise that the community is alert to the risks and is prepared and secured, and we will have reduced a number of incidental nuisances.

We would, therefore, like you to consider joining or starting a local NHW Scheme for your road and immediate area.

How does Neighbourhood Watch work ?

Each NHW group is defined as a “Scheme” and can be formed by a small number of houses, a whole street or even an entire housing estate.

Each Scheme is organised by a Street (Scheme) Coordinator and an Area Coordinator provides support and assistance to all NHW Schemes in their designated district.

All NHW Schemes are voluntary community initiatives, which are supported by the Police, but are not run by them.

The effectiveness of each Scheme depends on the efforts and enthusiasm of its members and its activities reflect what the members are happy to do.

All Schemes require their members to remain alert to any criminal or suspicious activity going on in their neighbourhood and reporting it, without delay, to the Police. Additionally, NHW Schemes encourage households to take common sense crime prevention measures to secure their property.

Some Schemes hold regular meetings to keep their members up to date with issues that directly affect them, whilst other Schemes distribute newsletters or organise special events to raise security awareness.

As a guideline, the basic roles and responsibilities for members of a Scheme are shown here.

What Makes a Scheme a Success?

Enthusiasm and commitment from every member is extremely important. The more interest and activity members put into their Scheme, the more effective and successful it will be.

A successful NHW Scheme develops a safer community to live. It gives residents a personal influence on crime reduction and an improvement in the quality of life in their neighbourhood by making people feel safer in their own homes.

As a result, an overall fear of crime can be reduced and a corresponding increase in community well-being can be achieved.

NHW is proven to be effective at deterring and displacing criminal activity, and improves the rates of police clear up and property recovery.

How much effort is it?

Your commitment is nothing that you would not already do:

  1. Visibly secure your home & property with stickers and uV marker pens
  2. Deploy Smart Water markings on relevant high value items
  3. Care for the local environment around your homes
  4. Promptly report reasonable suspicions to the police on 101
  5. Promptly report actual criminal acts on 999
  6. Inform your local street coordinator of suspicious activity whether or not reported as above
  7. Go to 2 meetings per year (however informal) with your local group

There is very slightly more work for a street coordinator and a deputy to do, but most of it is a pleasure, and highly sociable. In all cases the street coordinator and deputy get excellent support from the village coordinator, and the Bedfordshire regional neighbourhood watch organisation.

In terms of effort to reward, Neighbourhood Watch really is a great deal of reward for very little effort.

What can you do to join?

I recommend it to you. Please contact the Regional Coordinator and they can set the process moving for you and your neighbours.