Blues v Villa Police Forum

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January 28, 2017 by Made In Brum

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WM Police and Supporters Forum: January 2017

Location: Legends Lounge (18:30)

Chair: Rachele Johnson (SLO) – BCFC

BCFC Representatives: Dave Hoult (Safety Officer)

WMP Representatives: PC Colin Barlow, Inspector Howard Lewis-Jones – Force Football Unit

Attendees: Lynda Courts (Redditch Blues), Dave Smith (BCFC Forum), Tony Routley (Central Blues Travel), Micky Singh (Blues4All), Linda Goodman (Birmingham), Richard Stanley (Blues Trust), Cliff Horrocks (Blues Trust), Sean Guiden (Irish BC Supporters Club), Russell Dempsey (Joys and Sorrows), Chris Sinclair (Northside Blues), Ray Hobrow (Blues Collective), Tina Hobrow (Blues Collective), Carl Upton (BCFC SLO). Nigel Smith, Emma Willock, Andrew Orgill (unaffiliated supporter representatives 16/17).

  1. INTRODUCTIONS
  2. WEST MIDLANDS POLICE OPEN FORUM REGARDING ASTON VILLA 23/4/2017

Inspector Howard Lewis-Jones advised how they were to meet both clubs to discuss the game at their home venues.

The Villa representatives were asked what they felt could be done to make it better for them as away supporters when coming to BCFC for the home fixture.

6 or 7 wishes were put forward by Villa and all were followed through by the police with the support of BCFC.

The Inspector asked the floor for practical solutions for what we would like to make it a safer game for the fans when we play at Villa Park.

Linda Courts asked “why women weren’t allowed to use the toilets after the last game at Villa? – They were escorted straight to the coaches. The Inspector advised that he would look into this and feedback to Rachele Johnson

The Inspector advised that one of the requests from the Villa reps was that the toilets and kiosks were to be opened after the game at BCFC and this was honoured and took place.

It was queried why people who had travelled by car to the Villa game and parked in Tesco car park, couldn’t get back to the car after the game? The Inspector advised that this was due to road closures and restrictions in place but acknowledged that this wasn’t made public knowledge, so for the Villa game the police will inform all involved of any road restrictions if closures are to take place and for what period.

The road closures are in place for the coaches too and must arrive at least 1 hour before the game if they want to use these roads and cannot use them until 1 hour after the game.

It was mentioned that it was felt / deemed inappropriate for the Witton Arms to charge £2 entry to Blues fans, but the police advised that due to the trouble, they do not think the blues fans would be welcomed back at the next game.

It was suggested that if the pubs were to charge, the money could be donated to Villa’s nominated charity? feedback findings.

The Yew Tree was possibly a pub that could allow blues fans where police advised that they could manage this area and get fans to the ground safely. The police will also speak to other pubs in the area, and feedback findings.

Linda C asked the police if we could have an away fan zone in the coach away car park – to be looked into and feedback

A question was asked if we could talk to London Midland trains and see if they could put special trains on that travels to just one station (maybe Witton) and then advertise this at New Street Station. The police advised that it was difficult to manage with trains arriving at both Aston and Witton at the same time.

It was asked if we could have a designated area to park for people who travel by car that is close to the ground? Is it a possibility that cars could be parked in the coach park? – findings to be fed back to BCFC

The police advised that it would be dangerous to hold fans back at Villa due to the design of the stadium so this is not at option.

It was agreed that the “sterile environment/area” created for away fans to go into at the last game worked well.

It was suggested that Villa fans shouldn’t really be allowed to have to pass the away turnstiles to get into the North Stand.

Can the gates be shut before and after the game so that entrants seated in the lower North Stand and lower Doug Ellis would not need to cross over the away turnstile entrances. – Feedback required

It was asked if the BCFC fans could sit in the lower North Stand instead (holds 2800) – Feedback required however doubtful.

At the last game, it was deemed that the Welsh police treated fans worse than anything they have seen before – will they be used again? Feedback required

Police advised that we can take our own stewards to game.

The police asked the floor how we would feel if they were present in the concourses at the start of the game when the turnstiles are open? Decided it would be fine and no-one would feel intimidated, more so give a safe feeling.

Better signage above the turnstiles at Villa is required as it is not obvious that you can go through several for upper and lower seating.

Challenge made on price of blues coaches to Villa (police coaches) far too expensive – can this be reviewed? Feedback required

Dave Hoult said that he would look into opening exits 6 and 7 if people want to get there early to get the coaches. Will need to check if beer could be available. Dave also advised that he would look into costing and feasibility of a price for breakfast, pint and the coach trip – Feedback required

RETAIL

Q – Programme sellers can’t be found in Kop – definitely entrance 5 for the last 4/5 games. – to be looked into again (feedback required) but advised that more boxes could be put in the club class and information areas.

Q – Club shop small and cramped and not ideal at all on match days – suggestions made to re-instate booths that used to be outside main stand – Rachele will talk to Wayne and feedback

OR could we move some of the stuff around in the shop and create more floor place? Rachele will talk to Wayne and feedback

TICKETING

Q – Are there any plans to lower prices? Rachele advised that the prices were frozen 3 years ago – BCFC currently sell the average season ticket at 31% lower than the rest of the championship.

Q – Bradford City’s Flexicard – could this be considered at blues? Rachele advised that we have something similar with Blue’s Loyalty, although you don’t get to choose your seat but get added benefits with the points accrued. The question was also asked on behalf of supported affiliated overseas as the flexicard could work for them. They can only get to certain games, as they can’t build up to get a client reference. Rachele to look into this and feedback

Why was it changed for schools to not be able to get 1 or 2 tickets as they used to? They now need to get minimum of 4 and people may not be able to afford 4 so its felt that they are just not coming to games Rachele to look into this and feedback

Can there be an incentive for season ticket holders to bring friends along? Rachele to look into this and feedback

Q – No refund policy on coach tickets?

A – Rachele advised that you would get a refund if both the match ticket and the coach ticket was returned. Initially coach refunds were removed as this was being abused, because people were booking to go on the coach and then deciding to travel by other means.

MEDIA

Q -Poor speakers at back of block 16 and pre-match used to have dramatic music to build up?

A – Upgrades have been carried out in media room but will look specifically at the block 16. Rachele acknowledged that BCFC are aware that the PA system could do with improvements so will look to reviewing again. The video doesn’t get played out as there is a timing issue where they can’t time the video for when the team come out of the tunnel.

Q- Advised at last meeting that the team news, goal scorers, cards etc. would be displayed on the big screen – this hasn’t happened? Rachele advised that the intersperse is a manual process (due to a software issue) and they are currently a team member down but are still looking at doing this as promised

CATERING

Q – any plans to have wider variety of food?

A – Cookhouse is really popular so different varieties is good idea, next season may start with more variety.

Q- beer hawkers/vendors in ground to alleviate queues at kiosks?

A – One currently being trialled at present Tilton/Kop corner. This is also time consuming as one person is doing everything from serving the drink to collecting money and giving change. Suggestion that maybe 2 people should go, one to serve one to sort money.

Q- Is Cookhouse menu going to be published pre-match to advertise what will be served?

A – Rachele advised that they were looking into posters being put up around the ground rather than just e-mail as not everyone sees this.

Q- No Cookhouse menu in Main Stand? – there is a new one in D bar but not yet advertised as people in main stand are unaware.

A – Rachele to look into this, but it was also suggested that you can’t get to this area from Block A without going out of the ground and through car park

MATCH DAY AND FACILITIES

Q – Frequently blocked toilets and nothing to dry hands on?

A – Companies are coming in to quote to hopefully push forward with in close season to sort hand dryers and toilets but Rachele will look into the paper towels option and a bin Feedback required

Q- age need to be searched?

A – Dave Hoult advised 18 at Blues but can and does vary by ground. Blues would ask adults consent before search and can refuse entry if denied. A safety officer is called over if search approved who is CRB checked.

Q- half time challenge always sat in lower tiers? Can blues not select the people earlier and give them time to get to the pitch?

A – Rachele advised that they will trial this at one of the forthcoming games

Q – Always late kicking off? Rachele advised that this is down to the referee, 2 alarms are sounded 10 min warning then 5 mins but it is up to referee to get both teams down the tunnel and on the pitch on time.

Q –Can away fans be moved to paddocks so entire Gil Merrick could be open to Blues?

A – This would mean the away fans would be mixing with home fans whereas GM has own car park, own turnstiles own concourse that is much bigger and the paddocks couldn’t facilitate the away fans.

Q- TV’s in KOP bars no sound/don’t work?

A – Dave advised that this could be a H&S issue if people are all congregating to watch but are looking to reposition the TV’s for next season. Proving difficult as they still need to be placed so that people can see without going outside of the drinking alcohol areas. Dave will review over next few games to see if anything can be done – Feedback required

Q- Club’s stance on safe standing areas?

A – Dave advised that the club is not designed to be anything other than seating due to depth of space when the seat is lifted up. Without new legislations this will remain the case.

AOB

What is the Steward’s policy on helping people up and down the stairs ?

A – Dave advised that they are there to help when needed although can take each circumstance into account of their own safety.

Club Class – hospitality start moving 10 mins before half time and before finish and impedes the views of people who cannot stand to see game – Rachele to review again and feedback

Report by : Ray Hobrow & Tina Hobrow

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