Following several weekends marred by increasing amounts of severe anti-social behaviour in North Road ward, spreading out from the Albert Road Bridge all the way up to the Burns pub carpark, this weekend has been quiet. On Friday night I spent a couple of hours riding around the ward, and the police were out in force. Two bobbies on bikes, two in an unmarked police car and a mobile HQ parked on North Road proved an effective deterrent to the rowdiness and crime we have had to deal with recently.
My colleague Fred Lawton wrote to the local police sargeant during the week, spelling out in no uncertain terms the problems the ward has been faced with recently. His letter is based on his experience. I could add emails, letters and phone calls I have received from residents of Pendleton Road.
Mr Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx, xx George Short Close overlooks the Albert Road Bridge. He contacted us about a number of incidents. Last Saturday about 6pm, there was a gang at the bridge as usual. A car stopped on Albert Road and two young men, white, got out and delivered two large bags (alcohol ?) to the group, then drove away.
Mr Xxxxxxx said the problems at the bridge, and all down the path beside the river to Richard Court (where they climb on the large containers for the new kitchens and throw bottles), had restarted in January and now it is every Friday and Saturday. They are mixed gender groups.
Last Friday, a Warden visited the area at around 4.40. That is too early; they start gathering about 5.30- 6.00 and by 6.00 – 6.30 there is a crowd.
Mr Xxxxxx has a friend in Havelock Street. On the evening of 28/2 the wing mirror was ripped off her Vauxhall Corsa, parked behind the Havelock Centre. She found the mirror and did not report to police. On 7/3 both wing mirrors were ripped off and one was ripped off another car. She reported to the police.
Cllr Curry and I walked by the river yesterday. It is filthy as usual, with rubbish, cans, broken glass and polythene bags. There are a lot of Netto bags and some Lambrini bottles, so can they be checked? There is obvious evidence of substance misuse; plastic bottles with holes burned in, cut up plastic bags with stained bottles inside. Some cut down trees have been dumped in the river and with old pallets next to them they are obviously part of their playground but are starting to block the river with built-up debris.
Down at the bottom of the path, where the way through the bridges is walled up, there is a pile of needles and cases, which should be removed urgently. There are strips of pill holders; a lot of Zydol 50mg.
Mr Xxxxx, of xx Edmund Street told us of the very large gang on Monday 16/3. The police were out in force to clear them away, for which all the residents were grateful. Neighbours have a story that a gang from Haughton are arranging fights with NRC.
Most of this is not new to you. I write to thank you for starting to visit the area more often but also to ask you to continue to do so, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. This is not a bunch of youngsters just enjoying themselves. We now have evidence of illegal drinking with a car delivery service, substance and medical pills misuse, serious injected drugs misuse, criminal damage to vehicles and property and alcohol fuelled gang warfare. Not to mention the destruction of a lovely riverside environment.
What is continually said to us is that this has just started again after an eighteen month break. People say that the break was because of a regular police presence on Friday and Saturday nights for a prolonged period. If the police can manage to relentlessly visit this area, they will hopefully be successful again.
How long will the police continue to patrol the ward in force on Friday and Saturday nights? The Council's cost-cutting decision to abolish the uniformed warden service and leave the control of anti-social behaviour to the police has taken away a re-assuring warden presence which local older residents in this part of the ward used to appreciate.
We have asked officers for a briefing on the decision to abolish the warden service. North Road ward seems to be a magnet - a meeting point for feral youths from across the north end of town. Our local residents shouldn't have to put up with this sort of behaviour on their own doorsteps. The police have responded to our requests for help this weekend and we'll continue to put pressure on them and the Council's hardpressed and under-resourced front-line personnel to keep this menace away from North Road ward.