Policing in Westover

With concerns that the Police are losing control of the Town Centre amidst a general upsurge in anti
social behaviour, Westover councillors raised 10 key issues with the local force and sought explanations along with evidence of a plan of action.

The General picture

   Westover is a newly created ward (2011) and doesn't fit in naturally with the Police 'Beats', therefore it was important to establish responsibility for the various parts.

 The Town Centre:- Is covered by Sgt Elaine Linham (left),with  PC Jasmine Desmond and PC Ed Woolmington (right)

 The Hamp Beat;- which covers the old Hamp ward plus streets off the Taunton road and key areas such
as Lakeside caravan park and Brownes pond , is covered by PC Richard Tully.(below left)

 The Quantock Beat;- Covers the Durleigh end of town but also includes the streets off West street , North street and Wembdon road and is the responsibility of PC Tony Freeman. (right)

 The Victoria Beat:- is the area around Kendale road and Chilton st and also covers the Docks and comes under PC Rhia Reece.(right)

Call 101

 Each area has a backup team of PCSO's. On a general note there has been a recent temporary depletion of numbers due to redeployment to support the Olympic Games. Contact with the Police remains on a 2 tier level
depending on the seriousness of the call.Apart from the 999 Emergency calls people need to remember that the
101 number should be used for passing on information and more crucially reporting incidents. Many areas of concern we raised with the police were met with the response that they weren't aware because they had logged no calls on the subject.

10  KEY AREAS IN WESTOVER

1     Lakeside Caravan Park (Hamp Beat) Police have given Lakeside a priority status over the years and we urged that they kept it at the top of their agenda.. The background to  this is that in recent years the park has seen a disproportionate increase in accommodation for anti social elements  with the result that the established residents  have been gradually giving up and leaving. Those that remain have been subject to  near siege-like conditions such as the recent arson attacks. Councillors raised this with SDC and the Police constantly over the years with the result that the Police have made it their top priority.  

2     Brownes pond (Hamp Beat)  Brownes Pond is in the process of being taken into community ownership with tremendous work being undertaken by the 'Friends of Brownes pond' group. The response has been disheartening as   there has recently been an increase in anti-social behaviour there. There are issues with  campers, fishing groups, increased litter, alcohol fuelled parties, suggestions of drug use and general anti social behaviour. One solution discussed was extending the  no alcohol zoning to enable decisive police action but generally the Police agreed to increase patrols so long as residents supported this by phoning in incidents and alerted them to problems promptly. They would also liase with the relevant drug agencies that might be able to have an impact.

3     Dampiet street (Town Centre Beat) 'Boy Racers'One major concern of residents from various parts of the ward was the ongoing racetrack created by various cars and motorbikes around the town . In particular the former Splash car park, Albert street  and Dampiet street(left) which forms an especially popular and dangerous S junction past the catholic church.Residents have asked for Traffic calming measures and action against illegal noisy exhausts. Councillors have identified the key sites with residents who were also taken on a visit to CCTV centre which confirmed it was passing on information to Police and were keen to act on requests from the public for priorities. Contact barry.donbavand@sedgemoor.gov.uk.. The Police have agreed to dedicate an officer to the problem (PCSO Dan Wheller-pictured below right) and are keen to include the areas in their Speedwatch programme which included high-visibility patrols. At the Town Council meeting this week when challenged by ward councillor Brian Smedley, Sgt Gary Young confirmed that they were regularly issuing fixed penalties and he personally signed some 40+ each week.

4     West street (Quantock Beat) –'Boy racers' For several years, residents have warned that Albert Street has seen an increase in  cars, motor bikes and scooters using the road as a Rat Run with the inevitable screeching tyres and so on. They asked for traffic calming and had no response.   The case was made by Councillors  that  the volume of traffic using Albert Street has now reached major proportions particularly during school run times and around 5pm each day and that  with pressure on social housing more and more children are living in flats and they tend to play in streets having no other facilities and  so the situation has become very dangerous in built up estates such as West street.  Calming  the traffic in Albert street would have a major impact on safety

5     Splash car park (Town Centre Beat) –'Boy racers' – similarly the Mount street car park is a key pit stop for the round town boy racer circuit  and one where they often start from. The noise not just from the engines but from the loud music  along with the  dangerous driving is a considerable problem for residents in nearby Blacklands and Anson way .

6      Student Nights (Town Centre Beat) Wednesday nights have been designated 'student nights' in the town and residents have complained about an increase in drunken and anti-social behaviour during this period extending into the early hours of the morning. The Police accept that the contributory factor is the competition to provide cheap booze on these nights not just from the popular venues involved but also from off-sales in the town. They confirmed they had identified some of the sources and had taken action in co-operation with Trading Standards. Cllr Smedley confirmed with SDC Licensing  that a review of premises which caused residents concern that they were being adversely affected by a breach of the conditions, could be triggered by a ward member. The police accepted that the trouble on Wednesday nights was not just students.

7     Blake Gardens (Town Centre Beat ) A continued increase of drink related anti-social behaviour had long been on the Police agenda in the towns principal central park and they were maintaining increased levels of patrols to monitor this and bring it under control.

8     The Docks (Victoria Beat) There has been considerable problems in the docks with anti social behaviour and a clash of usage which has also affected the Sea Cadets who use the waters for training. There is an issue with the fishing which meetings have been held to try to resolve. The police are aware of the difficulties and are monitoring the situation. Victoria ward councillors and SDC are also involved in trying to find solutions.

9     West Quay (Town Centre Beat) There had been minor incidents along the Quayside and into lower castle street which residents had asked the Police and CCTV to help monitor. They were also alerted to an increase of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the Town Bridge and riverside with noise and drunkenness continuing to the early hours on several nights a week. It was confirmed that CCTV had the whole range in it’s sights and that the Police had taken action against identified problem sources in recent days. It was further hoped that this would be resolved when the area was no longer a building site and pedestrianisation could make the place more attractive and well used.

10  Parking issues;-  (Town Centre Beat)  One of the major causes of concern in the centre of Bridgwater was the knock on affect of the change of management of on street parking. Many people believed the Police were not doing enough to help manage the changes-however, Police pointed out it was now none of their business yet they felt this was now a worsening situation as the streets were now not monitored 24/7 by County as they had been by themselves. It was agreed that the establishment of Resident Parking Zones  would be a way forward to calm the currently tense situation in the town resulting from the massive increase in fines dished out.  

 

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