PACT meetings, which bring the Police, the Council, other partners and of course the community togather, have been a great initiative by Durham Constabulary. We've given their Springfield, Whinfield and Haughton meetings our support as ward councillors. Indeed, I think I'm right in saying that Springfield PACT meetings are amongst the best attended anywhere in the Borough.
The last Springfield PACT agreed that one of its priorities for our local beat team would be dealing with anti-social behaviour problems in Wheeldale Close/Riverside Way, and also Hambleton Grove/Springfield Road. You may recall that we put out an ASB survey in Wheeldale Close/Riverside Way recently, which got a great response.
Residents in Hambleton Grove too have suffered from problems associated with the footpath which runs up to Springfield Road. We organised a site visit there with local householders and Street Scene to see what could be done about the litter and how deterrents to ASB could be developed (prickly bushes and the like).
Rather than leave the issue for three months until the next Springfield PACT, I was delighted that our local Police beat team agreed to join us for a street surgery last Thursday, covering both Hambleton Grove and Wheeldale Close. We got a great response in both streets, with lots of residents wanting to talk to our local beat manager PC Jeff Summerhill and PCSO Liz Harley.
There were some contrasting points made, but that's the nature of community politics. One person's lively behaviour can have a real impact on others' quality of life. After 2 hours of talking and listening, I think that everyone came away with a better understanding of the varying perspectives locally.
To ensure that there were some concrete results, the Police have subsequently met with the Council's ASB team, and put out a joint letter around Wheeldale Close tonight. The police are also looking at a restorative approach with young people, and how to get communication going with them too.
Tackling anti-social behaviour in our communities is never as easy as grabbing some easy headlines in the local paper - it's about the hard slog of listening to local people to identify exactly what the difficulties are, and then forging the relationships to deal with the issues collaboratively. I remain hugely impressed by the constructive attitude taken by Darlington Police across Haughton.