Res­i­dents speak out over crime

STREETS OF SHAME: Chief Con­sta­ble learns of daily ter­ror

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Mike Ben­nett

A COM­MU­NITY is liv­ing in fear with res­i­dents claim­ing that crime and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour is out of con­trol in an area of South Ash­ford.

So when Kent Po­lice Chief Con­sta­ble Mike Fuller, came to Hill­brow Lane for a street brief­ing last week, he took a full blast from an­gry res­i­dents who feel they are forgotten by those in author­ity.

With po­lice of­fi­cers and com­mu­nity sup­port of­fi­cers drafted in from across the bor­ough in a mas­sive show of strength, Mr Fuller’s visit was dubbed an ex­pen­sive pub­lic­ity stunt by some res­i­dents.

He heard tales of drugs, graf­fiti, anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and van­dal­ism, lit­ter and gen­eral dis­rup­tion to res­i­dents’ lives.

One mid­dle-aged wo­man said only last week she had been threat­ened by a youth who said he was go­ing to get a gun and shoot her.

A cou­ple with a baby told of gangs us­ing the area as a short cut from pubs and night­clubs, ram­pag­ing through leav­ing a trail of de­struc­tion to ve­hi­cles and prop­erty be­tween 10pm and 6am. Sin­gle moth­ers liv­ing in blocks of flats said they were fear­ful af­ter a se­ries of break-ins and un­ex­plained fires.

Fac­ing the res­i­dents on the greens at the Bai­ley Field junc­tion, Mr Fuller said he was un­able to com­ment on in­di­vid­ual is­sues, but he pledged that his neigh­bour­hood of­fi­cers would tackle their prob­lems.

He said: “We have a team of of­fi­cers ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a real dif­fer­ence in neigh­bour­hood ar­eas.

“I un­der­stand that a lot of peo­ple would not at­tend a church hall meet­ing which is why I have come for this in­for­mal gath­er­ing to hear first hand the is­sues that will be dealt with by my lo­cal of­fi­cers.

“We need you to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and help to solve prob­lems,” he said.

Res­i­dents were also highly crit­i­cal of coun­cil of­fi­cials not re­spond­ing to com­plaints about street light­ing and shat­tered glass and their non-at­ten­dance at meet­ings to sup­port ward coun­cil­lors Bob Cow­ley and Bob Pack­ham.

Res­i­dents want full CCTV cam­era cov­er­age of the area to catch cul­prits and gates across the roads to pre­vent en­try of non­res­i­dents at night.

Ash­ford Ch Insp Stu­art Ke­hily warned against vig­i­lante ac­tion and said a part­ner­ship be­tween po­lice, the coun­cil and res­i­dents was the best way to solve prob­lems.

He promised that a meet­ing would be held shortly, to find so­lu­tions to im­prove the qual­ity of life of the area.

Com­ment­ing on res­i­dents’ con­cerns Mr Fuller said: “This was a frank and open ex­change of views and I was im­pressed with the turnout.

“The af­ter­noon tim­ing meant that peo­ple like young moth­ers, who are un­able to at­tend evening meet­ings, were able to get in­volved and see of­fi­cers will­ing to lis­ten to their con­cerns.”

Kent Chief Con­sta­ble Mike Fuller

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Mr Fuller lis­tens to the con­cerns of res­i­dents

Pic­tures by Gary Browne pd1209406

‘A frank and open ex­change of views’ at Hill­brow Lane

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