Residents speak out over crime
STREETS OF SHAME: Chief Constable learns of daily terror
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
Mr Fuller listens to the concerns of residents
‘A frank and open exchange of views’ at Hillbrow Lane