Huge task facing Operation Can-do
DEPUTY features editor JOHN BAKER spends a morning on Operation CAN-DO, and learns about the task facing the police and Peterborough City Council.
HUNDREDS of bottles of cheap alcohol and drug abusers’ needles rammed into trees.
Condoms on the floor and human excrement. Police tape blowing in the trees, a remnant of past enforcement, and discarded trash.
Drivers passing along Bourges Boulevard every day have no idea of the den of depravity lurking in a patch of grim woodland near the corner with Westfield Road.
The police and council are aware, well aware of the worst area of New England and Millfield in terms of drug abuse, which they are aiming to clear up as part of Operation CANdo, a scheme launched earlier this year which is designed to revitalise some of the city’s most deprived areas.
This is no short term fix; an army of cleaners could tackle this in an hour and sweep away every bottle of supercharged white cider and needle packets.
They would return the following week to find the trash had returned before them. So other fixes are needed in the area, which formerly also acted as a base for people sleeping rough.
Pcs Alan Calver and Gary Johnson and Peterborough City Council neighbourhood enforcement officer Mark Denson have trodden this path many times,.
A nearby patch of scrubland, pristine in comparison, is the blueprint for one possible solution which was due to be discussed later in a meeting between the various agencies.
Pc Calver said: “I have been coming here for many years and it has been cleaned up, although not for many years.
“We would like to clear it so that the smaller trees are removed, so people can see inside and see what is going on.
“It’s also not good that people can use the underpass while people may be skulking in the trees.
“We come here as much as we can, perhaps three or four times a day sometimes, but obviously we have other commitments.”
The trio head out every week as part of Operation CAN-DO, which attempts to address issues of crime and poverty while promoting community spirit.
Sprit of another kind litters the leaves and as we walk into the undergrowth I am warned not to touch any trees.
A spine of five needles poking into a young tree near the entrance negates the need for further explanation.
There’s a suitcase full of trash and a broken wheelchair, presumably used as a seat for injecting.
And the vast numbers of blue bottles could almost be a gro- tesque version of the roadsides following the Great Eastern Run, but this is not a place of achievement, just misery.
The team moves on to its next destination, HSS Hire Shop off Lincoln Road.
Staff recently reported antisocial behaviour in the area and the company is paying to install spikes on its fences so thugs cannot clamber over them.
Branch manager Trudy Hesketh said: “We have alcohol bottles thrown in our car park – one member of staff had a bottle of vodka thrown at their car.
“It’s not a good image for the area, but it’s good that we are getting help with the security.
“We are cleaning the car park and we hope the spikes will go up next week, which will block off the problem.”
On Princes Street a tatty brown sofa dumped on the pavement a day or two before has not been taken, although bits of drawer have been snatched.
The awkward furniture looks conspicuous near a set of brand new flats. Mark questions a few people, no-one has any explanation.
In a car park off Green Street there’s a damaged pram. Nearby is an untaxed car – the DVLA has been notified – and several bags
case open: Pc Calver wants to clear the area to limit opportunities for dumping and drug abuse.