Residents gather for West End Gardens public meeting

Residents gather to discuss future of West End Gardens after recent shootingResidents gather to discuss future of West End Gardens after recent shooting

Below is our report for our recent meeting, thanks to all those who attended (despite the football!).

The following day we were able to meet with the parks officer from the City Council to pass on suggestions and discuss the formation of a ‘Friends of’ group, which was very positive indeed – more details to follow shortly.

The local press report from EDP/ Evening News can be seen by clicking here.

Community meeting 11th July 2018 (Fat Percy, 7.30pm)

Organisers: Wensum Residents’ Association
Chair: Liam Calvert (chair of Wensum RA)

Summary of meeting to discuss recent shooting at West End Gardens, along with plans for the ongoing maintenance of the park.

Attendance:

Strong community attendance (approx 80-90 people) with police officers PC Bickle and PC Emma Walsh. Councillors in attendance included Danny Douglas, Erin Fulton-McAlister, and David Fullman

Criminal activity in and around the park

Meeting kicked off with many questions and concerns about policing in the local area. Many residents reported seeing drug dealing in action, addicts ‘shooting up’ in the park and other suspicious activity in and around the car park at the surgery, behind the advertising hoardings on the Dereham Road and West End Gardens. Many concerns were raised about drug dealing activity within West End Gardens, in particular, behind homes adjacent to the park.

Residents complained that calling 101 is a waste of time, with police officers not turning up in time to apprehend suspects.Others were concerned that drug dealing has continued in the park despite the shooting.

Concerns about rubbish dumped in park since clear up were raised.

A local resident raised previous complaints about a café on Nelson Street where drugs were being dealed. Resident praised officers on beat, but complained that it took years for anything to be done about the café, despite multiple calls from the public.

Residents suggested locking the park at night and installing CCTV around the park

Police response:

PCs Bickle and Walsh advise the following to local residents:

    • If you see a crime happening, call 999
    • If you see suspicious activity, call 101
    • Take pictures and keep logs: jot down registrations and times of day you see criminal activity and email SNTNorwichEast@norfolk.pnn.police.uk
    • If you cannot get a response from 101 when reporting, call PC Dave Allum on 07989195392
    • Plain clothes policemen and women are working in the area

PCs Bickle and Walsh reported that improvements had been made to a park with similar problems, Old Library Wood, with residents’ meetings every month, CCTV on streets, police dogs, tree cutting, litter picks and an enhanced police presence.

Ideas and suggestions for West End Gardens improvements:

Chair of Wensum RA, Liam Calvert thanked council for recent improvements to the park, including lowering hedges, cutting grass etc but reminded meeting that these are, at best, superficial improvements. What’s needed is a firmer plan to continue this maintenance and ideas to make the park a family-friendly space, deterring criminal activity.

Liam outlined two potential routes residents can go down:

    1. Feeding ideas and suggestions to a Parks Forum, headed up by Michael Parker (Parks and Open Spaces Officer for Norwich City Council)
    2. Working with Norwich Fringe Project (a group that works with wild green spaces in and around Norwich) to train up local volunteers in using maintenance equipment so that we can take charge of park’s maintenance

Councillor Erin Fulton-McAlister stated that the park is currently under standard maintenance by council. This should include grass cut once a fortnight, hedges cut once a year and trees felled as needed.

Councillor David Fullman also said that he has requested that the trees be thinned out and the street lights cleaned to improve lighting in the park.

Councillor Danny Douglas said that he would take ideas and opinions on the park for a possible future meeting with city council representatives.

Floor opened to residents’ suggestions:

    • Local resident suggested wildlife walks and projects, planting wildflowers, bird watching and children-focussed activities. Group strongly in favour of this idea
    • Flatten mounds and fell trees to improve sightlines
    • Engage community payback scheme where criminals do maintenance work in the park as part of their community service – funds potentially available
    • Put up signs saying Alcohol free zone
    • Remove hedging and install metal/grill fencing instead
    • Ask local schools to get involved in projects
    • Reduce tree coverage
    • Improve children’s play facilities
    • Reduce hedging at park margins
    • Improve sight line
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