Talking West Cheshire

Home Secretary in Newtown to see ground-breaking response to community problems

15 September 2010

Home Secretary Theresa May MP, was in Chester today (Wednesday) to see how Cheshire West and Chester Council co-ordinates its ground-breaking response to crime and anti-social behaviour in the community.

Mrs May toured Newtown – part of an inner city area which experiences 18% of all crime within West Cheshire.

Anti-social behaviour in Newtown, including drink-related, rowdy and loutish behaviour, accounts for 62% of all incidents in the area.

And Chester’s central areas also experience 22% of alcohol-related admissions to hospital, 24% of alcohol-related crime and 8% of alcohol-related domestic violence within West Cheshire.

Making her first visit as Home Secretary outside of London, she saw how partnership working between Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire Police and Chester and District Housing Trust is helping to tackle community concerns.

Later Mrs May told journalists: “This is a scheme designed in response to the needs of the local people.

“It has led to greater community involvement, and more information being fed back to the police which, in turn, means more criminals caught.”

Teams targeted environmental issues from re-painting railings, road markings and signage to securing loose flagstones, garden maintenance and tackling highlighted car parking problems.

The work was the result of concerns raised by residents at a local Community Forum and door-to-door surveys.

Later Mrs May met frontline staff and residents at a round table meeting chaired by local councillor Tom Parry.

Said Councillor Tom Parry: “Mrs May heard residents raise a variety of issues ranging from fly-tipping to noise and anti-social behaviour, parking problems to ‘lenient’ sentencing.

“The Home Secretary cannot have been anything else but impressed about the depth of feeling and pride that local people have in the Newtown community.

“There were suggestions for improvements – and we will be looking at some of these – but basically they were fully behind the scheme and our attempts to improve their quality of life.”

The Home Secretary met Council Leader Mike Jones and Councillor Lynn Riley, Executive Member Community and Environment.

Said Councillor Jones: “I am delighted at Mrs May’s reaction to the day. She was ‘very impressed’ with our partnership approach to community problems in Newtown – and with residents’ appreciation of the scheme.”

“This represents a combined zero tolerance reaction to the problems that create so many difficulties in out communities.”

She saw how new partnership working between Community Wardens and PCSOs - who now tackle community issues from graffiti and dog fouling to anti-social behaviour and parking issues, can really help a community get to the heart of its problems.

Said Cllr Riley: “Even the smallest things can make a difference – clearing and cleansing pavements, pruning shrubbery, removing fly-tipped waste and tackling dog and pigeon mess can vastly improve an area and make residents proud of where they live.”

Christ Church, in Newtown’s Gloucester Street, became a hub of activity as it provided a base for the many activities throughout the day.

Vicar Andrew Buchanan said: “Christ Church has had the privilege of serving the community of Newtown for the last 150 years and we are delighted to be able to enable our residents to voice their concerns about issues that affect life in our community.”

Home Secretary Theresa May, MP, meets (L-R) Cheshire West and Chester Council Leader, Councillor Mike Jones, Councillor Lynn Riley and Councillor Tom Parry at the Christ Church ‘round table’ meeting.

Photo: Home Secretary Theresa May, MP, meets (L-R) Cheshire West and Chester Council Leader, Councillor Mike Jones, Councillor Lynn Riley and Councillor Tom Parry at the Christ Church ‘round table’ meeting.