Councillor Kay’s blog: Time to take action on anti-social behaviour
News / Sun 11th Sep 2022 at 07:36am
COUNCILLOR Kay Morrison is writing a monthly blog for YH. This was received before the death of Queen Elizabeth 11.
A COUNCILLOR’S lot is often a happy one; it can be a mixture of challenges and delights. I’ll do my level best to help anybody with anything but some situations can be almost intractable.
No, I’m not thinking about potholes! Not this time, anyway.
Anti-social behaviour harms the wellbeing of others. The Metripolitan Police uses the definition ‘behaviour … which causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to persons not of the same household…’ The Met categorises such behaviour helpfully, offering to help anyone who’s experiencing such.
As you’ve probably guessed, some Bush Fair residents are stuck in just that kind of situation right now. They’ve been on the receiving end of shouting, swearing, various types of noise, usually in the wee small hours. They’ve reported, they’ve kept diaries, they’ve jumped with alacrity through Council hoops even though they’re not in the first flush of youth. (One or two fit easily into the Vulnerable category.) Inevitably, their health is impacted; they begin to feel hopeless.
This has to change. Over the last 12 years, Harlow Council, the police service and other public bodies have suffered relentless funding cuts amounting to millions lost, detrimentally affecting staff numbers and capacity generally. We see and feel the effects.
In this case, police have attended on multiple occasions. To date, Environmental Services have shown an interest only in barking dogs. These people deserve a decent quality of life.
Could this be one of the challenges I said I wanted to get my teeth into? Could be. I’ll keep you posted.
I believe we should have more police at night in old Harlow as we have had so many cars stolen and damaged
The main problem is this town is drugs! I have many yikes reported drug dealing and use of drugs right outside my house but not once has a police officer followed this up or attended. This has been going on for 6 years, I wonder if they was riding a e scooter they would come straight out.
What are you going to do about it then, Councillor?
But when give the chance to attend and ask questions of the police at a public meeting other than the portfolio only one other councillor attend. Does she engage with her local police officers like other councillors do that leads to arrests
Where are the PCSO's we used to have, we had 2, now none. Where are the police street meets, where are the ward meets with Council and Police that used to be monthly? All gone!😲 Then you wonder why ASB!😠😠😠
Whatever happened to youth clubs that were around in the 60's and 70's? What happened to the subsidised sports facilities? Thatcher and Austerity happened which became a "no such thing as society" mantra and everyone for themselves. Then there was the rise of the individual and an emphasis on individual rights under Tony Blair and the EU. Collective rights, especially trade union, were trashed and the "I'm alright Jack" ethos took over. And then they sold off the council houses and manufacturing industries neglected and established communities fell apart. The police service was undermined and then you wonder why there is anti-social behaviour.
Same experiences including women and elderly being harassed, motorbikes and quad bikes on footpaths, bridle ways,wrong side of the road, drugs, vandalism in other wards including those east of the A414. More youth clubs, sports and CSOs needed.
I agree with Councillor Kay Morrison regarding the need to deal with anti-social behaviour in the Bush Fair ward, which blights the lives of everyone affected by it. Having worked in the ward for well over 30 years, I've seen that this is a generational problem: we eradicate it, then a few years later the problem recurs under a new generation. One of the main problems in dealing with this issue is that it can difficult to identify those responsible. Experience has shown that dealing with this recurring issue successfully requires a multi-agency approach and the council has a number of agencies that deal with this, including the Safer Harlow Partnership. Those who have complained about anti-social behaviour and are unhappy with the response or a lack of response can use the council's complaints procedure about this and complain to their councillors. Some years ago, as co-organiser of Bush Fair's Traders' and Community Association, I worked with our excellent MP, Robert Halfon and our excellent councillors Ian Beckett and Manny Doku to eradicate a huge issue that Bush Fair shopping centre then had with anti-social behaviour. The issues included: harassment and intimidation of the public, shop and office staff, the staff of Mind and young females in particular, wheelies on pavements, a plague of shop lifting, much mindless damage and vandalism, youths deliberately blocking the entrance of Mind and refusing to allow those with appointments to enter. This made the lives of many of us who shop, live and work at Bush Fair a misery. We worked to identify those responsible, then barred from the shopping centre for a long period and council staff worked with those concerned to improve their conduct. This approach proved to be a great success and the incidence of the above problems was dramatically reduced. I have already offered to work with Councillor Kay Morrison on this issue - and the newer anti-social issue of escooters being recklessly ridden at speed through Bush Fair's shopping centre, putting pedestrians at risk. That offer is always open. Prior to speaking to Kay Morrison, I asked Safer Harlow Partnership staff to address these issues. Bush Fair Councillor, Dan Swords. is working hard to eradicate these issues too.
I agree with David Forman's comments about youth clubs. We so badly need these in Harlow. As a latch key child during school holidays and after school, many years ago, like so many others, I loved Harlow's play schemes, I practically lived at the play scheme at The Dashes Common Room, where we played sports on the field and went to dances in the common room. I would love to see these start up again. I also agree with David about Tony Blair and the EU: I was one of those who campaigned our hearts out for Brexit.
From the time Essex CC withdrew support for the rock school at The Square and other music centres, supported by Harlow Council and both washed their hands of support for sports, youth clubs, play schemes as other activities as described above antisocial behaviour and drug/ solvent abuse has risen in waves. Facilities such as the velodrome, ski slope, affordable sports centre and Olympic standard swimming pool were closed, the residents discounted leisure card withdrawn and the Council youth and sports support team, lastly led by people like Helen Offerd were made redundant. A majority of the wards in Harlow are still classified as disadvantaged and quite recently the Harlow population was officially assessed as the 22nd most disadvantaged town in England. The Council owns sites and sports pitches that have been allowed to fall into disrepair, has failed to develop community centres and has previously let sites like Nichols Field Sports pavilion, (that cost the Council (us) £700,000 to build) off to a private business effectively shutting down the use of the very large site for outdoor sports, and etc etc the litany goes on, all in the belief that private enterprise will solve all the social problems that arise from such policies. However, these are not problems that can be solved by businesses because the vast costs incurred by the consequent burdens on the criminal justice and social services aren't part of a business bottom line. There's also the economic consequences of children missing out on opportunities to develop personally and to be better educated in ways that work outside of regimented formal academic school curriculum. In short a recipe for perpetuating a progression of disaffected and disadvantaged generations, that are both low skilled and disadvantaged. For Cllrs to ask why do we have the problem of anti social behaviour and why doesn't Harlow have the play schemes, youth clubs, the social and sports clubs that once began to built a strong active social fabric in Harlow is a bit rich, when it's the Councils, both district and county, Labour and Conservative, that have shredded it apart.
I am going to have to differ from previous posts which seem to look back at the past with rose coloured spectacles. Having worked in the Housing Department of the Development Corporation and then Harlow Council from 1970 to 2000 I can tell you that anti-social behaviour has always been a problem in Harlow and indeed everywhere else. At the heart of the matter are two basic things, teaching right from wrong and having punishments in place if the behaviour continues. Teaching right from wrong cannot just be left to parents it has to start at a young age in schools. In terms of punishment, this is down to the judicial system and or the willingness of Councils to take action. I dealt with many serious cases in my time, virtually all stopped when I told a perpetrator that if they continued they would be evicted. They knew I meant it because the Council were prepared to deal with such offenders in this way. Very very few cases ever needed to be taken to Court because the anti-social behaviour stopped. There are of course other legal remedies, perpetrators need to be clearly made aware that action will be taken if their behaviour continues.
If Harlow Council are to take a stand against crime, then surely we should have a legally run Council? Since 2010, in front of Robert Halfon MP, Leaders of the council and councillors, Harlow Council senior officers have lied, falsified records, forged a letter in the complaints process, probably bribed our insurers and solicitors to breach their legal duty of care and cause deliberate damage to private and private property.This is NOT hearsay, but FACT supported by a huge amount of evidence and written admissions by Harlow Council officers and their representatives, as well as a huge amount of evidence that included the BBC. Harlow Council is an illegally run council that is funded by you and me, the taxpayers of Harlow.