Eastleigh Police launched a new community initiative last week designed to give residents a regular forum to discuss their crime and public order concerns with local beat officers, councillors and council officers.
The informal sessions provide a talking shop under the banner of ‘Partners and Community Together’ (PACT) which can cover a wide range of community issues – vandalism, anti-social neighbours, speeding vehicles or even just inconsiderate parking .
Police are asking the public ‘What should our priorities be?’
Officers from Eastleigh’s Safer Neighbourhoods Team along with Local Area Councillors Keith Trenchard and Chris Thomas were on hand at Barton Peril College last Tuesday to listen to locals.
The only problem was, that despite publicity, there were few locals on hand…
Local campaigner Sam Snook was the sole public representative and this reporter, along with photographer Andrew Gordon (Broomhill Photography) made up the numbers and joined in the discussion as local residents.
Sgt Spellerberg, who had organised the evening, was disappointed with the low turnout but didn’t think it reflected on a lack of interest in policing issues saying that similar meetings in Southampton and Portsmouth had proved very popular and useful.
In the event a wide range of local issues were discussed which Included motorists speeding along Derby Rd and recent vandalism at Lawn Rd and to the bandstand.
The Sergeant said that levels of ASB in Eastleigh are relatively low and falling, but if the public perception was that it was still a problem then the local SNT would continue to target it.
Spellerberg pointed out a lot of ASB by youngsters was seasonal and Cllr Thomas noted that the recent reorganisation of the town’s ‘Energy’ Youth club meant it was now fulfilling its function of giving local youngsters a safe meeting place with activities and police confirmed that some of the order issues it was previously generating had now abated.
There was also some discussion of the kinds of activities the council and police can help to put on for young people during school holidays.
Cllr Trenchard also said that young people should be consulted as to what their law and order priorities should be and perhaps they should be invited to PACT meetings
Eastleigh News asked if residents were right to be concerned that a new night club was opening in town at the site of the former Martine’s – given that there had been so many problems with the former Earth Club on Upper Market St (since bulldozed and replaced with the Travelodge)
Both the police and councillors said the new owners are already managing a licensed premises in the town responsibly and that the new club would attract a different and more sophisticated clientele – it was unlikely that there would trouble caused by coach loads of clubbers travelling down from London as used to happen at the Earth Club.
Another topic discussed was the lack of public conveniences to serve the night time economy.
Cllr Thomas said that although the council had considered the possibility of installing modern conveniences – including a ‘pop up’ loo which could concealed underground during the day – he personally thought that drinkers should use toilets in the premises where they had been drinking but one police officer questioned if it was reasonable to expect drinkers – male and female- who may have spent time queuing for a kebab or a taxi in cold weather to keep hold of a full bladder and related one unsavoury incident when an individual Urinated through the letterbox of a hairdressers.
Such incidents were not uncommon and fines as large as £350 had been dished out by the court.
Eastleigh News wondered if the council would be seeking to impose a ‘Late night Drinking levy ‘on premises that stay open after midnight to help pay for the cost of extra policing – as is happening at councils elsewhere in the country
Cllr Thomas didn’t think it was good idea as the money raised went straight back to the Police Authority and might not result in extra Bobbies (or PCSOs) on the beat -he thought perhaps the Business Improvement District (BID) route could generate cash that the council could use for PCSOs.
At the end of meeting – and after refreshments kindly provided by Barton Peveril- Sgt Spellerberg vowed to continue with PACT meetings.
Eastleigh News fully supports community initiatives which encourage transparency by local agencies and community participation.
Unlike other areas in the borough, Eastleigh Town wards lack a Town or Parish Council and there is a need for some kind neighbourhood forum – Local Area committee meetings tend to revolve around planning applications and rather formal with limited time for public participation.
We know from tweets and emails a lot of local people are interested in community issues.
If that sounds like you, why not put an hour aside to come along and discuss them?