Residents of Bradley Stoke streets surrounding the Willow Brook Centre have called for two pedestrian access routes to the shopping development to be blocked off in an effort to stem a tide of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the area.
The plea came at at meeting chaired by Bradley Stoke Mayor Ben Walker, also attended by Inspector Bob Evely of Avon and Somerset Police, Scott Lahive of the Willow Brook Centre and a representative from South Gloucestershire Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Team.
The meeting was called after Bradley Stoke Town Council received numerous complaints from residents of the Manor Farm area whose properties border pedestrian routes into the Willow Brook Centre.
Residents complained of abandoned Tesco trolleys being rammed into their front doors, flower pots being smashed, trees being snapped off and an incident where the front door of a property was set alight.
Most of the incidents were said to have occurred around midnight and to have been perpetrated by “drunken” 16-18 year-olds.
Despite residents’ accounts, official police statistics provided by Insp Evely showed that just four ASB-related incidents had been reported in the area during the last six months – a number hotly disputed by those present at the meeting, who collectively claimed to have reported many more. Cllr Walker remarked on the “disparity in figures” and Insp Evely was actioned to re-check his figures.
Insp Evely told the meeting that the police aim to respond to reports of ASB within one hour. A police officer will callback with 24 hours and a letter will be sent within a week. Further callbacks will then be made every three weeks.
Residents at the meeting then called on the authorities to block off two access points to the Willow Brook Centre that are seen as being the root cause of the ASB issues.
Although the route from Savages Wood Road through to Dewfalls Drive is a designated public footpath, it appears that access onto that footpath from the end of Manor Farm Crescent has no such status, having been created when the Willow Brook Centre was constructed in 2008.
Residents of Manor Farm Crescent attending the meeting called for the access point to be permanently blocked off and they received support from Mr Lahive, who said the Willow Brook Centre would submit the necessary application for a variation in planning permission within the next three weeks.
Other residents called for the public footpath to be “gated” at the point where it leaves the Willow Brook Centre and heads north towards Dewfalls Drive. They were supported by Cllr Sarah Pomfret who said she had already made preliminary enquiries on the matter with various departments of South Gloucestershire Council.
Complaints about the amount of litter on council-owned land bordering the public footpath should be reported to SGC, said Town Clerk Sharon Petela, to which Mr Lahive added that the Willow Brook Centre would “look at taking on responsibility for litter two to three days a week in areas neighbouring the access points”.
A number of speakers expressed disappointment that Tesco Extra had failed to send a representative to the meeting (despite being invited) and the Town Clerk was instructed to contact the store manager with regard to the large number of abandoned trolleys in the area.
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