The Shadow Police and Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson visited Swindon on Tuesday 23rd October in response to a request by Clare Moody, the Labour Police and Crime Commissionaire candidate for Wiltshire. The local Police and Pubwatch had asked local councillors for action to improve the Fleet Street area before it gets any worse.
The Shadow Police and Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson visited Swindon on Tuesday 23rd October in response to a request by Clare Moody
, the Labour Police and Crime Commissionaire candidate for Wiltshire. The local Police and Pubwatch had asked local councillors for action to improve the Fleet Street area before it gets any worse.
The councillors asked Clare to get involved in the public order issues and to try to find ways of reducing problems. The Shadow Minister learnt how the area had become dominated with drinking establishments and predominantly night time economy business. The poor mix of business had led to the area being dependent on alcohol sales and those businesses associated with providing the means for alcohol purchases. The Police and Security staff frequently have to deal with cases of drunken behaviour and whilst they have been successful in reducing problems the area has a poor reputation which needs improving. They want better planning and encouragement of a better mix and quality of new business. They see changing the environment and day time economy as the means of helping improve the area and type of behaviour.
Mark Dempsey the Labour Groups Shadow Regeneration spokesperson member showed the Shadow Minister how the area below the fountain had seen little council investment. He showed how the saturation and lopsided dominance of pubs and night scene establishments was a mistake for the economy. It is unsustainable business model which a good mix of different business and good planning could improve.
Coincidentally this matter was raised by a member of the Economic Scrutiny Committee who met on Tuesday evening. He told members of the committee that public safety in the area needs to be improved as well as improving the lower town centre. He said the area has nothing going for it at all and worse he knows people who shop elsewhere rather go to the Town Centre because of the neglect and poor reputation of the lower Town Centre.
These concerns echo those of local businesses which Councillor Bob Wright took up with Councillor Gary Perkins Cabinet Member for Regeneration. He asked at an Overview Scrutiny meeting why Councillor Perkins was going to spend over £6 million on the Commercial Road area while Fleet Street needed so much attention. Not only did Councillor Perkins recognise the need for change in the Fleet Street area he confirmed the area would be improved before the Commercial Road area.
Since the original request for help local ward councillors have been working with local businesses and members of the community to find ways of brightening up the area and changing the image of the area. They have already asked for buses to return to Fleet Street which will increase footfall and give reason for opening new business in the area.