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Eddie

Podsmead Yobs

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WAR has been declared on thugs "running riot" in Podsmead after years of hooliganism.

A CCTV camera has been placed in the area to defeat the yobs. And an alleyway notorious for trouble is set to be fenced off at both ends to deter vandals.

Police are also in discussions with BT about removing an old telephone box after residents said it was being used as a location for drug dealers.

The crackdown follows reports of random abuse, vandalism, fighting and even one incident where youths set fire to a garage roof. Residents said the community was split over plans for the gates. But they have welcomed police work to make the area safer.

Homeowners in Podsmead Road and Shelley Avenue, the areas affected, said they had endured enough bad behaviour.

Pensioner Margaret Ferris, 71, of Shelley Avenue, whose house is directly beside the new camera said: "The CCTV is great, it was desperately needed. It makes young people think about how they act around here."

Nine months ago her garage and fencing caught fire after youths set trees alight in the alleyway.

"The roof was completely destroyed," she said.

"It spread all the way down the alleyway and set the top of our garage alight. We're still rebuilding the fence now."

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said more trouble took place around a nearby phone box than the alleyway itself.

She said: "They used to all congregate around the telephone box.

"It was very bad, there were break-ins, property was stolen and windows were smashed. Since the camera was placed up things have got better."

Another resident, 33, who was also too scared to be named, said: "Everything has happened here in the past, drug taking, fights, youngsters shouting abuse at people.

"I think the gates will make a difference, I'm very happy about it.

"The CCTV has already helped because now the youths know it's there."

The camera, paid for by Gloucestershire police, was installed in Shelley Avenue seven weeks ago at the end of an alleyway which connects the two roads.

Proposals to add gated access to both entrances of the alley, to combat youths running up and down it, are currently being finalised.

Shirley White, 56, who lives halfway down the alleyway said she does not want gated access.

Shirley, whose son, David, is severely disabled, said: "We accept any methods to stop anti-social behaviour but it has to be wheelchair friendly at all times of the day."

And Mair Humphries, 76, of Podmead Road volunteers at the Podsmead Neighbourhood Project, said: "There are a lot of people around the area who are elderly or disabled.

"They are worried about gates being put up.

"It's people who go to work and catch the buses in the morning who will be most affected."

Brian Ross, 60, whose house leads onto the alley, said: "They tried to put posts up before but the kids took them away before the cement dried. They'll find a way to get round this."

Jenny Wyatt, a Gloucester City Homes spokesman, said no decision had yet been made on gated access.

"We will be liaising with the police to come up with a way of moving forward," she said.

TIG

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Podsmead is apparently really bad for anti-social behaviour but I have to say that I've not really seen or experienced anything that bad - though I do tend to keep myself to myself.

I used to work in the chippy but the guy I used to work for managed to come to a mutual understanding about respect with the kids and they were all pretty reasonable once they realised that he was a good guy who would give them a chance to be who they wanted to be instead of what they were expected to be if that makes sense. The community officers for the area really used to get my goat when they would come in and ask if we had any issues with the kids, they didn't believe my boss when he said they weren't a problem. If the kids were out on the green chatting in a group, the community police would go over and in my opinion antagonise them because there was nothing else for them to do.

I'm not saying that the problems in Shelley Avenue don't exist because I don't really know but locking everything up is the wrong way to go in my opinion. You only have to look around to see that there is nothing here for any of us, kids and adults alike. I'm going to my first residents meeting tomorrow evening so I may have a clearer picture then about what's been going on but in my opinion this area is totally lacking in social activities and facilities, Tuffley has everything and Podsmead has nothing.

I'm quite hopeful that our new councillor, Jennie Dallimore will be able to turn things around for everyone in what has felt like the arse-hole of Gloucester for such a long time. Time will tell I suppose.

For the record, I have some of the nicest neighbours I've ever had. We all look out for each other and help each other out which is rare in this day and age.

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I'm against gating orders. They only move scumbags from one area to another. They will find some other, nearby area to congregate. We should deal properly with the youths who are causing such trouble rather than simply close off an alleyway that is obviously used by law-abiding members of the community.

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I agree Kay, but I would like to see the problems dealt with in a way which is positive for the whole community. The main problem is lack of pride in some areas of Podsmead, this stems from the adults as much as the children. There are a couple of volunteer/community pride days coming up which I'm planning on attending, I'm really hoping that they are successful because that gives a glimmer of hope that people actually care.

I recently met Jennie Dallimore and I have to say that I was very impressed with her conviction. She's made me aware of all these ways I can contribute which I was never aware of before. I emailed the previous councillor and was totally ignored so this has been a refreshing change already.

When I think back to my childhood I think of all the ways that I kept out of trouble. We were lucky because we could hang around and socialise in fields and woodlands where we weren't bothering anyone, these kids are hard pushed to find a place to go which doesn't annoy someone. If it's streets, alleys, parks, Kings Square, Grey Friars, chances are they are going to end up being moved on. Even if they're just standing around talking, they get accused of being intimiidating - they can't win. You've only got to have one in the group that resents this to lead the rest astray, kids are like sheep.

I'm told that Milton Avenue playground will be finished soon and I hope that this may alleviate the problem a little but we need to find something to get the teenagers involved in as they are the age-group with the least amount of social activities in the area. I think sometimes adults can be too set in their ways, if we want to change the future of Podsmead we need to tackle the next generation and give them a reason to be proud of where they live.

Now I'll get off my soapbox lol.

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Well I've been to my first ever residents meeting and from what I can gather, this article was pieced together from old news and most of it has been dealt with already. The crime figures for Podsmead in June are down on last years as it happens and there don't seem to be any plans to put gates on the alley or move the phone box.

I expect nothing more from TiG.

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Write in and complain!

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