It's been a very long time since I sat at a desk in a university and my how it's changed!
Over at the Chatham campus, it's stuffed-full of ICT, hidden computers that flip-up from rotating desktops, web-access, via the magnificent library, to just about any literary, newspaper or reference resource one can think of and most important of all to someone who lives on caffeine, 'Costa Coffee' and Danish pastries on-demand in the students cafe. All very civilised indeed, as I remember back to studying by candlelight during the power cuts of the great 'winter of discontent' in the late seventies!
More importantly now, some encouraging news for Westgate residents. In last week's Cabinet meeting, both Cllr King and I expressed deep concern over the visible increase in anti-social and intimidating behavior in Westgate's Station Road in recent months, a dramatic rise in reports from 12 to 180 incidents a month, I understand from the latest figures.
The intelligence suggests that the problems are being caused by youths coming into Westgate from other areas, such as Herne Bay and Margate, where vigorous policing has been targetting their anti-social behaviour and criminal damage in the evenings. I suppose we can thank mobile phones and social networking for enabling them to organise so well.
Last week, I wrote to Roger Gale MP to express our concerns and he in turn wrote to the Police Area Commander, Chief Superintendent John Molloy. I'm pleased to report, that today I heard from the Police that they will now be focusing significant effort into Westgate and will be taking positive steps to address the problems; this includes introducing dispersal orders to prevent the large groups of youths, sometimes as many as 30 at a time, congregating outside the station and around Adrian Square.
I will be meeting with Inspector Tutor next week and plan to accompany the Police on one of the evening patrols to gauge the effectiveness of a this much-needed initiative to tackle this very worrying rise in aggravated and organised anti-social behaviour in what was always recognised as one of the more peaceful towns on the island.