I've been at the ecrime 'Mid-year' Forum in London and arrived home a little earlier this evening at Westgate station, far from impressed – as you may not from my 'Tweet' on the sidebar, to discover around fifteen to twenty teenagers gathered around the problem bench outside the station.
Expecting to find the promised Police presence, I was disappointed that I had to call and request a visit and a car was promptly sent in the direction of Westgate.
As far as I'm concerned as a local councillor, 'Zero tolerance' to Westgate's anti-social behaviour problems means just that and that implies a constant presence on a regular basis until the problem is solved. Perhaps with the appearance of dispersal orders this Friday, we'll see a little more progress.
With the support of the traders and Councillor King to remove the bench and planters (Councillor Goodwin is away) I'm going to put the matter to the Westgate Resident Association next Monday evening where it can be properly debated. Quite clearly the bench outside 'The Piggy Bank' nursery is acting as a focal point for a persistent community problem and we need to resolve it, one way or the other. However, thinking back wistfully to my youth when retired residents used to rest there may be a little fanciful. Many residents will be only too familiar with the two or three of our better-known and more colourful recovering alcoholics being cared for in the community, who can normally be found sitting on the bench breaking their thirst or possibly even the benches at Adrian Square or at the corner of Sea Road and Westgate Bay Avenue. I'm not convinced that the people of Westgate have any sentimental attraction to this image of the village that this particular seating scarred and battered arrangement presents to either passers-by or the children in the adjacent nursery.
Residents views are welcomed.