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Gazette Claims "Yobs Go on Rampage"

Tuesday 30 August 2011, 12:41
By John Baxter

When I bought and read my copy of the Gazette I was alarmed and sickened when I read, "Gangs of youths rampaged through the streets of Wincanton this week adding to residents concerns of increasing crime in the town." The Millers Inn landlord Dave Wiscombe also reported six youths throwing rocks at the church and had the windscreen of his van smashed. He opined "I believe the trouble in the town started getting worse when the new homes opened up in the New Barns Farm estate a few months ago. It seems out of control."

On the next page there was a report of the meeting of the SSDC Area East meeting in Churchfields about the New Barns estate. This reported that the town and district councillors expressed their rejection of planning officer David Adrian Noon's proposal that the affordable homes should be spread out amongst the other homes on the New Barns Estate, saying they should not be "pepper potted" around but placed together near the entrance. The article notes it was pointed out that an affordable homes "ghetto culture" could be created. The article also claims antisocial behaviour incidents "rocketed from an average 22 reported incidents a month to 49."

I duly went off and spent time talking to the police who confirmed that ugly senseless vandalism had taken place with windows broken in the Red Lion and Uncle Tom's Cabin and that David Wiscombe at the Millers Inn has had his windscreen broken and car park fence panels torn down. Really awful, expensive and upsetting for him. These events did not however all take place on the same night but over several nights The police considered they had responded rapidly to his call about the six lads, but had caught none of them and the Church had reported no damage done. The police could not confirm that, "Gangs of youths rampaged through the streets of Wincanton this week." Nor did they have any evidence that any of those who had caused the disturbances had anything to do with New Barns. Rather that there were enough of the "usual suspects" from around the town and coming in as visitors for a night at the pub to have caused the problems. They also did not recognise the figures for a huge increase in anti-social behaviour the article quotes.

In the article about the SSDC Area East meeting Councillor David Norris is reported being disappointed that there is no contribution for sport or leisure in the area. This may be true and a good point to make, but perhaps it is worth pointing out that the New Barns estate will, when the road is complete, have easy access to our sports centre and swimming pool - excellent facilities few towns of our size have and which we certainly need to support.

Together the articles left me feeling uneasy. I have written a separate article about the vendetta faced by Maxine Davis for I feel what has happened to her is of a different nature from the very ugly and regrettable alcohol related violence we are suffering. It also seems premature to label everyone who moves into an affordable home on New Barns as an actual or potential trouble maker and it does look like asking for trouble to put them all together where they will be encouraged to feel separate, different and yes - inferior. Some of the language used by councillors as reported in the articles comes close to demonising them. No one has mentioned that the Deansley Way estate also contains affordable housing and there the homes are spread around and a resident there tells me there has not been any significant trouble and people are getting on well.

Jessica Keill's vandalised Ford Focus.

No sooner had I settled down to write this morning than I received a call to see what happened last night 19th in Mundays Mead and Lawrence Hayes. I walked over and met Jessica Keill. She told me how at 2am she and her little boy were awoken by a crashing sound outside her home. She got up and saw the back window of her car which was parked in the road had been smashed by someone taking a neighbours gate off its hinges and thrusting it through the window. On walking over to see her I found a trail of broken "for sale" signs. She had called the police and was visited by them this morning. I asked if she had any idea who might have done this. She said she did. I then asked if they were from New Barns. She said no. They are local.

A broken Colbert Smith "For Sale" signA broken Hambledon "For Sale" sign


Posts: 1
Re: Gazette Claims "Yobs Go on Rampage"
Reply #1 on : Tue August 30, 2011, 16:55:04
Having spoken to a few people who live on the New Barns estate i was intreasted to find out that there are not youths of the age that have been causing the trouble living on the estate . The majority of the familys living on the estate have younger school age children that are obviously not old enough to be the youths causing problems in wincanton at the moment. Again on the Kingwell Rise development there is not lots of youths moved in. yes both estates have 1 or 2 young people living there but it is just the odd one mainly within a family. I cannot see how all the trouble with youths can be lain at the doors of the people on these estates. I was also greatly upset to read the said artical but it was not down to the acts of violence that got me the most upset it was the view of several councilors with there bigoted steriotyping of people who live in social housing as being all trouble makers and a drain on the local socioty. When in many cases the people who live in sociial housing are hard working upstanding people, who through what ever reason are unable to afford to get onto the property ladder and find the security of social housing compared to private renting a more secure option especially if they have children to provide a safe home for.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 1
Yobs go on the rampage
Reply #2 on : Wed August 31, 2011, 16:43:16
Where to start?

My sister lives in a social housing area, purchasing her council house following the death of our father on my advice, she had lived in council accommodation for over 20 years prior to that and still lives in the same house.

She would be the first to tell you that there is good and bad in varying proportions in all areas. Her area is not a desirable area with more than its fair share of the bad, but she has bought up her three children well there.

Yesterday I was at New Barns Farm meeting with some residents who are in the process of setting up a "neighbourhood watch scheme" and a "residents association". I see this as a very positive move and offered all the help and encouragement I could.

There are good people there and a few who need to sort themselves out or be evicted. That said New Barns Farm is a disaster waiting to happen, whilst I was there about 5 children were playing in the road by the Business Park in an area designated by "Health and Safety" as a hard hat area. Builders were walking past children playing in the road with their hard hats on, the children had no protection. A large piece of machinery (a cross between a tractor and a fork lift truck) was picking up building materials with its 40ft extending fork lift, driver wearing said hard hat, amongst the playing children.

Originally the plans were for the development to be serviced from the top but to get social housing grants instead of building it all out at once and pepper potting the social houses SSDC decided to build 71 social houses all in one area and all in one go accessing them through the business park, which I think is madness.

The residents surrounding New Barns farm are the ones calling for the remaining 25 social houses to be in the same area as the existing ones and not pepper potted, as councillors we are representing their views. I also would point out that pepper potting was first introduced in Australia and has now been abandoned as a failed experiment.

One of the residents saw burglars at the new health centre at 11.00pm and promptly called the police, 45 minutes later, long after the burglars had gone the police arrived. The fast response unit has been moved from Wincanton to Somerton.

Back to the yobs, clearly some elements from New Barns Farm have been involved and most residents there want them stopped, but there have also been quite a few from elsewhere so to demonise one area would be wrong.

In the short term we need a stronger police presence on the streets, a fast response time and a zero tolerance policy towards any behaviour that damages the town or any of its residents.
Posts: 1
Planning Officer Adrian Noon
Reply #3 on : Thu September 01, 2011, 09:31:49
Apologies. The Gazette reported the name of the planning officer correctly as Adrian Noon, not David.

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