Colin Charles, Trafalgar Square, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Trafalgar Square had become a place full of anti-social behaviour emanating in particular from one property which had been purchased by a Housing Association who did not take an interest in the bad behaviour of its tenants. There were drug dealers in the square and also issues in general of dog-fouling and the ‘broken window effect’ of making the place seem more undesirable. Many residents left or tried to leave.

Colin, who ran a B&B, took a stand but it required great persistence:

  • He had tried to get the police to take an interest in the drug dealers, supplying them with car registrations, but no-one wanted to know. He wrote to his MP and then the police did visit.
  • He tried to speak to the Council about one of the issues and went round in circles for an hour being passed from one council officer to another. He then complained publicly about this in a Community and Police Group meeting (held 3 times a year) and made sure he was given a contact name and number for the appropriate council officer who could help him.
  • He formed a Residents Committee by sending a flyer to everyone in the neighbourhood, inviting them to meet about the problems in the area. 80 people attended the meeting, nearly all guesthouses who chose to stay and fight the problems.
  • The Residents Committee had monthly meetings and they compiled a list of all the complaints against the Housing Association that was doing nothing about its tenants. They sent the signed letter to their MP and to the Housing Association Head Office.
  • They had CCTV put up in the square but had to fight for it. The council installed it but the police also had direct access to the council CCTV control room enabling it to serve as both a deterrent and for evidence when problems were reported.
  • Colin got to know the local police officers by name and employed their assistance in getting the Housing Association to act.

Trafalgar Square is a much nicer place to live now than it was a decade ago. There are still issues in Colin’s community today but he now has the necessary contacts to get a faster response from the relevant agencies and they know he will pester them until that response is satisfactory and effective.