Despite the rank hypocrisy highlighted by the Political Scrapbook here (LINK), which describes how David Cameron profited £84,000 from a “binge drinking” bar chain, The Prime Minister is right to raise the issue of binge drinking.
Although the issue in Dudden Hill ward is in a slightly different context compared to what David Cameron is talking about, some of the issues are experienced in my ward, particularly in the Neasden area.
The Government talk of the soaring costs to the NHS because of excessive drinking. In Neasden, street drinking has an impact on the Council’s resources as people are drinking and throwing cans away on the streets rather than recycling.
In addition, individuals off their heads on alcohol are taking part in anti-social behaviour in surrounding streets and can appear intimidating hanging around in groups in front of people’s houses.
The additional time that the Police have to spend in these hotspot drinking areas is also having a drain on Police resources. In Neasden, I am working with Sergeant Matthew Howard and the Safer Neighbourhood Team along with the Neasden Action Group. Last week I also took the opportunity to raise it with Brent Borough Commander Matthew Gardner.
The Council also has a role to play through licensing. Alcohol is too readily available. It does not help that one in four premises in the Neasden shopping centre sells alcohol; and in some cases, as cheap as £1 a 500ml can of beer.
At the same time, there are underlying issues of jobs and unemployment that have to be addressed on a national scale.
Well this is what residents who lived off the North Circular Road near Neasden and on Avondale Avenue had to put up with since 2007! Letters had even been sent to the Prime Minister Tony Blair and a written response had been received from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on this issue. Yet nothing had been done by the Lib Dem led Council. Through Ward Working, an alleyway clear up project was undertaken and this dump I am glad to say is no more.
It seems as though these two alley-gating schemes will be the last for the forseeable future as good Council staff who worked in this area are no longer working for Brent Council. The two schemes funded were behind the Subway fast food store and behind the Santander Bank (was tempted to write Abbey National!) by Birse Crescent.
Both of these had been requested by the local residents living in flats above these shops and by local businesses but had limited success. One scheme had gone as far as forming a committee to manage the upkeep of the gates, only to be denied at the final hurdle.
Street drinking has gotten worse in behind these alleyways. This can be really intimidating,especially for people who live in the flats above these shops.
I regularly walk the alleyways with the Dudden Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team who recommended that gates in these alleyways would be ideal. They had witnessed dumped rubbish, and even human excrement. One member had tripped on a greasy liquid and seen a rat of enormous size. Something had to be done.
I was pleased that I was able to take advantage of the final alleygating schemes for Dudden Hill ward and it was a real struggle to achieve this. I was able to successfully argue that proceedings had gone so far that it would be barmy to refuse installation of these gates now.
The gates have already been installed and the anti-social behaviour that occured in these alley areas are no more.