Following the issues that have been reported by residents about rough sleeping at Gladstone Park, a lot of work is underway between the Council, Ashford Place and the Police. In September, a number of people were found sleeping in tents in Gladstone Park during the night-time inspections. All were given the Park byelaws translated into Romanian. A Romanian police officer was also available to assist with enquiries. The group were offered housing assistance by Ashford Place, but declined this offer before being escorted out of the park. All tents were taken and removed by Veolia and associated rubbish and debris cleared.
After this, the Police visited Gladstone Park and found no tents or structures present. There is evidence that they may have moved on to Fryent Country Park and Welsh Harp though where two encampments, rough sleepers and tents were removed.
The current plan is to organise similar operations in October for consecutive nights if necessary.
A joined-up operation between Brent Council, the Police, Veolia and Ashford Place, the homeless charity in Cricklewood, will see the first night operation taking place at Gladstone Park from tonight. The aim of the operation is to decrease anti-social behaviour and remove any tents and structures that may be up in the park. There has been a reported increase of people sleeping in the park using tents and other bedding and this contravenes park bye-laws.
The majority of those sleeping in the parks have come from Romania to seek work in the UK and send money home. We understand they are trying to avoid accommodation costs by sleeping in the park. Whilst sympathetic to these individuals, Brent Council’s primary concern is the safety of its residents.
Signs are already up at the park in both English and in Romanian.
Brent Council has been made aware that many of these people are also seeking employment at the informal labour market in Chichele Road, Cricklewood. The Metropolitan Police have implemented a dispersal zone to deal with this problem, and any employers hiring staff this way will be questioned by the Police. We would also discourage residents from hiring them for casual labour, as we believe this is exacerbating the problem in the parks. If you are not sure of someone’s status, ask for an NI number when hiring them, so you can be sure they have a residential address and paying taxes in the UK.
Brent Council is also working with the HMRC and UKBA to establish the immigration status of these sleepers.
Local people, social enterprises and local businesses joined up with the Community Payback team for a Neasden Clean-Up day. I brought along the leader of the Council and we both donned gloves and were issued with rubbish bags and litter pickers to help out.
Cllr Butt said, “We are delighted to support local people and businesses in Smartening up the borough”.
We managed to clear a lot of the litter that had accumulated around bushes and green areas on the approach to Neasden Shopping Centre. When we smarten places up, we encourage residents to use local shops and make the area more attractive to visitors.
Vijay Amin, of ABi Associates who have offices in the Grange on Neasden Roundabout and was the main organiser for the Day said, “The area was starting to look grubby. We organised the Clean Up to give an opportunity for businesses to work with the local community for everyone’s benefit. We will do it again in the summer by which time we hope it’s is a few degrees warmer. We want to thank Veolia for supporting us and look forward to their support in the summer”.