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Pledge to drive out yobs

PUBLISHED: 02:59 26 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:02 03 March 2010

HOUSING chiefs today pledged to step up their campaign to rid a problem Felixstowe estate of its ghetto image - but urged residents to help them do it.

HOUSING chiefs today pledged to step up their campaign to rid a problem Felixstowe estate of its ghetto image – but urged residents to help them do it.

People living at The Walk, Walton, say they are fed up with drug dealers hanging around, rowdy youngsters causing noise and disturbance, vandalism, and living in a run-down area.

But housing association chiefs say if they are to move certain people out of the estate they need residents to help by passing information to the police.

The Walk – 200 homes including three blocks of 1960s flats and maisonettes, Lancaster, Gloucester and Kent Houses – suffered another spate of damage this week when firebugs set light to a flat and three storage shed blocks.

Tucked away, behind Walton High Street, the estate has many boarded up windows and doors, and empty units. Residents say people dump rubbish on the estate, use the access road as a racetrack, and they regularly find syringes.

Ivan Johnson, group director for housing and care for estate owners Flagship Housing, said positive progress had been made but the fires were a setback.

"We have carried out quite a bit of work, environmental improvements and extra security, such as CCTV cameras, and built a couple of new properties to reduce the parking areas which were causing a problem," he said.

"We did have a very active community group to work with on this but it seems to have withered on the vine and interest has waned, perhaps because things did improve for quite a while.

"We are disappointed with the setback – the fires – this week. It is a struggle to let some of the units and some of the problems have not been dealt with."

Flagship has a lettings policy it can use to control who lives in the flats but it was difficult for the association or the police to act unless there was firm evidence, usually court appearances, to trigger the policy.

"Residents are reluctant to give evidence but without their assistance it makes the job of the police and ourselves very difficult indeed," he said.

"As an association we take a very hard line on any form of anti-social behaviour but at the end of the day we still need hard evidence to obtain possession of a property or get a court injunction.

"Ultimately it's a partnership with residents. We cannot solve these problems on our own."

Flagship's staff would be looking to stimulate fresh interest from residents and consulting them on the estate's future, as well as reviewing the area's problems.

Although around £30,000 was spent before. they would look afresh at "alley-gating", where cut throughs and walkways could be sealed with locked gates, more lighting, security and other ideas.

Contractors yesterday visited to clear up the debris from the fires and inspect the damage ready for repairs.

Police are still appealing for witnesses who may have seen the fires started or anyone acting suspiciously around the estate between 9pm and 11pm Sunday to call 01473 613500.

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