Police team up with business for neighbourhood solution

PCSO Jay Bowden, residents Mary Whitfield and Cynthia Watson, Nick Beavis of Sid Valley Metalwork, Ebdon Court homeowner Steve Chalkley and Sidmouth police sergeant Andy Squires by the new gate at Ebdon Court PCSO Jay Bowden, residents Mary Whitfield and Cynthia Watson, Nick Beavis of Sid Valley Metalwork, Ebdon Court homeowner Steve Chalkley and Sidmouth police sergeant Andy Squires by the new gate at Ebdon Court

Sunday, March 30, 2014
8:30 AM

Police thinking and private funding have combined to banish a plague of drunken revellers from a Sidmouth courtyard and end the homeowners’ sleepless nights.

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Gates have been installed at Ebdon Court to keep those who use it for sex, defecating and drug use at bay and restore the residents sense of wellbeing.

Sergeant Andy Squires worked for months to find a solution after spotting the issue when he arrived last July and it has already proved effective – even unlocked.

“It’s taken a lot of different agencies working together to make it happen,” he said.

“You just need the right approach. I’m grateful to Sidmouth Garden Centre for helping make it happen.”

Various solutions had been sought, such as introducing a so-called ‘mosquito’ system, which broadcasts a high-frequency noise that only youngsters can hear. The police sergeant had used similar measures at another neighbourhood when he worked in Exmouth so knew what was most effective.

Residents now have keys to lock the gates overnight to block the way to anyone tempted to misuse the courtyard.

Funding came, in part, from Sidmouth Garden Centre owner Ian Barlow, who said: “The town always supports us and we always try to support the community – it’s something more businesses should do.”

He suggested that Sgt Squires approach his town council colleagues to back the project, and had already started the ball rolling when they declined.

Members said they did not want to create a gated community, fearing it would just displace the problem.

Ebdon Court resident Steve Chalkley said: “Underage drinking and antisocial behaviour issues have blighted the town centre for years.

“Sgt Squires has certainly brought a fresh approach to dealing with these incidents. This is an example of neighbourhood policing and thinking outside of the box at its very best.”

Father and son team Nick and Scott Beavis from Sid Valley Metalwork installed the gates free of charge after sourcing them elsewhere in the town.

He said: “They’ll make a difference whether they’re locked or not – it’s a perception.”

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