Drug House Closure, Meir ““ A Tale of Stoke-on-Trent Community Spirit

Broadway is a leafy part of the Meir Park & Sandon ward, bordered by Longton High and its grounds, the A50, and the shops on Weston Road.

It is comprised largely of privately owned terraced and semi detached houses, Broadway has a very active Residents Association and long time residents will tell you how not so many years ago, properties in this area were put up for sale and sold within the week, so desirable an area was it.

However in recent months, an issue of growing concern has been festering away in Broadway ““ and today saw it finally burst. Just after 10am this morning, District Judge Taylor granted permission for Staffordshire Police to close a property on Broadway Place for two months, following a catalogue of statements from local residents and others about activities at the property since the beginning of the year.

From the front door of the property, it is less than 20metres to the entrance to Longton High, and some of those who came foward to provide the evidence for the closure included teachers and others connected with the school. The sale and use of Class A drugs from the house caused massive concern for everyone in the locality ““ characterised by multiple visits, day and night, to the property, leading to arguments and shouting at all hours, causing great distress to neighbours and other residents.

The district judge commented that there was “Ëœoverwhelming evidence’ that the activities taking place at the property caused disruption and distress to local residents and the school, and also commended local residents for standing up to this serious nuisance in their neighbourhood. He said he hoped that this would be a clear example to others elsewhere in the City that there is hope for their community to be protected against such behaviour.

The court order was unopposed and hours later the house had been secured, with a number of large posters, giving details of the order, on display. Houses in the area were also leafleted to inform them of what had happened. When I visited the property this afternoon, there was an air of calm around the area, with a steady stream of local residents coming to see if what they’d all been hoping for had finally happened. Several residents I talked to spoke of their relief, explaining that they’d just had enough in the end and were more than happy to help the police with evidence to return their neighbourhood to how it had been.

As a local councillor, today has been full of ups and downs ““ to listen to the evidence behind the closure order, the day to day events residents and others lived through, was humbling, however to hear what that same community did, working with the police to turn that situation around, was truly fantastic, and I have nothing but unstinting respect for those whose statements contributed to gaining the order, and for our local police ““ led by Insp Sharrard-Williams – in achieving such a good result for the community. Local councillors’ small part in all this was supporting the Residents Association and providing money for securing the premises, something we were all more than happy to do.

Last night, the house in Broadway Place remained dark and empty, and hopefully residents will have their first night of decent sleep in quite some time, while the message goes out strongly into the local community that drug dealing and anti social behaviour are not acceptable here anymore.

WE NEED MORE OF THIS COMMUNITY SPIRIT

End of the road - by the King's Hall, Stoke

End of the road - by the King's Hall, Stoke

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter – Matt Taylor

Whatever happened to community? That chat over the wall to your neighbour, street-parties on national celebration days? Even spending time in the local pub has been superceded by a night with a bottle of wine in front of Facebook.

And it´s a great shame, because the people in Stoke-on-Trent are well worth spending time with. It´s a well-known fact that despite its lack of visible allure, many people who come to the city to study or work decide to stay long-term, because it´s a friendly place to be. One Spanish friend of mine is in fact just about to sign-up for a second successive year here after leaving the delights of rural Catalunia in North East Spain for a rented house in Shelton.

But without spending time together at public events which create a positive atmosphere, and celebrate the good things about Stoke, it´s easy for the people who live here to put their home town down.

Yesterday was different. It´s an odd idea, the “egg run” ““ thousands of bikers coming out of the woodwork to meet at the Britannia Stadium ready to tour the city, all with one objective ““ collecting Easter eggs for kids in care. But it works, and besides the good cause which is the ultimate motivation for the event, it attracts the interest of thousands who either come out of their houses, or go along to a part of the route to see the massive convoy of bikers.

Families with babes in arms and toddlers turn up just to wave them by, and the older kids (and adults) hold out their chocolate eggs for passing riders to collect and take to the finish line. It´s an incredible sight, and experience, and it goes to show that despite what people might say, the people of Stoke are generally good-hearted.

And as well as the warm feeling you get being part of the day as a rider, in the knowledge that it´s all to cheer up kids who don´t get much of a start in life, the spectators genuinely enjoy the oil-burning procession too. This is exactly the kind of thing we need more of; not necessarily more bike cavalcades ““ a few of these a year is all the lungs can take when you´re in the middle of the fume-filled fleet ““ but more events which get people together in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Star Bikers have been organising this experience for 31 years now. And every time it catches the attention of local people, achieves a King´s Hall packed with people at the final post, and a truck full of Easter eggs ready to be distributed to under-privileged kids. What I´d like to see is other local people getting their thinking caps on and coming up with other events for the area, to help create a more positive attitude for the people of Stoke, great days out to look forward to, and another date in the diary we can be proud of.

The Spanish have incessant Fiestas in summer ““ from the globally-renowned Fiesta de San Fermin, to village celebrations with the strangest of rationale like the Festa da Xiva (spelt Festa because it takes place in Galicia), meaning Fiesta of the squid! In Spain it´s any excuse for a get-together. So, with the addition of a tent in consideration of the British weather, why can´t we?

For those of you who were too busy, on-line or too far away from the route, Mike photographed pretty much the whole parade.