Call for increased security on Bristol's council estates

June 03 2019
Call for increased security on Bristol's council estates

POOR lighting on Bristol’s council estates is encouraging drug dealers, tenants claim.

Recurrent power failures, delays in repairing broken lights and poor design have created “black spots” on council housing estates where dealers know they can sell drugs under the cover of darkness, a council advisory group heard.

Peter Daw, a social housing tenant, told Bristol City Council’s housing management board, above, that poor street lighting was one of the biggest problems for tenant security.

He and other tenant representatives shared their experiences as the local authority began a project to improve the security of tenants at low and high-rise blocks of council flats.

Mr Daw said: “There are blind spots around our blocks of flats. There are huge areas in which we don’t have street lighting.”

He said the problem was exacerbated by power failures, which are often triggered by flooding.

I live on an estate that was built in 1978 through to ‘82 and we have had eight power failures in the last 12 months,” Mr Daw said.

You can pretty much guarantee the street lighting’s going to be out at least two days of the week.

The moment the lights are out, they [drug dealers] will cut the cable and it will be out for months and there will be dealing and there will be people, as they did this morning, knocking on my window at 4.40am as they go past my house,” he said.

Other tenant representatives at the meeting said they could wait for days or even months for street lights to be fixed and that the problem was compounded by “black spots” created by “bad design”.

Mr Daw said: “I don’t think that’s acceptable.

We’re reporting [lighting problems] because people deal drugs in our gardens, in our carparks, in our alleyways.

And if we report it and it [the repair] doesn’t happen, it just encourages the drug dealers.”

Most “cynical” tenants will not dial 101 or even 999, he added.

Board member and councillor Harriet Clough said the sale of “hippy crack” – nitrous oxide – was the biggest problem in her ward and that even she got “burn out” calling 101.

When it’s a councillor reporting those things to 101, nothing happens. And if you burn out on doing it, how the hell are we meant to get our tenants to do it,” the Liberal Democrat representative for Hengrove and Whitchurch Park said.

Planning and development manager Sarah Spicer said the council project to improve security for council flat tenants was at the very early stages.

The “estates safety project”, run by a group chaired by Labour councillor for Lawrence Hill Hibaq Jama, will work with housing officers, tenants, leaseholders and police, Ms Spicer said.

Bristol’s housing management board is a group of council and tenant representatives that advise the council on the management, maintenance, improvement and development of council tenancies and homes.

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service