Residents vow to rebuild community after tragedy

November 29 2018

PEOPLE living in Oldbury Court have vowed to come together to rebuild their community following a fatal stabbing.

Ronald Leigh, 21, died from his injuries after a knife attack in Gill Avenue on October 9. 

More than 20 people attended a meeting at the Vassall Centre four weeks later to discuss ways to move on after the tragedy.

The meeting was called by the police and led by PC Pete Jones, supported by Sergeant Alan Gentry and PCSOs Gary Cottle and Nwanna Egwuonwu.

Residents and officers spoke of the need to listen to young people on the estate and build relationships. One resident said: “Some of those young people have lost a friend. They are grieving.” Another said: “Somebody has lost a son or grandson. No one should grieve alone.”

The meeting agreed that rather than being fearful or resentful, people should accept help on offer and try to ensure something positive came out of the incident.

PC Jones said the scene of the stabbing had become a gathering point for teenagers, many of whom were aged 12 to 14. Drugs and anti-social behaviour were a concern, so the aim was to provide alternative activities for some of the youngsters.

Residents suggested a basketball court, karate or boxing. They said the first priority was a space the young people could call their own.

Police presence on the estate has increased since the knife attack and officers stressed the importance of all incidents of anti-social behaviour, such as dangerous use of dirt bikes, being reported as this would help ensure continued resource was given to the area.

Fishponds Police Station is now open again on weekdays and incidents can be reported anonymously online as well as by phone, they said.

Resident Susan Grandfield said fear stopped some people from calling the police.

“If you don't speak out you can't change anything. If you see something going on, you have to do something about it,” she said.

Representatives of the city council, Fishponds Baptist Church and the People's Republic of Oldbury Court spoke of the need to work together to establish what youth provision might work for the estate and seek funding for it. 

Michelle Meredith, from the youth empowerment project Babbasa, said she would seek views from young people and others who might support them.

PC Jones and Sgt Gentry said they were very encouraged by the wide cross section of people at the meeting and the wish to bring about improvements. 

The team also thanked the community for the support they had given officers investigating the killing.

Young people can have their say at https://bit.ly/2ziainF

The survey for parents and guardians is at https://bit.ly/2zgdQXm