Student home visits follow anti-social behaviour
Transport, safety and keeping Jesmond clean are the key concerns for its councillors, they told the now annual South Jesmond Ward Committee meeting on November 7th. But they also revealed that they have been visiting student houses to counter a surge in anti-social behaviour.
These priorities follow a survey completed by residents in October, issued to ensure councillors would spend their allocated budget in the areas constituents cared about most.
However, the meeting also gave residents a chance to air other, more pressing concerns about the area, including the anti-social behaviour of students who, some said, have been causing disruption with loud noise late at night and disorderly behaviour in the streets.
Councillors reiterated their belief it was a small minority of students causing disturbance and tension with locals in Jesmond. They said that they have been trying to tackle the issue with house-to-house visits to student homes, as well as arranging a meeting with the president of the Students’ Union and registrar of the University to discuss solutions.
Fears were expressed by some locals that cuts in funding could ultimately have a negative effect on Jesmond’s sense of community.
The ward committee has suffered budget cuts since 2010. It is estimated that Newcastle City Council will have axed around £250 million from its budget between 2010 and 2020, impacting wards across the city. The council has been forced to reduce funding to local, well-established community organisations. Other formerly paid-for services are now relying on volunteers.
South Jesmond councillor Arlene Ainsley told JesmondLocal that she and colleagues Felicity Mendelson and Kerry Allibhai are “very active councillors” who are frequently out and about in the ward to keep up-to-date with their constituents. Budget cuts mean the number of ward committee meetings has been reduced from four a year to just one, but Cllr. Ainsley said she is confident they have a “good idea” of the ward’s issues and plenty of chances to keep in contact with their constituents, thanks to regular surgeries.
A sergeant from Northumbria Police told the meeting that Jesmond is a “very safe place” to live, with Newcastle being one of the safer cities to live compared to similar-sized cities such as Sheffield. However, he said he believes that Jesmond is a “honeypot” for burglars, especially student homes where occupants might leave doors and windows unlocked. He estimated that between 80-90% of burglaries in Jesmond take place at student houses.
Also in attendance were the planning developers intending to convert the synagogue on Eskdale Terrace into flats. They were seeking to talk to nearby residents about their concerns about the conversion, including parking availability on the street.