Ipswich: Council says it’s winning the battle after fall in street drinking in St Matthew’s Street
One of Ipswich’s most notorious street drinking hotspots has seen a dramatic reduction in the practice following a multi-agency operation.
Incidents of street drinking and drink fuelled violence in St Matthew’s Street have fallen by a third since 2011.
Ipswich Borough Council last night said they were winning the battle against street drinking at the spot, which became the focus of a campaign against anti-social behaviour last year.
In 2011 there were 103 street drinking incidents reported in the street, that number fell to 89 in 2012 and to just 65 last year.
In October the Borough Council launched, with the help of the police, a large-scale project to clean up the area of the road near Berners Street.
It followed on from other initiatives such as Operation AFRESH which tackled street drinking and Reducing the Strength, which saw high strength alcohol removed from shops.
Benches used by street drinkers have been removed while broken lighting and security lighting around the shops has been improved and increased.
CCTV cameras were installed and resident retailers have established a ShopWatch scheme in conjunction with the police.
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Street cleaning was also stepped up and weeding completed while pavements, cobbled areas and walls were power washed and graffiti removed.
Future improvements include painting the railings, redecorating the canopy, fixing some broken paving slabs and keeping on top of street cleaning to ensure pride returns to the area.
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Last night the project was hailed as a success, and the Star understands it will be rolled out to other parts of Ipswich soon.
Deputy leader of the council, Councillor Neil MacDonald, said: “This is all part of our drive to improve the area for residents and businesses. I believe the community has also played its part and we can see pride returning to the area.
“But the project is not complete; we shall be working with the police to ensure the St Matthew’s Street area maintains its new look and feel.”
Inspector Danny Cooper from Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “I am pleased there has been a reduction in both street drinking and anti-social behaviour in St Matthew’s Street as a result of the on-going partnership work however I am not complacent and there is more work to be done, particularly as we approach the spring and summer period.
“The initiative ties in well with the long-term street drinking project which incorporates the Reducing the Strength campaign in the town and officers will be targeting individuals committing offences in the area such as alcohol, substance misuse and begging.”
However not everybody was convinced the project was having long term benefits.
Musa Taskin, who runs the Sunrise Café in St Matthew’s Street, said there were still drinkers around.
“I think if they want to do something about it they really need to do something. For one month they had police always standing up here and it was good but why have they relaxed it? If they were doing this always I’m sure things would change.”