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Partnership working restores harmony to troubled estate

Grand Union has teamed up with Bedfordshire Police and Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) to help rid a community of serious crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB).

Partnership working between the three organisations has resulted in the Bilberry Road community in Clifton, near Shefford, becoming ‘one big happy family again’ according to resident Lindsey.

“When I moved here many years ago, it was a lovely estate. But then it became really bad; drugs and prostitution were rife. It was never-ending and we wouldn’t get any sleep because the police were here morning, noon and night. It was absolutely awful.

“Rachel from Grand Union and Alan from CBC have been brilliant and have really made a difference. All the trouble has gone and now it’s lovely. We’re one big happy family again.”

The effect of several closure orders, together with Grand Union’s investment in estate improvements, have helped to make the community feel safer.

Naomi Sweeting, Grand Union’s Director of Customer Experience, said: “One of our core aims is to build stronger, safer communities, where people can be proud of their homes and put down roots, so when issues arise we are committed to finding solutions to ensure the safety of our customers as well as those living in the neighbourhood.

“Although the opening of our community hub last year had to be postponed due to the pandemic, we have spent the last 18 months carrying out estate improvements, such as installing fencing between the adjacent field and the Bilberry Road estate, replacing broken and damaged bollards, replacing of bin stores, resurfacing of pathways and adding more CCTV.

“We’re delighted that the action we’ve taken, and continue to take, is having a positive impact on the people living on this estate.”

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Nuisance neighbours can have a detrimental effect on their community’s quality of life and wellbeing, and this is unacceptable.

“This is a positive outcome, which has been secured by our officers working in partnership with the police and housing association to tackle serious crimes and antisocial behaviour.”

Inspector Louise Bates, from Bedfordshire Police’s Community Policing team, said: “We’re very happy to hear the positive impact that our partnership work has had on the residents in the Bilberry Road estate.

“Together, with partners, we are able to use all the tools and powers available to us to tackle antisocial behaviour such as closure orders on properties, like we have used here.

“Antisocial behaviour can devastate the lives of victims and entire communities, and we take this issue very seriously. Please do report antisocial behaviour to your local council or to us via our online reporting tool.”

Rachel Welbourn at Bilberry Road in Clifton with partnership team L-R
Inspector Louise Bates, Richard Alleyne from GUHG and Alan May from Central Beds Council. Photo: Matthew Power