This afternoon I was invited by Inspector Ryan Francis of MPS Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) on a Community Safety Ward Walkabout for St Katharine’s and Wapping.
This started at St Georges Town Hall then took the route of Wapping Woods, Pennington Street and Thomas Moore Street.
The walkabout was led by NPT Sergeant Jak Bentley and attended by numerous officers from Tower Hamlets Council. The Deputy Mayor Cllr. Ohid Ahmed was supposed to come but he had the flu apparently.
As we walked along you could see people looking at us and wondering just what was going on. I did offer to walk in front of the group wearing handcuffs and a ‘it’s a fair cop guv but society is to blame’ look on my face but for some reason this suggestion was turned down.
Let there be light. And there is.
Highlight of the afternoon was the inspection of the new lighting and CCTV system that has been installed as a result of the attacks in Wapping Woods a year ago and the lively public meeting that was held in response to the issue of crime in the Woods.
The new £170,000 LED lighting (white not yellow and energy efficient) runs from Shadwell Station all the way down through the Woods to Prusom Street. The funding was from Section 106 monies (presumably from the 21 Wapping Lane development). The new lights should last 15 years.
While the CCTV cameras themselves are not in place as yet the pylons have been installed so the cameras themselves should be in place very soon. There will be three CCTV cameras along the main path at the north and south edges of the woods and one in the middle.
Fibre optic cables laid
Workmen have spent several weeks digging trenches from Prusom Street into the Woods as new fibre optic cable had to be installed. The Council has also taken the opportunity of using the new fibre optic cables to hook in existing CCTV cameras in Wapping Lane up to the central CCTV control room. Previous to this these cameras only recorded. The cables will also allow the Council to connect to other public buildings in Wapping.
The photographs on this page do not do the new lighting justice and the whole of the Love Wapping Lighting Appreciation Team (Eastern Branch) would urge you to go and have a look for yourselves. The difference to the Woods is immense. The perimeter of the Woods has also benefited from better lighting for those residents who access their houses from there.
One of the lights was flashing intermittently but a few minor snags are inevitable.
All in all a job very well done and we should express our thanks to all those involved in Tower Hamlets Council who have done such a good job, especially our very own Cllr. Denise Jones.
Now everything is nice and bright
While we were looking at the lighting I noticed that the lights under the Garnett Street bridge were also working. Result.
It was only a few weeks ago that Love Wapping observed that these lights meant that the area under the bridge was in complete darkness, in addition to the lighting in the Woods itself being pretty dodgy with numerous lights not working.
As you can see from the photo (left) it looks like someone has cleaned the lights, whacked some new bulbs in and turned them on.
Now that wasn’t hard to do, was it?
Next stop was Pennington Street via Wapping Lane and a very busy Tobacco Dock. I should state categorically that rumours of a certain MPS Tower Hamlets officer wanting to visit the Taste of Christmas exhibition with the sole purpose of getting the promise of some decent presents from Father Christmas are completely unfounded.
Main focus of our discussions in Pennington Street was the various problems caused by one particular tenant of the ‘Urban Enterprise Centre‘ at number 110. Despite a concerted effort by all the different agencies (MPS, Tower Hamlets Council, CPS) and the fact that there is no unlawful activity at the Centre at the moment these premises remain a cause for concern.
And please let’s not confuse the origins of previous problems with Studio Spaces who are also at 110 Pennington Street . Same address, different premises, completely different businesses. Some people just end up with really lousy neighbours.
Let’s sort out the ‘Urban Enterprise Centre’ once and for all
The Pennington Street issue has been running for quite some time now. The thing that has puzzled me is this. The MPS work with Tower Hamlets Council and do their thing. Then the issue goes to court. Then not long after the whole problem starts again. And creates a ripple effect by generating Anti Social Behaviour. How can this happen time and time again?
But it seems only a matter of time before it becomes a problem again. Which will mean more work for the authorities, more disturbance for local residents, more hassle for other legitimate businesses in Pennington Street and more costs all round.
It seems that the only way to resolve this once and for all is for whoever owns the building to refuse to lease any space to those who cause problems. Businesses are as much a part of the community as individuals and have responsibilities to the community as well.
I think I know who the owner of the building is but need to do some checking then some digging and ask some questions. So watch this space.
Wapping Woods is now really well illuminated, I think it may be time to shine some new light on the 110 Pennington Street issue.
The Community Safety Ward Walkabout was a very interesting couple of hours and many thanks to all involved.