A concentrated joint effort to reduce anti-social behaviour in Neath Town Centre is making good progress and has led to a new “Neath Together” campaign to ensure the improvement continues.
Announcing the campaign, Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet member for Community Safety and Protection Cllr. Des Davies said: “Neath Town Centre has a lot to offer visitors, residents and businesses. The people of Neath are warm and welcoming and we are keen to ensure the town’s reputation is not damaged by the behaviour of a minority.
“Some of the people involved in anti-social behaviour in Neath are in genuine need of support and we are working with agencies like Caer Las and the Wallich and others to help them.
“But we and our partners are clear that when people wilfully engage in anti-social behaviour we will build a case so we can take action to stop them.”
Neath’s reputation as a place to shop and socialise has been highlighted by highly successful annual events adding to the historic Neath September Fair - including one of the most prestigious Food and Drink Festivals in Wales, a Real Ale and Cider Festival and the popular Great Guitar Gig.
However, around six months ago, traders and residents began raising concerns about incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre which led to Cllr. Davies holding talks with a wide range of agencies to try to root out the problem working together.
Thanks to work done by the police, homeless charities and others involved in this joint approach, people are already seeing a difference in Neath’s town centre.
Neath Inspired Business Improvement District (BID) Manager Andrew Shufflebotham said changes for the better were already apparent in Neath Town Centre.
He said: “The results from the concerted efforts of the Police, Local Authority and other agencies brought together by Cllr. Des Davies have brought about a tangible improvement in the ambience of the town. Neath Inspired is pleased to have played a part in this important initiative that has now developed into the Neath Together campaign.”
Neath Together will involve a large line-up organisations including Neath Port Talbot Council, South Wales Police, Neath Inspired BID, homelessness charities Caer Las and the Wallich, the Salvation Army, traders, business organisations, WCADA (Welsh Centre for Action on Dependency and Addiction), the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the Business Crime Reduction Unit.
It will also involve residents and visitors to Neath who will be asked to take part in a “see it – report it” drive to help police root out any bad behaviour.
Neath’s town centre has undergone a major transformation in recent years including the building of a 600-space modern multi-storey car park and the rebuilding of the iconic Gwyn Hall as a high class arts and culture venue.
And the multi-million pound Neath facelift will continue this year with new homes and shopping facilities designed to add to High Street names already in the town like Marks and Spencer, New Look, Clarks and Next.
Further investment has also been made in the town’s former Constitutional Club and its landmark Castle Hotel - where Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton once stayed - which has now undergone an expensive refurbishment under new owners.
“See it – Report it”
An important part of the Neath Together campaign (#NeathTogether #CastellneddArYCyd) will be the “See it – Report it” element to encourage those either living in or using the town centre to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour they see to South Wales Police.
They should do this using the 101 telephone number or 999 in an emergency or by contacting police officers in person.
And the campaign will be looking to introduce a “diverted giving” scheme to persuade members of the public to donate money to tackle issues like homelessness via boxes marked with a distinctive logo, rather than giving directly to people who seem to be begging.
The aim is to make sure the vulnerable people who need help and support are provided with long term support from local agencies best placed to provide it.
Inspector Roy Portlock of South Wales Police said: “This partnership approach will enable us to effectively address the concerns the community has in regards to Neath Town Centre. It will also ensure we provide support to those who need it most – as well as tackling anti-social behaviour in a measured and collaborative approach.
“We already work closely with partners to look at issues surrounding homelessness in the Neath area and facilitate ‘patrol-a-longs’ where charity workers patrol with officers to offer support to vulnerable persons that are identified.
“This concerted effort will enable us to further understand the impact anti-social behaviour can have on our way of life – and provide the public with the confidence that our priority is making sure the most vulnerable in our society get the best possible service.”