Headlines: March 26th, 2004

A new partnership has been set up between the Home Office and two environmental community groups to try to improve public spaces and community safety. The organisations – Groundwork and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers – will be supported by the Home Office’s Anti-Social Behaviour Unit which is providing 2.3 million pounds to fund Operation Gate-It.The money will pay for environmental improvements in communities across England and Wales. These will include using gates to block alleyways that attract gangs of yobs and anti-social behaviour. The fund will also be used for lighting, closed circuit television systems and landscaping to improve an area and increase its security.

Tony Hawkhead, the chief executive of Groundwork believes anti-social behaviour can be both a cause and a symptom of a neighbourhood spiralling into decline. The organisations experience, he said, showed that giving local people more control over their environment could set those neighbourhoods on the path to recovery. Home Office minister Hazel Blears added, “Litter, graffiti and abandoned cars can have a huge impact on people’s fear of crime and destroy community pride. Yobs who race down alleys on motorbikes or hang about in rowdy threatening groups can cause real problems for communities.”