local tensions

Kevin has a post about a pilot that’s being developed to see if tensions in local areas can be recognised early and actions taken before extreme actions (like riots) occur. He says:

I’m curious to see precisely how neighbourhood management systems will interface with the grapevine, to get the necessary data. The better they do it, the less they’ll need it, probably.

Its a good question, I spent a year or so as a co-chair of a neighbourhood management forum on the Heathside and Lethbridge estate.

We had our own set of issues, including some of the tensions that could have created the sorts of problems that this pilot is intended to defuse. Largely these focused on the activities of a (relatively) small number of young people many of whom didn’t live on the estate, but who were visiting on a regular basis.

The information we had was worrying enough for us to convene meetings with the local police, the youth worker on the estate, the leadership of the Tenants and Residents Association and the Neighbourhood Manager. I’m not sure that the work we did together was enough to calm the situation down on its own, but I think it helped.

What it didn’t do was address any of the underlying problems that the issues highlighted. The tensions between rivals remained and a culture where the way to settle disputes often turned to the threat of violence didn’t go away. Nor did the drug dealing, the use of dogs as a way of intimidating others, or the use of scooters to “claim” the streets.

Perhaps some of this was displaced by moving people on from time to time, and that maybe good enough as a short term fix; but I’d have to say that even after these experiences I’m not sure there was enough momentum to move that on to a more sustained piece of work.

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Civic Society, Lewisham. Bookmark the permalink.

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