Today (Friday) I met residents living on and around Station Road in Devizes to discuss how to tackle the long-standing antisocial behaviour in the area which this week left a man critically injured in hospital. The victim and his family have my deepest sympathies and I wish him a full and fast recovery.
The issues in the Station Road area stem mainly from groups using the long-stay car park to congregate. This has caused noise problems, risk to residents through dangerous driving (with drivers speeding along Station Road and performing tricks in the car park), concerns about drug use, verbal abuse of residents, vandalism and more. Some of those living on the road have been experiencing this for more than a decade. This week things came to a head when a resident was hit by a car.
It is not appropriate to comment further on the specifics that led to the incident as an active police investigation is underway, but I will say this: It is simply not acceptable that this has happened, and something must be done now about the antisocial behaviour problem in Station Road. I am very concerned that things have escalated to this point and met the residents, alongside Wiltshire Councillor Iain Wallis and Simon Fisher, of Devizes Town Council, to discuss the possible long-term solutions.
Following the horrendous events on Wednesday evening I am pleased that the long-stay car park has now been closed. I understand from Wiltshire Council that barriers to the car park will remain in place until there is a formal closure order for the site - this will prohibit access to the car park for cars (and people who do not have a reason to be there) between 6pm and 6am. Anyone found in the car park during those times will now be able to be moved on by the police regardless of if they are behaving illegally, which was not previously the case.
Obviously in order for this measure to work the police will need to be in situ at the car park or to respond quickly to residents raising concerns about groups gathering, which I am sorry to say does not sound like it has happened up to this point. I have written to Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to stress the importance of a continued police presence in Station Road (particularly in the short-stay car park over the next couple of weeks, which residents fear will become the new destination for those behaving lawlessly).
I am very sympathetic to residents’ anger and for their calls for more permanent solutions, including barriers at the car park entrances and traffic calming measures along station road. I will hold a public meeting in August which I hope will be attended by Wiltshire Council officers and representatives of the police, to hear what options have been explored and to set a firm plan.