ARMED police sealed off part of a Newport street today as a drama unfolded which also involved the bomb squad being scrambled to the area. LAURA LEA and JEN MILLS report.
THE BOMB squad joined armed police as they surrounded a Newport house this afternoon while a man was arrested for producing drugs.
A quiet Newport street was transformed as police closed off part of Ridgeway Drive cordoning off an area around a detached two-storey house.
Gwent Police officers attended the address at 11.45am following the discovery of an object “which looked like an explosive device.”
By 1.20pm the cordon was in place with armed police officers standing at either end. All but one of the homes within the cordon were not evacuated, local people said.
Four armed police officers then approached the property pointing their weapons toward the first floor front bedroom and declaring their presence before entering the house, shouting: “Armed police. Make yourself known and no harm will come to you.”
Another officer with a police dog waited at the front gate. Around twenty minutes later they reappeared outside before making their way to the rear of the property lead by shielded officers.
Two members of the bomb disposal unit then entered the house, but returned to the street shortly after and left the area.
Meanwhile a 34-year-old man went into Newport Central police station at 2pm where he was arrested.
A Gwent Police spokeswoman said: “Officers attended an address in Ridgeway Drive at approximately 11.45am to make arrest inquiries following the discovery of an object which looked like an explosive device.
"A cordon was put in place as a precaution and the Explosive Ordnance Division was contacted.
“A 34-year-old man from Newport has since been arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and the production of cannabis.”
Later, a forensics officer was seen entering the property. The Gwent Police spokeswoman confirmed the device found on Ridgeway Drive was "not explosive" and that no cannabis was seized from the address.
Gwent Police said they attended the address as part of an ongoing investigation into cannabis production.
Residents in the road were not made aware of the details of the incident. Councillor Matthew Evans, who lives nearby, arrived at the scene to chat to residents. Having spoken to police, he said they had made assurances there was nothing for them to worry about.
The cordon was lifted and the road reopened by 4.15pm.
The man remains in police custody.
Neighbours spoke of their shock at the heavy police presence in what is normally one of the quietest areas of Newport.
One man, who was looking after his grandchildren, said he thought the people in the rented house had lived there only around 18 months.
“They seem to keep unusual hours and have the curtains drawn – we thought that was unusual.
“At one time there were six police cars, twelve police men, four to six with guns and shields, it looked like. You don’t expect this do you? But my grandchildren think it’s exciting.”
Residents stood by the side of the road as they tried to piece together what was happening, with one Ridgeway Drive resident describing the operation as “scary”.
“It’s such a nice area”, she said. “Not many people actually know who lives in that house. I have grown up in this street for quite some time. Pretty much with every neighbour you will know who moved in and who moved out – but with that house I haven’t got a clue.
“So much has gone on in the last few hours – I have stayed up the street in case it was something serious.”
An elderly woman in the next-door house to the detached property at the centre of the police incident said she was asked to leave her home while the incident was happening.
She was not able to return home until around 4.30pm, after the cordon had been lifted.
Several people arriving back from work stopped to ask police what was happening, but received little information by way of answer.
One woman was told, “It’s nothing to worry about; we’ll be finished very soon” while another neighbour was told, “I can’t tell you anything at all, but there’s nothing to worry about”.