THE NEWSDESK: It is time we took back the city centre from trouble-makers
IT'S heartening to see that the moves to put the heart back in our city centre also include steps to take it back from trouble-makers.
Many of us would admit that Newport city centre has of recent years not been the most welcoming of atmospheres.
The closed shops, issues with graffiti such as that daubed outside Newport Market recently, people drinking on the streets, running the gauntlet of late-night yobs.
The city centre has felt run down and, on times, an unattractive place to visit.
As the physical landscape begins to change, and as more people homes are built to attract people to live in it, we have to change the city centre's feel and its reputation.
So let's hope the new dispersal order which comes into force this week works well.
Dispersal orders give police officers and community support officers the power to direct any groups of two or more people to leave a specified area if their behaviour is likely to cause members of the public to feel alarmed, harassed or distressed.
Anyone who refuses to leave or returns to the area within 24 hours, when ordered not to do so can be arrested under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
Evidence from other areas where dispersal orders have been in place says they do work - because resources are put into ensuring it.
The problem tends to be after the fact. After the order is lifted, will the same old problems keep creeping back?
When resources are re-focused elsewhere, what will be the consequences?
One Newport Partnership, which includes Gwent Police, Newport City Council and their partner agencies, is introducing the dispersal order after receiving repeated complaints from members of the public, and shop and business owners about anti-social behaviour including begging, graffiti, street drinking and general rowdiness.
According to Gwent Police, more than 670 calls of anti-social behaviour have been received since the start of 2014, with the main areas affected being High Street, John Frost Square, Gilligan’s Island and around Newport Centre.
Community support officer, Perrie Di Ronato, has been patrolling the city centre with colleague Jack Purcell for the past three years. They are behind the move.
She said: “This order will give us the added power to deal with those offenders who refuse to take our advice and act responsibly and respectfully.
“This dispersal order will not affect anyone in Newport who is out having a good time and behaving.”
The new order will run from 9am on July 1, until midnight on January 1, 2015.
Newport Inspector Mark Pope, added:
“The dispersal order will enable us to send out a clear message unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.”
And we'd all back that.
Our city centre should be a place the whole community enjoys - and feels safe in doing so.
Its redevelopment is under way, its disused buildings are set to get funds to transform them into homes and businesses.
This should be the start of a new era for it.
And this dispersal order is another positive step.
All the agencies involved in the city centre facelift should be pulling together to ensure that after the order is lifted, there is no return to the bad old days.
IT'S also good to see a talisman of the city centre back in place.
Newport city centre without the Sebastien Boyesen sculpture This Little Piggy seemed wrong.
Newport city centre has lost so much of its iconic public art in the past few years - the Chartist Mural and In The Nick of Time - that some were understandably a little worried about the pig's fate.
The sculpture celebrates over 700 years of markets in Newport, and it's wonderful to see that the life-size bronze of a Gloucester Old Spot pig with baskets of fruit and vegetables, has come back to the market.
I also had the chance to see the murals at painted by Germain artist Hans Feibusch, this week.
The series of 12 murals decorates the central hall of Newport Civic Centre and depicts the history of Newport. The murals were commissioned by Newport Corporation in 1960 and painted between 1961 and 1964.
Those of us who do not go to the civic centre often might forget what impressive artworks they are.
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