Group helps Blackwood bus station beat yob menace
10:10pm Tuesday 14th August 2012 in Gwent news
THE dark days at Blackwood Bus Station are now over according to one trader, who says it is a safe, welcoming gateway to the town once again.
Just three months ago, things looked bleak after incidents of anti-social behaviour doubled and drug-users, drug-sellers and knife-carrying youths were said to be congregating there.
Between October 2011 and March 2012 alone, there were 48 incidents of anti-social behaviour and 10 crimes, with the area closed for three hours after one incident where a bottle was used in an attack.
Jim Edwards who runs Plaza Cafe at the station said the situation caused his trade to drop by 10 per cent, saying the "very, very dangerous" environment was stopping people travelling to the town.
He talked of knife-carrying youths, adding: "We have seem so many fights, while we have had to break down the toilet door to help drug users."
However, after concerns were raised, a working group was set up consisting of Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix, representatives of Stagecoach, Gwent Police and Caerphilly council.
Since this group started meeting and tackling problems, the situation seems to have been turned around.
Mr Edwards said: "It is not often initiatives like this work, but it is lovely here now. No-one is selling drugs or using it as a meeting point and people are happy to come here again."
Community support officers began making regular patrols of the area, identifying problem people and stopping them entering the station. They also moved drunks on, while CCTV was monitored regularly.
Cllr Dix said: "The trouble-makers haven't been back since. We tried to make sure there was a presence at the station all the time and if things kicked off there was a rapid response. "It has worked and made a big difference. But, we have to make sure we don't take our eye off the ball now."