Council leaves Eltham Town Centre without successful dispersal zone

Eltham Town Centre has been left without its successful anti-crime dispersal zone after Labour failed to renew it.

After questions from Conservative Councillor Spencer Drury, it appeared that despite a request from the police to renew the initiative, the Labour party missed the deadline; Labour councillors did not however, miss the deadline to renew a dispersal zone in Woolwich.

The row over the Labour Council’s lack of care for Eltham erupted when Cllr  Drury pointed out that the extra powers granted to police for the last year, to disperse large groups who gather in the Town Centre, had expired on 31st October.  As the Council’s own report on the Dispersal Zone in April pointed out “It (the dispersal zone) has proven to be effective in reducing crime and disorder in the area”; so the loss of the zone through Council incompetence makes Eltham High Street a less safe place to be.

Spencer had tried to meet with the Cabinet Member responsible for renewing the dispersal zone on this exact issue at the start of September but the meeting was cancelled with no alternative date provided.  

The Council’s failure to renew the Dispersal Zone in Eltham is in stark contrast to its reaction to Woolwich, where the Dispersal Zone was due to expire on the 7th September and the Labour Cabinet signed off on a new six month stint 4 days early.  In Eltham, although a draft report has been produced and circulated to Eltham Councillors following Spencer’s questions, the refreshed Dispersal Zone will now not be in place until the middle of next week at the earliest, continuing to leave the police without the relevant powers to deal with some criminal behaviour.

Spencer said “Once again Labour has proved it doesn’t care about Eltham and continues to treat it like a poor relation to Woolwich. I think it is disgraceful to let a successful anti-crime initiative lapse; powers that have been used effectively to support out town centre for the last year, simply because of incompetence.  More worryingly, it shows a trend of not thinking Eltham is important, except to raise revenue.

“Together with my colleagues I will keep up the pressure on this incompetent Labour Council.  I think Eltham needs a strong voice to ensure it is not ignored as otherwise in this case, Labour would simply have let the crime rise in our area because they forgot we existed.”

Facts which might be of interest to readers

  1. The first renewal of the Eltham Town Centre Dispersal Zone for six months took place on 27th April 2012 allowing it to be active from the 1st May.  Details can be found at http://committees.greenwich.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1688.
  2. The most recent decision to renew the Woolwich Town Centre Dispersal Zone can be found at http://committees.greenwich.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1803.