Neighbourhood partners open new community office

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Neighbourhood police in Central Milton Keynes have teamed up with a residents association to open a community office in North Tenth Street.

The office, on the ground floor of the 152-198 blocks of flats, is shared by neighbourhood officers and Robert Stones, chair of the Central Housing Residents Association.

Neighbourhood officer PC Jim Lake said: “I used to be a beat officer in central Milton Keynes about 10 years ago, and formed strong links with the area. I was pleased to return to the neighbourhood in 2011, but I found that the North Ninth and Tenth Street area was experiencing problems with crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Last summer, we held community meetings and in December we established a residents association with a proper constitution, a committee and a chairman, Bob Stones. Working with Milton Keynes Council and the housing association, we were fortunate to be offered a former caretaker’s store room in the heart of the flats, which we have refurbished to create a shared office.”

Members of the neighbourhood team use the office to meet residents and do paperwork, enabling them to spend more time patrolling the streets. Their visible presence in the community has already made a difference. Neighbourhood Sergeant Mark Lacey said: “In the three weeks since the new police office opened, no crimes have been recorded in North Ninth Street and North Tenth Street. During the same period last year, six crimes were recorded, so it appears that the new base is already having a positive impact.”

The new office is very much a partnership effort. Neighbourhood warden Rob Harriman drops in regularly, as do the caretakers of the flats. The Neighbourhood Action Group is supportive and Sarah Baynes from the council’s housing office has also been very helpful. City Stores in Silbury Boulevard has donated a mobile phone to the residents association, which makes them more accessible to local people.

Robert Stones said: “I’ve lived in this part of Milton Keynes for almost 35 years and it’s very close to my heart. Not long ago, the area had problems with drug and alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour. The police were here almost every night responding to emergency calls, but now the sight of a police car on blue lights is very rare – it’s becoming a nice place to live again. Communal areas have been cleaned up and people are talking to each other more. In the last 10 days, we’ve had around 30 residents in the office discussing various issues. It feels like a sense of community has returned.”

To contact the Central Housing Residents Association, call 07435 467 771 or email: robertstones@hotmail.co.uk

To contact PC Jim Lake, call 07800 703 590, or the police non-emergency number, 101, or email: MKCentralNeighbourhoods@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

Residents are invited to an official opening of the community office on Monday 13 February, starting at 10.30am. Members of the central Milton Keynes neighbourhood policing team, the Central Housing Residents Association and their partners in Milton Keynes Council will be on hand, and tea and coffee will be available.