Community activist, Chris Cooke has secured new lighting for St James Street, Kemp Town to replace the current low level ambient lighting.
The lights on St.James Street have been of major concern to residents for a number of years. Many complain the area is too dull at night with several black spots along the street.
In recent months there has been several assaults in the area and inadequate lighting has meant that CCTV coverage of the street has been poor. Successive political administrations have failed to take the problems of the area seriously and investment by the city has been poor.
“The new functional lighting will have a dramatic impact on the street, making it that much brighter and hopefully that much safer. The ambient lighting we have at the moment is little more than useless. I firmly believe that brightly lit thoroughfares discourage anti social behaviour. This is the first of many steps in rebuilding our neighbourhood and I am delighted that the new lights will make St.James’s much more inviting for residents, businesses and of course our visitors too”
The installation of new lighting was announced at a public meeting called by residents at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, last Friday, November 30 to discuss safety issues in St James Street and the general run down appearance of the area. Reported crime in the area has increased by over 40% in the previous 12 months.
An order for new laterns was placed by the Council on November 15 and the lights should be commissioned in approximately 6 weeks time.
One hundred and twenty residents attended the public meeting with 24 people signing up on the night to form a new Local Action Team (LAT), free of political interference, to agree and take forward an action plan to make the area safer and cleaner for everyone living there and also for visitors to the areas many hotels and guest houses.
A constant theme from the audience during the evening was the reason the previous LAT’s did not deliver was because of political infighting. One hotel owner described the atmosphere of the previous LAT as ‘toxic’. A key role of the new LAT is to make sure that does not happen in future and methods for keeping the group politics free have been tabled for discussion at the first meeting.
Community activist, Chris Cooke will steer the new LAT thought its early days. The new committee will meet in the next week and agree an action plan and elect posts. In the new year monthly LAT meetings will recommence so concerned residents can bring their concerns to those public meetings.
The new Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne was present and confirmed her commitment to making local communities safe, giving a grant of £250 to help the LAT move forward with their plans. Cllr Gill Mitchell leader of the Labour and Cooperative group was present as were ward Cllrs Geoffrey Bowden and Stephanie Powell. The administrations lead on Community Safety Cllr Ben Duncan was not present at the meeting citing child care issues as the reason for not being able to attend.
Cllr Phelim McCaffery the deputy leader of the council was asked to investigate making St James Street a pedestrian priority area. A vote was taken to and passed by a large majority for this to be explored by the council as a way of gentrifying St James Street and attracting small specialist business back into the area. Cllr McCafferty said the problem about creating any new initiatives was a lack of finance in the Council’s coffers.
Simon Kirby, MP for Kemptown & Peacehaven agreed to write to the local supermarkets in St James Street to remind them of their community responsibilities especially with regard to the responsible sale of alcohol and supporting community events such as Pride Village Party with financial support.