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The area that has ‘fallen victim to fly-tipping, vandalism and drug dealing’

St Peter’s newly-elected independent councillor wants to clean up this area of Tameside
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Councillor Kaleel Khan during a walkabout in his ward

On the terraced streets on the outskirts of a Greater Manchester town centre, problems have been brewing for years.

In the St Peter’s area of Ashton-under-Lyne, streets are lined with fly-tipping and contaminated bins. And, according to some locals, the problems don’t end at littering and anti-social behaviour, which Tameside Council says it is targeting with ‘Days of Action’ and ‘positive community-based work’ respectively.

St Peter’s newly-elected independent councillor, Kaleel Khan, took the Local Democracy Reporting Service for a walkabout in the area he now represents.

In and around Katherine Street, Councillor Khan, who says he stood because he wanted to bring positive change to the area where he lives, points out a number of fly-tipping incidents.

He says some houses in the Holy Trinity area are holding families as big as 10 – which is too much for the small bins provided by the council. There’s also, he claims, confusion over bin colours – with green bins being for general waste rather than green waste, for example.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumped in the streets and alleyways of the St Peters area of Ashton-uner-Lyne

And he claims missed bin collections which are adding to the problem, leading to ‘contaminated bins’ – ones with the wrong items in – which are deemed not to be collectable for safety reasons.

“Fly-tipping is just everywhere around here. People hang around and have drugs here and do all sorts.

“It is the start of the problem.”

There are some sections where residents have taken action and people power has made a difference. Bumping into Abdull ‘Kai’ Kuiyun, he showed the LDRS how he cleaned up the alley behind his house.

“I had to tidy it up,” he says. “This was rat infested. We do this every year. When the gates are left open people just come in and dump stuff. People just don’t care.”

Interjecting, Coun Khan added: “I’ve asked the council why it has gotten so bad around here. I’ve lived here for the last 15 years and it never used to be like this, and in my opinion they have stopped caring.

“They come out during the election period litter picking, then they go away again.

“The biggest issue is bins, they are too small for big families.”

Councillor Kaleel Khan with resident Kai

Walking between Kenyon Street and Portland Street, Coun Khan points out yet more fly-tipping and overfilled bins with a few extra bags to the side.

The St Peter’s ward representative says “there will probably be more when we go around the corner as well” – and he’s right. There’s the pungent smell of whiffy bins and the constant presence of flies.

This is commonplace though, with newly installed shopkeeper Muhammad Zaid claiming he hasn’t had a bin collection yet in the month he’s been in the area. He said he had to take the bins to the dump in his own car, and has been cleaning the street himself.

“Fly-tipping is a huge problem here as well as littering from what I can see already,” the Wise Price shopkeeper said. “We clean up outside the shop every day.

“Cleaning trucks from the council do come, but only once a month. It doesn’t stay clean for long I’m told.”

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumped in the streets and alleyways of the St Peters area of Ashton-uner-Lyne

A spokesperson for Tameside Council, in response to these claims, said: “In terms of bin collections, we collect over 42,000 bins every day and the vast majority of these are emptied on time.

If anyone would like to report any issues or concerns with regards to their collections they can do at [email protected] and we will do everything we can to address them.

“We work closely with Recycle for Greater Manchester, reaching into communities in different ways to raise awareness of what goes in what bin to help prevent bin contamination.

“With regards to fly-tipping, residents have a legal duty to dispose of their waste responsibly and there is no excuse for fly-tipping, it is disrespectful to the local community and environment.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumped in the streets and alleyways of the St Peters area of Ashton-uner-Lyne

We have officers out every day investigating and clearing up fly-tipping as part of the council’s Our Streets campaign to promote cleaner, greener and safer neighbourhoods. We will always take enforcement action where we find evidence of offences.

“So far this year we have already issued over 160 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping offences and successfully prosecuted six offenders. In addition to this regular clean up work, there have been two ‘Our Streets’ Days of Action’ specifically focussing on waste enforcement in the St Peter’s ward in the past 12 months.

“These days of action have resulted in 16 Fixed Penalty Notices being served. We are also working with Recycle for Greater Manchester on the Your Waste, Your Responsibility campaign to remind people of their duty of care when disposing of their waste. In particular, people are reminded they should only use licensed waste carriers when asking someone to remove waste on their behalf.”

The statement went on to clarify that the St. Peter’s ward benefits from a comprehensive and regular cleaning schedule – which includes mechanical sweepers working alongside a team of litter pickers – to help maintain its streets and public spaces. The local authority added that street litter bins are emptied on a regular basis and the fly tipping team remove fly tipping on council owned land.

The underlying problems

For Coun Khan, fly-tipping is the most visible sign of a deeper decay. Anti-social behaviour is also prevalent – and he says he’s been told that young people with ‘nothing to do’ are being preyed on by criminals and used as drug mules.

“There is nothing for kids to do, they are bored and full of energy,” Coun Khan admitted. “It is easy to get kids to transfer drugs from A to B and pay them off because they are making free money.

“The children themselves are asking for help, they want facilities that encourage them to come out of doing antisocial behaviour or knife crime.

Millennium Green in St Peters, Ashton

“When I speak to businesses, drug crime is something that comes up. It makes me think, why are we different from other areas, why are there inequalities, what can we change?

“It does make me feel sad and makes me feel I should’ve stood up and done something earlier. This will not change overnight, it’s going to take a long time to bring that change – and everyone needs to be involved.”

Walking onto Millennium Green, there are a few park benches and a dilapidated football cage with some damaged basketball hoops hanging above. This small green space in the heart of the Holy Trinity estate is, like so many other parts of it, strewn with litter – something Coun Khan hopes will be cleaned up in the coming weeks.

Nitrous Oxide canisters and broken bottles are more evidence of the behaviour the councillor wants to see stamped out. Even though he lives around the corner, he says this is not a place you would want to find yourself when it got dark.

Meanwhile, back at Wise Price, shoppers say that anti-social behaviour and crime is a common occurrence around here.

Councillor Kaleel Khan showing us issues of fly tipping in his ward of St Peters, Ashton

One, who gave his name as Zaid, said within the first couple of weeks of arriving in the area he saw one incident where ’27 plus’ police cars came storming onto the estate.

“There is drug dealing amongst the young people but yeah that happens everywhere,” another local, who asked to remain anonymous said. “But I do see things like that quite regularly around here.”

Another resident added: “I’ve lived here all my life, in the past five years things have got bad.

“Crime and antisocial behaviour happens all the time around here. You get people firing fireworks at people, even at the police.

“They set bins on fire, playing football at night disturbing residents, you name it, we get it here.”

There is some light at the end of the tunnel though. Coun Khan says a local football team being set up in the area in order to keep kids out of trouble.

He wants to see more efforts like this in order to increase community pride and get people working to make positive change in St Peter’s. He feels a spruce up for the recreational areas and more clean ups would do wonders for the area’s image.

“There is a root cause to this. The challenge for these kids is to get away from the label they’ve been given for antisocial behaviour.

“(Kids) carry knives because they feel unsafe and need protection. The kids are drawn into violence and exploitation of drugs, is what my constituents are telling me.

“This is what leads to bigger crimes. One of my constituents, who is an Uber Eats driver, says the kids are spitting at him and hassling him.

“I went to the kid’s house to speak to his parents, he said he just did it because he was bored and it seemed funny.”

Claiming that the area has been ‘neglected’, the councillor adds: “A bit of investment and love into the area would do it some good.

“The way it is at the moment, it is rife for vandalism. There are always people drinking around here causing trouble, kids hanging about on the street corner.”

The independent councillor has set up regular community meetings where he asks the community what they want to see happening which local police officers attend. These ‘community concerns meetings’ are growing in attendance, with more people coming forward with ideas to help the community.

Coun Khan wants funding in order to get these ideas into action, but says he’s aware these things take a long time to sort out.

What the police say

Chief Inspector Dave Henthorne for Neighbourhoods & Partnerships in Tameside said: “We are committed to working alongside our partners to make Ashton Town Centre a safe place for all to visit.

“Since January 2022, there has been an overall reduction in antisocial behaviour and violent crime in the town centre. This mirrors the force-wide trend of crime having decreased.

“There has been a public space protection order in place for the town centre since October 2022, and we currently have ten individuals subject to a criminal behaviour order, effectively banning them from entering the area. This has contributed to the decline in crime in the area, and has been an effective use of civil orders available to us.

“We work very closely with partners in the local authority, housing, mental health, social care, and other blue light services, to problem solve persistent issues and create long lasting solutions.

This work is enhanced by the likes of our dedicated Prevention Hub and Challenger teams, who support us in education, early intervention, diversion and safeguarding work, as enforcement and arresting people alone cannot be the answer to issues.

“In Ashton town centre, we have a dedicated neighbourhood beat officer and PCSOs and our neighbourhood team across the district has benefitted from the police uplift over recent years.

These officers and staff have extensive knowledge of the area, businesses, and people within it, and regularly patrol and engage with the community, responding to incidents quickly as they arise.

“We would encourage anyone who has information about crime or antisocial behaviour in the area to get in touch with us online, by calling 101, or using 999 in an emergency. For those who prefer to remain anonymous, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted with information.

“I would like to provide assurances that when we receive information, we do act on this.”

What the council says

A Tameside Council spokesperson said: “We work closely with key local organisations and the community, as part of the Tameside Community Safety Partnership, to identify – and develop strategies to address – priorities to improve safety across the borough. We welcome views from the community and anyone who would like to give feedback to the current Anti-Social Behaviour policy consultation can do so before June 20.

“The council takes reports of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) very seriously. To report ASB, we encourage residents to call 0161 342 8355 or email the Tameside Anti-Social Behaviour Team directly at [email protected]. Any criminal activity should be reported to the police. While the ASB Team has enforcement powers as outlined in the Anti-Social Behaviour Policy, these are used as a last resort.

“ASB Officers often address issues through alternative methods such as mediation and referrals to mentoring services. These approaches help avoid negative impacts on young people’s future job prospects.

“We also work closely with partners on other preventative and intervention work to educate young people and support them onto more positive paths. An example of this is our work with national charity Shift.

“Shift works directly with young people, and in collaboration with statutory agencies, to break the pattern and cycle of offending, and other risky behaviours, such as drug misuse. Since SHiFT Tameside was launched in December 2022 there have been reductions in the young people involved committing offences and going missing and improved school attendance. There is also positive community based work taking place in the St Peter’s ward via the Resilient Communities Fund – ‘Reducing ASB’ was one of this year’s themes.

“It can be difficult to know what to do if you think a child is at risk. It’s important to remember that if you’ve spotted things that don’t seem right, others will have too. Speaking up can make sure that child gets help as soon as possible.

“If anyone knows of any safeguarding issues relating to children and young people, we would urge them to report it to children’s services or the police – all citizens have a responsibility to help keep children safe. The sooner you contact our local children’s social care duty team, the quicker they can act. They’re available 24 hours a day, and you can make an anonymous report if that feels safer.”

The children’s care team

The children’s care team can be reached by this website or by phoning: 016 1342 4101 or 016 1342 2222 (out of hours)

If it’s an emergency the police can be contacted on 999 and all other calls should be made to 101 for advice or help or anonymously at Crimestoppers.

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