A HOUSING association's decision to install heavy-duty fencing in an estate plagued by antisocial behaviour has been slammed by residents, who claim that it is their children who are being punished.
Gates blocking access to the maze of alleyways in the Willow Tree Lane Estate in Yeading were put up by housing association Peabody, in response to residents' worries over escalating trouble in the neighbourhood.
Intended to cut off routes for would-be criminals, Willow Tree resident of 13 years Valerie Hennessy, 45, told the Gazette that youngsters on the estate are now 'growing up in a prison'.
"The idea had been brought up at meetings with Peabody and the police, but the thought was that they were just going to fence off certain alleys. What they've actually done is gate every single access path behind our houses, and all the green spaces are enclosed by cast iron fences. I am just raging, and everyone who I have spoken to about this feels the same.
"This has happened because of an older group who don't even live here running riot, and now our children are caged up and have nowhere to play.
More than anything else, it is very dangerous as we would be closed in if there was a fire or another emergency. Ambulance or police wouldn't be able to get in."
A spokesperson from Peabody said in reply: "The fencing was erected on the recommendation of the police crime prevention unit, in direct response to concerns raised by residents about persistent anti-social behaviour in the area.
"The majority of residents who took part in a consultation prior to the installation of the fencing were in favour of the scheme - 88 per cent for, to six per cent against. We have arranged to meet with residents on the estate to discuss the fencing further."
Last August, there was a drive-by shooting in the estate, which contains 358 properties in a series of small closes off Cygnet Way. No one was hurt, and Peabody convened an emergency meeting with residents anxious about the latest violent events.
The Gazette was turned away from that meeting, at which it was announced that a permanent community development staff would be appointed, and £72500 had been set aside for the installation of CCTV and security improvements, including the fencing.
Working closely with the Yeading Safer Neighbourhood Team and the council, the priorities are crime preventation and youth engagement.
Karen Stuart, of Whimbrel Way, told the Gazette that she had seen a difference.
"There have been many improvements since last summer. The introduction of a camera positioned high up a lamp post (so it cannot be damaged) has had a massive impact on the after dark gang, it has put them off. Also, there have been fantastic safety lights put on the flats in each road."
Do you live in the estate? What do you think? Email firstname.lastname@example.org