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'We have to check children's play equipment for needles' - Families' quest to reclaim local park

PUBLISHED: 06:39 07 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:09 07 July 2019

The Wensum Residents Association has organised a street party to combat antisocial behaviour. Photo: Neil Didsbury

The Wensum Residents Association has organised a street party to combat antisocial behaviour. Photo: Neil Didsbury

Archant

Families living in an area plagued by drug dealing and violent crime said they were determined to reclaim their local park and host their first community street party.

Wensum Street Party organiser Alison Ledington. Photo: Neil DidsburyWensum Street Party organiser Alison Ledington. Photo: Neil Didsbury

On Sunday, July 28, members of the Wensum Residents Association will turn West End Street, near Dereham Road, in Norwich, into a community fun day, with neighbouring West End park playing host to outdoor family activities.

Ongoing drug issues in the Dereham Road area have been well documented and the neighbourhood made headlines last week when a teenager was shot on Adelaide Street.

But Alison Ledington, who is in charge of the Wensum Street Party event, said the area deserved to be recognised for more than antisocial behaviour.

The Armes Street resident said: "This is a fantastic area but that is often overshadowed by crime. The community is diverse with people who have lived here for years as well as young families. Our hope is that the event will be a chance for people to get to know each other and reclaim their area."

Sandra Bogelein has spoken about the problems in West End Park, Norwich. Photo: Neil DidsburySandra Bogelein has spoken about the problems in West End Park, Norwich. Photo: Neil Didsbury

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A group of volunteers have been working for around a year to finalise plans, supported by Norwich City Council.

West End Street will be closed to traffic from 2pm until 5pm between The Fat Cat pub and Adelaide Street, with people welcome to join in with their own picnics and drinks.

Sandra Boglein, local councillor and resident, said events such as this could make a real difference to the level of drug activity in nearby parks.

The Wensum Residents Association has organised a street party to combat antisocial behaviour. Photo: Neil DidsburyThe Wensum Residents Association has organised a street party to combat antisocial behaviour. Photo: Neil Didsbury

The mother of two said many parents were afraid to take their children to West End Park, with some openly smoking class A drugs in daylight hours, metres away from play equipment.

She said: "My youngest is of an age where he picks anything up and puts it in his mouth. In this park that is likely to be a drugs wrap which still has traces on.

"We have to check the play tunnels before kids use them in case there are needles in there. I feel sad for the people using drugs because this issue is about addiction, not them being bad people. Equally we have to show that this is a place for the community and feel safe here."

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