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£215,000 investment into Gravesend’s 1887 clock tower under criticism as the area around it is notorious as a crime hot spot

Investment into Gravesend’s clock tower, which dates back to 1887, has come under criticism after a number of serious crimes were committed nearby.

Last week the Messenger reported Gravesham council has officially agreed to go ahead with a £215,000 makeover of the tower in Milton Road, thanks to funding and grants of more than £177,000.

News of the proposed makeover was announced some time ago, but the agreement means work can now begin. Scaffolding went up this week.

A survey has found Gravesham people feel the things they do in their lives are the least worthwhile in the UK
A survey has found Gravesham people feel the things they do in their lives are the least worthwhile in the UK

Some were pleased to hear the news.

Resident Vikki Bridget Nelson said on Facebook: “I think it’s a great idea. I can hear the bells from my house and enjoy it’s hourly tune.

“So glad it’s getting the attention it deserves and as the article said, it will drive up the area. Harmer Street is awful – we know that – so this is a great start.”

However, the response on social media was predominantly negative, with people immediately pointing out the general state of disrepair in the area around it, and the clock tower being notorious as a criminal hub.

A dispersal order was put in place around the area from October 2013 until January 2014 to tackle a serious problem with anti-social behaviour.

The area covered the clock tower and went east to Parrock Street and north to Fort Gardens.

Crime hotspots around the Gravesend clock tower
Crime hotspots around the Gravesend clock tower

According to the Police.UK website, in the same area this year, there were 67 incidents reported to police in May, 66 in April, and 54 in March.

Of those offences, most were related to anti-social behaviour, but most common after that were thefts, and sexual and violent crimes.

In 2013, before the order was put in place, there were 64 incidents in May, 48 in April and 56 in March.

When asked if the police would consider another order, Insp Chris Carter of the Gravesham community safety unit said this week: “Anti-social behaviour and associated crime typically increases in the summer months, particularly in town centre locations such as the area around the clock tower.

“Dispersal orders are one of a range of options available to officers and have been used to great success in recent years, but the rate of antisocial behaviour in that area is not currently high enough to support one being put in place.

“However, we will not be complacent and local officers and PCSOs regularly patrol the clock tower location. We also continue to review current reporting trends and have the option to implement dispersal orders in the future if deemed necessary.”

Front cover last week, with a court case where the clocktower was described as a magnet for crime.
Front cover last week, with a court case where the clocktower was described as a magnet for crime.

Anyone who experiences anti-social behaviour is urged to report it by calling the non-emergency number 101.

A council spokesman said: “Crime is a matter for the police. Anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and any other crime will not be tolerated in this or any other area of Gravesham and we are working closely with the police to put a stop to these issues.

“The clock tower is an iconic monument in the town centre and the renovation being done is both long overdue and necessary.

“The work that is being carried out is essential due to the deterioration of the structure and thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund it has allowed us to do more than just fix what’s necessary with the structure. A full programme of community engagement is planned around the refurbishment and things like lighting are also being added as part of the works.

“By getting local people involved in this project it will create a sense of ownership for the landmark and the surrounding area. We are engaging a variety of people with a view to raising the profile of our local heritage and its importance to people.

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