Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

Castle and Redhill ward public meeting - 19th November, 2022

Sharon Hodgson MP holds public meeting in the Redhouse Community Association, Rutherglen Road, Sunderland.


Pictured here: Public meeting with Kim McGuinness, Redhill ward Sunderland.

"It was great to hold a public meeting for Redhill and Castle residents alongside Kim McGuinness, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Inspector Steve Prested, and our six Labour Councillors for these wards. Residents raised their concerns about speeding and antisocial behaviour in the area, with the police and Councillors agreeing to work on this together.  With the cost of living crisis and a widespread mental health crisis across the country, Northumbria Police have never been busier and it is so important that residents are able to talk to them about their concerns."  Sharon Hodgson MP

Facebook page for this event >

Following the meeting, Sharon wrote to everyone who had attended the meeting with an update.  The text of the letter is below.

If you attended the meeting and feel that your issue was not addressed, please do email Sharon's office using the contact details below.

Dear Resident,

I am writing to you regarding the recent public meeting in Redhill Ward, held at the Redhouse Community Centre on November 19th 2022.  I would like to thank you for attending the meeting to raise the concerns you have over speeding and anti-social behaviour in Redhill & Castle wards.

From the Police, we had in attendance Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness & Local Inspector Stephen Prested.  We also had every councillor from the invited wards from Redhill and Castle. Cllr Paul Stewart, Allison Smith and John Usher (Redhill). Cllr Denny Wilson, Cllr Allison Chisnall and Cllr Stephen Foster (Castle).

After the introductions, I opened the floor to questions from residents, we saw a recurring theme surrounding illegal bikes speeding in the area.  Residents mentioned seeing 3 people on a single motorbike, overtaking vehicles, and are worried somebody may be seriously injured or killed.  Another resident mentioned that at night they are sometimes woken up by speeding motorbikes. One resident even had a family member's fence severely damaged by an illegal motorbike.

In response Stephen echoed the concerns from residents and what the Police were doing.  He informed residents that there are plans to open a legal area for individuals to use their bikes.  In Scotland, they have seen a 40% reduction in anti-social/illegal bike use following the opening of legal bike use areas.  This is a joint effort by Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead Councils.  It was also mentioned drones are being trialled in the area and the possibility of them being used for tackling illegal bike use.

The police work with Local Authorities and Gentoo, if professionals see any illegal bikes in or outside properties, the police can use Section 59 powers which gives them the authority to go into garages or outhouses, but this does not permit them to go into a home.  Stephen finished by stating the demand and risk team who work day and late shifts in locations that are identified as problem areas.  In this area, it is Bunnyhill (Redhill).  They are looking to install boulders to stop anti-social riding, which in turn will allow them to focus on other areas of concern.

Kim advised since 2010 due to austerity, we have lost more than 1100 officers in Northumbria.  With fewer police officers, this means the service is stretched.  In light of the government’s recruitment drive, there are just under 500 officers less than in 2010 and Kim reiterated she will continue to push the Home Office for this crucial funding.  Kim reassured the residents that there is no waste of money in the Northumbria Police force and that they are doing the best that they can with what they have.  Kim also confirmed it takes 3 years to train a police officer, this scheme started in 2019, so we are starting to see the newly trained police officers gradually come into the force.

Many residents in attendance raised concerns over reporting crime and the waiting times for 101.  Kim McGuiness responded and explained in depth about the procedure for reporting crime.  Whilst admitting that there have been wait times for 999 and 101 calls, Kim encouraged residents to report non-emergency matters online.  Northumbria Police has enrolled 60 new call handlers to reduce waiting times and improvements are being made.  Stephen resonated Kim’s words, advising that Northumbria Police receives around 2000 calls daily, with about 600 – 700 coming from the local area. They are triaged depending on the risk and threat posed.

Stephen also advised in South Tyneside 3000 leaflets were handed out to encourage residents to report anti-social riding, but there were 0 reports made in response to the leaflet campaign.  I asked Steve if this was because residents were scared to make reports.  The consensus in the hall was that this was the case.

Kim stated that she does not want residents to be discouraged from calling the police and confirmed that the average answer time for 101 calls in October 2022 was 4 minutes.  They have also introduced a 101-call-back system, which on average takes 14 minutes for a resident to receive a call-back.  Kim confirmed that this is a huge improvement and appreciates that residents have different experiences, but the stated figures are proven and published.

Councillor Paul Stewart discussed speeding in the area and what work the Redhill councillors were doing.  During his ward walkabouts and canvassing, Paul mentioned speeding is a constant theme on the doorstep.  Sunderland Council introduced traffic calming methods on Castle Road and Rhodesia Road and are looking to introduce calming methods in other areas locally but will consult with residents first.

Paul then mentioned residents did not want measures outside of their homes and referred to previous measures on Rhodesia Road which had drawn complaints following the introduction of traffic calming measures.  Paul closed by advising the smiley face speedometers to record the number of cars passing by and their average speed and encouraged residents who are experiencing speeding issues to contact his councillors, as well as the information, is useful when they do consultations over traffic calming measures.

Thank you again for attending on November 19th.  If you have any further queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office by email on: [email protected]

Yours sincerely,

Sharon Hodgson MP

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