Action promised as conditions at Barnsley housing complex deteriorate

It is feared a troubled housing complex in Barnsley will degenerate into a “sink estate” unless work is done to tackle declining standards and provide improved conditions for residents.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 10:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 10:57 am
Neglect: Coun Jo Newing and Phillip Lofts believe better maintenance is needed at the Honeywell Centre

Councillors who represent the Honeywell complex, a combination of homes linked by walkways with communal car parks rather than a conventional street layout, are calling on more focused work from Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes, which manages the properties.

The estate has also been declared a priority at a Police and Communities Together meeting and residents have reported increased patrols since Coun Phillip Lofts wrote to South Yorkshire Police to request more action above the PACT declaration.

Now he and Old Town ward colleagues Coun Jo Newing and Clive Pickering want Barnsley Council, which is responsible for maintaining public areas to step up their work, alongside better controls on residents who are blamed for fly-tipping, drug abuse and dealing as well as intimidation which leaves some residents fearful of leaving their homes at night.

All bodies with a responsibility for living conditions in the area have now pledged to work in partnership on the issues raised.

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Coun Lofts said he had written directly to the chief executives of Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes, a measure of the seriousness of the problems faced by residents.

“We get constant requests from people who have lived here for quite a long time to go somewhere else. People are refusing to come here and that tells me it is becoming a sink estate. We don’t want that to happen,” he said.

“People are afraid to come out after dark so the next issue is isolation. People do not come out of their homes, they are prisoners,” he said.

Residents complain of drug dealing on the paths around the estate, which provide multiple escape routes as well as the dark corners favoured by those involved in drug abuse.

The area also has many overgrown shrubs, diminishing sightlines around the walkways and leading to increased nervousness among residents in addition to creating an unkempt appearance, with the bushes themselves used as an alternative to waste bins for cans and bottles.

“There are decent people here, leading decent lives and they are up against people who make a mess of it and intimidate people to the extent they don’t want to come out of their house.

“Fly tipping is part of that regime,” said Coun Lofts.

Phil Hollingsworth, Service Director, Safer, Stronger, Healthier Communities at Barnsley Council, said: “We have committed in partnership to respond to concerns being raised, and our Safer Neighbourhoods Service has worked closely with Berneslai Homes, Neighbourhood Services and local residents to verify the concerns being raised and act where appropriate.

“Following representations from residents earlier in the summer at a Partners and Communities Together (PACT) meeting, the area was adopted as a PACT priority, meaning that any reported incidents would receive priority and that Berneslai Homes, the police, and Barnsley Council would work together to try and address issues of concern.”

A multiagency inspection is now taking place “ to assess improvements made and identify any that are still to be carried out.

“Reported incidents to both the police, Berneslai Homes and Barnsley Council have been low, but we encourage anybody with any concerns or issues in this area to report them so that we have an official record of incidents,” he said.