Newport City Centre: statement from One Newport
Posted June 2019
One Newport, the public services board, recognises the importance of a safe and welcoming environment in the city centre for residents, workers and visitors.
Board members have done a considerable amount of work to encourage investment in the city centre while also tackling some of the problems it faces.
The economic downturn, coupled with the growth of on-line shopping has had a significant impact on high streets everywhere.
There are a number of developments already completed or under way in the city centre that will create a more sustainable, diverse and vibrant city centre
For instance, more people will be living in the centre in the future in new flats created by both housing associations, such as Newport City Homes and Pobl, and the private sector.
A new hotel and offices are taking shape in the city’s tallest building, Chartist Tower, by one of the many businesses showing confidence in Newport.
Exciting plans are in the pipeline to redevelop Newport Market and there is a thriving digital sector with the University of South Wales’ Cyber Academy, Cardiff University’s National Software Academy and the Alacrity Foundation all based in the city centre. The city also hosts a variety of events attracting thousands of visitors including the marathon, the popular Big Splash weekend, music festivals and the annual Newport Food Festival.
Agencies such as Natural Resources Wales are working on projects to improve the appearance of the city centre environment, creating new green spaces for people to enjoy.
At the same time, partners are also addressing issues in the city centre such as rough sleeping, begging and antisocial behaviour.
These problems are not unique to Newport but affect most town and city centres across the UK and there are no easy solutions. It is a fact that Newport experiences relatively low levels of serious crime when compared to other similar areas. Our city centre is not what we want it to be but it is not as bleak as some might suggest.
It should be understood that many rough sleepers find themselves living on the streets, having suffered severe trauma in their lives such as bereavement, family breakdown, abuse, job loss or criminal exploitation.
This often leads to poor mental and physical health, and a downward spiral of addiction. Nobody would choose to live this way but for some people this is where they find themselves. There are a range of organisations working together to engage with and help these people, but this is not straightforward.
At the same time we recognise that some people begging in the city centre are not homeless. Agencies are identifying and dealing these individuals through enforcement.
We would ask members of the public not to encourage begging by giving money directly to beggars. Instead, we would encourage people to contribute to one of the excellent homeless charities working in the city, such as the Wallich or Eden Gate. There is a diverted giving scheme in the city centre, operated by Newport Now, the Business Improvement District organisation, with donations going to the Wallich.
Police officers, community support officers and wardens also patrol the area on foot and deal with the anti-social behaviour of a minority of people, generally during the afternoon and evening period.
We rely on the support of the public to report incidents to the police as they happen and to support any subsequent investigation. This can be done using 999 in an emergency, or 101 in a non-emergency situation. The police can also take reports for non-emergency incidents via social media.
One Newport acknowledges the concerns of the public as highlighted by the recent petition calling for a public meeting, however does not understand how such a meeting would address the issues.
The partnership is committed to ensuring that the adverse behaviour of a minority does not affect the lives of the many people who live and work in Newport.
We are not disconnected from the city centre – we, and our staff, work, live and visit the city centre so we are well aware of the true picture, which is not perfect but is also not as bleak as some people believe.