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How can we clean up Swansea's Wind Street?

By This is SouthWales  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

By Emma McFarnon

  • Restaurants often find takeaway wrappers and rubbish left outside their establishments from the night previous

  • Superintendent Phil Davies said some of the drinks offers in Wind Street were "ridiculous"

  • The council will soon put out to consultation a policy which could in the future restrict the granting of more licensed premises in areas such as Wind Street

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It’s a hub of activity almost seven days a week and attracts revellers from Wales and beyond, but Swansea’s Wind Street has long been in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Slammed as a “catalyst for violence” by a local Judge and the scene of alcohol-fuelled chaos photographed by national news organisations, Wind Street has become known for its vibrant nightlife.

In February 2011 figures revealed Wind Street to be the second-worst in the UK for all crime, and Superintendent Phil Davies of South Wales Police told This is South Wales anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the area has increased over the past 15 years.

With 873 incidents including theft, ASB and violent crime reported to police in 2011/12, and after yet another damning newspaper headline, is it time to clean up Wind Street?

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Superintendent Phil Davies says the ambition is there: “I think there’s definitely the desire for it to become a more attractive night-time economy,” he said.

Supt Davies explained a number of measures are being introduced to tackle crime and ASB in Wind Street. Over the festive period urinals and bottle banks were for the first time installed at dropping off points where people coming from outside Swansea in buses and minibuses were taken.

This, Supt Davies explained, encouraged people to go to the toilet and dispose of bottles, while the drop off points gave police more control over the 100-plus coaches and minibuses coming into Swansea on busy nights.

“This is the first year we did that and it was very effective”, he said.

“It’s about how we police. It’s how officers engage with people. We are not saying ‘don’t come into Swansea’ but ‘have a safe night out’.

“Officers are briefed to chat to people – they are there to educate but also to enforce the law where necessary.”

In addition to the CCTV and triage centres already in place on busy nights of the week, such as Wednesdays and Saturdays, Supt Davies said a closer inspection of licensing applications and a crack-down on drinks promotions could be on the horizon.

“Moving ahead there are things like a potential saturation policy where new applications are looked at, and anyone who does not conform to regulations is stopped from operating,” he said.

“We are also trying to prevent what I would call ridiculous drink promotions where drinks are almost being given away and promoting an anti-social drinking habit.

“They are not profit-making for premises, it’s just about getting people in. I think it’s unfortunate that some licensed premises feel they have to go down that route. Responsible premises don’t need to do that.”

Supt Davies added: “The majority are managed responsibly but if they are not we will look to revoke licences.”

The Superintendent heaped praise on the council. “The council has been very supportive of the police,” he said. “We want to promote Wind Street in a positive way.”

Swansea Council will soon be putting out to consultation a policy which could in the future restrict the granting of more licensed premises in some city centre areas, including Wind Street and The Kingsway.

The consultation, approved in November 2012, will see the council consider evidence provided by South Wales Police and the Environment Department, and determine whether it is appropriate to consider the adoption of such a policy.

Chris Lloyd, assistant manager at Ask Italian in Wind Street, said he would welcome the move. “It would stop all this drinking,” he said. “But you’re never going to stop it all because they have got commercial interests. The bigger the brand the bigger the fight will be to keep it.

“But 10 years ago there wasn’t even a place to go to drink on Wind Street. Who’s to say in another five years it can’t go away?”

Mr Lloyd said he would also like to see different types of businesses invest in Wind Street: “It could break it down,” he said.

“It’s pretty much getting like when you go to Ibiza and you have the one strip of bars. A few years ago everyone use to go to a few bars here and then go elsewhere.”

Mr Lloyd said heavy drinking in Wind Street is a source of frustration for the restaurant. “On one Friday or Saturday night in December we couldn’t use the front door because people were being sick outside and fighting,” he said.

“Every other Friday or Saturday you get someone coming in here drunk trying to use the toilet and the bouncers from the bars have to come in and sort it.

“People won’t come in at night or with kids because we’re right in the middle of Wind Street. We often come in in the mornings to find kebabs and chips stuck to the window, and sick outside.”

Supt Davies said: “Wind Street is one of the most concentrated licensed premises area in the country. That’s one of the issues being looking at, and what other businesses are there outside from licensed premises.

“The licensing capacity within that relatively small area is 20,000. You regularly get up to 15,000 people in a small area. Because of that you get anti-social behaviour.

“The number of licensed premises in Wind Street looking back 15 years ago, there were only a few there, and now there are more. That has resulted in it becoming much busier for crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Supt Davies added: “We are keen to encourage investment in the area but the right kind of investment. You want businesses that will add to the area.

“I hope the businesses that have come more recently will be successful and have had a successful Christmas.”

A spokesperson for the Safer Swansea Partnership – made up of bodies including Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, City and County of Swansea and South Wales Police – said: “The responsibility for safe and sensible drinking lies with both people themselves and licensees, but we do a lot of work to help make the city centre night-time experience as safe as possible.

“Swansea, like all city centres across the UK, was very busy over the Christmas holidays. This is why we took a range of extra measures, including enhanced CCTV coverage, a dedicated triage centre, a controlled drop-off point for visitors and a scheme to ban trouble-makers from all the city centre’s licensed premises.

“We’ll continue to work with our partners to provide a safe environment all-year-round for visitors to Swansea city centre at night.”

How best can Wind Street be cleaned up? Tell us what you think by taking part in our poll at the top right-hand-side of the page.

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

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  • Dr_Conker  |  March 01 2013, 5:34PM

    and the point of this poll is....?

    Rate   1
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  • shirley79  |  February 13 2013, 1:56PM

    The problem doesn't sit with the perceived 'irresponsible' pricing of alcohol or with offers used in many establishments. Its people attitudes towards alcohol. In reality, people will drink too much if it costs £1.00 a drink of £5.00 a drink. Its in our nature as a nation and is a social characteristic of the British. The real problems started when the laws that govern the sale of alcohol were amended. There was once an aspect of licencing law called 'need'. This meant that areas, such as Wind St, could not have existed, as it would have been deemed that there was no need for there to be any more licensed premises there. The government removed this aspect of the law leaving the flood gates open to newly emerging Pub-Co's to exploit the laws. As well as making somewhat of a rod for their own back, the government, of course, will have made a nice little pile of cash in the taxes involved. So, it isn't really something that can be changed on a localised scale, its years of social attitudes towards alcohol which will take decades to alter which need to change.

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  • Dr_Conker  |  January 24 2013, 8:51PM

    Bring back the mumbles mile... Stop with the prohibition BS SWEP!

    Rate   2
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  • Hedoken97842  |  January 11 2013, 2:33PM

    I once saw a "woman" squat down and poop in a doorway in that street. Never been back since. Problem with swansea is, cos its so small, any issue is magnified. but filling the town full of betting shops, pawn shops, gambling shops, then filling the immediate area with druggies, drunks, and the disabled thanks to coastal housing is not really a recipe for success is it?

    Rate   -3
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  • CitizenSpike  |  January 10 2013, 11:04PM

    I'm getting a bit fed up with all the zero-tolerance BS. Yes, binge-drinking is an issue that impacts on health and there is probably an argument for statutory pricing. But big drinking nights are not exactly something new in Swansea. I have to say that I feel a lot safer in Wind Street around 1pm than I do in some other city streets.

    Rate   6
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  • lancelot69  |  January 10 2013, 11:04PM

    All 3 comments have knocked the nail on the head there. The media blowing simple incidents way out of proportion. As for rubbish, the food places open at late hours should be responsible for cleaning up. After escape in the park organizers paid £10 per full bin bag to anyone who'd pick it up -just a thought

    Rate   4
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  • richie2803  |  January 10 2013, 7:34PM

    It's not so much the pubs or clubs, it's people who can't behave themselves.

    Rate   2
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  • Jiffy  |  January 10 2013, 1:43PM

    This is a non-problem being made an issue by the puritan section of Swansea society and the media. The manager of Ask Italian complains about drunks, little thinking that the majority of his customers leave his restaurant to visit the bars he's upset about. He should realise that without the bars, his business would suffer. If he's so worried, let him move away from the area. Whoever said this "...They are not profit-making for premises, it's just about getting people in..." - is an idiot. At the moment, the drinkers are all in one place. Closing, moving, restricting access to Wind Street would only force the drinkers elsewhere. Probably to places that don't want them. Only a few months ago, Pontardawe was in the news because 500 people turned to an event that couldn't hold them. The same thing could happen every weekend to small towns and villages throughout this area. As for police thinking - isn't that an oxymoron ?

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  • Neathboy234  |  January 10 2013, 11:50AM

    There is nothing wrong with wind street, given the number of drinkers it's no different to anywhere else. I'm sure all those people who demonize the place would see it differently if they actually went there for a night out rather than reading about it in the daily mail!

    Rate   5
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      Poll

      How best could Swansea's Wind Street be cleaned up?

      More shops, cafés etc in the area: 73%

      73% of the vote

      Tougher licensing: 12%

      12% of the vote

      Cracking down on drinks promotions: 7%

      7% of the vote

      Other: 5%

      5% of the vote

      Minimum alcohol pricing: 2%

      2% of the vote

      Poll is closed

      2211 people have voted.