Summer Greens civic group seeks action on vagrancy

Ward councillor Anthony Benadie, third from left, with Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association executive committee members Shannon Lawrence, Roshaan Fisher, Bridgette Lloyd, Tracy Collinet, Keenan Sylvester, Annette Richards and Preston Ringquest.

Vagrancy in Summer Greens – including squatting on a footbridge – remains a source of much frustration in the community, says Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Bridgette Lloyd.

Speaking at the association’s annual general meeting, at the Summer Greens community hall, last Thursday, Ms Lloyd said residents had long complained about vagrants at The Hut shopping centre and those living in parks and along canals, but more recently, vagrants had occupied the footbridge over Bosmansdam Road that links Summer Greens to Montague Gardens.

“We still have this major issue regarding vagrants in general in our community and especially the bridge issue. I have spoken to one of the vagrants living there, and they have said they would be moving on from there. To me it is a huge step that they can admit and acknowledge the error of their ways. However, we will still be pushing ahead and trying to get them removed. It is an eyesore and residents complain constantly and are not happy. I have asked our councillor to apply for a court order because we need to get this issue under control,” she said.

Last month, an image was circulated on Summer Greens Facebook and WhatsApp groups showing what appeared to be father carrying his daughter as they manoeuvred through vagrants’ belongings and rubbish strewn on the footbridge. The picture drew angry responses from Summer Greens residents.

At the meeting, Craig Alexander, of the Summer Greens Neighbourhood Watch, said that of the 57 crimes residents reported to the watch from January to August this year, only eight had been reported to the police.

“We know there has been a spike in crime over the last few months, and we need people to be more vigilant. Recently, a response company took a drive from the entrance of Summer Greens and went through the streets. They reported that in an hour, they counted 257 people walking around with their cellphones in their hands in the streets not paying attention to possible criminals. Of those 57 crimes I mentioned, 19 have been street robberies, 18 are house burglaries and 14 property thefts. The other six are motor vehicle thefts and other crimes,” he said.

Mr Alexander urged residents to get involved in local associations and report crimes and not only complain about what the government was not doing.

Ms Lloyd retained her position as chairwoman while Tracy Collinet, who was previously the association’s secretary, was elected vice chairwoman. The new project manager for youth development is Shannon Lawrence and Keenan Sylvester will be in charge of marketing and public relations.

Ward councillor Anthony Benadie was at the meeting and praised both the association and the watch for their community work.

“It is a thankless job, and you have to deal with many issues. However, the people here are doing a very good job and are showing they are local leaders that do the work,” he said.

Last month, this image was circulated on Summer Greens Facebook and WhatsApp groups showing what appeared to be father carrying his daughter as they manoeuvred through vagrants’ belongings and rubbish strewn on the footbridge over Bosmansdam Road that links Summer Greens to Montague Gardens.