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Social disruption on York Hill

by admin on September 8th, 2020

As crime figures for July 2020 make all too clear (see chart and link to police figures) the top of York Hill has been a crime hotspot in the Hills this summer, peaking in July with, at this date, figures for August still awaited. In this post are also a letter to Hills Chairman Toby Scrutton from the EFDC Licensing Compliance Officer and comments to HillsWatch from a resident about the problems being encountered during the warm evenings.

Crime figures for Baldwins Hill (2) and York Hill (15) contributed the bulk of the 24 offences for the three Conservation Areas in July 2020. In more detail there were 15 offences at the top of York Hill, 13 of which were anti-social behaviour, one public order and one violent or sexual. Four at the bottom of York Hill included two vehicle crimes, one anti-social and one criminal damage/arson. The three in Queens Road were all anti-social behaviour while just two offences were recorded on Baldwins Hill. View Police statistics here.

Following a meeting of the Hills Amenity Society in July, at which a delegation of residents from around the top of York Hill were invited to put their case, a complaint was lodged by the HAS Committee in the name of chairman Toby Scrutton with EFDC licensing team. Mrs Handan Ibrahim responded.

From: Handan Ibrahim 
Sent: 28 July 2020 10:02
To: Toby Scrutton, Chairman Hills Amenity Society

Dear Mr Scrutton, 

Thank you for submitting your online complaint which was raised by members of Hills Amenity Society,  regarding antisocial behaviour, drug dealing and underage drinking, and social gatherings during COVID 19 at The Gardeners Arms York hill Loughton. Following on from our telephone conversation yesterday, as agreed I am sending you this email to summarise the points we discussed.

I spoke to the licensee of The Gardeners Arms,  Mrs Tracy Roberts regarding the above issues, Mrs Roberts proposed to promote challenge 25  with staff checking IDS at entry to the pub. This is in order to discourage younger clientele entering the pub, I need to stress however that this is not a condition of The Gardeners Arms Licence this is purely a proposal made by the licensee to show compliance and eagerness to resolve the issues raised by residents.

With regards to social gatherings Mrs Roberts advised that she is promoting the following:  only two people to stand at the bar to make orders at any one time, no persons to sit at the bar. People are asked to stay in their bubble. The Licensee is considering increasing outside seating in order to comply with social distancing, which is encouraged by the government. I will ask our Environmental Health Team to engage again with the Mrs Roberts to ensure she understands her responsibilities under the current Covid Regulations.

With regards to groups gathering outside and on the green Mrs Roberts has advised that many of these groups are young people that are not being served at the pub, they are gathering on the green and bringing their own drinks. Mrs Roberts says that after the pub closes her staff check the green area and clean up any bottles or rubbish that is left, even though this is predominately rubbish left by people not being served by the pub.

Finally as you are aware Essex Police were called to Gardeners Arms, Loughton several times Friday and Saturday evening. All the calls were from residents, and the complaints included drug dealing, fighting, anti-social behaviour, and underage drinking . We have been advised by the police that there was little (if nothing) from a licensing perspective as none of the reports could be substantiated.  However, it was clear that the premises was busy with groups inside and outside, and no obvious signs of social distancing. This has been raised with the Licensee (please see above) and as stated I will ask our environmental health team to contact Mrs Roberts to go over social distancing during Covid 19.

To summarise I am aware that residents are deeply concerned about the current antisocial behaviour and mass social gatherings that have been reported to us. However after speaking with the licensee and the licensee agreeing to adhere to the above to minimise and try to stop any future disturbances to residence no further action will be taken at present. However I will continue to monitor the situation going forward. I also advise that residents continue to monitor and either gather evidence themselves or contact our out of hours noise team or the police who will record all  complaints which can be later used if needed for a review of Gardeners Arms Licence.

I have also attached for your information guidance and a review application form if you wish to pursue this matter further going forward.

As a final point I would also like to point out a possible mediation between the residents committee and the licensee of the gardeners arms, I will be happy to initiate this if it’s something the residents would consider doing to help the flow of communication and raising concerns direct with the licensee of The Gardeners Arms.

I trust the above is satisfactory, please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further assistance.

Mrs Handan Ibrahim

Licensing Compliance Officer, Licensing Team, Regulatory Service, Commercial and Regulatory Service Directorate 

The following two contributions to HillsWatch from a local resident describes their experiences at the end of July/beginning of August

“Residents at the top of York Hill, Pump Hill, Wallers Hoppet and Woodbury Hill are very much affected. The loud shouting, screaming and swearing could be a casting meeting for “Eastenders”. One of the good folk living opposite the Green told me they dread forecasts of good weather !
“I …have used an online form on the EFDC website for reporting noise nuisance; if any HAS members or neighbours wish to do the same, it’s quite easy to find and use, and it’s confidential!
And again:
“Since my email to you there have been developements. On Friday 31 July at around 8 pm a lady from EFDC knocked on my door to ask if it was OK to park outside my house (it was) and told me she was going to the Gardeners Arms to investigate complaints. When she returned, she said that in her opinion the noise level was unacceptably high (I told her she should come back at 10 pm) and that there was no enforcement of “social distancing” rules. Shortly after, four Police cars arrived.” 

This resident and several others have commented with regret on the departure of long-term Gardeners’ evening manager Geoff, admired for his efforts to maintain order and especially his famous”swear box”.

One of the actions taken by Gardeners Arms responding to complaints has been to erect a fence along the forecourt boundary

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