A PARTNERSHIP approach is being taken to tackling longstanding problems of anti-social behaviour in the Old Town Cemetery in Bideford. Torridge District Council is working in partnership with the police, cemetery owners Bideford Bridge Trust and the local

A PARTNERSHIP approach is being taken to tackling longstanding problems of anti-social behaviour in the Old Town Cemetery in Bideford.

Torridge District Council is working in partnership with the police, cemetery owners Bideford Bridge Trust and the local community, through Neighbourhood Watch, to tackle the situation.

The overgrown cemetery has been used as a hideaway for drinking and drug taking and general anti-social behaviour and littering, causing concern to local residents and passers-by.

In a joint clean-up operation, the council has removed fly-tipped bulky waste and many bags of empty bottles and other hazardous waste. A team of landscapers has also been sent in to prune back overgrown bushes.

Visibility in the cemetery has also been improved by the completion of work to lower its outer wall and replace with see-through railings. A new Neighbourhood Watch sign has been erected. Further work is planned throughout the year to improve the environment.

Police are in regular contact with the local Neighbourhood Watch team and are also making regular, targeted patrols in and around the Old Town area.

Old Town Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator is Wendy Armstrong-Marriott, whose grand-daughter Astrid Manuel-Farmer was, as a 16-year-old, instrumental in setting up the scheme.

She said: "Everyone has a right to live in a peaceful neighbourhood. We now have 17 members in the Old Town Watch and it is so much quieter at night now. We all feel a lot safer. I'd recommend anyone to start up their own Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Working so closely with the police has been really good."

PC Derek Broadribb, Neigbourhood Beat Manager, said, "The crime rate has definitely gone down, but our aim is to continue to patrol and monitor this and other nearby areas to ensure that crime and anti-social behaviour in the community is nipped in the bud. Communication with Mrs Armstrong-Marriott and the Old Town Watch is a two-way information sharing street and is working very well."

District councillor and Bridge Trust trustee Peter Christie added: "The Old Town Cemetery is an important part of the town's history. The Bridge Trust is delighted with the clean-up and building work done so far. The new lowered wall, new coving and railings look great and inside the tidy-up is well under way. Torridge District Council has certainly breathed new life into the cemetery!