FEELING threatened and scared to get off the bus. That was the view of one resident describing what it is like to live in one of Newport’s most notorious areas.
We visited the shops along Cardiff Road on a Saturday lunchtime, where one resident said they agree this is the right way to go, describing drug-dealing taking place on the street and being unable to get away from the smell of weed.
Lesley, who manages the Spar on the street, told the Argus elderly residents will not come to the shops at certain times and she fears when there are kids on the street.
“It can be bad at 11pm,” she said. “Even though the boys know me and I know them I will not come down at certain times.
“There’s a lot of drug dealing. I see boys waiting on their bikes, cars drive up and they make their deals. You can feel threatened getting off the bus.”
The road, which contains a couple of chip shops, a bookies, a barbers and small convenience shops, could have a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) reinstated along it.
The order gives authorities powers to clamp down on anti-social behaviour in areas where they believe it is “persistent” or “unreasonable”.
Anyone who breaches the order can face fines of up to £1,000. Lesley believes it’s the right way to go.
“The PSPO is a good idea,” she added, “and they should have more police around here.
“We get no problems as such, it is just that they are hanging around.”
However the picture isn’t black and white.
While the Argus was down at the “problem spot” we spoke to shopkeepers and residents who described the area as a community, with everyone knowing each other and looking out for each other.
Rose Williams described the people who come to her fish bar as ‘good as gold’.
Maesglas Fish Bar has been on the street for 37 years and Ms Williams said she’d never seen any problems. Ms Williams said if she dropped a fiver on the floor outside, someone would tell her and pick it up for her.
It was a similar story from Lucy at AJs Convenience Store. Lucy said in 40 years the only incident AJ’s has had to deal with is someone stealing a pack of cigarettes. She made out that people who loiter on the street are polite, with a cheeky side to them.
“If I was to get off the bus with a load of bags they would help me,” said Lucy, smiling from under a black cap behind the counter at AJs.
“They might give you a bit of lip, but as soon as you put them in their place they are polite. If they are rude to anyone it’s because someone has been rude to them.”
Hurley, who had lived in the area for 11 years, said it’s better now than it once was, and described the street as no different to anywhere else in Britain. Another resident, who did not want to be named, said the street has been the way it is for years, and didn’t understand why they were trying to change it now.
Hurley’s view that the street was no different to anywhere else was a point shared by Natalie, of the popular Sheppards Fish Bar.
The chippy sits a little way up the hill from the shops on Cardiff Road and gets a good view of the street.
Natalie said she’d never had any trouble, but acknowledged there could be drug dealing taking place.
She emphasised the problem wasn’t anti-social behaviour, it was drugs and the order was being used so the police could pin something on the drug dealers.
“I think the PSPO is because they can’t catch them for the drug dealing,” said Natalie.
“It is not to do with anti-social behaviour, it’s that these kids do not get enough money in work. That is what it comes down to. They are getting more money by what they are doing now. They are going to work and earning not a quarter of what they are getting doing this and that is why they are doing it.”
The same area of Maesglas was covered by a similar restriction in 2018, but this expired in 2021, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The order could make it an offence if someone in the area refuses to stop drinking alcohol or to hand over containers of booze when ordered to do. It would also be an offence for people to behave in a manner that causes alarm or distress to a member of the public, and people could also be fined if they sell, use or possess intoxicating substances.
Documents show the council has already held an “informal consultation” with local councillors, the police and Newport City Homes, which “indicated that the previous (order) was successful and that a renewal of (the order) is necessary to prevent anti-social behaviour significantly impacting on the local community again”.
Natalie is not as convinced. After working through the lunch spike at Sheppards in what this journalist observed as record time, and finding a moment to stop and ponder, she gazed down onto the street she had looked at over the years just as the clouds broke and a slice of pink shone down from the setting sun.
“But it’s everywhere,” she said speaking about the issues. “It’s just the way of life now.”