CLAIMS as to who initiated campaigns to ease public safety concerns around a Wigan park have led to a political dog-fight.
A plan to install CCTV in Jubilee Park in Ashton was announced earlier this month, years after the area had been identified as an anti-social behaviour hotspot.
And with the plans unveiled months before a General Election, concerns have been raised that the issue has been turned into a political football.
Ashton Residents’ Association chair Michael Moulding, who has stood in recent council elections, had praised the authorities for installing for cameras.
But also said over the last two years residents “were forced to live in fear and in silence as the authorities (GMP, Wigan Council, WLCT, councillors and MPs) did nothing to help them.”
These claims were refuted by Labour councillors who said a campaign for CCTV had been going on behind the scenes, aided by MP Yvonne Fovargue.
A spokesman said: “A multi-agency meeting attended by Coun Nigel Ash, Yvonne Fovargue MP, Wigan Council, WLCT, Supt Donnellan was held in November 2013 (a previous meeting had also been held earlier that month) at Wigan Town Hall in order to deliver immediate action to support GMP at Jubilee Park.
“This followed representation to local councillors and the MP from residents living in the area adjacent to Jubilee Park following episodes of ASB in the park area.
“A public meeting was also held attended by local councillors.”
And Ashton representative, Coun Ash told the Evening Post: “Following concerted action to crack down on anti-social behaviour which was impacting on residents’ amenity, the number of serious incidents has declined dramatically over the past year.
“I would like to thank our partners who have delivered a safer park environment for all. CCTV is the ‘icing on the cake’ for which the local Ashton Labour Team have worked hard to secure funding in this year’s budget.”
Jubilee Park had been the scene of outbreaks of violent behaviour, especially during the winter months, with incidents including residents, fire and police officers targeted by youth gangs.
Michael Moulding said: “The problems at Jubilee Park have existed for many years well beyond two years ago.
“I have personally met families who contacted GMP, councillors and MPs because of their suffering and nothing was done to help them. One family was put under immense distress by the lack of help they were given to combat these problems.
“I met these families and their suffering was such that I was not going let them suffer without a fight.
“We exposed the issues and the serious incidents I am in no doubt our efforts have resulted in the outcome that has been achieved.
“The authorities have gone from ignoring the problems to acknowledging their seriousness and taking the appropriate action.”