A group dedicated to improving Northampton town centre says there needs to be a bigger police presence to combat ‘growing concerns’ about a drug culture at university accommodation.
Members of Northampton Borough Council will be sitting down next Thursday in the latest discussion looking at the impact of the University of Northampton’s (UoN) move to its town centre Waterside Campus.
The latest of a series of scrutiny meeting will examine written evidence from Rob Purdie, the executive director of the Town Centre BID group. And it raises some of the challenges that have resulted from the move.
The statement from Mr Purdie reads: “The area around St John’s Halls of residence does give rise to some concern as there have been a number of “incidents” and there are growing concerns of a drug culture gaining a foothold.
“To nip this in the bud there needs to be a more visible police presence to support the UoN policing group and the community safety team.”
Other challenges mentioned by the BID include overcoming a perception that the offer in town ‘isn’t strong enough to attract spend’, particularly from UoN staff.
It adds: “Getting traders to understand that students do have significant spending power and are an attractive alternative at a time when consumer purchase behaviour is changing and impacting bricks and mortar traders.”
The statement also lists a host of positives that the new university is bringing to the town centre.
Mr Purdie continues: “From a social and cultural perspective having a younger and diverse cohort of this size in the town can add to the vibrancy of the area.
“A major initiative should be to get as many students as possible to connect into local community and cultural events. The campus as a physical entity is impressive and gives a nice balance of contemporary and modern architecture set against the history and heritage of a market town.
“It is important that there is a metaphorical ‘bridge’ between the campus and town so that both can feed from one another. Better signposting and access between the two area’s would help enormously.
“Economically footfall seems to have strengthened from the south entrance to the town but needs to be better monitored.”
The scrutiny meeting, which is open to members of the public, takes place at The Guildhall at 6.00pm on Thursday January 31.