Posts Tagged ‘Coexist’

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Stokes Croft street drinking needs “radical solution”

May 13, 2009

A community activist from Stokes Croft has attacked current police and council policy on street drinking as a “merry go round”.

Jamie Pike manages Hamilton House, one of the main buildings on Stokes Croft and the former Lloyds-Bowmaker building. He has called for an end to the current policy of moving alcoholics on, calling for a wider-reaching solution.

Avon and Somerset Police last week complained they were unable to move street drinkers on from the steps of Hamilton House because they were there with permission.

They said in a statement: “Concern has been expressed by people who live, work and commute through Stokes Croft regarding the street drinkers congregating on the steps of Hamilton House which is in a non drinking zone.

“Unfortunately the police have not been able to enforce the zone as this area is private land and they were there with permission.”

However, Jamie Pike has defended his policy, saying: “[The police] usually confiscate their alcohol and ask them to move. They tend to just wander up the street and sit down somewhere else and carry on drinking. It just moves the problem somewhere else.

“That was one of the reasons we said unless you are going to give them a better solution or find a real way to tackle this problem, just leave them there.”

He wants to see a ‘wet house’ in the area, where drinkers are allowed to drink but also have access to health and detoxification services if they want them. Most hostels do not allow alcoholics to drink, forcing them out on to the streets.

He said: “There are ideas in the pipeline but it’s a very slow-moving and ineffective beast, Bristol City Council. I don’t hold outmuch hope. The merry-go-round will continue in Stokes Croft.”

Original contacted Safer Bristol Partnership, the umbrella organisation for the police and council, but they declined to comment.

Coexist is holding a meeting with Safer Bristol Partnership next week to discuss solutions.

The front of Hamilton House will be boarded up next week while renovation work on the building takes place.

Audio: Martin Jones talks to Jamie Pike from Coexist


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Community groups change face of Stokes Croft

April 21, 2009

Community groups in Stokes Croft claim the area is set for massive improvement in 2009.

Stokes Croft for many years had a bad reputation among Bristolians, but two organisations – the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft and Coexist – both have major regeneration plans set to happen later this year.

One of them is the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. Its chairman, Chris Chalkley, has long championed the area and has been responsible for encouraging some of the cutting-edge street art now seen on the area’s shopfronts and street furniture.

He said: “Stokes Croft ahs always been an area full of artistic creativity and has always had an artistic culture going back into the mists of time. The effect of the street art is to demonstrate the strengths of the area.

“It’s a cultural quarter. It’s also a conservation area. It doesn’t have any multinational companies here at all and that gives it the feel of a village in the centre of a large city and that is extremely rare.”

He has already introduced a number of projects to improve the area. They include ‘The Toff’, a tongue-in-cheek newspaper for the area and the ‘Planning Watch’ group which monitors development proposals. This is important for Chris, who says, “For local people to have a direct input into what their area becomnes and how it looks pushes forward the notion of self-determination.”

On Monday, PRSC will hold an exhibition by UWE urban design students showing ideas for regenerating the area. Later this year, it plans to put street chess sets on ‘Turbo Island’ (the knoll at the end of Jamaica St), launch a range of Stokes Croft china and sell it on its own auction website dubbed ‘PRSC-bay’.

Another major project set to boost the area is the redevelopment of Hamilton House. The former Lloyds-Bowmaker building, on the junction of Stokes Croft and Jamaica St, is being turned into workspaces and studios for creative companies, musicians and artists.

Its most striking feature will be a 3,000 sq ft ground floor bar designed in conjunction with Tobacco Factory architect George Ferguson. ‘Canteen’ is due to open by this June.

Jamie Pike from Coexist – the company managing Hamilton House – said: “We have about 40 different tenants: artists, musicians and social enterprises working away. Our philosophy is that we wanted to develop sustainable urban communities in Bristol. We wanted to create something where like-minded people could work alongside each other and benefit from being in the same space.”

Despite the regeneration, anyone walking down Stokes Croft can still see street drinking, beggars, drug addicts, delapidated buildings and brothels. But Jamie believes the grass-roots style of regeneration will help.

He said: “There’s got to be a change of attitude. There’s a shying away from the gritty reality of people in lifelong addiction. You walk down the street and you’d rather avert your eyes than treat them as a human being.

“We’re trying to promote a culture of inclusion so even though they might not be able to overcome their drug or alcohol problems, they can feel part of the community. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the desire to change things might have an effect.”

But with new street art appearing every day, some by renowned international artists, Stokes Croft already feels brighter and safer. The new projects launching this year could make 2009 the year inner-city Bristol really changes.

You can email coexist here and visit the PRSC website.

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