OUT OF PROPORTION: Councillor denies underpass is a drug den
A man has called for an underpass next to Trimdon Avenue in Acklam to be lit, Image: Terry Blackburn/Teesside Live
A councillor believes that reports comparing an underpass to a drug den have been blown out of proportion.
Cllr Ron Arundale, who represents Kader ward, has said that reports of needles littering the subway just off Trimdon Avenue are not true.
Adam, a local resident, has previously complained about needles and drug use in the underpass saying that he doesn’t feel safe when walking his dog through it.
Cllr Arundale said: “Every other day I go down the Beck Valley and I don’t tend to go through the tunnel but I’ve spoken to all of the dog walkers who go through there on a daily basis and the reports about needles are not true.
“There is occasionally, and I mean occasionally, some broken glass down there but I haven’t seen any of that for months.
“Yes we do get graffiti but actually people said the last lot of graffiti that was painted out a fortnight ago they were sorry to see it go because it was quite colourful and it wasn’t offensive, like the stuff that’s been put on now, it’s not offensive.”
He went on to add: “It’s something to me that has been blown completely out of proportion.
“If it was full of needles and things like that then I could understand the justification but it isn’t.”
“On a night you can’t see at all so you feel unsafe”
Adam, 62, has previously spoken out about how he feels while walking through the subway.
He said: “I feel unsafe. I walk my dog in the morning and at night. Even on a morning when it’s light I feel unsafe.
“I’ll be coming out and walking through and obviously it’s daylight outside but when you get in there you don’t know what you’re standing on and you can’t see.
“Obviously there are needles in there so you don’t know what you’re standing on, there’s broken glass all over.
“On a night you can’t see at all so you feel unsafe, you don’t know who is around, you don’t know what’s going on.”
The dog walker was frustrated when graffiti reappeared less than a fortnight after the council cleaned up the underpass in December.
Adam has recently launched a petition on the council’s website to get lighting installed in the subway, as he believes that it will stop anti-social behaviour.
He has previously said: “It [lighting] would stop the graffiti, there still might be a few one-offs but it would stop what’s happening at the moment. It’s more like a drug den and a fire den, they light fires in there.”
The petition reads: “We the undersigned petition the council to do the following: We the undersigned petition the council to replace the lighting within the underpass that runs along the footpath below Trimdon Avenue in Acklam.
“The underpass that is below Trimdon Avenue in Acklam is dangerous and in a very disgusting condition, it hasn’t had lighting for many years and it is covered in graffiti in a regular basis.
“Middlesbrough Council are not listening. We need this underpass lit and graffiti removed to make residents feel safer!”
Speaking about his decision to launch the petition, he said: “I think it’s 100% necessary so I launched the petition as they [Middlesbrough Council] are trying to push their luck on putting the lights in or not. I hope that the lights will actually happen.
“It was only yesterday that the small members grant schemes, all the successful wards, were announced. There are two in Trimdon but zero in Kader.
“I have put the petition in so it would pressure them even more because once it gets up to 500 signatures it goes to the next full council meeting so I’m hoping to get 500.”
The Elected Members Small Scheme is a way for members to apply for cash for a project in their area – it could be anything from CCTV installation, traffic calming measures or footpath improvements.
Cllr Arundale, who is a member of the Middlesbrough Independent Group, said that he didn’t think that the grant scheme would cover the underpass work and he also said that he hadn’t submitted a proposal this year as he didn’t like to apply for the sake of it when other areas of the town were more in need.
Speaking about the underpass’ lighting, he said: “Apparently it has never been connected so there’s never been any lighting down there and people can’t see the justification for the cost.
“It’s been quoted between £12,000 to £14,000 to connect that up. It’s not a route that people have to use to get anywhere.
“If you’re a dog walker from Malvern end of the beck there’s no reason why you can’t use other routes without having to go through the tunnel and likewise if you come from Mandale you don’t necessarily have to go through the tunnel.
“As far as we are concerned at this present time there is no justification for it.
“The other view is that if we put lights in there it will just become a gathering point for kids anyway.
“If there was a load of money or some spare money floating about and they felt they could put lights in there then that’s fair enough but it’s not an essential thing given other things that we need.”
“We condemn this dangerous and anti-social behaviour”
Adam has said that the council has reached out to him to say that it believes the lighting is desirable but not necessary at the moment.
Middlesbrough Council was approached for comment regarding the petition.
In December, a spokesperson for Middlesbrough Council said: “Council staff have visited the underpass in question this week to remove graffiti and area care workers attend regularly to remove rubbish, including needles – we condemn this dangerous and anti-social behaviour in the strongest possible terms.
“With regard to the lighting, it has never been connected to a power supply and will require investment to replace the lights and connect it to the nearest available supply.”
You can view the petition here: https://moderngov.middlesbrough.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=16
Words: Emily Craigie, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV