Gosport suburb sees 'huge change' away from anti-social behaviour
THIS time last year, a waterside suburb was awash with violence, underage drinking and public disorder.
Anti-social behaviour has been rife in Hardway, Gosport, for the past few years, antagonising residents and putting pressure on both the police and borough council.
Last year teenagers were filmed standing on a police car, and then a few weeks later captured on camera vandalising a D-Day memorial.
But today, the area is packed with families, and laughter fills the air.
This is because of a new community initiative from the Friends of Hardway group, with the help of Gosport councillors Diane Furlong and Jamie Hutchinson, which has arranged a series of summer activities for youngsters to take part in.
It has led to a night-and-day transformation of the atmosphere in the area, much to the delight of those who live there.
Chairman of Friends of Hardway, David Marshall, said: ‘We have seen a huge change down here in Hardway.
‘Everyone has been talking about how great things have been this summer, with so many families on the green or on the jetty.
‘It seems like those troublemakers may have moved on, or even been swept up in the excitement of this new scheme.’
Throughout the past few weeks, youngsters have been able to try their hand at kayaking, paddleboarding and crabbing, with the chance to go out fishing later in the year.
The scheme has been made possible through an £8,000 cash injection by Gosport Borough Council, as well as support from groups such as Oarsome Chance and Motiv8.
Mr Marshall, who has lived in Hardway since 2015, added: ‘It’s all looking really positive, all things considered.
‘We are hoping to make this a yearly thing because the feedback has been brilliant.
‘There are very few activities going on this summer, so there’s been a massive amount of interest.’
Cllr Jamie Hutchinson says the transformation in Hardway has been great for the community.
‘It’s giving youngsters the chance to do something different, and has changed our area for the better,’ he said.
‘Last week we had 200 children kayaking which is so much better than having people vandalising the green.’
Cllr Diane Furlong added: ‘Last week was brilliant. Lots of youngsters took part and made Hardway very vibrant.’