VIDEO: Police Commissioner Matthew Ellis hears concerns about Hanley safety
POLICE and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis has pledged to help make the city centre safer after pensioners complained they were afraid to go there at night.
Members of the North Staffordshire Pensioners' Convention said they could not wait to leave Hanley after a trip to the theatre because of the behaviour of drunken and violent revellers.
Mr Ellis, who fielded questions at yesterday's Grey Power public meeting, said he was keen to work with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to tackle the issue.
Retired police officer Maurice Woolliscroft told Mr Ellis the city centre became 'a zoo' after dark.
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The 76-year-old, from the Staffordshire Moorlands, said: "Calling it the Cultural Quarter is clearly a misnomer. If we go to the theatre or the cinema we have got to get out of town afterwards because it is a zoo. I would like to know how this is going to be addressed."
Mr Ellis told the meeting: "I have been out twice in Hanley late on Friday nights. It was lively.
"The city council is doing a big piece of work at the moment around reviewing the night time economy and the outcome of that remains to be seen.
"From what I have seen there are issues around the times that places can open until, and there is quite a big differential between the time the pubs close and the time the takeaways close.
"The city council has big aspirations to change the feel of Stoke-on-Trent. There's clearly some scepticism about whether they will be able to do that, but I want to work closely with them to find solutions to this."
The council is currently carrying out an inquiry into Hanley's night-time economy which could lead to bars being hit by a 2am curfew.
A council committee is gathering evidence from licensees, business owners, police and shoppers to draw up recommendations for the cabinet about how to revive evening trade to bring in more visitors and reduce outbreaks of violence. Councillor Duncan Walker, who is on the committee, said: "We want our city centre to appeal to all age groups offering a wide range of retail, leisure and entertainment activities.
"Through this review, I hope that there will be a number of recommendations that will help us achieve our goal of stimulating the night time economy."
Staffordshire's Chief Constable Mike Cunningham recently warned the city's night-time economy was being overtaken by alcohol-related crime after figures revealed that violent crime in Hanley more than doubles after 9pm.