Waking up to smashed bottles, vomit and bloody evidence of yet another hostile Cheltenham night has become an all too familiar sight for the Cheltenham public.
On the 8th October, two men were hospitalised after an altercation in the middle of Cheltenham High Street. A week before, one man was arrested after brutally attacking a friend outside a nightclub. Week on week, these stories continue to emerge as Cheltenham’s reputation as a ‘nice and affluent’ town seems a mere memory rather than reality.
As we look toward Cheltenham 2020, there is a real question that needs to be asked. Is violence becoming a serious problem in one of the UK’s most elegant towns?
Since September 2015 over 500 cases of violence have been reported in Cheltenham. That’s a 7% rise year on year since 2013. This quite shocking statistic provides a very different perspective to that of the New York Times who wrote earlier this year that the town was going through a ‘Cultural renaissance’.
Cultural renaissance? Yes, the town has been rejuvinated with investment in new up market shopping centres and brands. Not to mention with the growth of the University the town is certainly becoming younger with new ideas and inundated with a fresh vibe that keeps the atmosphere buzzing all through the year.
However, Cheltenham Guardians, who spend night after night supervising the towns drunken revellers see a whole different side of this ‘renaissance’. Their weekly log highlights repeated cases of violence on your average Saturday night in Cheltenham.
“01.44: First aid given to two males at a venue on Chapel Walk. Both males had suffered cuts to the face after they complained of “being glassed”.
“02.32: Guardians witnessed a fight between two males at the taxi rank as we patrolled the Promenade. Guardians gave assistance to taxi marshals and the fight was broken up.”
“03.10: Guardians witnessed a fight on Regent Street between a large group. Guardians radioed for police assistance before breaking up the fight.”
It’s violence like this that caused Police to reassure the towns residents of their safety earlier this summer, after a string of violent attacks that disturbed and shocked Cheltenham and it’s surrounding areas.
There are plans for a £250,000 investment into new cctv cameras in Cheltenham which hope to act as a deterrent but surveilance isn’t seen as the biggest issue. A lack of Police presence, increasing drug problems and education are viewed as central contributing factors by the county council.
This is an ongoing issue that is plaguing the tradition and reputation of a town. Will things be different by 2020? Tomorrow tune in to Glos Live where our reporter Joe Marques will be interviewing Police crime commissioner Martin Surl on the key issues and what needs to be done to stop this culture of violence.