Inside estate where people are too scared to go out after dark because of gangs

Pensioners living in the Easthead Walk area of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, say there are regular incidents of violence, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour which leave them terrified to leave their homes

People living in a city centre neighbourhood plagued by gangs say they are now too scared to leave their homes after sunset.

Pensioners in the Easthead Walk area of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, say they face regular incidents of violence, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.

Bernadette Balchin is one such woman who is too frightened to go out after her friend was attacked outside her home and left in a ‘pool of blood’ last Thursday August 26).

The terrified 65-year-old – speaking on behalf of her neighbours – told StokeOnTrent Live she believes two members of a gang were responsible.

Looking back at the day of the attack, Bernadette – who has lived on the estate for over a year – said: “They were making a noise so my friend turned around and said ‘I’m going to go out there and say something’.

“He was so cross. He went out and I could hear him talking to them. The next minute I heard a thump and they had run off.

“I went outside and my friend was lying there with blood around his head. I took him indoors. Luckily enough there were some paramedics nearby. Someone told them they’d seen a man lying there in a pool of blood.

“They asked him what had happened but he didn’t know. He was conscious but just wasn’t with it.

“I’ve got a medical background from working in a care home so I put a white cloth on his head and told him to hold onto it.

“The paramedics said that due to the lump on his head they were going to take him to hospital. He also had a great big lump near his jaw. You could see his mouth was really swollen.

“I knew there were two of them that were outside but there was also a load down the bottom end. They looked about 20.”

Bernadette’s friend, 61, was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital for a broken jaw and fractured skull where he remained e for two days before being discharged.

Other issues around the estate include youths taking drugs and drinking, noise and intimidation according to Bernadette – who suffers from COPD, anxiety and depression.

She said: “Once someone had been stabbed around here. One of them stabbed the other one.

“This has been going on for about a year. They torment an 82-year-old man because he is black. He is a very nice gentleman.

“They drink down there and they take drugs. It happens every day.

“It affects everyone around here. It’s affected me in a big way. I don’t want to go out anywhere, I’m frightened to go out.

“I’ve got my own health issues and I’ve been worried for my friends. This is the last thing that we need. All the people that live around here are elderly or have health issues like me. We are being targeted by these gangs.”

The pensioner says she has even been threatened by gang members which left her ‘shaken up’.

She added: “One of them started walking towards me and said ‘I’m going to thump you one’ and one of the others turned around and told him ‘leave it’. They should be ashamed of themselves.

“I would like a camera back up there. There used to be one but the council took it off. I would like it to be fenced off at the back of our bungalows so they can’t get around there.

“There’s nothing to stop them from coming here, there’s a park right next to us. They are always leaving their rubbish hanging around and it’s not fair on us.”

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called to reports of an assault on Easthead Walk at 6.46pm on August 26. One ambulance attended the scene. On arrival we discovered one patient, a man, who was treated for serious injuries before being taken to hospital for further assessment.”

Police are now investigating the circumstances of the incident.

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Officers were stopped as they passed Easthead Walk, Hanley, at around 7.15pm on August 26.

“They were told a man had suffered an injury and lost blood. The man was taken to hospital for treatment.

“It is not known if the man, aged in his early 60s, had fallen or been assaulted. Officers checked CCTV and did house to house inquiries, but there was no report or footage of an assault.”