THE turnaround in fortunes of a Barrow troublespot has come in for strong praise from councillors.

Officials involved in Egerton Court on Barrow Island have reported falling crime rates, reduced calls to the fire and ambulance services and increased participation mental health, alcohol and substance misuse programmes.

Landlords of the tenements are also playing a bigger role in managing problem tenants while a dedicated well-being hub has become a focal point of community life, a meeting of Barrow council’s executive committee was told.

Councillors were given an update by Alison Meadows of Cumbria County Council, Insp Jim Bailey of Barrow Police, Chris Jones, of Barrow Borough Council, along with representatives from The Well Project.

Previously, Egerton Court had been tainted by a string of successive drug deaths, County Lines drug dealing and violent crime, including stabbings.

But the gamechanger had been a shift in the policing approach and partner agencies working directly with vulnerable residents to help them.

Insp Bailey said: “All the police would do was go down there, take them to court, and they would move on somewhere else and do the same.

“What this was about was looking at those individuals and asking how we can change them and get them back on track considering the history they came from.

“One of the key things was that landlords were pretty much not being held responsible for people living in those flats, it was a free-for-all and there was a lack of law and order.”

Insp Bailey conceded there were still issues but the problems were far more closely-controlled and the project is looking to expand across Barrow Island.

Alison Meadows, of the county council, said working face-to-face with residents had been essential in getting on top of issues which affected life from anti-social behaviour to fly-tipping and litter.

“What’s really been important has been tenant engagement,” she said. “Going around and knocking door-to-door gave us some really valuable information from people who do not necessarily want to engage with public services, who won’t come out to public meetings or dial 999,” she said. “Their previous experience with the police or us has not been great from childhood, so it was about saying we are here to work with you and it’s not just a short term thing.”

One woman in her 60s was found to be living as a virtual recluse, in debt, with no money to top-up her mobile and no heating for 12 months.

“She had become so anxious, she was avoiding all her problems by missing appointments and not having any money,” said Ms Meadows.

Cllr Alan Pemberton said: “It is so good to see that all the efforts are bearing fruit and bringing people back into society and I would like to say well done, especially to the volunteers who do this out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Cllr Derek Brook said of the project: “Good things are happening by people working together. I think it’s great and these things can actually work and make a difference. We can make a difference and we are.”