New ‘wet centre’ for Sheffield street drinkers under consideration

Shops facing Devonshire Green
Shops facing Devonshire Green
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A designated public space for street drinkers to gather could be set up in Sheffield - but finding somewhere people will accept could be an uphill struggle.

The Archer Project has spoken to Sheffield Council about setting up a ‘wet centre’ drinkers’ zone to stop people boozing in the streets.

Last month The Star revealed drinkers fighting, discarding needles and defecating in the streets had caused the ‘worst summer ever’ for Devonshire Street traders.

Linda Cooley, a member of Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group, said evidence suggested a ‘wet centre’ would “reduce the number of people drinking on the street, result in fewer arrests. There’s a lower level of violence because they’ve got something else to do and they’re not fighting each other. And there would be a toilet there as well.”

Archer Project chief executive Tim Renshaw said: “There needs to be an understanding of what a wet centre is. The headlines would be that this would be a collection point for drinkers. That’s exactly what it wouldn’t be. Because of the connotations, people wouldn’t want it in their back gardens. But while ever we don’t at least look at the idea, we will never explore an opportunity to give people who are incredibly vulnerable a place of safety where they can get shelter. At least let’s look at the idea.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities, said: “We will be discussing the idea of a wet centre with the Archer Project and will start to gather views on the issue from partner agencies and other stakeholders. That’s not to say a wet centre is the right solution or not, just that it needs to be considered.”