Street drinkers fighting, defecating and discarding heroin needles are ruining a Sheffield green, claim traders who say they have experienced their ‘worst summer ever’.
Shopkeepers in Devonshire Street are uniting to sound the alarm over groups of up to 40 drug-taking drinkers who they say fight, burgle and vandalise Devonshire Green.
They are calling for something to be done about the ‘serious issue’.
Tina Hilton, kitchen manager at The Green Room, Devonshire Street, said: “This has been the worst summer I have known.
“People use the streets as a toilet, they fight, my husband has been spat at when he refused to let them in.
“On one day we had two ambulances, four riot vans and police on horses, all because of a fight which went on for two-and-a-half-hours.
“Police had to Taser someone. It’s horrendous, absolutely horrendous.
“There are bottles everywhere, and there have been needles.
“It’s vile. A man came and just pulled his trousers down and used the street as a toilet at lunchtime, while people were eating outside.”
Sol Smith, owner of Balance, on Division Street, said: “Traders had a meeting and there’s a consensus it’s got considerably worse in the past six to eight months.
“There are people here who have had shops for 20 to 30 years and have seen Devonshire Green go through a phase of renewal.
“It has become a lot better in the last 10 years, and then in the last year or so it’s gone downhill.
“We’ve noticed a drastic drop-off in footfall.
“All the shopkeepers have said this is the worst year they can remember for a long while.”
The traders are calling for solutions to be put on the table by police and Sheffield Council.
Sergeant Naomi Saxton, of South Yorkshire Police, admitted street drinking had got worse, but said she had put on dedicated patrols over the summer and was setting up a meeting for business owners.
Last week a city charity set up to help street drinkers called Ben’s Centre was forced to close its day centre on Orange Street.
The facility had been due to move to Cumberland Street, but a deal fell through at the eleventh hour, leaving clients with nowhere to go for help and support.