'˜It's dragging the area down' - Residents reveal drugs hell on Sheffield estate
This is just a snapshot of what residents have to put up with on Verdon Street and Brunswick Road in Burngreave.
A walkway that leads onto Derek Dooley Way and into the city centre is cluttered with used needles and council workers get called out to the trouble spot ‘several’ times a week just to clean it up.
Fed up residents living here have told The Star that drug use and drug dealing have increased in the past three or four years and they fear the warmer weather will only encourage the problem.
Sheffield Council said they were ‘aware’ of the issues and would continue to send workers to the drug black spot.
South Yorkshire Police encouraged more residents to report criminal activity.
Ann Raynes, aged 74, has lived on Verdon Street for more than 50 years. She was one of the first people to move into the block of flats that faces the woodland.
“It was such a lovely block, people were very house proud and everyone looked out for each other,” she said.
“I used to do a little paper round when I had my young kids and you would see everyone cleaning up. Everyone would stop and chat.
“You think to go from that to this – it’s a million miles away from what it was.”
Mrs Raynes said she can the drug users from her back window.
“Because I can see the woodland and I sit out on the front, I see the drug users walking past my back door. They would hang out in the woods then you often saw them going to their dealers. It’s really bad because they do accumulate down there.
“I’ve even seen one lad whip his trousers down and inject himself in the leg right in front of my eyes.
“They turn up just after dinner, they sleep there, do their business in the woods and it’s disgusting.
“My husband passed away four years ago in 2012 and there was no drug taking around here then. It’s really since then that it has flared up.”
Mrs Raynes said council workers turn up nearly everyday to pick up used needles, bloodied rags and empty cans and bottles of alcohol.
“The people who come and maintain the flats end up having to pick up needles. It’s not even their job to do that but they end up doing it,” she said.
“The whole thing needs blocking off, it’s a shame because it could be a lovely place for kids to play but it has brought so much trouble.
If it gets blocked off then they’ll have to find somewhere else to go.”
The former Stanley Tools employee said she rang the council 11 times last year to move fly-tipping on Brunswick Road. But as soon as it was cleared, it came back again.
“I bet the council are sick of me because I keep reporting it,” she said.
Another resident on Verdon Street, who didn’t want to be named, said that the problem was getting worse.
They said: “They did move on for a time but drug users have been found in the bin store. They’ve taken the lock off the door they’re that desperate to get in.
“We didn’t realise at first but drug dealers would pull up and sell drugs out of their car windows.
“People would come from the woods and get their drugs from people in the car park.
“It’s only going to get worse with the weather improving.”
One man walking his dog from Brunswick Road heading onto Spital Street said it’s dangerous for children playing outside.
He said: “What they do in their own time is none of my business. But when they’re doing in a public place then it’s not right.
“It’s absolutely disgusting, my message to them is clean your filth up. There are kids playing near here running around. I personally wouldn’t let them out myself but what can you do? You can’t keep them indoors all the time.
“I’ve been here for nine years and in the last two or three it’s got worse and worse. I’ve found needles and bloodied rags in my back garden and my bin.”
One man walking towards the bridge on Brunswick Road, which is littered with used needles, said the good people of Burngreave are getting dragged down.
He said: “I see them milling around near the top of the bridge either drunk or high. It’s not good for the area, it paints it in a bad light.
“They’re are good people living here but that’s not always so obvious when you have stuff like this going on.
“These people need help and God help them.”
Ian Ashmore, head of environmental regulation at the council, said: “We are aware of this problem and have been cleaning the area on a regular basis. But we know more needles are left and will be carrying out further clearance on the council owned land.
“We are working with partners on a longer term solution that tackles the drug use itself. Support and treatment is being offered to the drug users, some of whom are already using services. Our outreach workers are in the area every week and we have moved the mobile needle exchange van there to encourage the safe return of used needles, as well as running a safe needle disposal campaign in local pharmacies.
“We want to reassure residents that we will continue to work on this issue to tackle the problems.”
Insp Richard Burgess from Sheffield North East Local Policing Team said: “We are aware of the community’s concerns relating to drug activity in Burngreave.
“We are working hard in the area to address this issue, as drug-related criminality impacts on the quality of life for the local community.
“If anyone living locally has information about this issue, you can call police on 101 or, if you prefer to pass information anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”