People too scared to go near Sheffield community hall because of antisocial behaviour, says councillor

Drug addicts and rough sleepers are scaring people away from using a once popular community hall, says a Sheffield councillor.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 2:01 pm

The grandiose grade II listed Burngreave Vestry Hall dates back to 1846 and many people celebrated their wedding receptions there.

Coun Mark Jones says it’s an ideal location for community groups but people are too scared to go near it.

He claims addicts are abusive to passers-by and there are sleeping bags and drug paraphernalia by a fire door which makes the building’s exit unsafe.

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Coun Mark Jones is asking for the council and police to tackle the problem of drug users and rough sleepers who are plaguing the Vestry Hall in Burngreave. Picture Scott Merrylees

“These are people with chaotic lifestyles but most of them will have several caseworkers. They are blocking the fire exit, they put people off and they make the hall look unsightly.

“The hall is still in use but is used mainly by the council, we would love to have more community groups use it. It used to be a central hub and had a lot of money spent on it but the antisocial behaviour means it’s not being used anymore.

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“We have done a lot of work to improve Spital Hill but I was there one morning with a council officer and a man swore at us because he wanted to take drugs around the back of the hall. People are being scared away,” Coun Jones said.

Vestry Hall in Burngreave. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Serious structural problems in the foundations closed the hall in 1997 but funding from Burngreave New Deal for Communities paid for renovation work and the hall reopened in 2007.

Coun Paul Wood, Executive member for housing, said the council had spoken with Ecclesfield Police Station and PCSOs who cover the Burngreave area.

He said: “We have contacted a hostel local to Vestry Hall to see if they can provide support to the individuals and we are also contacting other services within the council to see what additional support can be provided.

“We are looking at various options to restrict access into the front area of the building including locking the perimeter gate, installing signage, increasing the height of gates, working with CCTV public space surveillance and installing a push bar onto the fire exit external gate to stop access.”

Coun Mark Jones says people are too scared to go near Burngreave Vestry Hall because of antisocial behaviour