Some beggars still there but residents ‘feel  safer’ in Doncaster town centre

It was 12noon in Doncaster town centre. 

In the market, traders on the antiques market were going about their business. Greengrocers looked to be doing a busy trade from their stalls at Market Place, on a dry, mild, but gloomy autumn afternoon.

Shiela Francis, aged 83, and Geoff Francis, aged 81, both of Armthorpe

Shiela Francis, aged 83, and Geoff Francis, aged 81, both of Armthorpe

Shoppers sat outside eating and drinking coffees on the tables outside the food outlets near the fruit market.

Read more: Major action on spice yobs has ‘reclaimed the streets of Doncaster’ says businesses

Read more: How Doncaster has worked to ‘reclaim the streets’

Read more: Shop local plea after Doncaster town centre clear-up

John Armstrong, aged 70, of Bentley

John Armstrong, aged 70, of Bentley

There was no sign of rough sleepers in the market area, nor the groups who are often seen gathering around the stalls, drinking alcohol.

A short walk away, however, a man was quietly sitting on the floor of the under cover Bradford Row, eating. He made no request for money as people passed by.

This was what could be seen on a short walk through Doncaster town centre, an area where town centre businesses have been complaining for some time about homeless people sleeping rough, aggressive begging, and people using the drug spice.

There was no immediate sign of the issue. But near the market car park, residents said they had been approached for money by a beggar.

Andrew Glynn, aged 48, from Armthorpe, Doncaster

Andrew Glynn, aged 48, from Armthorpe, Doncaster

John Armstrong, aged 70, from Bentley, had just arrived in the town centre and parked up near the market.

He was visiting the town cente with his daughter, Bev, aged 37.

He said he did not come to the town centre very often because of the antisocial behaviour that it has seen.

“I was approached for money when I got out of my car,” he said. “I think it would be premature to say everything is sorted.”

David Smith, aged 67, of Bessacarr, Doncaster

David Smith, aged 67, of Bessacarr, Doncaster

In the past, there have been complaints of a lack of police in the town centre.

But as Mr Armstrong spoke, two police community support officers walked purposefully through the car park. One was responding to a message on his radio.

Back in the market, trader Andrew Glynn, aged 48, of Armthorpe, was serving fruit and veg to his customers.

He thought some of those who had been causing antisocial behaviour had moved on from the town centre.

But he said he thought some of that may have been because the weather had become colder, and he did not think he had noticed any fall in antisocial behaviour.

“This is a nationwide problem,” he said. “I’ve not seen much antisocial behaviour this week, so maybe there is some cause for optimism.

Ancelater Salmon, aged 54, of Doncaster town centre

Ancelater Salmon, aged 54, of Doncaster town centre

“I would like to see what happens long term.

“I do think setting up a fund for people to donate to is a good idea, so that people get what their donations are meant for.”

But Ancelator Salmon, aged 54, who lives in the town centre area, believes the streets are clearer, and feels safe on the streets.

She has  done work with the homeless, and believes there have always been rough sleepers in Doncaster, but that  the main thing now is that people have been talking about it.

Ancelator, who lives in the town centre area herself, agrees that there has been a fall in the amount of antisocial behaviour on the streets.

She said: “I think rough sleeping has always been an issue, but its been highlighted because of the new drug, spice, which has meant there are people who don’t know what they’re doing.

“I think the town centre is clearer now. There are not so many people sleeping rough, but I do worry about where they’ve gone. It’s important that they’re safe.

“I feel safe during the day in the town centre.”

David Smith, aged 67, of Bessacarr, said he had not noticed an increase in the number of police on the streets, but acknowledged the town centre was a wide area. He walks through Doncaster each day, and added he had not seen any more antisocial behaviour either

“I think it is possible that it may have improved,” he said. “But I did see someone this morning asking for change, although he didn’t cause me a problem.”

Geoff Francis, aged 81, from Armthorpe, was visiting the town centre with Sheila Francis, 83.

He said: “You do worry about what happens when they’re moved along. But I’ve not seen any antisocial behaviour today. I actually think Doncaster is on the up.”

Sheila agreed, adding that although there were some empty shops, there seemed to be new ones popping up. 

“You still see people in doorways,” she said. “You don’t like to see it but you worry if you give money it will go on drugs. I think it is a good thing that they have started a new fund that you can donate to, so that those who needs food get food, but those who want drugs go without.”