‘Enough is enough!’ - drive to combat street drinking in Bury St Edmunds town centre
- Credit: Archant
The “worsening” problem of street drinking and begging in Bury St Edmunds town centre is deterring visitors and something must be done, a business leader has said.
Shoppers and workers have been left feeling "targeted" and "intimidated" by the antisocial behaviour that has increased in recent weeks in the popular market town.
Concerned Business Improvement District (BID) chief executive Mark Cordell instigated the meeting on July 4 between his Ourburystemunds group, West Suffolk Council, the police and the Bury Drop In charity, which works with vulnerable people.
He said: "When antisocial behaviour is deterring people from visiting the town centre and consequently our businesses, then enough is enough!
"I would urge the public to stop giving money to beggars and people who appear to be rough sleepers as this is invariably not the case, as this is only exacerbating the problem.
"Also please inform the police if you witness or are affected by street drinking or begging and the best way to do this is to report it online via the Suffolk police website or by ringing 101. This way the police are aware of the incident and take affirmative action."
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He added: "Bury St Edmunds has a fabulous town centre and on behalf of our businesses, residents, and visitors the Business Improvement District wants to ensure this remains the case."
A spokesman for West Suffolk Council stressed that many of the people seen begging in the town are not actually rough sleepers as they are either accommodated or have their own homes.
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They said the latest information shows there are only five rough sleepers in Bury St Edmunds town centre.
The spokesman said: "The BID, council, police and other local partners continue to work together to try to reduce rough sleeping and address issues of antisocial behaviour/street drinking."
Bury Drop In launched a campaign last year called "Looking for Change" to get the public to think about how and why they give to homeless people on the street.
David Bonnett, chairman of Bury Drop In, said: "We are trying to encourage people not to give to people on the streets. The majority of people who beg on the streets are not actually homeless.
"Give to 'Looking for Change'. We recently provided furniture, and everything else, to four people who have just been housed."
PC Paul Fox, community engagement officer for Bury St Edmunds, said officers had responded to complaints from local businesses and residents about street drinking and antisocial behaviour in the town centre by issuing 15 Community Protection Notices.
He added: "Further enforcement will take place and we will continue to respond to these types of complaints from the public.
"Anyone who witnesses any incidents of antisocial behaviour should contact Suffolk police on 101 or by submitting a report online."
To report to Suffolk police online see here.