Drug-taking, rough sleepers in the High Street are putting off shoppers, says a Banbury trader
A shop-keeper in the town centre said traders were frustrated by the apparent lack of interest by the council and police.
"What's the attraction for town visitors and possible new shop tenants if the council and police don’t want to know?” said the businessman, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals.
"This makeshift sleeping area has been outside the old Tui shop for almost four weeks. They were outside the old Millets premises but it's now been boarded up.
"They were about seven of them the other week all smoking crack out of a glass pipe and drinking in early hours. It's all day and all night,” he said.
"They’ve got a woman going around begging for money. It’s not a good advert for Banbury. As as a retailer of over ten years it’s really sad to see the town going down hill with all the big shop names gone. It's a struggle.”
A Cherwell District Council spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear about the anti-social behaviour taking place in Banbury town centre. This has been passed to our Community Safety Team, who will follow this up.
“There is a Public Space Protection Order already in place in the town centre that prohibits consumption of alcohol in the open air, begging, and rough sleeping within the designated area.
"Community Wardens routinely patrol the town centre and deal with any matters that contravene the order. If someone has a specific issue to report, as in this case, they can do this via the Council’s website (https://www.cherwell.gov.uk/info/120/community-safety/301/anit-social-behaviour) or call the Council direct and the matter will be followed up.”
The Beacon Centre at St Mary's Church Centre, Horsefair, Banbury is a drop-in facility for people who are homeless, poorly housed or socially excluded, including those with mental health or substance misuse problems. The centre can make referrals to longer term housing. It is open from Monday – Thursday from 10am – 11pm but is closed on Fridays.