18th Aug, 2017

Resident fears town park becoming 'hostile environment' due to ‘drunks and drug users'

Joshua Godfrey 10th Aug, 2017 Updated: 11th Aug, 2017

AN ANGRY Evesham resident has accused council chiefs and police of allowing a town park to become a ‘hostile environment’ and claimed they had failed to crack down on ‘drunks and drug users.’

John Wayne Griffith spoke to the Observer after becoming increasingly concerned about the number of people inappropriately drinking in Workman Gardens and claims he has even seen people taking drugs there.

Back in 2015 Wychavon District Council imposed a Designated Public Place Order, which replaced alcohol free zones, on the park after complaints from residents angry about the amount of people using the park to drink.

The order allows police officers to stop someone from drinking regardless of their behaviour.

However, Mr Griffith claims the problems are ‘getting worse’ two years on from when the order was first introduced.

“You can pretty much go down at any time and find beer bottles and cans laying on the ground and just a few feet from a rubbish bin,” Mr Griffith said.

“You’ll also find broken bottles on the path.

“What is worst is you can often find used syringes either on the ground or in the bushes.

“It’s always the same ones and they are as early as 8am and then they are there all day and night.

“I have seen them fighting amongst themselves and even seen them fighting by people visiting the parks.

The concerned resident has also hit out at Wychavon, who maintain the park, and West Mercia Police for ‘not enforcing’ the Designated Public Place Order.

“It’s supposed to be an alcohol free zone, but the police will not enforce it,” he added.

“When I asked the police they told me that the council had no authority to make it an alcohol free zone. The only time they will respond is if it gets out of hand.

“What is a kick in the teeth is that the alcohol free zone signs have the West Mercia Police emblem on them.

“It is hard to enjoy the parks when it is being made a hostile environment by alcoholics and drug users.”

The claims made by Mr Griffith have been rubbished by Wychavon and the police.

Sgt Nick Doyle of Evesham Safer Neighbourhood team said: “Officers from the local Safer Neighbourhood team continue to monitor and attend the area around Workman Gardens as part of our routine patrols.

“Anyone found to be committing an offence in breach of the public protection order can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice and face prosecution and we will continue to work with our partners at Wychavon District Council in enforcing this.

“We have been engaging with people in the park and advising them that they could face £100 fines should they be found with alcohol in the area.

“I am confident that the message is sinking in, but we are also working with local residents to listen to any concerns they may have and resolve any issues they may raise to us.

“I have visited the park recently myself and was pleased to see families and members of the public enjoying themselves and using the facilities there and we are committed to making sure they can continue to enjoy the park in this way.”

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