NEW BEETWELL STREET: Chesterfield attracts homeless says town's MP
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has met with Derbyshire Police about the '˜unacceptable' anti-social behaviour at the New Beetwell Street bus shelters.
In a letter to a constituentseen by the Derbyshire Times, he says he has also spoken to Chris Ludlow, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Chesterfield Borough Council regarding a possible ‘deep clean’ of the area.
According to Mr Perkins, police now estimate there may be up to 40 people sleeping rough in the borough with many coming in from places as far and wide as Nottingham, Sheffield, Barnsley and Derby.
He said: “Many of these people have substance misuse issues and / or mental health issues and the Council are trying to engage with them and get them into support services and, hopefully, into accommodation and of our streets.
“Unfortunately, the police and council tell me that for many of these people this is the way they choose to live their life and they have refused the support and accommodation they have been offered. We do currently have a surplus of one bedroom flats in the borough.”
Mr Perkins told the Derbyshire Times that rough sleepers come to the town because it is more attractive to them than neighbouring cities.
This is partly down to the services on offer for people on the streets and partly because the town is considered safer than bigger places.
The authorities currently have no powers to prevent people from coming into the town to sleep on the streets.
“The police are making every effort to stop anti-social behaviour and substance misuse but they can only taken action when they catch them, behaving in an anti-social manner,” said Mr Perkins.
“They do have access to dispersal powers that allow them to move people on who are creating a disturbance and they are using these where they can.”
Calls to ‘fence off’ the area or longer term plans to ‘design out’ the problem by making the area less attractive to rough sleepers are also mentioned in the MP’s letter.
But, in another letter to this week’s Derbyshire Times, Ray Baynes from the Chesterfield Salvation Army says this would not solve the problem.
“Fencing Beetwell Street off will only move the problem elsewhere and some of the regulars that I visit have moved away because of the risk of violence from newcomers.
“This is a complex problem and I’m afraid it will always be with us as old faces go and new faces appear.”