NEW BEETWELL STREET: '˜A solution is needed at the bus shelters'

When I got there, the emergency services had already left.

Thursday, 30th March 2017, 5:36 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:25 pm
New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.

What I saw still shocked me though.

Under the bus shelters on New Beetwell Street, a semi-permanent home for the dispossessed of Chesterfield has appeared.

Covered with cardboard box mattresses and tatty sleeping bags, it looks like something you’d see in a third world country.

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New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.

A breathless message from a reader last Thursday afternoon first alerted us to the fact something was wrong.

They said there was a young man - ‘comatose or dead’ - on the floor, frantically being treated by paramedics.

They said there were more than 20 sleeping bags laid out on the floor and that the whole area was ‘filthy’.

Another reader said the situation was as bad as they had ever seen it, with many members of the public ‘terrified’, the elderly in particular.

New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.

One of the men gathered around the sleeping bags told me who had been taken away.

The ‘young lad’, he said, had looked ‘like a skeleton’ in recent days.

There were rumours of dehydration but no one seemed to know for sure, or for that matter, to care.

I looked up and at least one of the other faces I saw had eyes and cheeks so sunken it made me shudder.

The bus shelters on New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.

Another skinny man had a belly so big it brought to mind the sick children you see in parts of the world affected by famine.

While I was speaking to them, the large-bellied man snuck off to half hide behind one of the posts and sniff twice at an unidentified substance in his hand.

Perhaps worst of all, a teenage girl - possibly as young as 16 - was clearly a part of the group. And clearly under the influence.

All the while, children and elderly people sat patiently waiting for their buses, ignoring as best they could the sights and smells around them.

New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.

Within a few minutes of me being there, it became clear that the current situation can’t be allowed to continue.

A solution is needed. And fast.

But what can be done?

New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.
The bus shelters on New Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.