Residents and business owners call on Doncaster MPs and council officials to attend next meeting on Spice problem

editorial image

Anger, frustration and worry were the main feelings from a public meeting to discuss the issue of Spice in Doncaster town centre.

Anger, frustration and worry were the main feelings from a public meeting to discuss the issue of Spice in Doncaster town centre.

A call was also made for people to carry on supporting Doncaster traders after some residents said drug taking and anti-social behaviour put them off shopping in the town centre.

Residents and business owners alike spoke with passion and conviction as they recalled stories of drug addicts around the town centre and near their homes.

The issue of people waiting nearly an hour on 101 was raised consistently throughout the meeting. South Yorkshire Police Inspector Mark Payling said he was 'well aware' of the concerns people raised about the service.

He said extra patrols had been put in place and the issue was 'high on the agenda' for town centre officers.

Insp Payling did say dozens of people had breached a Public Space Protection Order but admitted this had pushed beggars into residential areas close to the town centre.

One lady who attended the meeting said she had stopped going to her friend's house because she has been followed by addicts asking for money.

"It's really frightening - it's taken me longer to get home because I've been followed.

"They ring my doorbell asking for money, it's really intimidating."

One resident who lives close to Town Fields said: "There is a tidal wave, a tsumami of anger in this town about these people on our streets.

"I have genuine sympathy for the genuine homeless people but it could end up with someone doing something stupid. The lid is going to blow off."

A business trader who operates in the town centre added: "If begging is a crime then I see it every day at the front of my shop and at the back."

They called on the next meeting to be attended by Mayor Ros Jones, Doncaster Council chief executive Jo Miller, senior figures from South Yorkshire Police and the borough's four MPs.

After the meeting, Dominic Gibbs, founder of Clean Up Doncaster Town Centre Facebook group, said: "It was a lively debate, a lot of emotion in the room there have been tears from people explaining their businesses that have been on the brink of failing, their profits are down.

"The residents and the concerns that they've got - these are big concerns but the good thing about it is the inspector from the police came. He did take a battering but he showed the police do want to make a difference.

"Residents have had enough and have stopped coming into Doncaster so therefore, they've stopped spending their money in Doncaster so that's why the businesses are struggling.

"There are a lot of independent's that need this support and if this town isn't cleaned up, I understand why the residents wouldn't come back.

"What I would urge is anybody who can, anybody who finds it in their heart to come back into Doncaster and spend money in these businesses and lets build this town back up and buy our way out of this situation."