Fears raised over street drinking problems outside Wesley Chapel

Wesley Chapel in Harrogate
Wesley Chapel in Harrogate
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Fears have been raised over the re-emergence of the town’s street drinking problem after a growing number of reports of anti-social behaviour incidents near Wesley Chapel.

Concerned residents have reported witnessing threatening behaviour from the group who have begun congregating outside the chapel and near Halifax on Oxford Street.

One witness has called for an increased police presence in the area after witnessing fights, people drinking in the street as well as public urination.

The resident said: “Every day there are groups gathering and drinking there and I’ve noticed a lot of teenagers have started hanging about there as a result.

“The town centre is becoming full of sleeping bags which have been left lying around and there are people who won’t use the Halifax cash machines to avoid them.”

In November 2015, dozens of residents turned up to a public meeting at Wesley Chapel to discuss police’s ‘Operation Parakeet’ project aimed at tackling the problem.

A number of issues including large groups of intimidating street drinkers, public urination and an increase in littler around Bower Street, Beulah Street and Oxford Street were all raised.

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC), working in partnership with police, made a Public Spaces Protection Order in May this year, giving officers the power to ask people to stop drinking.

Coun Mike Chambers, HBC’s cabinet member for Housing and Safer Communities confirmed the council are continuing to work with police over the number of individuals causing anti-social behaviour in this area.

Liz Hancock, chief executive of Harrogate Homeless Project explained that they were trying to encourage some of the group to access the service, but warned that for many the activity remains a “lifestyle choice”.

She said: “What surprises us is the number of people who are not homeless but are choosing to socialise in this way. They feel they’re doing no harm and want to enjoy themselves as they please.

“From our point of view it can be quite damaging for reputation if people think it’s just homeless people. We are aware of it and we are working with them on some level but it can take a while to sort out.”

Inspector Penny Taylor of North Yorkshire Police has urged anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour taking place to contact them on 101 so they can take “positive action”.