Crackdown on Harrogate street drinking begins

A meeting will take place tonight to discuss street drinking in Harrogate.
A meeting will take place tonight to discuss street drinking in Harrogate.

Dozens of residents and business owners are expected to attend a public meeting tonight after police pledged to tackle street drinking in Harrogate.

Officers have promised action to combat the growing number of “intimidating” street drinkers in the town centre who are selling drugs, urinating in alleyways and brawling in public.

Harrogate Police have launched ‘Operation Parakeet’ in an effort to put a stop to the problem, which sees groups congregate at street-drinking hotspots such as Bower Street, Beulah Street and Oxford Street at various times of the day.

A meeting is being held at the Wesley Chapel at 5pm this evening in response to a growing mumber of calls from concerned members of the public.

Harrogate Town Centre PC Graham Frostick said: “We have had a lot of positive interest from residents and local businesses in support for the meeting. We are hoping it will be well attended so we can have good representation from the town and understand the full scope of any issues that arise.”

Meanwhile Harrogate residents have been speaking out about the issue on the Advertiser’s Facebook page.

Andrew Gowlett said: “I thought it was against the law to drink on Harrogate streets anyway so why is that not implemented already?”

Alison Byrnes added: “A lot of them on the bench outside Specsavers have been around for years and are homeless. Harrogate needs to sort out its housing situation.”

While Sharona Harrison-wood said: “I hope the council, as well as business owners and the public attend. I feel past judgements play a big part in the current problems and working together to sort the problem is the way forward.”

Last week the Advertiser revealed how business owners and residents had been affected by the issue, with one shop owner claiming the situation had got so bad, her staff were scared to go to work and customers were being put off.

Peter Jesper, owner of Jespers, in Oxford Street, said the town’s chamber of trade was aware of the problem and members were planning to discuss the issue as part of town centre improvement plans.

Andy Kirk, project leader at the Harrogate Homeless Project, which runs a hostel on Bower Street, stressed service users shouldn’t singled out for blame.

The charity is currently working with Harrogate Borough Council and other agencies, including North Yorkshire Horizons drug and alcohol service, to try and tackle the problem.