‘I see drug taking every day.’
‘I’m looking to move.’
‘I see people shooting up in the alleyways - there is no deterant.’
These are some of the statements made by residents at the community meeting.
Borough Council Leader Councillor Sean Woodward and Inspector Sarah Nicholson listened to impassioned concerns of residents, with a standing room only crowd of more than 130 people at Ferneham Hall this week.
Cllr Woodward called the special community action meeting to discuss resident’s increasing concerns about crime in the town centre, on the same day the News reported a police raid on a drug den in Russell Place, near the town centre.
One resident said: ‘There is a lot of care and support for the drug users but we want some care and support for us.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said she could walk Cllr Woodward around the town and show him ‘10 drug pushers a night.’
She had said she found needles in garden and in the churchyard of St Peter and St Pauls.
The church faced ‘a persistent problem’ with needles being taken on the grounds, vicar Roger Jackson said.
He added: ‘We have our own sharp box for needles - we are picking up drug paraphernalia almost every day.
Cllr Woodward agreed that the town faced a ‘heroin issue’ that it ‘did not have before.’
Several residents said they were looking at moving from the town centre, with one citing ‘lack of leadership’ to address the issue leading to people looking to live elsewhere.
Sean Woodward defended the council, challenging residents ‘to go to any other council and find a leader who would stand in front of a crowd’ voicing similar concerns.
He said: 'Four years go we did have 42 people begging, rough sleeping, dealing with alcohol-related issues in the town centre - many, many more than there are now.
'We will do everything and anything we can to drive out the drug takers, the drug sellers, and anyone committing crime in our borough.'