Fareham town centre targeted by beggars 'who are not vulnerable', council leader tells crime meeting
THE push to end nuisance begging and drug-dealing in Fareham is continuing, 150 residents were told at a crime meeting.
Scores of people attended Ferneham Hall to hear from borough council leader Councillor Sean Woodward and Chief Inspector Mark Lewis on Tuesday evening.
The police had taken action against the occupiers of two properties involved in drug related crimes and had issued several warrants against beggars ‘targeting’ the town centre, Cllr Woodward told the room.
He said: ‘Our town centre is being targeted by a small group of people who are not vulnerable.
‘And people have a right to use the town centre unmolested.’
Earlier this month, the council agreed to fund a team of two security guards to patrol Fareham town centre for 37 hours per week.
Increasing funding and distributing a ‘donor’ card to drive donations to homeless charity Two Saints were two of the actions the council had taken to support vulnerable people living on the streets of Fareham.
But the charity was still ‘at capacity, every day, 24-7,’ according to a spokeswoman from Two Saints.
Describing the impact of the increased funding, she said: ‘We have managed to increase our outreach team by one and a half members of staff in terms of hours.
‘So now we have a team of three.’
John Elsey, who lives in sheltered accommodation after spending three months sleeping in his car around Fareham as the result of mental health issues, said drugs and homelessness were still ‘big’ problems in the town centre.
He said: ‘The problems that people were talking about at the last meeting – those problems are still here.’
In June, a heated community meeting saw residents speak out about needles found in churchyards and drug taking seen on school routes
The meeting on Tuesday was kept in order with residents seated around tables with facilitators raising questions and feedback on their behalf.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘We are grateful to a number of residents and businesses who have come together to help tackle this issue.
‘The last meeting on this issue was so well attended we decided to hold the meeting in a cabaret style.’
The council plans to issue a report answering all attendees’ questions by October 31.