DRUGS DEN CRACK­DOWN

PART OF NORTHERN QUAR­TER FENCED OFF AS COUN­CIL TACK­LES ANTI-SO­CIAL BE­HAV­IOUR

Manchester Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - By STEVE ROB­SON steve.rob­[email protected]­i­tymir­ror.com @stever­ob­son04

MANCH­ESTER coun­cil has forced a land­lord to fence off a no­to­ri­ous Northern Quar­ter drug den in a bid to tackle anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

The patch of land out­side Chatsworth House on Dale Street has be­come well-known for open drug­tak­ing and rough sleep­ing in re­cent years, as well as at­tract­ing rub­bish.

In Fe­bru­ary, Greater Manch­ester Po­lice cleared out an en­camp­ment, say­ing cus­tomers of nearby cof­fee shop, Chap­ter One Books, had com­plained of peo­ple in­ject­ing drugs in full view of the cafe. But the prob­lem quickly re­turned and po­lice have sup­ported plans to trans­form the area into a Parisian-style pub­lic gar­dens, which, it is hoped, will pro­vide a long-term so­lu­tion.

A plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion sub­mit­ted by Chap­ter One was ap­proved by coun­cil of­fi­cials over the sum­mer, but work on the 4,000 sq ft plot is yet to be­gin.

Now Manch­ester coun­cil has taken the de­ci­sion to is­sue an en­force­ment no­tice against the landown­ers for a per­ceived fail­ure to com­bat anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

The land­lord, which has not been named, was or­dered to put fenc­ing around the grass verge or con­trac­tors would be in­structed by the coun­cil to carry out the work and they would be in­voiced for the cost.

A spokesman for Main­stay, the company that man­ages Chatsworth House, said: “We have been in­structed by the land­lord to erect the fence in or­der to com­ply with the en­force­ment no­tice given by the coun­cil due to the on­go­ing anti-so­cial is­sues. We have not been made aware of the time pe­riod it is ex­pected to be erected for. We are un­able to com­ment any fur­ther on the fu­ture plans for the area.”

A Manch­ester coun­cil spokesman said: “There have been a range of is­sues sur­round­ing the land ad­ja­cent to Chatsworth House that have been dis­cussed be­tween Manch­ester City Coun­cil and the land’s own­ers. One of th­ese is­sues has been the proper dis­posal of waste and cleans­ing of the area. Fol­low­ing re­peated com­plaints that waste was not be­ing prop­erly dis­posed of, the city coun­cil re­quested the own­ers of the land erect hoard­ings so that cleans­ing work could be car­ried out. This has been com­plied with. The landowner has re­ceived ex­ten­sive guid­ance and sup­port from the coun­cil on how they can make this space one that can be en­joyed by peo­ple in the city cen­tre, and that re­la­tion­ship will con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

It is the lat­est twist in the coun­cil’s bat­tle to ad­dress anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in the city cen­tre, one of the sin­gle big­gest is­sues raised by res­i­dents and vis­i­tors, but also one of the most con­tro­ver­sial. Op­po­si­tion Lib Dems sug­gested the Northern Quar­ter en­force­ment ac­tion will sim­ply move the prob­lem on to another area.

Last month, of­fi­cials rec­om­mended the coun­cil im­ple­ment a Pub­lic Space Pro­tec­tion Or­der (PSPO) across the city cen­tre – a le­gal power that al­lows au­thor­i­ties to ban spe­cific be­hav­iour within cer­tain ar­eas or face £100 on­the-spot fines, rising to £1,000 in court if un­paid. Strate­gic direc­tor of neigh­bour­hoods, Fiona Wor­rall, will now de­cide whether to im­ple­ment it.

Breaches of the PSPO would in­clude con­sum­ing al­co­hol in a pub­lic space other than a li­censed premises and dis­card­ing hy­po­der­mic nee­dles.

VIN­CENT COLE

The fenced-off land out­side Chatsworth House on Dale Street in the Northern Quar­ter

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