DRUGS DEN CRACKDOWN
PART OF NORTHERN QUARTER FENCED OFF AS COUNCIL TACKLES ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
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.
The fenced-off land outside Chatsworth House on Dale Street in the Northern Quarter