Hastings Borough Council has removed benches from the town centre in Wellington Place with the aim of “reclaiming space” from drunks and drug-users. Local traders have generally applauded the move, but many shoppers and other pedestrians who regularly use the area have complained that it will deprive them of another community facility (following removal of the toilets two years ago) without properly addressing anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Paul Barnett, lead councillor for urban environment and community safety, said: “There is a small anti-social minority who congregate on these benches in the town centre. They become abusive amongst themselves and to passers-by, and it can seem very threatening and intimidating to staff, visitors and residents.
Well-used benches at entrance to Robertson Street
PICTURE: Dave Young
“I am really glad that we are taking this action and reclaiming this space with the removal of these benches. It is an action that sends a message: we won’t tolerate abusive anti-social behaviour in our town.”
BID Manager John Bownas said: “Businesses in the town centre are being effectively blighted by this small group of anti-social individuals. Whilst everyone has a right to use public spaces, the sort of behaviour we see almost daily from these drinkers isn’t something that shoppers ought to have to tolerate.
“It’s sad that this latest step has become necessary, as on the rare occasions when the drinkers are not around these benches get used by other members of the public.”
• For one HIP reader’s reaction, see Thoughts and Voices here
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