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Street Drinkers in Flat Iron Square

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Saturday 9 April 2005 2.56pm
Has anyone else noticed the intimidating atmosphere in Flat Iron Square these days? A hard core group of street drinkers and drug users gather there during the daytime, making it very uncomfortable for anyone else to enjoy the square. The situation is getting worse as the weather gets warmer. They seem to come from St Mungo's and with Southwark Council kindly installing seating in the square and providing the newsagent with a licence to sell alcohol, they have the ideal venue to meet up and drink themselves into oblivion all day, returning the short distance to St Mungo's each night for a kip.

I live on Union Street, inbetween St Mungo's and the square and our doorway has become their public toilet. We even had someone move into our car park and set up camp - they left their syringes and a large bloodstain on the wall before moving on. Even more worrying was a St Mungo's resident openly injecting drugs in a doorway on Great Guildford Street at 3pm in the afternoon - St Mungo's staff told him to move on and he staggered into Mint Street Park to continue with his activities - great, a kid's park!

The most disturbing element of all this is that there is now a woman with a baby regularly joining the drinking group in the square. Along with the fact that the police are openly admitting St Mungo's residents are most likely to blame for at least one recent burglary in the area (as in a recent thread), surely something can be done. I don't know if the police, council or St Mungo's themselves are responsible - I am going to contact all of them. Has anyone got any experience of trying to get this sort of thing sorted out? This is not just an uncharitable 'not in my back yard' rant but something does need to be done.
Saturday 9 April 2005 5.37pm
I get the impression St. Mungo's does not do enough to get the drug addicts and alcoholics who use its hostels back on track. Wherever a hostel opens up it brings drug problems. For example as soon as a St Mungo's hostel opened up in Endsleigh Gardens near UCL, used syringes started appearing around the entrance of Wates House (faculty of the built environment) as this area has seating and cannot be closed off at night. A student was also assaulted/mugged by a resident. I appreciate that by the nature of what this charity deals with it has big problems to overcome, but I feel it is irresponsible of them to run these hostels without having proper means in place to deal with the problems their visitors bring, and instead dump problems on the local community.
Monday 11 April 2005 8.26am
It is very difficult. I was chased down Weston Street a while ago by one of the street drinkers/homeless people who gather at the Mission - if it wasn't for the kind intervention of a man who happened to be passing, he may well have attacked me - he'd asked for a cigarette, and when I'd said I didn't smoke, for some reason decided I was lying and wouldn't give him a cigarette, so chased me down the street. Whilst I realise it sounds quite funny after the event, at the time I was actually quite scared. The biggest irony was I've just given up!!!!

I really like the Horseshoe pub in summer for it's great garden, but now find I am a bit wary of walking to it via Weston street, so tend to take the long way around - which makes me cross, because although I can do with the exercise, I hate being made to feel as though I can't walk down a particular street! Having said this, I don't really see how the staff from the mission could possibly watch all their "clients" all the time - and the facilities are needed somewhere.
Monday 11 April 2005 9.59am
"I live on Union Street, inbetween St Mungo's and the square.." - where's St Mungo's?
Monday 11 April 2005 10.35am
Great Guildford Street. There is a hostel for 42 homeless men - I think it used to be smaller than this and got permission to extend a couple of years ago. They have various projects like gardening schemes to try and give people something to do other than drinking.
Monday 11 April 2005 11.45am
There are several primary schools around there. I dreaded the (pedestrian)school run because of the traffic on Union Street and the frequent occurence of "random" street theatre. I remember a few years back talk of a local wet house. This seems to be a sensible solution; perhaps also a needle exchange. The arguments against include the perceived wrong of condoning/ encouraging such behaviour, but strikes me as very sensible.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 11 April 2005 11.46am by alex.
Monday 11 April 2005 9.25pm
I too live next door to St Mungo's as close as you can get! I have lived here for thirty years, and many years back we used to suffer the same problem, we had a commitee that dealt with such problems, and any problems were quicky resolved.

For about the last 10 years it has been very quiet with no trouble. NOW, yes I totally agree these Street drinkers" are becoming an "Eyesore". Just over two weeks ago i had to call the office and complain and also call the police. They sit facing my address leave their empty rubbish, and beer cans, and when intoxicated sit and shout and swear at the top of their voices.

Last night around 2am, all we had was shouting and screaming coming out of St Mungo;s and living in a closed estate overlooking the hostel , the noise echoes.At this time the windows on peoples homes are still shut, and the noise is not so apparent, god helps us when the summer comes!

On Saturday I felt that Flat Iron Square looked dreadful with all these men sitting there drunk! Emma Cons garden inthe Cut has not been closed, have they all moved to this end of Union Street? we do have lots of tourists in the area now, weekends pleny of vistors parking locally for the Borough Market , wouldn't it be nice if they could sit for a coffee in Flat iron square , they do not give us a very good impression.
Why do the shops sell them liquor, barstaff can now be fined for serving additional drinks if the customer is already intoxicated. Does this apply to shopkeepers also!

I appreciate some of these people are down on their luck through no fault of their own, but they are not really helping themselves!
Tuesday 12 April 2005 8.33am
One factor in Lambeth was a clampdown on crackhouses which drove drugtakers and prostitutes out into the streets and parks. My response was that if this was the likely result, Lambeth parks should have been prewarned. I am told that coordination is improving, but Archbishops population, especially of drug takers, has significantly increased.

As for anti-social behaviour, we once found a syringe lying in the middle of the playground in the Old Lambeth High Street Park (behind Parliament View). Nice play equipment, but we don't use it.
Tuesday 12 April 2005 9.04am
It doesn't help being so near Lambeth because if people are displaced into Southwark then it's not Lambeth's problem any more. I think Emma Cons Gardens got cleaned up when Kevin Spacey was about to start at the Old Vic - we need a Hollywood star to run the Playhouse or the cafe!

What's a wet house? Is that organised drinking?! The trouble is that something like that and/or a needle exchange would draw people to it and I don't suppose many people want that near them either.

I have written to Mungos because unless you call them or the police every time something happens, they don't necessarily know what's going on. Looking at other threads, Simon Hughes also looks like a good bet so may contact him.
Tuesday 12 April 2005 11.26am
there seems to have been a move by a lot of the homeless people back into Guys street park again which is a shame as it had become quite a nice place following the considerable work that was done to make it better and is used by a large number of the local kids. My nephew recently saw two men injecting themselves there as well. The council was informed that it was an issue again but who is the best people to contact the council ? the police?
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