local business owners are calling for a public meeting to discuss safety issues in the St James Street area of the city with senior police officers and ward councillors.
Alex Matthews, chair of the city’s Gay Businsess Forum and owner of the A-Bar on Marine Parade, said:
“Every day brings another problem whether it be a violent attack on someone or my customers being accosted on the street by aggressive beggars and street drinkers. It has come to the stage where business is being damaged. There is a perception that the St James Street area is unsafe and that perception is stopping gay people city wide from coming into the village at night to socialise.”
Mike Dalley owner of Cardome on St James Street, said:
“I have been complaining about cyclist driving down the footpath and road the wrong away for the last 12 months. I have even tried to capture evidence on my CCTV cameras.
“The most recent response I got from the police is that they do not consider it a major problem.
“Well, it is a problem for me because it is dangerous and stops people coming into the village to shop.”
Community activist and chair of the LGBT Community Safety Forum, Chris Cooke, said:
“Whether or not it transpires that the recent serious assault in the heart of the LGBT community is a hate crime or not, the time has come to address the ongoing problems in St.James’s Street.
“Clearly the area is not safe for residents, businesses and visitors alike, in fact over the last 18 months it has at times been downright dangerous.
“Not a week goes by without a serious incident. No longer can we say it’s quirky and bohemian, the street is a mess. It is dirty and the daily rat run of beggars, street drinkers and people just out to cause trouble are getting worse.
“We need to reclaim our neighbourhood and quickly.
“The LGBT Community Safety Forum is happy to facilitate at the earliest opportunity an open public meeting for all local residents and business owners to air their views.
“We will ensure that senior police, local councillors and the Kemptown MP are also invited. Let’s get started and make St.James’s a proud neighbourhood and a desirable destination to live in and visit once more.”
Tony Chapman, owner of Legends Hotel who has run venues in the St James Street area for the last 20 years, said:
“There are many issues affecting St James Street not least the street lighting is too low. What are the ward councillors doing in all this.
“Maybe some of the money collected from increased parking charges which is driving visitors and customers away from the area could be used to improve the street lights and at least make the area appear brighter and safer.”
“I invested three million pounds when I re-developed Legends Hotel. The least I should be able to expect is that my customers feel safe coming to visit my venue.”