Call for “drug haven” conveniences to be closed

12/12/13- Calling for Drug user's debris in St Leonards to be cleared up- Sue Potter with Whitney Potter and Gracie Carman
12/12/13- Calling for Drug user's debris in St Leonards to be cleared up- Sue Potter with Whitney Potter and Gracie Carman

A MOTHER-OF-FOUR is calling for a public convenience near her St Leonards home to be closed down claiming it is a haven for drug addicts who leave filthy, blood soaked needles on display.

Sue Potter, of Western Road, was disgusted to find needles with blood showing out of a shards dispensing bin inside the toilet block at Cross Street on Tuesday morning.

The 41-year-old waitress was so terrified she took photographs of the needles and placed them on facebook as a warning to other residents.

She claims the roads around her house are riddled with discarded needles and metal spoons used by drug addicts.

According to Miss Potter, Laser Lane which runs down the back of her home is also awash with needles.

She is now calling on the council to close down the toilet block fearing it could be a danger to young children in the area.

The problem is so bad that she now wants to move out of the area and is back on the council’s rehoming list.

Representatives from Hastings Borough Council, Sussex Police, drug outreach workers, cleaning contractors and staff from the local chemist have been meeting regularly in recent months seeking to reduce the impact which drug users have been having in the area.

The council has shortened the toilet doors to discourage unobserved drug abuse and is working with British Telecom to reduce drug abusers access to telephone boxes by barring incoming calls and raising awareness of call tracing.

Miss Potter said: “It is really disgusting down here and has gone beyond a joke. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had just walked back home from my daughter’s house in London Road when I saw the toilet block door open in Cross Street.

“I could see inside and there were needles openly sticking out of the disposal hole and I could see blood dripping down from it. It was truly revolting and such a health hazard to people using the toilet.

“During the last few months I have noticed needles scattered along Laser Lane and in Crystal Square. The bloke from the environmental health says he just keeps getting called out all the time.

“We never see any police around here just the odd PCSO and they don’t seem to do anything.

“There are a lot of shops in this vicinity and a Christmas market on at the moment. The public use the toilet block quite a bit but it’s just in the wrong place.

“Somebody might have an accident in there one day and end up getting injured by a needle so something needs to be done about it.”

Councillor Jay Kramer, the council’s lead member for environment and safety commented:

“We accept that there is an issue here which we are tackling together. We do sympathise with anyone who has experienced these problems. Traders have been keen for us to retain the toilets here as facilities for shoppers and locals so we refurbished and redesigned them in the last 12 months.

“I can fully understand the concerns people have when using these facilities but we remain convinced that if we close them there would be much greater risk to the local community from discarded drug paraphernalia.

“Attendant cover has increased during toilet opening hours with intermediate clean-ups when needed. The staff are very responsive and work well with police and drug workers.

“We are working to put in place better needle disposal arrangements which are giving rise to particular concerns and wish to thank members of the community and local businesses for their continued support whilst we continue to tackle this very difficult issue.”