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Drug addicts are ruining our lives but council does nothing, residents claim

PUBLISHED: 08:26 08 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:06 08 May 2020

Barnards Yard, Norwich. Picture: Submitted

Barnards Yard, Norwich. Picture: Submitted

Submitted

Drug dealers are ruining the lives of tenants and flat owners in a city centre apartment block - but despite years of complaints, residents claim nothing has been done.

A photo taken by residents in Barnards Yard of non-residents using the area. They have complained of drug-taking and dealing in the stairwells of the apartment block. Photo: SubmittedA photo taken by residents in Barnards Yard of non-residents using the area. They have complained of drug-taking and dealing in the stairwells of the apartment block. Photo: Submitted

People living in Barnards Yard near Duke Street said the stairwells in their flats are regularly used by addicts and dealers.

Emails show they have been complaining to the landowner, Norwich City Council, since at least 2015, but their pleas for security gates have gone unanswered.

In response the city council told them to keep reporting problems.

Police, meanwhile, said they found several people taking drugs at Barnards Yard on Wednesday.

Barnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: SubmittedBarnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: Submitted

One tenant was attacked last summer when he asked a group of drug-takers to move on.

The 52-year old, who did not want to be named, said: “I could see these groups dealing on the stairs and selling crack.

“We had called the police many times before but when they come it’s just too late to catch them.

“I had taken to going out and asking them to leave.

Barnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: SubmittedBarnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: Submitted

“Sometimes they were abusive but generally they moved on, but this particular day they were all a bit crazy.”

The man said that when he asked them to leave they started to move off, but then came back and pushed past him.

“Someone grabbed my arms from behind and they just battered me,” he said. “They gave me a really good kicking. They smashed my face and then scarpered.”

He went to A&E with mild concussion, he said.

“The flats are basically open for anyone to come into,” the man added. “Just the day before yesterday I asked a woman to stop taking heroin in the stairwell.

“The council keeps asking us for evidence; the evidence has been going in to them for the last few years but they don’t do anything about it.”

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One flat-owner, who also did not want to be named, said: “I moved in three years ago and have been reporting it ever since. We regularly find faeces and needles in the stairwells.

Barnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: SubmittedBarnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: Submitted

“We would like the council to put in security gates.”

In their most recent complaint to the council, dated April 24, the residents wrote: “We feel it is unacceptable that we are expected to continuously live with a situation which has been ongoing for years. It makes the place we live not only unsanitary but also unsafe”.

They said there was an “atmosphere of intimidation and fear for residents”.

“Through your inaction the council is putting not only the mental health of residents at risk, but also their physical safety,” they wrote.

“How much evidence do you require before taking action?”

In another complaint to the council in February, a resident wrote: “The people who use our block to deal and/or use drugs also leave rubbish, phlegm, vomit, urine and faeces behind.

“I often come into the block to find people smoking crack on the stairs and they expect me to wait while they finish what they are doing before they move.

“The reason residents don’t say anything is that they are afraid.”

Barnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: SubmittedBarnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: Submitted

On April 24, the council’s safer neighbourhoods coordinator Tim Bacon wrote to the residents: “We will look at any practical and effective options to improve the situation and your local environment.

“Please do keep reporting issues to the council and the police.”

Local Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn said: “People have already been hurt for trying to keep their doorstep clean, but when they raise the matter, they just get told to keep reporting, as if they haven’t been doing that for years.

“There’s clearly a problem across the city in the way that antisocial behaviour is dealt with on the council’s estates.

Barnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: SubmittedBarnards Yard near Duke Street, Norwich, where residents have complained for years about drug-taking. Photo: Submitted

“Individual officers do what they can, but the council’s leadership lacks urgency in its response and seems to be more interested in fobbing off complaints or requests for security doors.”

Councillor Kevin Maguire, cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environment, said: “These are complex issues and we are working with the police and other agencies to address them against a backdrop of long term cuts to public services and the impact of Covid-19.

“We’ll continue to work with residents at Barnards Yard and look into practical and effective solutions for what can be done to reduce the issues they have raised.”

Norfolk police has been contacted for comment.


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