‘Our time there has been destroyed by drunks, druggies and thugs’ – concerns about park off Norwich’s historic Elm Hill

Neighbours have warned a park off their historic Norwich street is becoming a no-go zone.

Elm Hill Gardens, off Elm Hill, has been ruined by people drinking alcohol, playing loud music, littering, shouting and swearing during the daytime and into the evenings, it is claimed.

Norfolk Police say they are not aware of any ongoing anti-social behaviour concerns, but have vowed to monitor any issues.

One Elm Hill resident, who wished to remain unnamed, said they had been excited to move to 'such a beautiful and historical' part of Norwich.

But they continued: 'Our time there has been destroyed, however, by drunks, druggies and thugs that practically live in the pretty little Elm Hill Gardens park beside the river, destroying the area for tourists and other bona fide potential users.

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'Every day and night, more so in the summer, there is music playing, drunken shouting, swearing and even sex being carried on right under our windows. It often drowns out the TV and at night it is impossible to sleep until 2am when they finally leave.'

The resident insisted attempts had been made to call the police, MPs, councillors and other agencies, but there had been little success in solving the problems.

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Norfolk Police said they were aware of three calls made since January that raised issues of anti-social behaviour in the area.

The force said they were isolated incidents and had been dealt with on an individual basis.

A police spokeswoman said: 'We are not aware of ongoing concerns regarding anti-social behaviour in this area. However, now that this information has come to light we will monitor accordingly.

'Anyone with concerns about anti-social behaviour in the area can speak with a member of their local safer neighbourhood team by calling 101.'

Concerns about Elm Hill Gardens were also raised when plans were submitted to change the use of 39 Elm Hill from a shop on all floors to a bakery/cafe on the ground floor, a shop on the first floor and offices on the second floor.

It was proposed the building could house a boutique specialising in baked goods and champagne and remain open until 10pm.

But families and neighbours strongly objected, fearing it could add to the existing problems they had noted in Elm Hill Gardens.

Jenny Rogers, of Elm Hill, told the council: 'The gardens are already a problem area during evenings with people drinking and taking drugs, being rowdy and aggressive, littering and urinating.'

Paul and Anne Murawski, also of Elm Hill, added 'residents already suffer from drink and drug-related anti-social behaviour during the evening'.

The application was refused by the planning committee as councillors decided it could impact on the character of a conservation area and create a noise nuisance.

Ben Price, a Thorpe Hamlet Green Party city councillor, said it was important any problems were lodged with councillors.

He added it was also worth finding out the reasons why people might be sat around drinking all day, as it could benefit the city as a whole.

Mr Price said: 'I have sympathy for any resident who is subject to anti-social behaviour and there are procedures in place to help people in these situations.

'Also as a society we have got to work together to improve it. For me, it's looking at the problems which result in people spending all day and all night inebriated and sat there. Why are they there? It's really important we are all pro-active in the society.'

Norwich City Council said it was not aware of any specific issues in the park area.

But officials said if people were experiencing problems they should contact the police, who then will work with the authority if needed.

A spokeswoman said: 'Elm Hill is a beautiful and historic part of the city, an area local people can be proud of. It is important to both us and other responsible agencies, such as the police, that people feel safe and secure and can enjoy their local area.'

Norwich South MP Simon Wright added: 'I'm aware over the years there have been occasional complaints raised but I would urge any residents that have any current concerns over anti-social behaviour to get in touch. It's so much easier for the authorities, particularly the police, to take action if there's a record of events over a period of time.'

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