Calls to curb antisocial behaviour around Southend homeless charity properties

A public boozing ban must be extended so residents no longer have to witness “ghetto-like” conditions created by Southend’s homeless people drinking in the street.

Residents are campaigning against the anti-social behaviour caused by homeless people using HARP’s properties in York Road and Southchurch Road.

The residents are now calling for an alcohol free zone in the High Street end of York Road to be extended further.

HARP bosses have insisted they cannot be held responsible for all those causing trouble, and insisted they discourage their clients from gathering in the area.

Beverley Burns, 40, of York Road has to run the gauntlet of drunk homeless people on the school run with her five-year-old son every day.

She said: “On Christmas Day the year before last, when my son was four we had to squeeze past a man passed out on our steps.

“I live five houses away from the HARP hell-hole and me and my neighbours are in living hell because of them

“Every day they sit on the grass next to our houses, using it as a toilet, drinking, drug use, fighting.”

Ms Burns added that she was threatened with a scaffold pole by a HARP resident who was later prosecuted.

Jackie Bliss, chief executive of HARP said: “We are saddened that people living in York Road report that they are experiencing antisocial behaviour.

“HARP is aware that individuals sometimes choose to congregate in public spaces such as the grass mound on the corner of York Road, but the vast majority of these are not HARP residents, and we actively discourage our own clients from doing so.

“HARP cannot be held responsible for the activities of the wider community that take place in and around the area, which can pose just as much of a nuisance to our residents as to anyone else living in the neighbourhood.

“We are aware of the incident mentioned relating to the scaffold pole, which was dealt with swiftly and the individual immediately evicted.

“HARP works with well over 1,000 people each year who find themselves homeless for a wide variety of reasons, and each night we accommodate more than 200 people in properties across the town who might be forced to sleep on the streets.”

Since 2018, rough sleeping has been cut by 90 per cent.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter