A British street has become so plagued by prostitution and drugs that traders have begun sleeping in their shops.
People living in the side streets of Newport in Wales tell stories of women waiting for men who drop their partners off at the shop, before trying to get their “business”, and of fearing to venture to the high street.
Traders tell of sometimes sleeping in their shops due to fear of people breaking in and wrecking their livelihoods as prostitution, drug dealing, vandalism and alcoholism have ran rife, Wales Online reports.
The pandemic has made things worse, and those living in the community of Pillgwenlly – commonly known as Pill – have had enough.
Residents and traders believe Pill has been targeted during the pandemic as a place to house homeless people, whether temporarily or permanently.
Within a short radius of the high street vulnerable people are being housed in hostels, ‘pods’ and hotels. Around 10 people can cram into a hostel on Commercial Road, while more are being housed at the pods at Mission Court and on Albert Street. But there are many more.
No one here disputes that homeless people deserve a proper home, but there are real fears a multi-agency approach to rehouse people as quickly as possible is causing more harm than good.
“We appreciate that the homeless people have suffered significant trauma for many years, but they need more support than this,” Omar added, referring to the quality of accommodation.
“Where the new hostels and pods are sited actually victimises many of these vulnerable people. It isn’t an opportunity for rehabilitation. The clustering has and will continue to make matters worse for them, residents and traders.”
Ann Barton has owned her florist business on Commercial Road for 40 years, and was looking forward to a boom in trade after lockdown, but she’s never known business as bad as it is now.
“Sometimes I go a whole day and don’t see anyone in this shop anymore,” she said. “It’s such a shame what is happening. Pill is a lovely community and you won’t find nicer people than proper Pill people.
“My family are from Pill. It used to be the cleanest place. It was like a competition to be cleaner than next door, and everyone left their doors open.”
When Ann arrives at work at 5.30am, she said she almost always sees people performing sexual acts on benches outside.
“Sometimes it even carries on long into the morning, and kids are passing and seeing it,” she said. “Prostitution has been an issue in Pill for years, but it’s different now. It’s blatant."
Bilal Ahmed owns NB Cash and Carry further down the road towards the city’s famous Transporter Bridge. He’s been here for more than 20 years at different sites on the road, but said he’s now close to giving up - as are many others.
After a recent break-in he slept in his shop because he was so paranoid about a repeat offence.
“We’ve had numerous break-ins that have cost me a lot of money in damages,” he said. "I worry quite a lot most nights. It’s got to a point where I have to think about moving."
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