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Street drinking 'turning Slough High Street into no-go zone'

Slough High Street has been labelled a ‘no-go zone’ in the evenings due to anti-social behaviour fuelled by street drinkers.

Businesses are calling on Thames Valley Police and the council to step up their response to the problem which has left people ‘intimidated’ to shop and work in the area.

During a meeting of the Slough Town Centre Partnership held on Wednesday at The Curve, concerns were raised about loud music, foul language and urinating that has been taking place in the town centre’s public spaces.

Nick Heath, chairman of the meeting, read out a complaint from a staff member at The Frost Partnership, based in Mackenzie Street.

The complaint said: “As the weather has improved, the locals have appeared in growing numbers gathering early in the day and becoming increasingly inebriated.

“This has resulted in loud music, shouting and swearing at the general public, urinating in public spaces and fights.

“It’s an intimidating place to work, shop during the day and a no-go zone in the evening.”

Chris Shaw, manager of the Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre, also told the meeting that the centre is struggling to deal with groups of men taking drugs, namely cannabis, in the area.

He said: “We’ve tried to move them on but it’s become a real problem.

“How do we stop this long term? There’s no doubt about it, the shops we have left are suffering because of this sort of behaviour.”

Sergeant Andrew Barkham, from Thames Valley Police, said a lack of police resources meant officers could not patrol the town centre area as much as they hoped. The force should have two police constables and four police community support officers (PCSO) assigned to the area but it currently has 50 per cent of these numbers.

Sergeant Barkham said: “It’s not an excuse but it’s one of the reasons we’re not there as much as we hope.

“Hopefully we’re going to start getting some people in that can spend some intensive time in the town centre.”

He urged people to report anti-social behaviour incidents to 101 to build up a case of evidence against offenders.

Orders could also be handed out to prevent people buying alcohol from shops in the town centre to combat the problem, he added.

Cllr Martin Carter, cabinet member for inclusive growth and skills at Slough Borough Council, said: “The regeneration of the town centre is a key priority for the council and we are working with all communities and partners to help create a safe and friendly environment.

“Slough Borough Council is working with retailers (including the town centre partnership) and wider community to create a new and vibrant town centre, and while the council and partners are working to respond to anti-social behaviour in the town centre, the Town BID (Business Improvement District) will provide additional resources and strengthen our joint response.”

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