9:00am Friday 22nd August 2014
By Rachel Millard, Crime reporter
PARK workers are being told to let the bushes grow at a well-known gay cruising spot to keep illicit activity out of sight.
Bushes are left tall around Duke’s Mound public gardens for “obvious reasons”, according to Brighton and Hove City Council’s parks department.
In an email responding to a resident’s complaint, a Cityparks worker said: “We have been advised to let the bushes grow tall for obvious reasons and always err on the side of caution when pruning due to the sensitivity of the area.
“The thinking behind this is to keep the activities mentioned all in one place.”
However, local resident Peter White, who is gay, fears the steep land that separates Madeira Drive and Marine Parade in East Brighton is being neglected by authorities and is becoming a “ticking timebomb”.
Drugs He has complained to the council and police about poor street lighting, litter and the use of dangerous drugs at the spot.
He said: “Are we going to wait until somebody overdoses on drugs in the area and dies or, even worse, when an unsuspecting gay man is attacked, mugged, beaten or possibly even killed before we put lighting into the pathways and seal up the vacant buildings where rampant drug use and high-risk sexual activity is occurring?
“While cruising grounds are a somewhat accepted small part of our gay culture, there are plenty of other, much safer, ways for all of us to meet and engage in sexual activities via online apps, bars and venues and in the privacy, safety and sanitation of our homes.”
Piles of decaying litter, including used condoms, beer cans, vodka bottles and packets of prescription drugs, were widespread when a reporter visited Duke’s Mound last week, while a row of lights did not appear to be working.
A council spokeswoman said the Cityparks team regularly pruned the bushes and cleared the pathways and added that the area was cleaned daily and was adequately lit.
She said two footpath lights were not working and had been reported to the lighting contractor.
She said the Terence Higgins Trust is commissioned by the council to provide an outreach service to users of Duke’s Mound and added that the authority received “very few complaints” about the area.
Sussex Police Inspector Brian McCarthy said the area was part of the force’s “everyday patrol” and police would “deal positively and appropriately with any reported acts of violence, drug-taking, indecency or exposure in a public place where members of the public are caused alarm or distress”.
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