By Karen Goodwin

TRADERS say homeless people camping in the city centre are bad for business as more and more tents pitch up.

At least six have been set up on the pavement in Castle Square at the bottom of North Street – yards from the one of the busiest shopping streets.

And the growing encampment is causing concern for businesses, who say antisocial behaviour is on the rise.

The city council says it has new powers which make it easier to move tents in the city centre.

But rough sleepers say they have nowhere else to go.

Indre Dovydaityte, who works at nearby Pret A Manger, said: “The problem is not the tents, it’s the behaviour.

“Every day, people swearing, stealing food from us, begging from our customers.

“One time they urinated on our fire escape.

“For a while we tried to be nice to them, gave them free sandwiches. We have contacted the council multiple times and the police.”

The manager of The White Company, also nearby, said: “It’s not very nice for our customers and people walking by.

“Last week there was a person passed out outside the shop with his trousers down.”

Four more tents are pitched across the street outside the NatWest bank.

One of the occupants, Suzie Miles, said: “It’s out of order the council are going to move us on again.

“Where else can we go? They don’t like us in doorways.

“About a week ago there were a load of tents round the back of Poundland.

“The council’s thrown them away. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We need to house people. We need help.”

The council said: “St Mungo’s will always make tent occupants aware that notices are scheduled to be served and offer advice to the individuals.

“Often they move of their own accord before notices are served.

“The aim is to encourage people to take up the offer of places in the night shelter, assessment hub or severe weather emergency protocol shelter.

“We now have a new way of moving people on when tents are set up in the city.

“Under the powers of the Highways Act, we have in the last few months successfully served notice and removed tents from Duke Street, around the North Street NCP car park and wasteland next to the King Alfred.

“This process is relatively new to the city and involves co-working with Cityclean, council officers and sometimes the police.

“If a tent is classed as a danger, it can be removed swiftly.

“If it’s assessed as a nuisance, this then involves applying to court for notices and therefore takes longer for action to take place.”