COUNCIL tenants living near the city centre say their lives are being ruined by drug users who are “running the area”.

People in Ashton Lodge in Ashton Rise, Brighton, say they put up with near-daily house and car break-ins and threats of abuse and violence when trying to get into their building.

The Tarner Children’s Centre in nearby Ivory Place, which is also troubled by antisocial behaviour, is pleading with MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle to take action on crime in the area.

The Brighton Kemptown MP believes the Arch Healthcare Clinic giving out free needles is contributing to the problems. It is in Morley Street, also close by.

The Argus:

But Tim Worthley, a doctor from the clinic, believes the issues are coming from underfunding in the area.

Police say they are working with Brighton and Hove City Council to tackle the issues and have closed a flat in nearby John Street – the same street as the police station.

The flat had been taken over by drug dealers who contributed to the problems in the area, it is claimed.

One resident in Ashton Lodge, who asked not to be named, said: “Drug users are running the area I’ve been assaulted twice.

“The old lady upstairs from me has been beaten up, my next door neighbour has been racially abused and assaulted, the couple on the top floor were so badly racially abused and attacked that they moved out.

“The police are called almost every other day about our lodge, either they’ve broken in or are keeping us awake all night breaking into cars or the children’s centre.

“The children’s centre next door comes under attack all the time. It gets broken into frequently.

“A heroin user walked in and pooed on the floor in front of babies, pregnant women and small children.

“We all just can’t live like it any more.”

Another resident provided The Argus with pictures of needles littering the floor and poking out of communal bins.

They also sent a picture which they claimed showed drug users sitting outside their flat who they said “put a needle to my head for trying to go in my door”.

When The Argus visited the block, there was human excrement on the stairs and glass in the grass near Tarner Children’s Centre.

The Argus:

Mr Russell-Moyle said: “What has happened here is a shocking case of an inability to move people and there are a few elements as to why that is.

“Firstly, there is a needle exchange across the road and secondly, a flat had been used as a drug den which was, quite rightly, evicted.

“We need to be tough. Tough on these druggies and drug dealers making lives a misery. Tough on the causes of crime.

“They are making residents’ lives hell by climbing into windows. There have been a number of incidents of physical assault and people are almost getting stabbed by needles when putting their rubbish out.

“The council must put in additional lighting to try to prevent people hanging around there at night – my suggestion would be to look at fencing and gating off the car park.”

The Labour MP said the “longer problem” was the lack of a place where users could legally and safely take drugs. Such places do not exist in the UK.

The Argus:

He said: “If you had a place for them to use, you could grab them and try and persuade them to get treatment, you encourage them off the drugs.

“However, it’s not acceptable for residents to wait for a law to come about, a law which is not even on the cards.”

Police Inspector Karen Osborn said: “We’ve been working very hard, along with Brighton and Hove City Council and other partners, to address the concerns of the local community in this area and to develop our intelligence around the use of drugs in the area.

“We would urge people to report incidents so that we can work with them to address these problems.

“Officers are being very proactive in their patrols in the area and now include our latest PCSO recruits who have enabled us to increase our resources out and about in the city. If you would like to speak to them about any concerns you have, please feel free to do so.”

A council spokesman said it was working with Sussex Police to tackle a “number of issues” at Ashton Lodge.

He said: “We clean and litter pick Ashton Lodge on a weekly basis. We are currently reviewing security at the block and installing more fencing is under consideration as part of this.”

The Argus:

A DOCTOR at the Arch Healthcare Clinic said the area needs more investment.

Dr Tim Worthley, clinical lead at the practice, said there are about 15 pharmacies that provide a needle exchange service in Brighton.

The distinguished and respected doctor, who works in the clinic at the Morley Street Surgery, has been praised for his work with the vulnerable in the city.

He said: “The local area really does need more investment.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to try and clear up mess that has been left in the street overnight – empty bottles, vomit, faeces, needles, broken glass.

“It might be that the presence of our surgery contributes slightly to these problems, but I suspect the broader issue is the lack of investment in the area and local social issues.”

Arch Healthcare began hosting a needle exchange service for Pavilions, a drug and alcohol service, when it lost its premises.

However, Pavilions has recently established a new needle exchange service and so Dr Worthley, pictured right, said Arch Healthcare has scaled down the service it provides.

“We are extremely keen to work with local groups including the council and the police to develop a strategy for how the area can be made safer, cleaner and less intimidating.

“We would also argue that much more needs to be done on a national scale to enable people with addictions to use drugs in a way which is safer and which does not have an impact on the local community.

“Supervised injection rooms should absolutely be part of the discussion, as should more integrated services, and provision of accommodation which is warm, dry, safe and which treats people like human beings.”