A collection of pictures from Lord Street & Wrexham’s Bus Station, dating from 2015 onwards, have been shared over 3,000 times and made national media frontpages.
The collection was put together by Gavin Rodda, who wrote: “I feel that the public in Wrexham should really see what goes on in the Bus Station and what we have to see every day. Some of these pictures are shocking but it’s the reality of every day life for the addicts that use there and the mess that they leave for the public to see.”
Gavin added: “For a lot people, myself included, Wrexham Bus Station is our workplace and we feel that it is no longer safe to work in, even with the attempts that have been made to control the drug problems. We work in a place knowing that there are people walking around carrying syringes on them which could be used as a weapon at any given moment.”
Gavin’s full post can be found here.
Today we popped into the Bus Station to visit our usual haunt of King Street Coffee, an independent coffee shop that along with good coffee has good WiFi plus charging points. It appears that after the images circulating online several reporters had also visited, some for the first time, to document the issues.
Due to the Facebook post circulating over the weekend King Street Coffee put a statement on their Facebook page overnight (you can read it here) reassuring customers of their safety and pointing out they were obviously aware of the anti-social behaviour issues.
“By pure coincidence, prior to the post over the weekend we had emailed a number of people within the local council and government to share a similar viewpoint. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response and we have a number of key meetings being arranged to address the issues raised during this week. Hopefully by all parties working together we can help solve the number of complex reasons for this anti-social behaviour.”
Today they told us that trade had been affected since the images being shared, and told us that local MP Ian Lucas had popped in on Saturday after they had emailed him on Thursday.
While in the bus station we talked to another person who works in the facility on a daily basis, who did not wish to be named. They spoke at length about the issues surfacing in the national media today.
“There is an issue but the pictures are old and not representative of the reality. The police have been ace, they have kept an open dialogue. Yeah its popping in for a chat and to keep warm, but that is policing, thats sound.”
“Some of the points made to the council are not about having a million pound refurbishment, it is things like placing a piece of wood at a 45 degree angle to prevent using in the toilets.
“It is dead difficult, as it’s been sensationalised, but there is a problem. The problem is it has been written by people who do not come to Wrexham and have not seen the change. It is well publicised there is an issue, but articles like these get more coverage as it is a shock factor. It looks much more than it is.
“This creates a reputational problem for the town and can damage it for years. over a situation that is a national issue. There are so many good things happening in Wrexham, but this untangles a lot. There is nothing that there was festival at weekend, or the good tourism things happening. This and empty shops is what people think of.”
We asked Wrexham Council what they are currently doing to deal with the issues of drug / alcohol abuse in the bus station, and also for comment on the Public Space Protection Order in place – and if the PSPO was enough to put a stop to the issues.
We also asked about the issue of so called ‘legal highs’ in the Bus Station and parts of the town, and if measures currently in place were being reviewed – as previously the town has been told that the bus station has 11,000 people use it every day.
TCF told how 11000 people a day use the bus station to come to/from the town centre. Our maths says thats 8 full double deckers hourly 24/7?
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) March 3, 2015
Wrexham Council replied with a statement sent also uncommonly to the BBC and Metro, indicating the wider interest prompted by the picture collection.
A statement from Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member for Communities and Partnerships, was given – the councillor who as we reported had told a public meeting he had changed his route into town away from an area with anti-social issues.
Cllr Jones said, “Many of the pictures are old photographs and do not represent the progress being made. Whilst this is a problem faced by many towns and cities across the Country, Wrexham has a proactive and innovative approach, combining the PSPO with action to tackle the underlying issues of substance misuse. Wrexham Town is a safe place for residents and visitors.
“Over the past few months considerable progress has been made with partner organisations including the council, third sector voluntary organisations, Wrexham Police and BCUHB to reduce the amount of inappropriate and unacceptable anti-social behaviour, including being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, in the town centre.
“We now have a multi-agency strategic plan in place which addresses the issues highlighted which aims to ensure that Wrexham is a safe place. The plan is supported by a Public Protection Spaces Order which allows the police and enforcement officers to take action against offenders. Issuing a PSPO fine, however, is the last resort and partners now take a far more coordinated approach which is making a difference to the amount of anti-social behaviour witnessed recently.
“Funding has also been put in place to support additional police presence, extra security at the bus station itself, rough sleeper outreach workers, clean-up operations, increased capacity for the Harm Reduction Team, additional equipment for the homeless Shelter at Ty Nos, a single point of contact re needle pick-ups and training to support the partnership response.
“Overall, the approach is beginning to make a difference but the problem, which is not unique to Wrexham, is one that we will continue to take action about and I can assure people that we will continue to work in partnership with all agencies to make further improvements.”
We were due to speak with North Wales Police this morning, however due to the coverage and images extra attention was being placed at the Bus Station – with a meeting between the local Inspector and Gavin Rodda taking place.
— Insp Paul Wycherley (@NWPPWycherley) March 6, 2017
This article was written in King St Coffee, where we spent about two hours… with zero anti social behaviour issues, so pop in!