URINATING, vomiting, drunkenness and even sexual intercourse are just some of the sights business owners at The Top of The Town are claiming to be facing on a daily basis.

As reported in last week’s Gazette, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) has taken a leading role in helping the rising number of rough sleepers and homeless people in the town.

However, the Top of The Town Association believes that while BDBC is doing good work to support those who want help, more needs to be done about the “hangers on”.

Chair of the Top of The Town Association and owner of Squirrels, in Joices Yard, Alan Stone, said: “The social inclusion partnership run by the council is doing great work, but what about the other side of things?

“What are the council doing about the intimidating behaviour we see? About the drunks?

“Just last Saturday, I couldn’t get to the front door of my shop because two people were sleeping there, and when you ask them to move, you are just met with abuse.”

Juliet Boylan, manager at Pandora's Box, in Market Place, added: “It is just shocking some of the things you see, and when you contact the police they say they can’t do anything.

“I went out the other day and there was just a pool of sick outside the front of the shop, and another time I saw a guy in broad daylight having a wee down one of the alleyways.

“It has got really bad, I don’t come to work and expect to be verbally abused.”

Owner of the Rhu Bar, in London Street, Robert Bates said the issue is getting worse and believes Basingstoke is becoming a “hot bed for the homeless”.

He added: “It used to be a case that a few [homeless people] would sleep round the back and it wouldn’t be an issue, but now people don’t want to come to this part of town because they are scared of being intimidated.”

The borough council-led Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP) is a group of organisations brought together to help tackle the issue of homelessness. Bodies such as housing associations VIVID and Sovereign, the police and ambulance services as well as voluntary organisations including the Winter Night Light Shelter, have been urging residents to alert homelessness services to people sleeping on the streets.

Cllr Terri Reid, deputy leader of BDBC, said: “Our Community Safety Patrol Officers work with the police to combat all kinds of antisocial behaviour.

“Anyone seen acting antisocially will be challenged and, where appropriate, we will make use of the powers to seize alcohol within the town centre.

“We are working hard to support those affected by homelessness and the SIP has been set up to enable key people to come together and to tackle homelessness. 

“Local town centre businesses are a key part of that and I would encourage them to meet with and work with the partnership.”

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: “Where criminal offences are identified, we will take action.

“We also recognise that people who engage in street drinking and associated antisocial behaviour are often hard-toreach with complex needs.

“As a result, we regularly work with our partners, including Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, to make sure the appropriate agency is providing support."