A veteran trader and a senior councillor have criticised the 'intimidating' anti-social behaviour in Northampton's Market Square and are calling on police to do more.
Councillor Phil Larratt, cabinet member of West Northamptonshire Council, tweeted earlier this month (June) about street drinkers in the Market Square.
The councillor tweeted: "Where is the police presence in Northampton town centre? Street drinkers on a bench drinking, shouting and stepping out in front of cars. Intimidating to some. No wonder the town centre is dying. Drinking in public is not allowed. Why is drink not confiscated? @NorthantsPolice."
Northamptonshire Police says they have increased the number of officers in the town centre and have issued banning orders.
Veteran market trader Eamonn 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick echoed the councillors concerns and told this newspaper what it's like on a day to day basis.
Fitzy said: "The market seems to be a magnet for them. It's very intimidating for people to see all that. It's definitely damaging the town centre, without a shadow of a doubt.
"Some days are worse than others. They all seem to come out the woodwork on Mondays. It's not very nice for customers when they're standing around drunk, swearing, drinking, fighting, their dogs are barking, they're spitting.
"You can't say anything to them because they'll turn on you. There's so many of them, some days there are gangs of 20.
"We ring the police and they don't answer the phone. They put you through to call back but they call you back in four hours time at the end of the day."
Fitzy said he would like to see more 'bobbies on the street' and to see them enforcing the no drinking policy in the area.
The market trader said: "They've got to enforce that drinking ban in the town centre - I haven't seen that for ages.
"I'd like to see more police on the street. I'd like to see them take the drink off them and say this is a 'no-drinking area', around the market especially."
A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said the force has increased the number of officers in the town centre and the ‘ringleader’ of the street drinkers has been slapped with a banning order.
The spokeswoman said: “Street drinking has been identified as an issue in Northampton town centre and a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) has been issued by the council which our officers are enforcing.
“In response, we have increased the number of officers in the town centre and their arrival has resulted in identifying one of the main ring leaders and issuing him with a community protection notice which bans him from entering the town centre.
“We are also in the process of producing additional signage and placing it in specific locations around the town centre reminding both the locals and street drinkers that we currently have a PSPO in place and the consequences if drinking occurs.
“We would ask anyone who witnesses a crime or anti-social behaviour in the town centre, to call us, so that we can deploy our officers appropriately.”