'Homeless camp in Northampton high street has been damaging my business... for nine weeks'

A call for urgent action has been issued after a homeless camp entered its tenth week situated on a set of pallets outside a boarded-up Abington Street shop.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 2:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 2:38 pm
Staff at Eazzy Trade in Northampton say the homeless camp on their doorstep is having an effect on their business.

Julie Boult, who opened her electronics exchange shop next to the former Boots opticians nine weeks ago, says the camp is now a serious concern for the future of her business, into which she has invested £120,000.

The camp is the latest in a long line to set up in the de-pedestrianised area of Abington Street.

Mrs Boult is urging Northampton Borough Council to move the group to temporary accommodation as she is also becoming seriously concerned about their wellbeing.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The camp, which is by the former Boots opticians, has been reported several times for anti-social behaviour.

“The ambulance has been out here almost every day,” said the business owner, who previously ran the CEX franchises.

“During the first couple of weeks there was a woman who needed extra help as she clearly had issues, the poor thing.”

Mrs Boult says her first few weeks at Eazzy Trade have been really hampered by the camp, which she has reported to the police on three occasions.

She said it has recently grown to 15 people and she has seen vodka bottles, syringes and a small tent placed by the boarded-up opticians.

The group is also positioned next door to the KFC outlet, which is due to reopen in a matter of days following a refurbishment.

Mrs Boult said that she regularly sees people urinating on the former opticians building.

“Of course we are worried,” she said, about her new business.

“At the end of the day, it’s not just me – I have seven employees to worry about as well. If you are not bringing in sales you are not paying the employees.

“My frustration with the council is ongoing over the lack of anything they seem to want to do.

“The council every so often moves them along, but within a day they are back again.

“The problem is, you need a programme, which is resourced until the problem stops.”

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, the council’s cabinet member for housing, told the Chron: “We are aware of the serious anti-social behaviour issues on Abington Street and our outreach team makes regular contact with this group of individuals to offer help and support including access to accommodation.”

He said the authority would continue to work with the group.

“We will try to engage with these individuals and hope that they choose to take advantage of the services on offer,” he said.

“We are working with partners including the police and the town centre business improvement district to deliver a concentrated programme of engagement, intervention and enforcement over the next six weeks, along with funding an additional daily police presence in the area.

“We will be in contact with the business owner to discuss these actions.”