Street drinkers put off Bognor Regis visitors

Street drinkers are turning shoppers away from Bognor Regis.

Shop owner Paul Wells said the numbers of those standing and sitting around boozing all day was beginning to affect the vitality of the town centre.

“They are now starting to fundamentally disrupt the economic wellbeing of the centre of Bognor,” said Mr Wells who is also a town and county councillor.

“I hear it day in, day out from customers of the perception of the problems that are occurring in the town centre.

“It is not bad all the time but there are concerns with the situation with groups and the occasional person who causes problems.

“If people think that, they are going to shop elsewhere and do things elsewhere.

“We need to tackle this problem head on.

“We have talked about it enough.”

Inspector Nick Bowman, of Bognor police station, said: “This is one instance where the public’s perception of a situation matches the reality.

“There is a significant problem in Bognor town centre with street drinkers and the street homeless.”

He said the police had been working with the UK Border Agency, as the Observer has reported.

The agency had served notice on nine eastern Europeans to attend an interview with its officials last Friday.

“They have to give a good reason why they should not be deported,” he said. “If they can’t, they should be homeless in their country of birth rather than a drain on local resources here.”

Chief Inspector Jane Derrick, Sussex Police’s district commander, said: “I am confident this will have a really big impact on the situation.

“This tactic has been used in London, Manchester and elsewhere.”

She said she wanted to meet councillors to discuss their concerns about the situation.

“We need to have an open discussion about this. None of us can solve it on our own.”