Human faeces, oral sex and syringes: What life's like for these Hanley traders

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Traders are demanding action after finding bloody syringes, human faeces and customers being offered oral sex outside their businesses.

Business owners in Marsh Street South, Hanley, have described the shocking scenes that greet them when they come to work on a daily basis.

Among the issues include a gentleman being offered oral sex as he left a hair salon, a man pulling his pants down to do ‘a number two’, people ‘smoking crack pipes’ and a man with a knife up his sleeve.

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Other recurring problems include bloody syringes, human faeces and glass bottles being left along Bird Cage Walk behind the businesses.

Now traders are calling for alley gates and extra lighting to be installed in Bird Cage Walk to help themselves and their customers feel safe.

Sharon Nicholson owns Fad Hairdressing, in Marsh Street South, and says what she used to find shocking is now an everyday occurrence.

The 52-year-old said: “It’s gotten worse over the last six months and I see it all.

“I had to stop one man having a poo yesterday by the bin outside the salon and he toddled off. It’s just disgusting.

“There was also people sat here smoking crack pipes outside the window and offered one of my customers oral sex out here. The customer was about 70.

“One day, I had to call 999 because there was a man here holding a blade up his arm at 3pm on a Saturday.

“One of my customers has also said to me that they think they just saw a drugs drop-off.

Bloody syringes and human faeces have been found along Bird Cage Walk in Hanley

“It’s just hard when we’re here every day and have to live in it. What I used to find shocking is now an everyday occurrence. I used to find seeing needles on the floor shocking, but every day now we’re expecting something.

“The other night at 6.15pm, I asked my customer to wait for me while I cashed up. I’m scared to walk to my car because it’s pitch black by Bird Cage Walk and I’m not a scaredy person.

“Between my customers, I have the door locked and it’s not nice. The other day I was cutting someone’s hair and I heard the door open. It was just the postman, but it scares me all the time and it never used to be like that.

“I used to look forward to coming to work, but now I’m thinking I’m in until 7pm, I’m going to be on my own. I shouldn’t feel like that and I never have before.

“I still love my job, but I don’t like coming to work now.”

Robert Barrs, who owns Rubber Soul Records in Marsh Street South, says traders ‘are absolutely sick of it’.

The 46-year-old said: “Lots of the traders clean Bird Cage Walk even though it’s a highway.

“We have found syringes with blood in them, human faeces and there’s glass bottles everywhere. People chuck stuff behind our businesses and there’s lots of anti-social behaviour down here.

Bird Cage Walk in Hanley

“Before we opened up after lockdown, the traders got together with BID (the Business Improvement District) to do Operation Sparkle and we came along Bird Cage Walk and cleaned it all up.

“I also come round here and bring my broom and clean it up. But we don’t know what we’re sticking our hand in. We don’t want to get pricked by syringes.

“We speak to the council about it and they occasionally come and clean it, but as quickly as they clean it, the rubbish is chucked again.

“They wouldn’t have this outside HSBC in Hanley. There’s bigger businesses up there and they just wouldn’t have it.

“Retail is hard enough now and when customers see this here they won’t want to come.

“We just don’t want the council to abandon us. Bird Cage Walk needs to be shut off.

“I drive past my businesses every day at 10.30pm just to check it hasn’t been broken into.

“We just want to focus on earning a living without worrying.”

Marsh Street South, Hanley

Brandon Da Silva owns Supplement Junction in Marsh Street South. The 33-year-old said: “We’ve been burgled five times since 2016. They smash the windows and break through and we can’t afford to put shutters in.

“Every night, I’m going to sleep and I’m thinking am I going to get a phone call from the shop alarm saying we’ve been burgled? It’s opportunistic drug addicts and alcoholics.

“It doesn’t help when there’s buildings along here just left derelict with broken windows that have been abandoned for years.

“Two weeks ago, a stolen car was left abandoned in Bird Cage Walk.

“People keep going into our bins and they’re getting tipped over. We’re a health food store and we don’t want rats to be running around.

“If we got burgled again, I would move premises.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council says Bird Cage Walk is one of the streets that is to be given safety improvements as part of the £550,000 Safer Streets Fund.

A spokesman said: “We are aware of concerns about Bird Cage Walk. We have already spoken to businesses about it, and it is one of the areas of the city centre that is already planned to benefit from the £550,000 Safer Streets investment.

“We, and the police and crime commissioner’s office, have already started some of this work, which involves a range of measures including new street lighting, extra CCTV and alley gates, and will be continuing this work over the coming months.

“Our environmental crime and fly-tipping teams are due to visit to investigate any evidence of who is dumping waste there and to remove rubbish in public places.”

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