Parts of Potters Fields by the Mayor of London’s building could be shut off at night after an increase in anti-social behaviour, writes Kit Heren…
The group that runs the popular park near Tower Bridge said it was giving “serious consideration” to partly fencing it off at night following a rise in violence, noise, drug taking and theft, as well as other anti-social behaviour like urination and defecation, after the recent relaxations of lockdown rules allowed “hundreds” of people to gather in local public spaces.
Residents complained to their local councillor about groups of people roaming around, getting into fights and urinating and pooing in the area around Potters Fields Park and City Hall. The bad behaviour started to ramp up over the Easter weekend, the first weekend when people were allowed to meet in groups of six.
Humaira Ali, the Lib Dem councillor for London Bridge and West Bermondsey, had dozens of complaints from locals and raised the issue with police, council licensing officers and local business groups.
Measures suggested to combat this behaviour included adding more patrols in the area, confiscating alcohol – and even fencing off the larger lawns of Potters Fields Park temporarily, although there were concerns about the cost and safety of this step.
Police officers told Cllr Ali in an email that they were preparing for more disturbances as pubs reopened this week, but said that this could also bring more organisation and structure, compared to when people could only buy takeaway pints – as well as cutting the problem of public urination, as people will have access to pub toilets.
They added that there would be more patrols out in the area over the evenings and they would be cracking down on loud music in parks and open spaces.
But officers appeared resigned to the fact that locals would be disturbed by the recent relaxations, adding that “outdoor drinking will inevitably bring noise disturbance for those living in adjacent flats”.
A council anti-social behaviour manager told Cllr Ali that businesses on nearby Druid Street, Enid Street, Bermondsey Street and in Borough Market have been given letters warning them to stay in line with rules. She said that the council is trying to put in CCTV cameras to cover Potters Fields and Tooley Street and licensing officers have been on patrol in recent weeks.
The manager added that police have the power to confiscate any alcohol if they think there is a risk of the person drinking it behaving in an anti-social way or causing alarm.
A representative of the Potters Field Park management trust said that they were considering fencing off parts of the park temporarily, putting in more bins to combat littering, and speaking to the nearby Tesco on Tooley Street about the effect of late-night alcohol sales, as well as discussing a funding application for better street lighting.
Cllr Ali is to hold a meeting on Wednesday evening to give local residents a chance to raise concerns and hear from the police, business groups and the council.
The discussions come as a 19-year-old man was stabbed in the early hours of Sunday morning near City Hall.