Responding to concerns about drug use in Ross-on-Wye public toilets

By Ross Gazette reporter in Crime

Local police officers and Ross Town Council are working hard to deter drug use in the Red Meadow toilets.

Residents, speaking on the Ross-on-Wye Notice Board on Facebook, were recently discussing their concerns that drug paraphernalia, such as used needles, were being left in the Red Meadow toilets. One woman commented that she had gone in to use the toilets to use the nappy changing facilities, but there was a strong smell of cannabis and there were cigarette butts all over the place.

The toilets are under the responsibility of Ross Town Council. They employ staff to clean and inspect the toilets each day, and many local residents commented that the cleaner does a fantastic job.

On the comment thread on Facebook, Cllr Chris Bartrum wrote: “The people who clean our public lavatories actually do a very professional and dedicated job. But they cannot be there all the time the lavatories are open.”

Police have added the Red Meadow toilets as a priority patrol area. PC Barradale-Smith told the Gazette: “We would ask anyone that sees needles or associated items to report it to police.”

Cllr Richard Mayo told the Ross Gazette that the council are looking at options to try to reduce the drug use, for example, changing to blue lighting, amending opening times, and asking the town council staff to carry out site checks on top of the existing cleaning and opening and closing procedure.

The Clerk of Ross-on-Wye Town Council, Sarah Robson said: “I have been asked to progress a number of action points that include liaising with the Police to see if they can increase their patrols in this area, speak with a drug and alcohol charity working locally to seek their advice and also to encourage reports of drug paraphernalia to the Town Council at its office on 01989 562373. If there is no answer please leave a message, arrangements will be put in place to ensure a response is made.

“The general consensus [among Councillors] was that whilst all reasonable steps would be taken in an effort to discourage anti-social behaviour, the success would be restricted by a number of factors.” She said that while Councillors considered other measures, such as reducing the times the toilets would be open. However, the Councillors decided that they did not want to penalise general members of the public, wishing to use local facilities.

Ms Robson added: “I think also it needs to be said these are probably isolated incidents, whilst this behaviour isn’t condoned there does need to be some context as the toilets are used by a lot of people who don’t leave them in this state.”

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