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Residents and traders quiz leaders about infamous Swansea street

MORE CCTV coverage of Swansea’s High Street could be considered, a public meeting was told, but the authorities are determined not to displace problems elsewhere.

Council leader Rob Stewart was asked about CCTV coverage at a meeting about the multi-agency work which is happening to improve the street.

Cllr Stewart said he thought there were 42 cameras covering the area.

“We will look at a (CCTV) mapping exercise, but we don’t want to move things into another street,” he said.

High Street residents and traders quizzed Cllr Stewart and police superintendent Gareth Morgan following presentations from five organisations, including alcohol and drug support service Barod and Swansea Women’s Aid.

Some people felt the street had improved while others said they were scared to walk along it at night, were regularly approached by sex workers, and witnessed drug-dealing daily.

The authorities said they were making major efforts to help vulnerable people caught up in the sex trade and the out-of-county supply of drugs – and that this work was essential in finding long-term solutions.

Superintendent Morgan said an ongoing operation to target kerb crawlers in High Street and try to divert sex workers from the trade had led to 40 dispersal notices being issued since April, but no arrests.

“We’ve had some really positive feedback,” he said. “Not everyone thinks it’s the worst high street in Britain. We accept there are issues.”

One man living on Croft Street, near the top end of High Street, said he had been approached two days ago by a sex worker, who he claimed was also a drug addict.

“This is affecting our quality of life,” he said. “I’m sick to death of hearing about vulnerable individuals.”

Another man who runs a bowls and pensioners’ club in Dyfatty said its members were also approached by sex workers.

“These are married people who found it quite disgusting,” he said.

The man said he was born in High Street and that most people who lived on it were decent people.

“They are entitled to live decently, just like everyone else,” he said.

Lynne Sanders, of Swansea Women’s Aid, outlined the sex worker outreach work it does – sometimes in conjunction with Barod – and said it knew of 89 sex workers in the city.

Jamie Harris, of Barod, said many people it helped had suffered impaired neurological development as a result of adverse childhood experiences.

“You cannot just give them a magic pill,” he said. “We are trying to change patterns of learnt behaviour.”

Mr Harris said Barod’s outreach work had supported 164 people, and that the so-called “county lines” drugs supply phenomenon was not new.

“It goes back to the fact there is a market (for drugs),” he said. “It’s also local people exploiting local people.”

Andrew Davies, from a High Street-based third sector organisation called Unity Group, which helps sex workers and rough sleepers, claimed that 12 or 13 people it supported had died this year.

He also said he saw street workers “naked and rubbing themselves”.

He added: “Some of them can’t speak English.”

A bar manager at Elysium Gallery, High Street, said blatant drug-dealing was an issue outside, but that police were supportive.

“There has been an improvement, but it’s small,” she said.

Points raised in the meeting at Volcano Theatre will be considered by the multi-agency Swansea Public Services Board, which has a critical incident group focusing on High Street.

Swansea West MP Geraint Davies said: “We want High Street to be a gateway, to be safe, welcoming, friendly and buoyant.”

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