Preston residents call for council action over rough sleepers and hygiene concerns in New Hall Lane 'grot spot'
A Preston shopkeeper says rough sleepers living in vans behind his food market in New Hall Lane are becoming a nuisance to his business and his neighbours.
The car park behind Kubu Delicatessen has become a grot spot, says manager Aziz Shahrzad, where rough sleepers congregate "day and night".
He says the car park, which was previously used by his customers, is now full with abandoned vans used as shelter by those living on Preston's streets.
Aziz says, in the evenings, most of the vans are full with rough sleepers huddled together, drinking and talking through the night.
He said: "They get thrown out of their accommodation because of their problems, so they come here and sleep in the vans.
"And some of those who drink on the streets around here will go into the back of the vans when it's raining. The vans are unlocked and have been here for a long time."
Neighbours have also complained, with those whose homes back onto the car park saying they have seen men with their trousers down, going to the toilet in clear view of their rear windows.
Preston City Council said it has received a number of reports from residents about the rough sleepers, with concerns raised over hygiene, noise and litter.
One young mum living in Skeffington Road, which backs onto the car park, said: "Since I've moved into my house there has been nothing but drunks, drug users and homeless people sleeping in these vans.
"There's been piles of human waste behind my wall along with all their rubbish and beer cans everywhere. It's also attracting rats.
"I have a young child living with me and this is just not appropriate."
Yesterday (Tuesday, April 28), the Post visited the car park where it found eight vans squeezed together on the small plot of land. A man was asleep inside one of the vehicles under a heap of blankets.
DVLA checks show that the vehicles - an assortment of Transit-type vans and larger removal vans, are untaxed and have not had an MOT for over a year.
What appeared to be human waste was also found beside one of the vans, as well as piles of old clothes, beer cans and food packaging.
Aziz says the grot spot is affecting his business, which has recently come under fire from local residents, some of who think the vans and land are owned by the shop.
But he says the land is privately owned and is not associated with him or his business, though it was previously used for customer parking before the vans moved on to the site.
The shopkeeper says he is equally frustrated with the situation and has raised it with police and Preston City Council, but says he was was told no action can be taken due to it being privately owned.
"I have people living in the houses at both sides of the shop, who come in every day complaining to me," says Aziz.
"They say they can see the people in the vans going to the toilet in the car park, or they can hear them shouting in the night. They are always drunk.
"I find lots of beer cans and drink bottles and other rubbish around the back of my shop every day. But I clean it up, even though it's not my land, because this is my business and I want to keep it nice and clean.
"But every day we have someone visiting the shop to complain. One day it is the police, another day it is the council, or someone whose house looks onto the car park.
"But there's nothing I can do? And even the council have told me they can't do anything. They say it's the responsibility of the land owner. But he doesn't care. So they stay."
Aziz says some of the vans have been there for around two years, but more have arrived in recent months, with a total of eight vans now parked. He says he does not know who owns the vans or why they were brought to the car park.
"They just showed up," he says, "and then they started living in them or using them to sleep it off when they are drunk.
"People blame our shop for selling the alcohol, but there is another shop across the road that sells it and other shops nearby, so it's not just us. We can't tell people where to go to drink.
"But this is a real problem and we need the council to do something. They have been to check again, so hopefully this time something will be done."
Preston City Council confirmed that it visited the site on Monday (April 26) and has now ordered the removal of the vans.
A Council spokesman said: "We are aware of problems in the area and are working to rectify them.
"Staff from our Environmental Health and Waste Enforcement teams have visited the site to assess the situation and we will be ordering the removal of the vans."