Bristol

Businesses to quit Bristol's 'hostile' Bearpit

Bearpit in Bristol Image copyright Google
Image caption Traders have contacted police hundreds of times about anti-social behaviour

Businesses in the centre of a Bristol roundabout say they will leave in March unless something drastic is done to tackle worsening "hostile" behaviour.

Bristol City Council spent £1.2m improving the Bearpit beneath St James Barton Roundabout in 2014.

Traders said they had contacted police 300 times in the last year amid an increase in anti-social behaviour.

Police have pledged to increase enforcement but say it is not a long-term solution.

Trader Miriam Delogu said: "Something has to drastically change otherwise on March 1st we will have to shut shop.

"It's just too hostile at the moment.

"People are threatening to kill us and threatening to destroy our businesses.

"It feels like there's no consequence to any of their actions."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Bearpit is accessed by pedestrian subways under the roundabout

Police recorded 473 crimes at St James Barton and the pedestrian subways in the year ending 1 December 2017.

Simon Green, who runs Bearritos, said: "It seems some people are prepared to accept that this is how it is and what we are doing is standing up and saying, no, it doesn't have to be this way."

Ch Insp Andy Bennett, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "This is a real cauldron of social issues and policing is just part of that.

"We will do our part in terms of increased enforcement activity and visibility but that is not the long-term solution."

Labour councillor Paul Smith said: "The council is in the same position as the traders, in a sense - do we continue to commit to trying to improve the space as it is or do we go for a much more radical alternative?

"In the 90s there was a plan to reintegrate that space with Broadmead by pedestrianising the part of the road that's next to Debenhams. If you built an access you would create value as well."

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