Bristol Bearpit businesses to close over safety fears

Bristol Bearpit Image copyright Google
Image caption Police recorded 473 crimes at the Bearpit in the year to December 2017

Businesses trading beneath a Bristol roundabout are to cease trading over fears of anti-social behaviour.

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

But Miriam Delogu, from the Bearpit Social, said that as promised "all activity will stop" on 1 March.

Traders have contacted police 300 times in the last year amid an increase in anti-social behaviour, including open drug use, verbal and physical abuse.

Ms Delogu said it was a "heartbreaking" decision but one "we've had to do for far too long".

Simon Green, of Bearritos, said in a blog earlier this year traders were "putting ourselves in danger every day we trade".

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Bearpit is surrounded by busy roads and is accessed by subways under the roundabout

Ms Delogu, also managing director of the Bearpit Bristol group, said she wanted the traders' decision to close to be a "wake-up call".

"All activity will stop until we can deal with the issues that have led us to close," she said.

She added the pressure of dealing with the anti-social behaviour was "quite relentless".

"We will take a hiatus to recharge our batteries, but we are committed more than ever to bring long-lasting social change to the St James Barton Roundabout," she said.

CCTV cameras

Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West, said threats and assaults on Bearpit workers were "unacceptable".

"I am very sad that conditions in the Bearpit have deteriorated to this point," she said.

City council cabinet member Kye Dudd, said following the announcement he was "working with partners to get CCTV cameras installed soon to help deter anti-social behaviour", one of series of measures being taken.

A community event has been organised for Saturday to "celebrate this unique space in the heart of the city and to contribute to the first steps in a much-needed clean-up".

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