Druggies intimidating

CAROLYN VEEN AND DIANE JOYCE
Last updated 14:32 19/03/2014

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Hawke's Bay Sun

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A sudden influx of drug-addled abusive customers in central Napier is wrecking businesses.

At least two were moving out of the area, while another said their part of town had been turned into "the Bronx".

Through its new bylaw the Napier City Council had ensured that just one store in Napier, Adult Selections in Dickens St, was able to sell synthetic cannabis.

To make matters worse the Health Department had closed down the two stores allowed to sell them in Hastings under that district's bylaws, meaning residents from there had to head to Napier to buy their fix.

Businesses owners in Dickens St were very upset when spoken to last week.

Ruben Simon, the managing director of Quest Serviced Apartments said it was bad for tourism.

"Our guests are asking if this is the bad side of town, and I doubt we'll get repeat business. It is a serious problem for us and other businesses in the area," he said.

Phillip Smith from neighbouring business SQL said they would be moving out in May because "it's obviously having a significantly negative impact on our staff and our customers".

His office had large windows that looked out onto the company's car park where vehicles were always stopping.

"Sometimes leaving kids and babies in the car while they go off [to the adult store]. They don't like being asked to move their vehicles . . . and we've had enough of staff being abused . . . some of them have been seen checking out our cars to see if they're unlocked."

Scott Taylor from BedsRUs, right next door to Adult Selections, was very angry.

"Our end of town has been turned in to the Bronx . . . and our business has suffered. We have patched-up gang members that come from Hastings - it's the intimidation factor, and people feel threatened by it. Other groups huddle in our entrance, blocking off the doorway, or worse, come strolling in - it's just a ploy; of course they're not going to buy anything."

A camera put up opposite Napier's Adult Selections showed an average 45 people an hour were going into the shop.The camera was installed on January 23, after council brought in the bylaw.

A report on the information from the camera said that about 140 people went into the shop over three hours on a week day.

Council staff had extrapolated that information out to guess the shop was selling about $7500 of the synthetic drugs a day.

The report also addressed the concerns of neighbouring retailers, who were worried about the amount of "loitering" and "anti-social and intimidating behaviour" in the area.

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To discourage hanging around, council planned to remove seating in the area.

Hastings gives Napier its druggies, page 3

- The Napier Mail

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