One of Dundee’s best-known businesses says it could be forced to close one of its oldest stores due to drug dealers “intimidating” regulars.
Bakery business Clark’s says its Lochee High Street store is facing an uphill battle in the face of anti-social behaviour.
Jonathon Clark, third-generation owner of the firm, says the sight of dealers openly operating immediately outside the shop is putting off customers.
He claims the dealers linger to sell drugs to those attending addiction support services at the Lochee Community Hub next door, which is operated by Dundee Voluntary Action (DVA).
He said: “The manager of this store phoned me up last week saying they were finding it intimidating with all the people hanging around outside.
“They can clearly be seen doing all their deals. The intimidation is causing a massive dip in sales.
“We’ve had to put CCTV in the shop for the protection of the staff. The manager has been there for 10 years and she says it’s the worst she has seen it.
“If my dad didn’t have the history he had here we would nearly be at the stage of closing – but we don’t want to do that.”
Mr Clark insists he wants to be upbeat about Lochee’s potential.
He said: “We need people to listen – I want to be proactive and work together to work out what the answer is to the situation.
“We used to have 100 or so pensioners coming in regularly – now it’s more like 20. We’ve lost all of them because they are too intimidated to come to the shop.
“I’m fully aware that people are trying to get back into society but (the Community Hub) isn’t the answer. The one-way system, the parking, the Community Hub – it’s just not working.”
Mr Clark is set to meet council leader John Alexander next week to discuss the issues.
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Lochee has contended with difficult trading conditions for several years, with many high-profile casualties such as Superdrug, Santander and Greggs.
The Hub is home to a number of support services for drug users, while nearby chemists supply opiate replacement therapies such as methadone.
Jayne Kelly, of community action group Save Our High Street Lochee, said: “What we feel is that the support groups in the Hub should bear some of the responsibility for what is happening outside.
“They are vital services, and we would not want to say otherwise, but if they are setting up in the area they need to bear that in mind.”
Lochee Labour councillor Charlie Malone is looking to meet businesses and local police to find a solution.
“We’ve got a situation where institutions like Clark’s, that have been in Lochee for generations, have survived the one way system, but this could well be the last straw,” he said.
“We tend to find that police show up and move people on but they then come back again.
“Community groups in the Hub are doing a great job of helping the vulnerable but there is a problem with intimidation in the streets.”
Eric Knox, CEO of DVA, has invited concerned parties to get in touch to work out any difficulties.
“We want Lochee High Street to be thriving and the Lochee Community Hub is part of that,” he said.
“It is also an important support to people in the community and we want that to continue.”
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The council is currently consulting with shopkeepers in Lochee High Street about suggestions to cut the number of loading bays at certain parts of the road.
“The exercise is also being used to talk to traders about general issues in the area.”
Force ‘committed to reducing impact of drugs’
Police will continue to “target drug dealers” to help stop anti-social behaviour in Lochee.
Chief inspector David McIntosh (pictured), area commander for Dundee, has insisted the force is “committed to reducing the tragic impact of drugs on individuals, families and communities”.
He said: “There is an ongoing action plan to tackle drug dealing, along with other offences such as antisocial behaviour in the Lochee area of Dundee.
“Pro-active enforcement activity yesterday saw a 40-year-old woman arrested in Lochee High Street for being concerned in the supply of drugs, she will be reported to the procurator fiscal.
“Yesterday, also saw a 31-year-old man and 32-year-old woman arrested for being concerned in the supply of cannabis estimated to be worth more than £11,000 in Kirkton.
“In Fintry, a man and a woman were arrested and reported to the procurator fiscal for being concerned in the supply of tablets, along with another eight individuals who were in possession of drugs elsewhere in the city.”
Pharmacy ‘working with police on problem’
Pharmacy company Lloyds has responded to concerns about drugs paraphernalia being left behind its Lochee shop by drug users.
A spokesman said: “We are working with the police to try to prevent this from happening again.
“Whenever we speak to patients, we remind them of the importance of safe disposal of their equipment.”
He added: “Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and the local community, as well as making sure that patients have access to the medication and services they need.
“We understand this is an important issue for our local community and appreciate being made aware of their concerns relating to the discarded paraphernalia behind our pharmacy in Lochee.
“Our needle exchange service is a valuable resource for patients.”