Drunks who flout the town centre’s booze ban and abuse passers-by are driving shoppers away, traders claim.
Shop owners around Market Place say the group of 20 drinkers arrive as early as 8am, boozing continuously throughout the day under the town’s bandstands and surrounding areas – despite an no-drinking zone being in place within the ring road area.
And traders link the anti-social behaviour to the closure of The Principal pub last month.
Now police say they are stepping up patrols in a bid to banish the nuisance drinkers.
Local jeweller Mark Beaurain said: “I want rid of them. I have customers looking in the windows and they are putting them off coming in – it’s hard enough as it is. It’s a nightmare everyday.
“Is this what Dewsbury’s all about?”
A shop owner, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “They just go crazy – drinking and shouting abuse. They’re just like dogs. Little kids have to put up with that.”
He said the problem had been getting worse over the past five weeks – around the time The Principal closed its doors.
Coffee stand owner Keith Brett said: “I’ve got lots of elderly customers – they don’t want to see that.”
Another businessman, who did not want to be named as his shop is often targeted by shoplifters, said: “It’s ridiculous out there. We’ve all had enough of it. It feels like nothing has been done.”
He said that now that The Principal is closed, the group bought cheap booze in discount shops and drank in the town centre instead. “Wetherspoons ban them,” he added.
Kirsty Green, assistant manager at Poundworld, said: “It’s getting beyond a joke. Customers have complained about feeling intimidated. I’ve seen them urinating in bushes and down the side of the pub.”
Dewsbury regeneration board chairman Coun Paul Kane said the issue put everything they were trying to achieve “in jeopardy.”
He added: “It’s not acceptable. Laws are there to be obeyed.
“This causes more harm than anything. Closed shops fall into insignificance when you see this nonsense.”
Dewsbury Chamber of Trade member Taz Marshall said: “I’ve seen people avoiding the area and not looking in windows. It’s affecting people’s trade. They get barred from Huddersfield and Leeds and come here.”
“Dewsbury is not a dumping ground,” Coun Kane added.
Coun Kane said more pressure needed to be put on the police to clear the drinkers away. Currently it is a criminal offence to not hand over an open drink if asked to do so by a police officers in the town centre.
Insp Jenny Thompson of the Dewsbury and Mirfield NPT, said: “We have recently seen large groups of youths start to use the town centre, and from speaking with traders are aware of concerns regarding anti-social behaviour and street drinking.
“Police are investigating public order offences and have made several arrests as part of continuing enquiries.
“Meanwhile student officers working in Dewsbury are also now being used to boost our police presence in the area at key times to help deter offending.
“A sergeant has also been tasked with finding some long term solutions to these issues and we are planning to meet with relevant parties in the coming days to get to work underway.”