Firms in the heart of Birmingham’s professional district have banded together to see off gangs of anti-social youths they said were ruining business.
Companies based around Temple Row and St Philip's Cathedral worked with the police and the Colmore Business District to set up an exclusion zone after suffering months of harassment from people smoking, drinking and bringing dogs onto the private property surrounding the offices of some of the city’s biggest law and finance companies.
And they said they are now seeing results after police set up an exclusion zone for troublemakers and the business district started sending wardens through the area to stamp out trouble.
St Philips Chambers, which has a large privately owned terrace around the building facing the cathedral, had to take on a private security firm earlier this year after constant trouble from people coming on to their property and harassing employees.
But they said things had changed after the companies affected had got together with police and the business district.
St Philips chief executive Chris Owen said: “The main issue from our point of view was that during the working day the youths came onto our premises outside, sometimes with dogs or pushing prams, drinking and basically just having a party on the chambers’ grounds.
“We had people going in and out, ladies as well as men, it was a daily nuisance. We had to constantly ask them to move – I was verbally threatened.
“But the police have been very good, the business improvement district got involved with people coming round regularly, and it’s got better and better and looks like it’s under control now.”
Steve Bonning, the facilities manager at the chambers, said the firm has had to pay out to try to combat nuisance behaviour in the area.
Mr Bonning added: “We had to pay for the security, and of course as a business that’s something we can’t afford to carry on paying forever.
“But it’s always been a problem with youths using our property as a play area.
“It’s a shame because we know they have not always got anywhere else to go, but in the last two years we’ve started to get older kids hanging round with them, causing trouble, and from April this year it just came to a head.
“At first we would go down and try to call them off.
‘‘But there was verbal abuse, one of our guys was physically threatened, and some of our barristers just didn’t want to come into work while it was like this.”
He said other Temple Row businesses like the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB had been involved in the action to stop anti-social youths harming business.
The local companies turned to the Colmore Business District – the local business support group set up earlier this year – for help in liaising with police.
A spokesman for the CBD said: “Colmore Business District is aware there has been instances of anti-social behaviour and is working with businesses in the area to help to alleviate these problems.
‘‘One of CBD’s key aims is to make the area a safe and welcoming place for everyone in the district, so on hearing of these problems faced by businesses we immediately acted to assist with these concerns.
“We have a team of CBD wardens who check the site first thing in the morning and patrol the area throughout the day.
‘‘CBD is also meeting St. Philips Chambers and the local police to produce a specifically tailored plan to ensure that we prioritise resolving any issues businesses may be having in the area.
“We continue to support and work with the team at St. Philips Cathedral to ensure this contemplative and beautiful part of the city remains an enjoyable place for all who visit and work here.”