Conor Shelis and Mark Blunden, London Evening Standard, June 21, 2013
Residents today called on the police and council chiefs to do more to rid their streets of Roma gypsy rough sleepers who they claim have turned parts of Marylebone into an “open sewer”.
Householders and businesses say they face mess and aggression every day, and one employee reportedly quit her job because of the stress.
Many workers have a grim morning ritual of throwing bleach and cleaning fluid on to the pavement around Cato Street to clean up human waste.
Some businesses claim they are losing money as clients are put off the area.
Nina Dunbar Johnson, director of Wizard Publicity, said: “My office manager was so fed up with it that she left. Every day we have to throw Jeyes fluid and bleach outside.
“We’re a beauty PR company, we’re supposed to smell of good things.”
Residents say up to 20 people, including women and children, arrive after midnight and sleep through to 8am when council workers move them on. Becky Pritchard, 28, said: “I find it really intimidating especially when I come home late at night.” One estate agent said the group had caused two flats to be taken off the market.
Michael Patrick, 40, said: “My sister-in-law is Romanian and she says the way that they are treated there is disgusting. However, this is not where they should be living.”
Westminster council has spent about £100,000 on the problem, even buying tickets home for some of the Roma. It has also issued about a dozen Asbos, banning offenders from the area.
Nickie Aiken, Westminster’s cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, said: “As a local authority we’re trying to do everything within our power to rid the streets of this menace.” Police say they attend every call and move on the rough sleepers for causing an obstruction, but their powers are limited.
Figures reveal the number of homeless people on London streets has more than doubled since Boris Johnson became Mayor.