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Source : 20/08/2001 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Disinfectant is being doused around the main entrance to Northampton's premier shopping centre to disguise the smell caused by drunks using it as a public toilet.

Frustrated bosses at the Grosvenor Centre have taken the unusual step of sterilising the stairwell next to the Abington Street entrance - the focal point of Northampton's shopping area - because the smell of urine has been so bad.

The move has meant that a waft of disinfectant can clearly be smelt by shoppers before they enter the centre.

Centre manager Brian Lawrence said it was unfortunate about the smell of disinfectant but believed it was the lesser of two evils: 'Of course this is not an ideal solution but one we feel goes some way to eradicating the problem.'

'We never used to have a problem with them, but over the last few months a group has begun to congregate. Public toilets are available in the town centre and the Grosvenor Centre so there is no excuse really.'

He said: 'The Jesus Army drop-in-centre at the old cinema, which is due to open soon, would be a place where they could go and get help but there are plans for a wet centre where alcohol can be drunk.'

Northampton Borough Council is currently preparing a bid to the Home Office for a by-law to ban the drinking of alcohol in some town centre streets.

Proposals for a by-law were triggered by a series of complaints about the anti-social behaviour of a group of street drinkers in Market Square.

Exempt from the by-law would be Alley Yard, off Silver Street, where the core group of street drinkers would be allowed to drink and an outreach worker would be on hand for help.

Once the by-law has been publicly advertised, the application will be submitted.