A councillor has given a dramatic account of the night drug dealers threatened to stab him after he went in search of a 15-year-old homeless boy around midnight in Chester city centre.
Cllr Matt Bryan (Lab, Upton ) hit the streets last night (Thursday, February 1) after responding to a message from the ShareShop homeless charity who were concerned after hearing stories about a vulnerable teenager out in the cold.
But Cllr Bryan witnessed the sinister side of city life while talking to a young homeless couple when a car pulled up with men offering to sell them the drug Spice.
The councillor explained: "It was just by the Eastgate Clock outside Lloyds bank when a black Ford Focus pulled up asking ‘You want Spice?’, ‘£20 a bag’.”
After telling them to clear off in no uncertain terms came the threats using abusive language along the lines of ‘We’re going to stab you up!' although the car then drove off without incident.
Cllr Bryan, who will give a statement to police, said: “I’m not usually an emotional person but I felt like crying at seeing these parasites targeting such vulnerable people.”
He said Cheshire Constabulary had been ‘fantastic’ in putting ‘a marker on the car’ straight away.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the couple had apparently not wanted to be housed in a council shelter as they would have to be separated from each other. Cllr Bryan understands the couple have since received advice from the Chester Aid to the Homeless (CATH) charity and is hopeful they are ‘getting themselves sorted’.
It remains unclear whether the story about the 15-year-old was just a rumour but Cllr Bryan revealed: “I was homeless when I was 15 and I ended up in Bridge Foyer. Luckily I had a lot of support around me. I just didn’t want this lad to become another statistic on the street.”
Adam Dandy, a co-founder of the Chester ShareShop charity, said volunteers had been out all night looking for the teenager but to no avail. He doesn’t know if it was just a rumour but felt action must be taken.
He praised Cllr Bryan for going ‘above and beyond’ to help with the search.
Talking about the Spice epidemic, he said: “It’s gone out of control these last few weeks. The effects of it are very difficult to deal with, especially for voluntary organisations. Somebody who has taken it can be in a zombie-like state but if someone is craving it they can become quite aggressive.”
There had even been stories about dealers giving Spice away free of charge in the past just to get people ‘hooked’.
“People struggle to break addictions such as smoking when they have a roof over their head so imagine how hard it is for people on the streets with something as addictive as Spice or class A drugs,” he added.
Mr Dandy, whose team counted 26 rough sleepers on Chester’s streets last month, said a new partnership called ‘Outside In’ involving the council, police and voluntary sector had ‘big potential’ to make an impact through ‘open lines of communication’ between everyone.