Campaigner and ex-Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye has said that the amount of syringes being found on Manchester’s streets has reached crisis proportions.
Loz regularly cleans hotspots used by heroin users in Ancoats, Angel Meadows and New Islington as a volunteer with the Ancoats Canal Project, over the last couple of years.
In the beginning, it was not uncommon to find a few needles during the monthly cleanup sessions.
But Loz, 45, claimed more recent sessions have seen volunteers filling entire sharps bins with used syringes and disinfectant packets.
EXTREME PROBLEM: MM saw for ourselves the extent of the problem
“It’s actually got to such an extent now that certain streets, like Paradise Walk, are essentially too dangerous to walk down,” he said.
“That’s not an exaggeration – there are constantly needles on the path.
“There’s no reason why we should be putting up with that in the centre of our city.”
Whilst speaking to Loz, MM came across four used needles and several empty disinfectant packets in various parts of Ancoats.
Loz, who ran in the 2015 General Election in Manchester Central, believed Manchester City Council’s ability to respond to the problem was severely limited, due in part to the budget cuts it has faced since David Cameron became Prime Minister.
He warned that the point could come soon where campaigners are forced to ask manufacturers not to make syringes pink, because it’s attracting children to pick them up.
“It’s quite an extreme place to be in,” he said.
“This is the reality of the conversation we’re having in our city at the moment.
“Residents have been highlighting the issues to councillors for some time now.
“They’re not unaware, but unfortunately for the council this is a real indication of how deep the cuts from the Government level have been.”
Loz – who led the Pirate party for five years – urged local businesses to ‘pull their socks up’ too.
“Quite often, private car parks have needles on them and they need to take responsibility to clean up the patches of land that they’re responsible for,” he said.
“We need help, essentially. But we need to be honest about what are the do-able solutions.”
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However, he rejected the idea of ‘safe’ injection sites, pointing out that few residents would be happy with such a scheme.
And while he was adamant that something needed to be done, he did accept that the issue was ‘very politically difficult’.
“We should be asking the questions ‘should we have public sharps bins in Ancoats? Where should people be injecting if they are going to inject?’” he said.
“But I’m first to admit, these are very politically difficult issues.
“This is not about scapegoating anybody or having some sort of crusade.
“It’s simply about saying ‘we need everyone to be safe in the city’. It looks like we’re going to need some outside money and some outside help to do this.
“We’re treating this as a public health issue.
“We’re not becoming hysterical and pointing fingers, but just working together and standing together for our communities.”
Manchester City Council was unavailable for comment.