Updated story: Poundland says it put hoardings up before Christmas to deter rough sleepers after being threatened with enforcement action by Greenwich Council.
The discount store chain erected the hoardings on December 21 and they were still in place yesterday, covered in graffiti, some of it crude. The graffiti has been there since before Christmas Eve.
Poundland moved into the prime Powis Street site after M&S moved out in 2014, but left a corner entrance unused. Rough sleepers had been using the covered steps to shelter until the hoardings went up. Greenwich said that there had been reports of drug use and antisocial behaviour.
One social media user said the hoardings had been a “long time coming” while another said sardonically that it was a “a Christmas gift” from Poundland.
One woman wrote that it was “boarded up like there was a hurricane. And it’s got graffiti cussing the council and government too.”
Poundland told 853: “It’s not and has never been Poundland’s policy to erect anti-rough sleeping measures.
“However in Woolwich Poundland was threatened with an enforcement notice, because of drug mis-use in that opening, by the safer spaces team at the local council and had no choice but to take temporary action.”
British Land, which owns the Powis Street estate, did not respond to a request for comment.
In October, Greenwich Council spent £10,000 fencing off nearby General Gordon Square because of fears that young people would throw fireworks at passers-by. This came seven months after a 24-strong police team was unveiled with promises that it would tackle serious youth violence in the town centre.
A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “Poundland took the decision to install temporary hoardings on the corner of their site in Powis Street – following complaints the council had received about drug use, litter and other anti-social behaviour.
“We are aware that people had been sleeping rough in that location too and we offered all those people temporary accommodation during the severe cold weather and continue to support any new rough sleepers in Woolwich and anywhere across the borough.
“Woolwich is a priority area for the council. We’ve already refurbished the Tramshed Theatre and we’re building a brand new leisure centre as well as securing nearly £21 million in funding from the government and Historic England to help transform the town centre into a vibrant place to live, work and shop.
“Poundland’s temporary hoardings are not part of our long-term vision for Powis Street.”
Story updated at 8.20am to include a comment from Poundland
To contact local councillors about this, visit www.writetothem.com You can also send a public question to the next council meeting.
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