Debris on the doorstep

Homeless people sleeping in the park opposite the Woodstock Town Hall.

Intimidation, urine, faeces and foul odours are what the staff of a Woodstock preschool face daily when they get to work.

The Little Ones Educare leases space in the City-owned Woodstock Town Hall and for more than a year they’ve had to deal with vagrants sleeping in the doorway.

Staff say that when the arrive at work they have to ask the vagrants move. Then the mess they have left behind has to be cleaned up.

Raeez Lewis’s wife works at the preschool, and he says the vagrants take their time moving.

“When they eventually move, I must clean their urine and faeces which I don’t mind because I do it for my wife.”

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security and social services, said the City’s street people reintegration unit knew about the “hot spot”, but the vagrants there had refused all offers of assistance.

“We have no legal mandate to forcibly remove such persons.”

A preschool staffer – who, fearing reprisals, did not want to be named – said the vagrants came to the door begging for water, food and money, and some had been seen drinking and using drugs in the park opposite the hall.

The staff member appealed for City law enforcement to be more visible in the mornings.

Law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason they had run operations there in the past, but the vagrants had quickly returned.

“Law enforcement will plan follow-up operations to
address this problem as soon as possible.

“The area will be cleared so that early child development staff can enter the premises unhindered,” said Mr Dyason.

“I drop my kids off at school everyday,” said parent Tauriq Hassen, “and I can clearly see the efforts being made to clean up the area before the kids arrive.”

But he added that the vagrants hung out in the nearby park waiting for the preschool to close so they could set up for the night.