BUSINESS owners in Christchurch claim they have lost thousands of pounds in revenue as a result of late-night louts defecating and leaving drugs paraphernalia at their shop entrances.

Traders along Church Street, at the junction of Wick Lane, said every weekend morning they clean vomit from the pavement of the covered footpath left there from revellers the night before.

They have even had to suffer abuse from people urinating in the middle of the day at the height of the problem, they claim, and work tirelessly to keep their shopfronts appealing to customers.

On Saturday they put out signs alerting people to sick that had been left there from Friday night.

One business owner, who asked not to be named, said: "I have nicknamed it the archway from hell.

"Nearly every Friday and Saturday morning I have to deal with the aftermath of the night before. This has been going on for months and today I refused to clean it up.

"We have had people exposing themselves, we have had people abusing us.

"Sometimes I literally cry because I just don't want to open my shops. I've got a beauty salon and people don't want to walk there. I feel sick most of the time and I have lost so much money from drug paraphernalia, urine and sick being left in front of my shops. It is so horrendous that I might have to close.

"I have lost thousands in just a few months. And this isn't even the busiest time of the year. When we get to summer it's going to be even worse."

Majid Azzeddin, landlord of the property, said: "We are fighting a losing battle. It is happening all the time, in a 1,000-year-old town where you don't expect it.

"It is just such a shame. We have called the council and they have tried to do it and we have informed the police.

"There have even been used condoms in door ways, and savage fights.

"I have been here for 35 years and the town has completely changed over the last few years. It is unreal.

"After 11pm this town really changes from white to black."

Sarah Mitchell, owner of Siena's deli, said she too has had to step over human excrement to get to her shop.

"There have been so many cut backs with government funding the council haven't got the people to clear this up," she said. "Christchurch is a nice place but these people are using my shop entrance as a toilet cubicle."

The business owners have been in contact with ward councillor Peter Hall.

He told the Daily Echo: "I think the situation is absolutely appalling. We have got a lot of problems in the town centre and it's just not on.

"People urinating and defecating on the street is quite disgusting and really needs to be sorted out.

"This is a health and safety problem and I will be bringing this up in an emergency meeting."