A PETITION has been launched by Old Christchurch Road residents to "save" Dalkeith Steps from anti-social behaviour.

Residents have called upon BCP Council and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns to intervene following an increase in anti-social behaviour, which, according to residents, has been happening for years.

In an open letter, the residents said: "The residents of Old Christchurch Road are very concerned at the increased anti-social behaviour on old Christchurch Road and Dalkeith Steps, which is now at levels never experienced before.

"The issue of anti-social behaviour (in whatever form) has been raised on many occasions with local councillors, but we hope that this petition which has reached well over 100 signatures in just a few hours, will both increase awareness of the issue and we hope encourage BCP to finally intervene."

For residents, the problems include "drug users" and "rough sleepers" who frequent the alley to the rear of Old Christchurch Road, which residents say is used to take and deal drugs, use it as a toilet, and dump waste.

The open letter continues: "Human waste, drug paraphernalia, attempted burglary, graffiti, fly tipping and a general atmosphere of neglect is now all too apparent.

"This area and Dalkeith Steps are often the very first thing arriving tourists and visitors to shop on Old Christchurch Road will see when walking down from the Richmond Gardens multi-story car park.

"To be greeted by rough sleepers, drug addicts and human faeces is not a welcoming sight.

"The lane at the rear of Old Christchurch Road (where residents have access to their flats) is dreadful and encourages both rough sleepers/ drug users."

Residents believe that it is only a matter of time before a serious crime is committed if the area is not improved and solutions are sought.

Solution ideas from residents include adjusting the area so only residents of the flats can get through, tarmacking the alleyway and introducing lighting to the alleyway.

Residents said: "The improvements we are asking for are not expensive. We believe approximately 50 meters of high fencing and paving, some active street lighting and residential gate access would all but entirely change the back lane.

"The residents are very much aware that Bournemouth (particularly the southern end of Old Christchurch Road by Dalkeith Steps) is facing a myriad of problems.

"But if BCP Council does not start addressing the issues of anti-social behaviour in our area, it will become much worse and we will see residents leave and shops and investment will not be forthcoming whilst the area continues to degenerate. "

In response to the petition, Head of Safer Communities at BCP Council, Andy Williams said: "We were made aware of the petition last week regarding ASB at Dalkeith Steps.

"Over the weekend our Community Safety Patrolling Officers have increased their patrols of the area and have identified individuals who are causing problems.

"We will be working closely with Dorset Police to continue to patrol this area on a regular basis and deal with any anti-social behaviour using enforcement powers such as injunctions where appropriate. We have also arranged for the cleansing team to visit and clean up the public spaces."

The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/SaveDalkeithSteps