Picture the scene, market and town centre traders trying to make a living among what I have called ‘zombies’.
Drug users unconscious due to taking the illegal drugs ‘Black Mamba’ or ‘Spice’.
This has been the sorry state of affairs in Sutton-in-Ashfield town centre and beyond over the last few months.
This is something happening across Britain.
My postbag has been bursting at the seams, with residents and traders complaining about the dramatic increase in drug use and its affect on our town centres.
I decided that enough was enough and used a recent meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council to call for an urgent county-wide summit to deal with the problem.
I described parts of Sutton like a ‘zombie, horror film’. and I will not apologise, for using emotive language that shines a light on a very serious issue.
I used phrases like ‘war-zone’ and ‘no-go area’ to describe Welbeck Street and the surrounding streets in Sutton.
As a result, extra police have been deployed in the area, there’s extra CCTV, extra community protection officer patrols and the problem is now under control.
I visited Sutton last week and met with shoppers, shop owners and market traders to discuss the problems.
On a tour of the centre with Sutton resident David Hennigan and county councillor Samantha Deakin, it soon became apparent that urgent action is needed.
Traders told me sales were down as residents simply did not want to be confronted by a scene of unconscious drug users.
The emergency services are at tipping point and something needs to be done, as I told Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping when I saw him last week.
Whilst in Sutton, I was told the story of a lady who collapsed after suffering a seizure in Portland Square.
Passers by failed to call emergency services as they just assumed she was on drugs.
As Ashfield Council leader, I can assure residents that the council is doing everything within its power to address the issue.
What is needed though, is multi-agency working to tackle what I believe is turning into one of the biggest crises for a generation.
It needs district councils working with the county council, the police and emergency services to meet this problem head on.
I have also written to the Home Office, asking it to reconsider the classification of these drugs and to look at giving the police more powers to act.
We need to intervene now and help drug users.
This in turn will make sure that our town centres don’t resemble horror films and we send a clear message to everyone that they are great places to be.