A judge has described city centre square Piccadilly Gardens as a ‘no-go area’.
Judge Alan Conrad QC made the remark during a trial for knifepoint robbery in the square.
“Piccadilly Gardens is an area that should be an attraction in the centre of Manchester.
“But it has become a no-go area for many people. A place they avoid going to or passing through and cases such as this will re-enforce that feeling”, said Conrad.
The Mancunion reported last week that Piccadilly Gardens had become a major issue for the city, with an abnormally-high level of crime, as well as long overdue redevelopment plans, that have still not been fulfilled, despite council promises.
The crime threat is particularly worrying for students, as Piccadilly Gardens is one of the largest bus terminals in the city, with a number of late night services departing from the stop.
Despite Judge Conrad’s claim, a Greater Manchester Police inspector hit back, saying he would not use the same label, although Piccadilly Gardens had ‘issues’.
One of the greatest problems associated with the area is spice usage, with police regularly called amid reports of people collapsing.
Meanwhile, the heavily disliked ‘Berlin Wall’, a concrete structure in the middle of the square will not be knocked down in the near future, despite promises that an ‘eco wall’ consisting of plants would replace it.
Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese recognised the significance of the issue to citizens of the city centre.
“We know that people have strong views about the need for improvements to Piccadilly Gardens. Indeed after begging, the Gardens was the issue which was most raised in last year’s city centre review.”
In order to make the square accessible, open, and peaceful for all, the council must commit to substantial investment to upgrade the square, but also to dealing with major sources of crime, such as spice addiction and homelessness.