TRADERS worry street drinking is frightening visitors away from Stroud, this year’s survey of the town's businesses has revealed.

Over 40 traders have let their concerns be known to Stroud & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce for the body’s annual questionnaire.

It found that empty shops are still the biggest concern for businesses, but only a quarter picked it as top compared to nearly half last year.

Instead more traders chose street drinking and the disturbance it causes for themselves and their customers as their number one worry, up to 21% from 14%.

Concern about homelessness is also on the rise, nearly quadrupling as a top choice from 5% to 19%.

“I cannot remember a time when the High Street has been under more pressure than it is today,” said Tony Davey, who chairs the chamber.

“The survey supports anecdotal evidence that antisocial behaviour has been having a significant impact on the town and its traders; a situation that is perceived to have worsened in recent months.”

Businesses did welcome measures already taken in town, like the police’s and council’s campaign to get more residents to report anti-social incidents.

However, after multiple break-ins, one trader wishing to remain anonymous out of fear of being hit again thinks the problem is resources.

“In absolutely no way am I criticising the police and their desire to do their jobs - but their hands are tied,” the trader said.

"They don’t have the resources to be an effective police force."

Stroud Inspector Sarah Blake said: “In recent months we have been vocal in our aims to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town and have engaged in multiple meetings with partners to see how as a collective these issues can best be approached.

“We have taken a partnership approach to focus on anti-social behaviour, as this is not simply a police matter, and we are already seeing the benefits of this collaborative working.

“The issue in the town has also improved since we have had a new PCSO, Jo Upton, dedicated to the area who has been receiving good feedback about the ongoing work.

“We continue to encourage anyone with concerns or information regarding anti-social behaviour to contact police and the Stroud Neighbourhood Team will continue to do everything we can around the ASB issues with the resources which are currently available.”