Pub workers in New Cross are calling on the council to cut incidents of crime outside their business – by getting rid of a public bench.

Staff at the New Cross Inn have started a petition to Lewisham Council to remove the smart bench in Clifton Rise outside the pub, which provides phone-charging and wifi facilities, in the hope crime will be reduced.

Met Police statistics show 58 crimes have been reported in Clifton Rise in the last six months – 21 of which were violent or sexual offences.

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Drug-dealing, anti-social behaviour and arson incidents have also been reported.

The petition was started by pub manager Amber Hanson and has gained more than 70 signatures after just a few days.

Kitty Harvey, a bartender at the pub, is supporting the petition after witnessing several incidents around the bench and even being targeted herself.

“My concerns and my manager’s concerns are for the safety of the young people drinking and living in this area.

“Violent things happen, police show up – and it all seems to revolve around the bench,” the 24-year-old said.

She added she thinks the free wifi and phone-charging facilities could be attracting drug dealers to the area.

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“It tends to be the same groups of people there too, dealing drugs and harassing young women,” she told News Shopper.

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Miss Harvey also described fears for her own safety after being harassed outside the pub.

“I’ll be out having a cigarette break and I’ll be approached by some of these people trying to put their arm around me, which obviously doesn’t make me feel very safe.”

The location of the bench, just next to the Venue club and the New Cross Inn Hostel, has also raised concerns about vulnerable young people who have been drinking falling victim to crime.

“I worry about the young community who are getting affected - in particular, by sexual harassment - on a nightly basis,” Miss Harvey said.

After pleading with the council to have the bench removed, Miss Harvey claims the complaints have been “ignored”.

Lewisham Council has been contacted for comment.