A pair of stairwells close to a tube station that have been used for drug dealing and prostitution are to be sealed off.

Councillors have agreed to secure the stairwells in Watling Avenue, Burnt Oak, which according to police have seen incidents of drug-dealing and drug-taking, violent disorder, prostitution, littering, street drinking, public urination and defecation, and harassment of residents and businesses.

On one occasion, a man was found dead on one of the stairwells after suffering an apparent drug overdose.

The stairwells – one leading to Watling Market Car Park and the other to Watling Lane – have also been reported as a location for child sexual exploitation.

A statement from Burnt Oak Residents Association said the stairwells’ negative impact on the area was “tremendous”.

It added that the anti-social activity posed a risk to youngsters at three local school and a children’s centre.

At a meeting of the Hendon Area Committee on June 27, councillors approved a members’ item from Burnt Oak councillor Sara Conway to install temporary gates at the site before the stairwells are permanently blocked off.

The committee granted £10,000 of funding for the safety measures.

Cllr Conway said: “I have heard from many residents about how unsafe these areas make their high street feel, particularly for parents, carers and young children who use this route daily to reach their children’s centre and primary school.

“The public health concerns are also deeply worrying. I hope that working together with residents, the police and council officers this marks an important step in building real change for the Burnt Oak community.”