A HORRIFIED mother had to pull her young daughter away from a used syringe dumped in a front garden on a busy street.
Sally Uddin, from Edinburgh Road, is now backing a campaign to clean up west Reading streets and get rid of drug paraphernalia, beer cans and other litter from the neighbourhood.
Mrs Uddin, 35, and three-year-old daughter Ayesha discovered the dirty needle outside a house near the Beresford Road-Oxford Road junction on Monday, March 5.
But when she reported it, neither Reading Borough Council nor the police were able to remove it because it was on private property, and it was the homeowner who eventually disposed of it more than four days later.
Mrs Uddin, who also has a 16-month-old son said: "It's really shocked me. Drugs are out of control here but it seems no-one cares. My little girl could have easily taken it and fallen on it.
"Is it going to take a kid in hospital or to catch an infection before they wake up and do something. It feels like you can't take your children anywhere any more."
John Bowman, 25, from Oxford Road, who has found used needles in the nearby Beresford Road playground in the past, said: "I don't know why these people just leave them there when there are little kids playing in the park. Something has to be done."
Mrs Uddin is among signatories to a petition raised by Battle ward Tory election hopeful Imraan Ishtiaq, who has been circulating it to nurseries and community centres in the area. He said: "The council should be responsible for keeping our area clean to ensure it's safe and secure for children to play."
But council spokesman Oscar Mortali stressed the council's Streetcare team sweeps the Oxford Road daily and side roads weekly and said: "Where needles are found on the public highway, they are taken away and safely disposed of. Where they are found on private property - such as a front garden for instance - we need the permission of the householder to take it away and we will do that free of charge if the householder contacts us."
He said the Reading Users Forum also runs regular syringe patrols.