I'm not from Worcester as many of you will have gathered. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and raised in Northumberland, this churlish northerner has nevertheless come to call your fine city home and my first child will soon, I hope, be born here.

When I first arrived 13 years ago it seemed an idyllic place. Believe me, if you know the bleak pit villages and ports of the North East, this city seems like the Garden of Eden. I was (and remain) impressed by Worcester's rich history, its magnificent buildings like the Cathedral, Greyfriars, the Guildhall and the Commandery.

Friar Street, with its beautiful timber-framed buildings, is as fine a thoroughfare as any in England, rivalling even the great streets of York.

But I've lived here long enough now to see a sharp deterioration in Worcester, an increase in homelessness and aggressive begging, drunkenness and drug abuse. While the physical fabric of the city is as breathtaking as ever, the social fabric is threadbare in places and in others it is coming apart at the seams. The streets feel less safe than they used to, especially at night.

It's hard to ascribe this change to one thing in particular. Some may attribute it to the burden of poverty or the legacy of childhood abuse and neglect, the ravages, perhaps, of recession or the collapse of traditional values.

But perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors, in my view, is the prevalence of class A drugs, particularly crack cocaine and heroin.

Dealers from Birmingham and other big cities are poisoning Worcester despite the heroic efforts of police to cut the lines of supply. Like the mythical Hydra, the police lop off one head only for another to spring up in its place.

It must be soul-destroying at times for those police officers working hard to hold back this vile tide. The devastating cost of drugs to people's health and wellbeing is almost incalculable. Drugs are the engine which drives so much of Worcester's crime. If you look at shoplifting, burglary and some of the shocking incidents of violence we have seen in Worcester streets, including an attack with a machete and another with a crossbow, most have drugs at their root.

Until we find a solution, something bold, something innovative, to tackle this scourge I fear for the future of this city.