The Weary Aughton Parishioner

To misquote Gray’s Elegy “The Aughton parishioner plods his weary way home, and leaves the world to darkness and teenage yobs on wrecking sprees”.

What a fury has suddenly arisen in Aughton in 2019, of young vandals, teenage yobs, wrecking property, damaging woodland, play areas, the bowling green, drug dealing and misuse, antisocial behaviour. It isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s all down to 2019 policing deficiencies caused by government austerity. And the same Aughton Parish Council was reporting the need of more, visible, policing as shown by these APC Minutes from 2014.

“Aughton Parish Council MINUTES OF MEETING 13 JANUARY 2014 10198 LANCASHIRE CONSTABULARY: POLICING OF AUGHTON – Police & Communities Together (PACT) – a brief report was given on the PACT Panel Meeting held 8 January 2014. The issue of a visible police presence was raised and noted.

“February 2014...10213 LANCASHIRE CONSTABULARY: POLICING OF AUGHTON – Police & Communities Together (PACT) – a brief report was given on the PACT Panel Meeting held 4 February 2014. Discussion took place over police officer staffing and possible changes to PCSO posts in Southern Division.

“March 2014... 10231 LANCASHIRE CONSTABULARY: POLICING OF AUGHTON – Police & Communities Together (PACT) – a brief report was given on the PACT Panel Meeting held 5 March 2014. A brief discussion took place over the police staffing of the Police Station – at this moment in time there were no plans to change Police Officer posts in the Southern Parishes. Matters raised included the increase in ‘dog fouling’ around Town Green and the return of the problem of cannabis use at Winifred Lane Car Park. Both matters would be addressed”.

Moving on, to (APC) MINUTES OF MEETING 11 March 2019... 11078 CHAIRMAN/VICE-CHAIRMAN/PARISH CLERK’S FEBRUARY MEETING WITH THE LOCAL POLICE – a brief report was given on the meeting held 5 March 2019… There had been 32 reported crimes since the last meeting…No further issues had been reported in the Cherry Tree Lane/Delph Park Avenue area. It was reported that Aughton now came under the new area Ormskirk/Aughton/Burscough/Westhead/Neighbouring Policing Team. Sports Pavilion – an incident at the Sports Pavilion (criminal damage- police enquiries still ongoing – cctv assisted with 4 youngsters on camera). It was RESOLVED to approve payment to Rapid Secure Ltd (emergency call-out service provided through the local police force, fire or ambulance service) in the sum of £190 (plus VAT) and payment to Graeme Jarvis Property Services of Ormskirk in the sum of £398.49 for the emergency work to reinstate the building (replacement fire door, glass in window, new locks and extra keys). BHIB Insurance had been notified of a possible claim but awaiting the court decision.

Have the police turned their backs on Aughton?

Aughton has 5 borough councillors. Only one lives in Aughton, one in Downholland, and three in Halsall. What do they know of the local problems? Isn’t policing a priority for Tory councillors?

“The levels of antisocial behaviour in Aughton are at unprecedented levels” and “Our residents who pay substantial sums in tax to the police authority must have value for money and be free to go about their business without fear of injury and damage to property”. Statement from Aughton Parish Council

“Over the past 12 months, Aughton PC and the local Police have received notification of many instances of local youths from both Aughton and Ormskirk congregating in the following areas and causing damage and mindless vandalism:

*The Quarry Woodland off Delph Lane – groups of teenagers on mountain bikes have been responsible for damaging the woodland, littering and causing a reported nuisance to the local neighbourhood.

*The Parish Council Car Park off Winifred Lane has been the scene of drug dealing which the police have been aware of and drug misuse by youngsters, cannabis snap bags, small silver canisters of nitrous oxide and balloons (commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘hippy crack’) are frequently littered around this site and other public spaces.

*The rear door and window to the Sports Pavilion off Winifred Lane was vandalised by a group of youths, this incident was captured on CCTV and has now been through the Magistrates Court and is being dealt with the Youth Offending Team. The cost of repair has been borne by the local council.

*The Bowling Green adjacent to the Sport Pavilion has, on numerous occasions over the last 6 months, been unlawfully accessed by youths who have damaged not only the ‘crown green surface’ but also the gully woods, the huts and the hedges. This facility is used extensively by local residents and local bowling groups.

*There have been numerous reports over the past year of anti-social behaviour at both the Winifred Lane site and the Cherry Tree Lane play area and park with local residents being intimidated by large gatherings of youths in areas intended for young children.

“On the evening of Monday, 12 August, the Sports Pavilion was, once again, subjected to wilful damage at the rear, the ladies cloakroom window and internal damage to a washbasin with the cost of repairs currently being assessed; CCTV images are currently being examined.

“These incidents have a common feature, local youths aged 14-16, some from Merseyside, Ormskirk and Aughton, out unattended until often late at night. Witnesses report both males and females and a number of them are riding what appear to be expensive BMX/mountain bikes. The levels of anti-social behaviour in the Aughton area are at unprecedented levels and many of these youths are from the area. We would ask all parents to ensure they are aware of what their teenagers are actually doing and to take responsibility for their children’s behaviour”.

Commenting on the upsurge of anti-social behaviour (‘ASB’) and recent serious criminal damage cases in Aughton, a spokesman for the PC said “The recent unacceptable cases of ASB throughout the Parish, especially in Cherry Tree Lane/Delph Park Avenue area near our Rachel Taylor Memorial Playing Field and play area and William Arnold Silcock Memorial Playing Field off Winifred Lane, seem to be the result of youths from Aughton and others coming in from nearby areas ‘terrorising’ local residents.

“The Sport and Recreation Field off Winifred Lane has been developed by the Parish Council for the enjoyment of the residents of the Parish. The playing field and sports facilities ( including bowls, tennis, cricket and football ) are maintained by the Parish Council and managed by the Aughton Sports Association and the field is also regularly used by dog-walkers and families enjoying the play area and playing field.

“The Village Hall, a popular venue for meetings, groups and organisations and available for parties, weddings and funerals, also has access to the car park at the Winifred Lane site.

“Parish councillors and local residents are anxious, therefore, to maintain these valuable facilities and to see adequate policing for the whole of Aughton. Following questions from residents, the newly appointed CI Ian Jones assured them at the Aughton Annual Parish Assembly held on 13 May that he had put in place a new Neighbourhood Team. This would consist of 4.5 Police Officers and the rest would be on response. The 13 PCSO’s had now gone up to 17 and he would be getting another 4 Police Officers from September. The local community would be consulted on the main issues affecting them.

“We have seen no sign of any improvement. In fact, it has got markedly worse over the summer months. We were assured by CI Jones that drug dealing, ASB and other aspects of criminal damage in Aughton would be clamped down upon by this new team. We can see no real evidence of this taking place.

“On behalf of local residents, we must insist that proper policing takes place in Aughton and that this senseless behaviour is eradicated. Our residents who pay substantial sums in council tax [police precept] to the Police Authority must have value for money and be free to go about their business without fear of injury and damage to property. We are inviting Chief Inspector Jones to attend our next monthly meeting on 9 September to follow up on his promises delivered to the May meeting and explain to residents why nothing is happening.

“We are also making urgent contact with the Police & Crime Commissioner Grunshaw who gave us similar undertakings over 12 months ago at one of our Parish Meetings”.

Sergeant Billy Matthew of Lancashire Police said while officers are viewing CCTV over the latest vandalism policing had been “upscaled” and Aughton was receiving more patrols than ever before. He said police had to balance resources and suggested that parks could be closed at night and also that live CCTV streaming could be utilised. He should ask the Aughton Parish Council beancounters for the funds to pay for live CCTV streaming, they’ve got enough!

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