Down at the Old Cock and Bull
Update on anti social behaviour concerns in and around Aughton published by Roger Blaxall at QLocal.
“Over the past three years, Aughton Parish Council and local Police have been notified of repeated instances of youths from both Aughton and Ormskirk congregating in the following areas and causing damage and mindless vandalism.
“The Co-op in Bold Lane and on Winifred Lane fields; The Quarry 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 neighbourhoods; The Winifred Lane car park’s 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 places;
Criminal damage to the Sports Pavilion and bowling green at Winifred Lane.
“There have been numerous reports over the past year of anti-social behaviour at both Winifred Lane and the Cherry Tree Lane play area and park with residents being intimidated in the past by large gatherings of youths in areas intended for young children.
“There have been reports on social media of incidents occurring during the week commencing 29 May as the half term holidays began. Notably, there were incidents in Aughton involving criminal damage to residents’ vehicles in the Delph Park area. There have also been large gatherings of up to 30 youths outside the Co-op carrying out ASB and other criminal activity, no doubt contributed to by drinking and drug use.
“These incidents have a common feature, local youths aged 14-16, some from Merseyside, others from Ormskirk and Aughton, out unattended until often late at night. The levels of local anti-social behaviour are at unprecedented levels. We would ask all parents to ensure they are aware of what their teenagers are doing and to take responsibility for their behaviour.
“Commenting on the upsurge of anti-social behaviour (‘ASB’) and recent serious criminal damage cases in Aughton, a spokesman for Aughton Parish Council told QLocal “We have invested c. £60k in play area resurfacing and improving bowling green infrastructure to improve the enjoyment of the facilities. The Parish Council’s reluctant to spend hard earned council taxpayer’s money on further infrastructure improvements until this mindless criminal damage and ASB stops.
“We are very mindful that the Pavilion needs urgent upgrading, but can’t advance our plans until there is better behaviour in the Parish. There have been requests on social media for APC to invest its ‘significant’ reserves on youth facilities in the area. Our audited accounts make clear that firstly we don’t have significant reserves [£119,982 cash and short term investments; £341,559 invested] and secondly what little we do have [£461,541] is already earmarked where we look after, for example, maintaining existing play and sports facilities, local tree cutting, some bin emptying, looking after our memorials and other local amenities.
“The Parish Council and residents are anxious, therefore, to maintain these valuable facilities and to see adequate policing for the whole of Aughton. Parish councillors were informed by Chief Inspector Ian Jones at the Annual Parish Assembly in May 2019 that he had put in place a new Neighbourhood Team consisting of 4.5 police officers with the rest on response. He added that 13 PCSOs had risen to 17 and he would be getting another four officers from September.
“On behalf of residents, we must insist that proper policing takes place in Aughton and that this senseless ASB is eradicated. Our residents pay substantial sums in council tax to the Police Authority and must have value for money and be free to go about their business without fear of injury and damage to property.
“Additionally, we urgently require a more coordinated and joined up response with Merseyrail and British Transport Police to prevent the arrival of youths from outside the area who are intent on causing criminal damage to property and ASB. We have a police point at Town Green Station and see no reason why this cannot be used to prevent trouble coming into and out of Aughton.
“We have invited newly appointed Chief Inspector Abbott to attend our next meeting on 14 June to provide an update on what resources are being devoted to proper policing in Aughton. He has confirmed that he will be attending our meeting with Inspector Clough and Sgt Carr. We have also invited our borough councillors (Cllrs O’Toole, Westley, Mrs Westley, Stephenson, and Turpin) and are also making urgent contact with newly elected Police & Crime Commissioner Snowden to attend a parish meeting in July.
“We are also in dialogue with borough councillors on improved CCTV monitoring together with more CCTV installations in Aughton so culprits can be identified and then brought by the Police to justice, and hope they can provide an update on 14 June.
“Due to COVID social distancing restrictions in place, we are restricted in allowing a large meeting to take place on 14 June at Aughton Village Hall – residents will be restricted to 6. We are urgently looking into whether it can accommodate more attendees from a Covid compliance point of view, and details will be published with our agenda next week. We hope that restrictions will be lifted later this month to allow a fuller attendance in July”.
What you’ve read is a litany of handwringing. Aughton only has itself to blame. Three of its elected members live in Halsall. What do they see going on in Town Green? Nothing. What next? Call in Dads Army…a local militia? Oh, they are already here!