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Feral youths scare residents from hall
7:10pm Thursday 31st October 2013 in News
CALLS are being made for security to be boosted at a community centre because groups of “feral youths” have been terrorising local residents.
Yobs have been congregating outside the Paddocks Community Centre, inLong Road, late at night and disrupting classes by swearing, shouting abuse and even taking drugs in the foyer.
Visitors to the centre have been forced to leave classes early or stop going altogether as they are too scared to leave the hall.
Town councillor Liz Swann, who visits the centre every Thursday for a Slimming World club, contacted police last week because it was getting so bad.
She said: “There is a serious problem with feral youths prowling both inside and outside the building.
“I went outside to ask them to leave and they were aggressive, making threatening comments and gestures to me. One of them even threw a chair across the room.
“It’s so intimidating. There are a lot of older women who go to the groups, one who goes to tai chi is 93 years old. It’s unacceptable they should feel threatened and frightened to go outside.
“There is a serious drug problem on Canvey. You can see them rolling up cannabis joints and passing foil packets to each other and at the end of the night there are cigarette papers, foil and bloodied tissues everywhere. It’s disgusting.”
The problem is said to have escalated in recent weeks as the centre is often unmanned for several hours while the caretaker opens and closes all Castle Point Council’s community halls in the borough.
Pat Blake, who helps run Slimming World, said: “I have been coming here for four years and never seen any trouble. It’s only in the past few months we have seen this problem.
“The kids know the caretaker doesn’t stay on site, so they take advantage.
“People are frightened and do not want to go into the lobby when they’re there. It’s getting worse and worse as word is getting round. They need to bring back security guards.
“The majority of people who go there are older women who are on their own and really feel threatened.”
Canvey councillor Ray Howard said it was unacceptable residents should be subjected to such behaviour.
He said: “The Paddocks is used by many people and many residents visiting the doctors surgery.
“We spent all that money making the community centre look lovely. The last thing we want is this happening.
“It is totally unacceptable people should have to suffer this kind of behaviour.”
A spokeswoman from Castle Point Council said: “The council has responded to complaints of antisocial behaviour including allegations of drug taking. All incidents have been reported to the police and Crimestoppers.”
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