A COMMUNITY is demanding action over “appalling” antisocial behaviour by a gang of teenagers who have left many feeling anxious in the town.

Rayleigh residents and businesses have reported incidents of the gang shoplifting, kicking walls and breaking windows.

This comes after the Lodge pub was targeted by the yobs earlier this week, which saw pubgoers locked inside the pub until the thugs had moved.

Gareth James, chairman of the Rayleigh Resident’s Association, said: “This group regularly hang out in that area – I don’t know what kicked off this particular incident, but I believe it was just someone standing up to them.”

Essex Police bosses are due to meet with residents next week, where an open discussion will take place about what can be done to stop the group of teenagers causing more problems in the town.

Richard Lambourne, 64, of Eastwood Road, Rayleigh, said “It’s appalling, and people are getting increasingly anxious. I’m expecting a very large turnout at the meeting.

“We need to know what police are going to do – I’m sceptical of what they will achieve as they’ve put it off before through lack of resources.

“We need officers to respond quickly. There’s virtually no CCTV anywhere along the high street.”

Lodge ward councillor Ian Ward, who has submitted a report to Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois said: “A lot of residents are understandably concerned.

“Something needs to be sorted out but not just at a lower level - it needs to be a problem which is solved nationally.

“Police taking people off the street is only a short-term fix.

“It’s a generational problem, if children keep getting away with things, then problems will keep getting worse.

“The meeting next week is only the beginning, with two special constables already being assigned to Rayleigh.

“I just hope they take my report into consideration. There’s going to be a lot of angry residents.”

Fellow Lodge ward councillor Bob Milne insisted that it’s important that everyone attends the meeting and added: “I’m looking forward to attending. Everyone’s trying to get as many people to go along.”