Bus scheme to tackle troublesome youths

By Jenni DixonAN old double-decker bus could solve some of the anti-social behaviour and vandalism problems caused by young people in Halesworth.The town has experienced a spate of anti-social behaviour by young people at the Folly, an open space near the former railway line behind Holton Road.

By Jenni Dixon

AN old double-decker bus could solve some of the anti-social behaviour and vandalism problems caused by young people in Halesworth.

The town has experienced a spate of anti-social behaviour by young people at the Folly, an open space near the former railway line behind Holton Road.

Halesworth Town Council and the town's crime prevention panel have been looking for an evening drop-in centre for youngsters for 20 years, but they have not been able to find suitable premises.


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Now they are looking to raise £7,000 to buy an old two-storey bus to transform into a café and entertainment centre for youngsters to use as a meeting place.

However, because of the town council's lack of funds, it is writing to the town councils in Beccles, Bungay and Southwold to see if they could help finance the venture in return for having the facility two evenings a week.

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Crime prevention panel member, Alan Holzer, came up with the idea after joining volunteers who chat and hand out free non-alcoholic drinks to young people from a camper van stationed at well-known trouble-spots in the town on Saturday nights.

He said: “The idea of a bus is attractive in itself and there would be enough room to have a drop-in centre downstairs with computers, art or some kind of training space upstairs.”

Town council chairman, Bill Pagan, said he wholeheartedly supported the idea of the bus as the recent behaviour at the Folly worried him.

“It's a lovely area and we would encourage young people to use it, but it has become tied up with anti-social behaviour and we are looking at bylaws to stop the lighting of fires,” he added.

“Halesworth is totally lacking a proper place where young people can meet, converse and relate.”

Inspector Tim Powell, of Beccles police, also welcomed the idea, but was not sure it should be shared with three other towns.

“I think it's an excellent idea - young people in Halesworth are looking for somewhere to go and this could be the answer for some of their needs,” he said.

“But personally I don't think they should go in every town because it would leave Halesworth without a place for them to go to on some nights, but maybe we can get more buses.”

Insp Powell said young people had been congregating at the Folly recently, with nearby residents concerned at their noise, the lighting of fires in a dry area and the amount of litter and broken glass left behind.

The man behind the town's present mobile drop-in centre, Alastair Macfarlane, 68, said he was thrilled with the bus project.

The father-of-two and former special constable said: “I think it is a super idea and if it is shared with other towns, we can plug some of the gaps while maintaining contact with the youngsters.”

jenni.dixon@eadt.co.uk

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