Drunken louts threaten carnival

POLICE officers have warned the future of a Suffolk carnival could be under threat after violent youths went on a drunken rampage.

Richard Smith

POLICE officers have warned the future of a Suffolk carnival could be under threat after violent youths went on a drunken rampage.

The number of crimes in Aldeburgh rose 22% in August compared with last year and in one incident police officers came under siege when youths hurled stones at them and their car in Oakley Square.

Aldeburgh Town Council was told the rising tide of violence could plunge the popular carnival, held between August 16 and 18 this year, into doubt.

It is claimed youths from Saxmundham and Leiston were largely to blame as they drove into Aldeburgh intent on picking fights, particularly with wealthy holidaymakers.

There were fights on Crag Path, Slaughden Road, Fort Green and the High Street. On some occasions helpless youths were punched to the ground by teenage gangs.

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Windows were smashed in two restaurants and one art gallery, and one car had a window damaged when an object, believed to be a water bomb, was thrown from a passing vehicle.

There were 56 crimes, compared with 46 last year. Suffolk police made numerous arrests and several teenagers are on police bail.

Nikki Carrier, an officer with the Leiston and Aldeburgh Safer Neighbourhood Team, warned the town council that the future of Aldeburgh Carnival could be under threat if the violence did not stop.

During the three-day carnival period there were 10 crimes. But then in the early hours of Tuesday August 19 there were another nine crimes including various fights.

Pc Carrier said: ''I feel it is a great pity that unfortunately the happy carnival atmosphere is clouded with an underlying motive from youths that Aldeburgh is somewhere to just consume copious amounts of alcohol and create problems within the town.

''This if anything will be the eventual demise of Aldeburgh Carnival. The amount of incidents being reported is increasing every year as is the number of crimes and people arrested.

''No-one wants to spoil such a lovely event but the weeks surrounding the carnival have reached a stage where a conscious decision will have to be made about how, between the council and local police, this will be dealt with in the future.

''Again the idea of making Aldeburgh a designated no drinking area in public places may rear its head and force the town to fall in line with towns such as Leiston and Saxmundham where problems are slowly reducing due to these schemes.''

The town council decided to discuss the issues at a later date. The carnival committee, which was unavailable for comment, meets this month.

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