Mayor calls for hug a hoodie policy

A TOWN mayor has called for a “hug a hoodie” approach to be adopted to halt a spate of mindless vandalism which is ruining the lives of residents.

Russell Claydon

A TOWN mayor has called for a “hug a hoodie” approach to be adopted to halt a spate of mindless vandalism which is ruining the lives of residents.

The message comes after hooligans have been terrorising householders by smashing up their cars and windows, urinating on their fences and posting faeces through their letterboxes.

Furious residents packed into Sudbury Town Council's meeting to vent their anger that not enough is being done to stop the ugly under current of anti-social behaviour which has surfaced in their usually quiet neighbourhoods.

The trouble has been keeping residents around the Woodhall and Springlands estates locked up in their homes for the past few weeks, too frightened to go out onto the street.

After calls were made for a troublesome park, which has become a meeting place for the large gang of underage youths to drink, to be shut down, Sudbury Mayor John Sayers said the best way forward is to get them round a table and talk.

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Advocating the message made famous by Tory leader David Cameron, who said young troublemakers needed to be shown some love, Mr Sayers said: “We need to engage with them - meet them. I would hate to think they are alienated here, they are not.

“They are growing up in our society and we need to find out what is leading them to want to behave like they are. If we can, perhaps, meet them we can find out.

“Asbos are not the answer. The answer when I was a boy was a clip around the ear hole and with these youngsters out late at night the parents also have to accept responsibility as well.

“I did say we would be prepared, if this does not calm down, to call a public meeting to get the youngsters in as well as the anti-social behaviour teams from the county and district and residents and have an open discussion.”

A group of more than 30 residents descended on the town hall on Tuesday after they decided they had endured more than enough of becoming prisoners in their own homes.

One 40-year-old mother of three, who lives close to the troublesome park in Uplands Crescent, did not want to be named through fear of more repercussions to her and her children but told the EADT: “They shout abuse at people and chuck stuff into our garden. We have to go out and clean it up before we can let our kids go out and play.

“We once went and told them off and they then peed all over our fence. They then got into our garden and left poo in it. We cannot do anything about it. If we ring the police they come and ring on your door and then they know it is you and they retaliate.

“There has been a lot of damage done to cars and gardens and dog poo is being put through people's doors. When a bloke down the road confronted them they mooned at his wife.”

Another woman too scared to be named in the park with her children yesterday said she frequently has to clear up beer bottles from the equipment so they can use the facilities. She said she would not dare let her children play there after 6.30pm.

Mobile CCTV cameras are one idea floated at the meeting as well as lighting up the park at night.

Jacqui Howells, the deputy town clerk for Sudbury Town Council, said: “Councillors pledged their support and will work with all parties to put an end to the misery being caused to residents.”

Sergeant Matt Carney, the leader of the Sudbury safer neighbourhood policing team, said as of last week they have stepped up patrol numbers in the affected areas and have identified a core of 10 people causing most of the trouble which they are now targeting.

“All Sudbury safer neighbourhood team officers have moved their shift patterns to late shifts to increase patrols,” he said. “In reality Sudbury is a safe town to live in and it remains a safe town to live in. We are dedicated to ensuring the individuals committing this anti-social behaviour are dealt with effectively and appropriately. We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour.”

He agreed with the Mayor's stance over talking to some of these youngsters about their problems and trying to give young people more facilities in the town to spend their time on.

Sgt Carney also urged residents to continue to report all the anti social behaviour ongoing in the area so they can clamp down hard on it. He added if people were worried about repercussions they could report it anonymously through Suffolk Constabulary's website, or through Babergh District Council's website. Suffolk police can be contacted through 01473 613500.