Town's under-age drinkers

By David LennardA COUNCIL chairman has condemned as “an absolute disgrace” under-age youngsters who left a trail of empty bottles and beer cans in a town centre.

By David Lennard

A COUNCIL chairman has condemned as “an absolute disgrace” under-age youngsters who left a trail of empty bottles and beer cans in a town centre.

Between 20 and 30 youngsters, some as young as 13, gathered in The Arboretum, close to St Mary's Church in Halesworth from about 10pm on Saturday.

Town councillors were informed of the problem by nearby residents and Bill Pagan and Alan Holzer went to see what was happening.

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“I could not believe my eyes when I saw the amount of litter. It was an absolute disgrace,” said Mr Pagan, the town council chairman.

“There were about 30 young people in the Arboretum and it was very obvious they had been drinking. There was no vandalism or violence, but the amount of empty bottles, broken glass and beer cans being discarded was simply awful.”

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Police officers were called and the group of youngsters dispersed. Paramedics were also at the scene, treating some of the young people who appeared to have passed out.

“The sad thing is that we know that these young people are from the Halesworth area. They are fine most of the time, but it appears that when they get together in a large group and alcohol is involved there are real problems,” said Mr Pagan.

“I have no argument against the young using the Arboretum as a meeting place but they must respect the environment there. I am rather saddened by the incident.”

Mr Holzer, vice-chairman of Halesworth Town Council, said he had been contacted by residents who had been disturbed by the excessive noise coming from the group of young people.

“It is extremely worrying that these young people, and I know that some were as young as 13 years old, can get hold of so much alcohol,” he added

“It is a problem that everyone has to be aware of and ways have to found to tackle this before it gets any worse.”

But Mr Pagan and Mr Holzer praised staff from Waveney District Council who attended the Arboretum early on Sunday morning to clear up the mess that had been left behind by the youngsters.

A spokeswoman for Halesworth police said patrols were being increased in the town centre, especially at weekends.

“I would urge anyone who sees any incidents like this to report them to police at once so we can respond quickly,” she added.

There has been a spate of anti-social behaviour in the Halesworth area in recent months, including the town's nativity scene being vandalised over the Christmas period and graffiti being daubed on the war memorial earlier this year.

Last year a public meeting was held to try to find ways of dealing with increasing amounts of vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.

Many residents want to see extra police officers on duty and security cameras installed in an attempt to cut down on anti-social behaviour in the town centre.

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