Councillors and police officers to hold pivotal talks with fed-up residents at a popular park in Harborough plagued by repeated trouble over the last few weeks

The worst flare-up came at the end of March as about 300 people descended on the park and triggered a massive disturbance as Covid lockdown restrictions began to be eased

Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:28 pm

Councillors and police officers are to hold pivotal talks with fed-up residents at a popular park in Market Harborough plagued by repeated trouble over the last few weeks.

The meeting is to go ahead in Little Bowden Recreation Ground on Northampton Road at 6.30pm on Wednesday June 16 after a catalogue of anti-social behaviour incidents at the park.

The worst flare-up came at the end of March as about 300 people descended on the park and triggered a massive disturbance as Covid lockdown restrictions began to be eased.

Patrols at Little Bowden Recreation Ground.
Patrols at Little Bowden Recreation Ground.

Outraged local families accused the huge crowds of heavy drinking, taking drugs, causing an ear-splitting racket and leaving a sea of rubbish behind them.

Today Cllr Simon Whelband, Harborough District Council’s cabinet lead on community safety, said they are working flat out to crack down on the town’s major troublespot.

“Working with partners, we have taken a number of actions to address anti-social behaviour since our letter to residents in the Little Bowden Recreation Ground area in April.

“A re-deployable camera is in place to provide coverage until a permanent camera can be installed.

“There have been increased police patrols, with a number of advice and warning letters being issued - and police have written to all off-licenses and secondary schools.

“A team of specialist youth anti-social behaviour professionals from the county council have attended the park once a week to engage young people and advise and educate them about risky behaviours,” said Cllr Whelband.

“We have kept the extra bins in the park to manage any additional litter, in addition to the permanent litter bins, and these are emptied twice a week, with our contractor carrying out extra litter picks.

“The meeting with residents on June 16 will be an opportunity for us and partners to discuss issues, share ideas and explore the best ways to address anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Peter James, one of the district ward councillors for Little Bowden, told the Harborough Mail: “We have to find a new way of stamping out this trouble – and fast.

“This has got to be a top priority in Market Harborough.

“We are losing control.

“Unacceptable behaviour at Little Bowden Recreation Ground and right across our town is a growing problem – and we have to find a new approach to deal with it now.”

Cllr Whelband and Insp Siobhan Gorman, who heads up Harborough police, have told residents in their letter: “Following our letter in April we are now writing to invite you to a local residents’ meeting to discuss issues, share ideas and explore the best way forward.

“The meeting will be in the Little Bowden Recreation Ground and will be limited to 30 people – including Harborough Council officers and relevant partners.

“We would therefore ask you to book into this meeting by emailing us at [email protected], telling us your name, address and number of people, if possible one person per household to keep numbers at 30.

“If the weather is bad on the day we will notify you by email on the day and run the meeting via Microsoft Teams and an invite with instructions to this online meeting will go to the email you provide."

Since the last letter, police said the following has happened:

• It has been agreed that the re-deployable camera will remain at the recreation ground until a permanent camera can be installed. The re-deployable camera has recently been upgraded to 4g to ensure continued coverage and improved functionality. This meant a short period of time when it was not at the recreation ground. However, a number of environmental crime cameras were used to cover the area

• There have been increased police patrols and a number of advice and warning letters have been delivered to those committing anti-social behaviour involved or to their parents if under 18

• Police have written to all off-licences, including supermarkets in the area, and also written to the secondary schools

• The County IMPACT Team - a specialist youth anti-social behaviour team - have attended the park once a week to engage young people and advise and educate them about risky behaviours.”

Local people and park-users are being urged to report problems by calling 101 or at www.leics.police.uk