Furious council leader blasts young men who started fights in Harborough town centre and parks

As we reported, police were forced to issue a dispersal orders to stop the violence

Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:02 pm
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:04 pm

The furious leader of Harborough council has blasted young men who “brawled” in a park as well as in the town centre in Market Harborough leaving shocked local people and children terrified.

Cllr Phil King declared that “brawling in the streets is bang out of order” after police were forced to impose a special dispersal order in a bid to break up the large-scale disturbances on Wednesday evening.

Trouble flared as young men fought each other at Symington’s Recreation Ground on St Mary’s Road and the town centre – leaving stunned eye-witnesses, including children, “very distressed”.

Harborough town centre. Photo by Andrew Carpenter.

Cllr King told the Harborough Mail that the violent ugly scenes were “completely inexcusable”.

“There is no excuse what so ever for this type of outrageous behaviour.

“Brawling in the street, in our town centre and in our popular parks is totally unacceptable and we won’t put up with it,” said the Conservative council chief.

“We all have rights as individuals but we all have responsibilities as proper upstanding citizens as well.

“And none of us have the right to go out and brawl and fight each other on a night on the streets of Market Harborough.

“Fighting on the street is bang out of order.

“Issuing a police dispersal order is very unusual and it’s draconian,” said Cllr King.

“But the fact that the police were forced to act this way shows just how bad this trouble was in Market Harborough.

“It’s obvious that there is a direct link here between excessive alcohol consumption and maybe other substances like drugs being taken too and this anti-social behaviour.

“Pubs, off licences and supermarkets are all legally required not to sell alcohol to anyone under-age.

“We will continue to carry out regular spot checks on licensed premises to make sure that they are obeying the law.

“You are also breaking the law if you turn up and buy alcohol for under-age youngsters,” warned Cllr King.

“It is intolerable that residents and children were left very frightened by the brawling that we saw on Wednesday night.

“The vast majority of teenagers and young people in Harborough are law-abiding.

“But we have to deal with the minority who are creating a serious law and order problem – they have to face justice.

“And it’s not an excuse to go out and cause trouble just because you are bored.

“We have all been bored throughout the Covid lockdowns at some point or other.

“But we don’t go out and fight each other in the street.

“I would also appeal to anyone who has any information about who was involved in this brawling on Wednesday to talk to the police now,” said Cllr King.

“They have to be quickly brought to book.”

Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrats on Harborough council, told the Mail: “This anti-social behaviour is entirely intolerable.

“The people taking part in this have such a negative impact on local residents and our community right across the board.

“Fighting on the street, drinking too much, taking drugs, blasting out loud music and dumping dangerous rubbish like broken bottles and sharp needles all over the place has got to be stopped.

“We are at a tipping point now after all the trouble we’ve had in our parks in Market Harborough this year already,” said Cllr Knowles, whose council ward includes Symington’s rec.

“We’ve all got to unite and come together now to resolve this very serious public law and order issue – the police, our council, parents and the community.

“I’m also asking the council to update me on what our new officer appointed to tackle this problem is doing.

“Are they actually getting anywhere?

“We can all go out and enjoy ourselves without doing so at the expense of other people.

“We do not want the people of Market Harborough to have to put up with fighting and drinking and drug-taking throughout all the good sunny weather yet to come in June, July and August.”

Fellow Liberal Democrat Cllr Peter James, whose patch includes troubled Little Bowden Recreation Ground on Northampton Road, said: “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 in our town is a growing problem – and we have to find a new approach to deal with it now.”

He spoke after police imposed the Section 34 Dispersal Order from 11.30pm on Wednesday night until 7am on Thursday morning.

The special measure gave officers “the power to ask people to leave the area to reduce the risk of harassment, alarm or distress to the local community and to also reduce the risk of any further public disorder”.

“During the course of Wednesday evening a number of reports were received of fights between groups of young males in parks and the town centre.

“Members of the public reported being very distressed and children were nearby some of the incidents,” said Leicestershire Police.

“Following police attendance, the youths left the area.

“No injuries were reported during the evening.”

Sgt Pete Jelbert, based at Market Harborough, said: “It was disappointing that the order was necessary but we took swift action to restore order and protect the public.

“Following the order being issued, our officers continued to carry out proactive patrols throughout the night.”

He added: “We’d like to thank the members of the public who contacted us to report their concerns.

“We urge anyone to get in touch with us and we always act on all reports we receive.”