Furious council leader vows to crack down on 'drunken louts' after hundreds of people partied in a Harborough park for three nights running
“Our fine parks are not going to be used as free-for-all party zones and outdoors nightclubs full stop"
Furious Harborough council leader Phil King is vowing to crack down on “drunken louts” after hundreds of people partied in a Market Harborough park for three nights running.
Cllr King made his pledge as he warned Little Bowden Recreation Ground on Northampton Road will not become a regular night-time haunt for the “peddlers of harmful and addictive drugs”.
The Harborough District Council chief hit out after up to 300 youths and older people packed into the park for the first three nights of last week.
They are understood to have headed for the park from all over Harborough amid a mini-heatwave as Covid-19 lockdown rules began to ease on Monday March 29.
Outraged residents accused the huge crowds of heavy drinking, taking drugs, making an ear-splitting racket and leaving a sea of rubbish behind them as police were kept at full stretch.
Two teenage girls, of them just 16, were so drunk they had to be treated by paramedics as two other youngsters were driven home by police after drinking too much.
Cllr King told the Harborough Mail: “We will simply not tolerate this type of behaviour.
“It’s not acceptable anywhere – never mind in the middle of Market Harborough.
“Our fine parks are not going to be used as free-for-all party zones and outdoors nightclubs full stop.
“It’s not happening – we will put a stop to this.”
He insisted: “I totally support and empathise with local people – and I’ve reassured them that this will end.
“The drunken loutish behaviour of a minority cannot deny the vast majority of law-abiding citizens enjoying beautiful Little Bowden rec.
“Nor will we stand by and allow this fantastic park to be used by the peddlers of harmful and addictive drugs.”
The Conservative councillor said he had visited Little Bowden rec last Saturday with Cllr Simon Whelband, chairman of Harborough Community Safety Partnership, to meet worried residents.
“We spoke to quite a few and they were understandably upset and frustrated by the entirely inexcusable events of last week.
“These massive get-togethers were not spontaneous.
“They were highly organised on social media,” said Cllr King.
“Youths and adults were being picked up in cars and ferried to Little Bowden rec.
“We’ve also had trouble at Warwick Road park in Kibworth as well as in other parts of Harborough.
“But Little Bowden rec was the worst hit.
“It is intolerable and unbelievable that teenagers as young as 16 and maybe even younger are getting so drunk they have to receive medical treatment and be taken home by police.
“This is a critical safeguarding and health and safety issue – and takes up enormous resources.
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Mail: “I’ve seen some of the pictures of the mess and rubbish left behind at Little Bowden rec and it’s no wonder residents are very angry.
“I do think the solution here lies firmly with the parents of youngsters heading into the park on a night.
“Do they know what their children are doing when they leave home?
“Do they know where they are going?”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads Harborough council’s Liberal Democrat group, is warning revellers are risking “exploding a deadly Covid-19 timebomb”.
“This behaviour is so wrong on so many levels," he said.
“They are setting up another Covid-19 timebomb all set to explode."
“The figures on Covid cases and deaths in the UK are all heading the right way.
“But we are not out of the woods yet by a long chalk,” warned Cllr Knowles.
“The last thing we want to do is to spark off a new wave of infections in Harborough and go straight back to square one.
“Can you imagine more people dying, more people struck down – and all of us going back into lockdown?
“It would be catastrophic,” insisted the veteran Harborough councillor.
“I am appealing to everyone to do their bit now to stop this happening.”