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Halesworth Town Council removes 'Teen Shelter' after string of incidents

PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 November 2017

A spate of incidents at the town parks Teen Shelter over the last few months has led to its removal. Picture: Nick Butcher

A spate of incidents at the town parks Teen Shelter over the last few months has led to its removal. Picture: Nick Butcher

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A council has removed a popular teenage hotspot as it looks to curb an increase in anti-social behaviour and drug use.

Police have been called to the park on a number of occasions, with incidents including drug taking and dealing, vandalism and abuse of local residents. Picture: Nick ButcherPolice have been called to the park on a number of occasions, with incidents including drug taking and dealing, vandalism and abuse of local residents. Picture: Nick Butcher

The decision was reluctantly made by Halesworth Town Council at their meeting on November 6, after a spate of incidents at the town park’s ‘Teen Shelter’ over the last few months.

Police have been called on a number of occasions, with misdemeanours including drug taking and dealing, vandalism, abuse of local residents, and excessive noise into the early hours of the morning.

The last straw for local people and the council was a fire being started in a shelter, which subsequently required the attendance of the fire service to deal with the blaze.

Halesworth Town Council has emphasised that removal of the shelter was a last resort, but say the constant issues that have begun to plague the area left them with no choice but to intervene.

Halesworth Town Council has emphasised that the shelter's removal was a last resort and they will work with young people to discuss what can be done to meet their needs. Picture: Sonya DuncanHalesworth Town Council has emphasised that the shelter's removal was a last resort and they will work with young people to discuss what can be done to meet their needs. Picture: Sonya Duncan

A town council spokesman said: “The council is not happy that it has had to remove the Teen Shelter, but it was at risk of becoming a drug dealing site and would continue to be a focus for serious anti-social behaviour, making the park a no-go area.

“Unfortunately, the vast majority of Halesworth’s youth - who are not responsible for any of this behaviour - now have nowhere to meet. The majority suffers for the behaviour of a few.”

Despite widespread unwillingness within the council to take the shelter down, the decision was taken following advice from an experienced youth social worker and received support from Suffolk county councillor Tony Goldson.

Nevertheless, the council’s vice-chairman, David Wollweber, highlighted that the absence of the shelter will hopefully be short-lived as the council look to find a solution to the influx of problems.

“The shelter has been in the town park for a number of years and is somewhere that teenagers can meet with their friends and socialise,” he said.

“You would expect disturbances from time to time, but the recent issues have been going beyond all reasonableness.

“The next step for us is to meet with the town’s young people and discuss what can be done to meet their needs, as well as look at where we can relocate the shelter.”

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