Police in clampdown
on village gangs
by Terry Johnson
COMMUNITY leaders in a Warrington village are putting their faith in tough new police powers to check a runaway spiral of anti-social behaviour which has plagued them for two years.
Cheshire Police and town hall chiefs are invoking new laws to combat the actions of two drink-fuelled youth gangs at Culcheth – ‘The Moshers’ and ‘Skallies’ – blamed for creating village mayhem, stretching to hundreds of incidents of unruly behaviour.
Villagers and visitors have been subjected to harassment, intimidation and vandal acts – a catalogue of 300 anti-social behaviour incidents in seven months.
This has been unchecked by the service of five Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and positive community steps to help “bored” young people.
Now the Council and police have had enough. They have declared Culcheth a “Dispersal Zone” under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, which gives police officers the new power to order groups of two or more people to leave the area if members of the public have been intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed.
Civil rights groups believe this be the start of a “Big Brother” law.
But Supt Julia Clayton,(pictured, right) divisional police commander at Warrington, said: “This Dispersal Order aims to combat those responsible for anti-social behaviour and criminal activity in Culcheth. It is not about restricting the movements of law-abiding people.”
The order comes into force tomorrow(Sunday) and is Cheshire’s second such measure.
Said Supt Clayton: “We have received significant local support for this action. Hopefully it will tackle the small number of people who cause misery for others.
“Their behaviour is unacceptable and it will stop. Perpetrators will be told to leave the Dispersal Zone – or face the consequences.”
The police chief assured this was not a short term, knee-jerk reaction to the village problem.
“There have been hundreds of incidents of anti-social behaviour in Culcheth and together with the Borough Council and the Youth Service we are providing a long term solution”.
The zone-power runs to February 1 next year.
Police will be able to tell group members to leave the area and outsiders to leave the locality. They can be ordered not to return for 24 hours.
Under-16’s would not be allowed in the locality between 9.00pm-6.00am, unless controlled by a parent or someone over-18.
Youngsters could be taken home or to ‘a place of safety’.
Defiance of the Order could lead to arrest and three months in prison.
Police tactics to date have involved sending letters to parents of offending youths, confiscating drink and organising community events for young people. But they have been unable to head-off tougher action.
Culcheth councillor Keith Bland (pictured, left) said virtually the entire community would welcome the latest move.
“There are two core gangs causing all the trouble, despite the fact that we have provided a new village BMX track, skateboard park and a youth leader.
“They have harassed motorists and shoppers, caused ?1,000 of damage in the village centre, thrown stones and urinated on the village green and caused other mayhem. Now we are fighting back.”
Tidy Group winds
up after 15 years
by Gary Skentelbery
MEMBERS of the Keep Lymm Tidy Group will wind up their activities this weekend – after 15 years of dedicated work combating the litter-louts in the village.
Declining membership and the advancing age of the remaining members has forced the closure decision.
Secretary Kay Hook said: “It has been very disappointing that over the years, despite all our efforts to encourage younger volunteers to join us, the response has been negative.”
The group was formed in 1989 as a stop-gap measure until Warrington Borough Council was able to comply with new litter laws that were coming into force.
Over the years, the group has had a steady membership of about 24 volunteers.
But the Keep Warrington Tidy office – which provided back-up – closed in four years ago and, more importantly, most members of the Lymm group are now in their 70s and 80s. Some have died and some have moved away.
Mrs Hook said: “Although our efforts in clearing litter have been beneficial, the public’s attitude has not altered and, unfortunately, we have to live with the mess they create.
“While the group will no longer exist, those members who can will, in their own indomitable way, continue to do their bit as and when possible.”
The Keep Lymm Tidy Group never received any funding, other than prize money they won and cash they received from collecting aluminium cans. This was used to purchase flowers, shrubs, etc for the Dingle and other areas and a seat in the village centre. A small balance remaining will be donated to a local good cause agreed by all members.
Mrs Hook thanked the parish council and the borough Rangers for their support and all members of the group for their work. “We now feel the time has come when we must rely on the borough council and the parish council – who now employ part-time workers – to be responsible for clearing litter in Lymm,” she added.
Mum turns son
in to Zebra!!!
by staff reporter
MOTHER of three Andrea Newton found the perfect model when she entered a Warrington college’s Photographic make up and hair competition – her 11 year-old son Lee.
They made the perfect partnership as Andrea, 33, from Orford, Warrington, won first prize for her work which involved transforming Lee into a Zebra!
Her stunning work caught the eye of the judges and now she hopes to go on and be a make up artist after completing her college studies.
Andrea started the Photographic Make Up and Hair for Media course after completing levels two and three in Beauty Therapy.
She is one of a number of mums who have returned to college seeking qualifications before returning to work.
Course leader Jo Bostock said: “Students were asked to perform extreme make-overs and were left to come up with their own devices. They were judged on orginaility, application and preparation.”
Andrea researched zebras on the internet before transforming he son into one of the animals.
Police seize drugs
by court reporter
HEROIN and crack cocaine with a street value of ?26,000 were recovered in an early-morning drugs bust on a house at Warrington.
Drugs squad officers also seized ?3,000 cash from the home of Angela Wilcock in Fairclough Street, Burtonwood.
Warrington Crown Court was told that police inquiries and forensic testing led to a further two arrests.
Wilcock,48, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply and possession of heroin and crack cocaine over a one-month period.
Lee Corrigan,29, admitted similar offences over a three-month period and James Perry,31, of Oak Bank, Wigan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply the drugs, possession of heroin and cocaine and their supply.
The court heard that following the house raid at Burtonwood, officers mounted surveillance on Perry who was eventually arrested with cocaine worth ?2,000 and heroin valued ?3,000.
Forensic tests linked him with the Burtonwood address.
The three accused are due for sentencing on September 10.
Man robbed of his
car outside home
by staff reporter
MASKED thugs attacked man outside his own home, dragged him from his car and drove off in it.
Police are hunting the two men who struck shortly before midnight in Culcheth as the man was returning him in his red Subaru Impreza.
The men, both wearing balaclavas, dragged him from the car, leaving him badly shaken
but unhurt. One drove off in the Subaru while the other drove off in a silver Vauxhall Vectra hatchback.
Police say one man was about 6ft tall, of athletic build and the other 5ft 10 inches tall of stocky build. Both were wearing dark clothing.
They are appealing for witnesses who may have seen them, either before the attack when they would have been in the Vauxhall, near to the New Inn, Culcheth, or afterwards when they were probably driving in convoy towards Leigh.
Two hours after the incident, the Subaru was found abandoned at Atherton.
Anyone who can help is asked to call police at Warrington on 01244 613833.
School to undergo
by John Hendon
TOWN Hall chiefs at Warrington are being recommended to accept a ?569,475 tender to convert a former school into offices for social workers and an adult learning centre.
The scheme involves the former St Werburgh’s CE Primary School, which closed in July 2001.
Four contractors have put in bids and officers are recommending the lowest tender be accepted.
The converted building will provide accommodation for up to 90 social workers. The adult learning centre will retain the established educational use of the site.