Arson attacks prompt fresh CCTV calls

CLOSED circuit television cameras are back on the agenda after an arson attack on a park shelter caused nearly £15,000 worth of damage.Town councillors in Woodbridge are to start campaigning again for CCTV in the town to catch vandals damaging property and eliminate anti-social behaviour.

CLOSED circuit television cameras are back on the agenda after an arson attack on a park shelter caused nearly £15,000 worth of damage.

Town councillors in Woodbridge are to start campaigning again for CCTV in the town to catch vandals damaging property and eliminate anti-social behaviour.

A spate of crimes in recent months culminated in an arson attack on the picturesque shelter in the award-winning Elmhurst Park during a Sunday lunchtime.

It will cost up to £11,000 to rebuild the shelter and another £3,000 to replace equipment damaged in an equipment store behind the shelter. The town council will have to pay a total of £750 excess on two insurance claims.


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Councillors are furious at the vandalism blighting the historic market town but a long and sometimes heated debate at the town council meeting failed to find an immediate solution to the problems.

Mick Sears, the town centre beat officer, said: ''I think what happened to the shelter was a despicable and totally thoughtless act. We do have four or five hot spots in the town but when you whittle down the statistics, there are very, very few reported crimes. Let us not lose sight of the fact that Woodbridge is a very safe place to live and work in.''

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Neil Montgomery, a former mayor, said there was a growing problem with graffiti and the actions of gangs from Woodbridge, Ipswich, Felixstowe and Melton converging on the town.

''There is evidence of gang warfare, not at the level of fighting each other, but threatening each other. Four gangs are known to be roaming around the town. CCTV can help but it serves to displace the incidents that are going on,'' said Mr Montgomery.

He was accused by Ben Redsell, county councillor, of using inflammatory phrases – ''Woodbridge is not LA. These are two or three children causing a great deal of nuisance,'' said Mr Redsell.

Councillors were concerned that slapping Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO) on young offenders was not necessarily the right action and that some of the teenagers wore them as a ''badge of honour.''

Roy Burgon said: ''It is our responsibility to make sure Woodbridge is as safe as possible and getting a deterrent. CCTV is now necessary, it is the only thing realistically that this council can do to try and make sure this does not happen again.''

Other crime prevention ideas discussed included street wardens and park rangers. A bid for CCTV failed several years ago because a proposed scheme was too expensive and since then traders have organised petitions urging police and local authorities to find a cheaper option.

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