Battle to stop picnic site sex sessions
VILLAGERS trying to save the reputation of their picnic site are fighting "a losing battle" against men who use it for secret sex sessions.Residents of Lower Crescent, Barham, have hit out at males who have made the site renowned for lurid encounters in toilets.
VILLAGERS trying to save the reputation of their picnic site are fighting "a losing battle" against men who use it for secret sex sessions.
Residents of Lower Crescent, Barham, have hit out at males who have made the site renowned for lurid encounters in toilets.
Suffolk County Council, which owns the area, is also concerned about the site's misuse.
Offenders have been giving the area a bad name for the past two years and others at Nacton village and next to the A14 at Haughley are also suffering.
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The group of angry neighbours are calling for the behaviour, commonly known as 'cottaging', to stop before genuine picnickers are frightened off.
Brenda Mitchell said: "I won't let them intimidate me but for people with children it's getting very hard.
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"It feels now like we are fighting a losing battle."
Janet Debenham said: "This is an area children should be able to feel safe here and before we know it people won't be coming anymore.
"The council spent a lot of money creating it and it's a shame to see it go to waste."
Police have vowed to step up patrols in answer to the villagers' concerns.
Inspector Julian Blazeby, mid Suffolk Sector Commander, said: "Unfortunately public sites of this sort have in the past and still do attract a variety of people who want to carry out sexual activities. It's common throughout the country.
"The community police officer is aware and we will be increasing patrols in the targeted locations, visiting it when we can."
Mrs Mitchell and Mrs Debenham have teamed up with the council and now lock the gates at the site every night.
It put a stop to people parking vehicles and having sex but has not prevented men using it as a meeting place.
Deborah Cash, countryside officer for the council, said: "It's a shame because families and young people we are trying to encourage to visit the sites are being put off.
"I regularly drive past the Haughley site and its so obvious what is happening.
"There's no other reason to explain why loan males are going to a picnic site in the middle of the night - it's certainly not for a picnic.
"But it's hard as nothing has ever been seen by the authorities for definite."
Dummy CCTV cameras were installed at Barham but only deterred offenders until they realised their lack of authenticity.
The county council says it cannot afford to run cameras properly.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity in the area is asked to call Stowmarket police on 01284 774100.
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