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Call for action over anti-social behaviour in Ipswich town-centre lane

PUBLISHED: 12:03 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:49 25 January 2019

The section of St Stephen's Church Lane beside the Ipswich Central Conservative Club Picture: ARCHANT

The section of St Stephen's Church Lane beside the Ipswich Central Conservative Club Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Social club members are calling for more action over anti-social behaviour in the lane outside their Ipswich town centre building.

Lights have been installed in St Stephen's Church Lane outside the Ipswich Central Conservative Club Picture: ARCHANTLights have been installed in St Stephen's Church Lane outside the Ipswich Central Conservative Club Picture: ARCHANT

Members of Ipswich Central Conservative Club say there have been problems with large groups of people, including boys as young as nine or ten, hanging around in St Stephen’s Church Lane in the afternoons and evenings.

They have also seen late-night revellers urinating in the street, which links the Buttermarket shopping centre and Upper Brook Street.

Ipswich Central Conservative Club chairman Steve McGoochan said: “Some people have set fire to bits of paper, and they openly smoke dope, and waft it through doors.”

He said there had also been incidents where people had used sexual innuendo to women walking past, as well as drinking and playing loud music. “We have had to dial 999 on several occasions because of the disorderly behaviour.”

He added: “People do use the lane as a toilet. I live above the club, and late on Friday and Saturday nights you see people urinating there.”

Mr McGoochan said he intended to get together with other businesses to send a letter to the police and Ipswich borough council calling for action.

“It’s been going on for two and a half to three years. Something has got to be done about it. We are spending a fortune on security and CCTV, and we pay for taxis home for our staff.”

He said many problems occurred during the evening, from 6pm onwards, when there were often around a dozen people hanging around, but on occasion he had seen groups of as many as 30 or 40.

“It’s not just our members who have been bothered, but people trying to do shopping.”

Mr McGoochan said some of the youths hanging around were children as young as nine or 10. “My stepdaughter is 30, and a boy who was about 12 made a disgusting sexual comment to her.”

However, he said the new beat policeman, Pc Gary Austin, and his predecessor, Pc Will Hatchard, had both been very helpful and patrolled the area as often as they could.

Improved lighting was installed in the lane by Ipswich Central before Christmas, and Mr McGoochan said this had helped the situation.

Ipswich Borough Council has also done work to thin scrub in the area close to the church.

Colin Williams, owner of JaCeys Coffee House, said the lighting had helped to deter people from hanging around in the alleyway and in doorways there.

But he had seen large groups gathering at the back of the former BHS store, particularly on Saturday afternoons.

“They’re not causing any harm, but people feel intimidated. I’m not open in the evenings, and I walk through there very cautiously.

“I think they do get moved on by the street rangers. I think everyone is trying hard in the town, the street rangers especially.”

A Suffolk police spokesman said: “Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team have received reports of some anti-social behaviour in the area of St Stephen’s Church Lane and Arras Square over recent months and have been working with Ipswich Borough Council to tackle this issue.

“The area is monitored by CCTV and officers respond proactively to any reports of issues in the area. It is routinely patrolled as part of officers’ daily plans and any offences are dealt with robustly.”

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