Angry residents gang up on store

CONCERNS: Coun Michael McNulty, local resident Tony Chetwood and County Coun Mike France in the Leyland Cross/Tesco area of Leyland which has a problem with anti-social behaviour
CONCERNS: Coun Michael McNulty, local resident Tony Chetwood and County Coun Mike France in the Leyland Cross/Tesco area of Leyland which has a problem with anti-social behaviour

A supermarket giant has come under fire from furious Leyland residents fighting to rid the town of its notorious anti-social behaviour problems.

Gangs of teens have been abusive to staff and have filmed videos inside the Tesco supermarket in Towngate, while other groups of youths have been taking drugs near the car park, according to angry residents.

The police held a special meeting to discuss the problems last week, but when a representative from Tesco pulled out of the meeting at the 11th hour, neighbours were outraged.

Jay Nicholas, chairman of the Fox Lane Residents’ Association, said: “Tesco not turning up at this meeting is just shocking.

“People are very angry about the situation because we’ve been putting up with this for so long.

“Them not turning up lets the whole thing down.

“This will only work if everyone is going in the same direction.”

Seven complaints have been made to police regarding youths hanging around Tesco in last five weeks, which included concerns about ‘boy racers’ and noise from skate boards in the community area close to the Leyland Cross.

Sgt John Ainscough said: “In the past month we have issued a cannabis warning, confiscated alcohol and issued two warnings to boy racers.

“We have had more resources in the area at the times when most of the problems occur. It’s a hotspot area, and it’s checked regularly on our tours of duty.”

The police first held a meeting with residents in November, in which the assistant manager of Tesco did attend, and it gave people the chance to voice their views on the issues.

Sgt Ainscough added: “We have no power to stop people or to stop the skate boards, but this will continue to be a high-profile area for us.

“We are extremely passionate about trying to resolve this.”

Resident Tony Chetwood, from Fox Lane, said: “We appreciate things are being done but there is a drugs issue now which is becoming obvious.

“Now that the police are speaking to the gangs in the car park, they’re starting to meet at the back of Fox Lane instead, and are smoking drugs late at night.

“They leave cigarette papers behind and use my recycling bin as a table.”

He said a fence separating Tesco’s car park from the back access of Fox Lane had been broken by people wanting to use the area as a secret meeting place.

Coun Phil Hamman, who has spoken to the manager of Tesco since November’s meeting, said: “Tesco repaired the fence once but it was broken down immediately.

“In terms of who is responsible for what happens in the car park; all that the manager of Tesco can do is clean up after the mess which is left behind every night. He said there is sometimes an absolute mound of rubbish.”

But he added: “The weight of feeling this evening seems to be against Tesco.”

PCSO Tony Wojnarowski said it was the first time police had been told about the drugs issue, and said patrols were prioritised towards what the public requires.

“There is such a thing as people power,” he said.

“It would be worth the residents writing to the chairman of Tesco about this.”

County Coun Mike France told the Guardian after the meeting: “Managing people’s expectations is very difficult if you can’t get the right people round the table.

“People are not happy about Tesco not being here.”

A Tesco spokesman said someone had fully intended to go to the meeting, but was unwell.

Douglas Wilson, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: “Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control we were unable to attend the last meeting, this was communicated to the group.

“We are keen to maintain the dialogue and to seek to resolve the issues.”

- For more on this story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.

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