Hornblower George Pickles has attacked anti-social behaviour by “feral youth” and “mindless idiots”, saying Ripon has “a serious problem and it is getting worse”.
The city and borough councillor was prompted to contact the Gazette after reading a letter from a reader living in Claro Road which described being on the receiving end of three years of anti-social behaviour by local youths.
“When I read the letter it struck a chord with me,” said Coun Pickles.
“That’s not the Ripon I want to see. There’s no use having a nice city with historic charms if you can’t walk the streets or go to bed in peace.”
In his own letter published on January 30, the Hornblower says he wants the letter writer to contact him and fellow councillor Stuart Martin so they can find out the specific circumstances and whether any solutions can be identified.
Speaking to the Gazette about the broader picture in Ripon, Coun Pickles pointed to boy racers and the vandalism of the Spa Gardens tree sculpture as other examples of anti-social behaviour.
“It’s popping up all over the city,” he said.
Coun Pickles says he often sees anti-social behaviour while carrying out his duties as Hornblower, conducting the nightly Setting of the Watch ceremony on Market Place.
“I don’t see it every night. There are periods when all is calm and orderly but then you may have two to three weeks when it is intimidating on the square,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily violent but intimidating and quite unnerving to some people.” Coun Pickles said when he calmly asked a boy of around 14 or 15 with a bike to stop using the obelisk as an “obstacle course”, the boy replied to him: “It’s a long time since you were our age. We are in charge now.”
The Hornblower’s council colleague, Coun Stuart Martin, is chairman of the city’s My Neighbourhood project and “quality of life in Ripon” is one of its priorties. “We are working with the police and we are doing a consultation with the residents of Minster Ward in the coming weeks,” said Coun Martin, who hopes questionnaires will be landing on doormats by the end of February.
“Some things the consultation covers are anti-social behaviour and residents’ concerns.”
Coun Martin said it was very important that people take part in the consultation as it would give the police and councillors “valuable information”.
“Anti-social behaviour is an issue and we need to keep the pressure on to fight these incidents. It’s really not acceptable,” he said, urging residents to report cases to the police and himself.