Fears of mayhem

PUBLISHED: 11:37 22 December 2011

Those of us who have worked and resided here for a long time will recall police, who, rather than put foot patrols on the beat, appeared to look for a cheaper solution.

They seemed to become determined to get demolished the thatched Strand Gardens bus shelter, which, because of lack of police patrols, had become the meeting place for yobs and alcoholics and was frequently used as public toilets.

It soon became heavily vandalised, despite police insisting, at that time, the town needed £350,000 worth of CCTV.

The police were instrumental in promoting an alcohol-free zone, which was approved by the then Exmouth Town Council in a vain attempt to expel undesirable behaviour in an area now called ‘Exmouth Arena’, due to the mixture of “wheeled activity” in the area.

As for the alcohol-free zone, signage has vanished in Devon County Council’s £3 million make-over.

Headlines in the Exmouth Journal, November 7, 2002, read: Police and fast-food outlets act to stop late-night disorder in Exmouth.

In 2003, again in the Exmouth Journal, residents claimed town centre drunks were making their lives unbearable.

Now, 10 years later, police are expressing “concern about the behaviour in the town centre”. Just how much time do police need before they remember that actions speak louder than words.

The estuary bird hide is now getting used for other behaviour rather than bird watching, and the monstrous town centre bus shelter is also a place for the ‘untouchables’ to rendezvous.

The police, in their wisdom, introduced a Section 30 zone to remove groups of youths from the town centre. At the time, it was hailed as the tool needed to curtail these groups that intimidate the public, yet this seems to have blown away in the coastal winds, as we all witness more of these groups of youths lingering in the shadows of places like the subway and dealing in substances.

Now, the council authorities want to erect another building in The Strand - now called ‘Exmouth Arena’. It would be somewhere for all these trouble makers to hang around at the comfort of us, the taxpayer, and, no doubt, like the bandstand in Manor Gardens, will soon be torn to pieces by vandalism.

Why are councillors so out of touch with this real world?

Phillip Cole, in his letter to the Journal (December 1), asks what has happened to the lovely lights in The Strand.

The answer could clearly be seen one recent Monday morning - the plastic box, which houses the control unit, had been kicked to smithereens over the weekend and, despite numerous CCTV cameras, no arrests made.

I do not know of one councillor who has spoken out about the proposed building. I fear the planning application has been rubber stamped.

Some may think the artist’s impression looks impressive, but, in this real world, it will not be long before the idyllic world of a proposed tea rooms disappears, the building lies dormant for six months and the town is blessed with another fast food take-away, becoming another home for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night mayhem.

CHarlie Brimicombe

Rolle Street, Exmouth.

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