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Police launch patrols following anti-social behaviour at relief channel

PUBLISHED: 15:34 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:34 05 August 2019

The Great Ouse Relief Channel in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

The Great Ouse Relief Channel in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Police are to patrol the banks of a man-made river after complaints about anti-social behaviour.

Watlington residents have become annoyed with anti-social behaviour near the relief channel. Photo: Ian BurtWatlington residents have become annoyed with anti-social behaviour near the relief channel. Photo: Ian Burt

Residents in Watlington residents say the armer weather has seen children and adults jumping off a bridge over the Great Ouse Relief Channel, which flows through the outskirts of the village.

People living nearby claim rowdy barbecues have also been held by the drain.

Police said they were aware of the issue and were working with the Environment Agency, which manages the channel.

A Norfolk police spokesperson said: "We are aware of concerns from residents about anti-social behaviour at the river in Watlington. "All of the calls to police are recorded, and to date this summer we have received 12 calls in relation to antisocial behaviour.

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"Whilst the congregation of people and swimming in the river are outside of the scope of police control, it is recognised that this is an issue causing much concern to residents, and as such we are working closely with our partners in the Environment Agency to deter this from happening.

"Joint patrols have been undertaken, and negotiations are under way for the mooring pontoon to be relocated for the summer months which will hopefully divert crowds from the area."

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "Removing or moving the moorings (temporarily or permanently) would be a costly exercise and would impact on our navigational customers who pay licence fees and are reliant on our moorings on this busy stretch of the relief channel. Restricting access for parking is challenging, gates and locks have previously been damaged and removed by visitors.

"We have successfully used CCTV and a speaker system at another location with a history of similar issues and have been considering how that might work at the Magdalen Bridge moorings."

Clive Moss, who lives near the river in Station Road, said the groups had left litter and discarded clothing. he said he had been met with confrontation when asking them to be quiet.

Mr Moss said: "It is beautiful where we live and we've spent a lot of money on the house, and we are enjoying our property only for it to be ruined by other people."

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