Harold Hill residents facing nightly antisocial behaviour: ‘How much more can we take?’

Residents of Halifax House and the surrounding blocks say groups of young people are making their li

Residents of Halifax House and the surrounding blocks say groups of young people are making their lives a misery - Credit: Archant

Tenants and leaseholders on a Harold Hill estate say they are at their wits’ end over antisocial behaviour outside their homes.

Piggy Park

Piggy Park - Credit: Archant

But the council said it was working to engage young people with the new Myplace youth centre, and adopting a “zero tolerance” approach with community police issuing warnings to offenders.

Since August, residents say groups of up to 30 young people have been using the private seating area between Halifax House, Haslingdon House and Thrapson House as a nightly social space, with householders reporting acts of vandalism and drug-dealing to local police.

A Halifax House resident, who did not wish to be named, told the Recorder groups of young teenagers were congregating in the green space “every night without fail.”

She added: “It’s very intimidating. They keep trying to set fire to the benches. They just destroy everything they can.

“They drink, smoke and pull branches off trees.”

Eighty-year-old Rosina Archer, who said she had phoned the police in excess of 20 times in six months, asked: “How much more can we take?

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“I’ve had peaches, eggs, stones and balls thrown at my window. Last week someone threw a lolly and it smeared all the way down.

“They smash the glass on our street door. We’ve had to pay for doors to be repaired about 100 times.

“They walk around as if they own the place. They drink and smoke marijuana. They drop cans, cigarettes and litter.

“Ten of our 13 washing-line posts have been broken down.

“They make bets over who can kick the ball the highest, and they smash lights.

“We’ve had kids climbing up in the scaffolding.

“They’re targeting us because we’re old.”

Gooshays ward councillor Pat Murray (Labour) said antisocial behaviour in the green space – known as “Piggy Park” after a disused kids’ play area – was part of a wider problem.

“How do we get young people who are bored and fed up involved in the £5.5m Myplace building?” he asked.

“We need improvements like better lighting that make the area less friendly to antisocial behaviour,” he said, “but it’s a question of reaching these people and getting them involved in Myplace. Otherwise antisocial behaviour will just move somewhere else.”

Cllr Murray cited concerns about the cost of Myplace activities. There is no entry fee, but sessions cost £1.50 each, or £1 for those with an annual subscription.

Havering’s housing boss Cllr Lesley Kelly said: “We will not tolerate antisocial behaviour in any of our houses. We are working closely with the police and local residents to tackle this issue around Halifax House.

“A programme of free activities for troubled local young people is ongoing.”