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Calls to clamp down on boozy yobs at seaside; LOCKDOWN LOUTS 'HUGE PROBLEM'.

Byline: Ian Johnson Reporter ian.johnson01@reachplc.com @IANJOHNSONCHRON

THERE are calls for tougher action at the coast amid claims it has become a "mecca" for boozy yobs.

Councillors say anti-social behaviour is a "huge problem" on North Tyneside's coastline, with people escaping the city to mingle there.

In December, a huge crowd gathered in the centre of Tynemouth, and last summer a day of drunken violence unfolded on one of the hottest days of the year.

It comes as new figures reveal a rise in anti-social behaviour across the whole of the North East - with much of it linked to the pandemic.

Now a Conservative-backed motion will go before North Tyneside Council seeking "more support for our coastal communities" to try to keep the area safe once the current lockdown measures are eased.

Cllr Lewis Bartoli is one of three councillors to sign the motion.

He claims locals have had their gardens used "as toilets" while he has woken up to find the streets covered in vomit and litter.

Cllr Bartoli said: "If the last two easings (of lockdown) have taught us anything it is that the British public like a drink and that unfortunately the coast has come a mecca.

"They are not going to Newcastle or Whitley Bay, they are using the coastal community to congregate, eat or drink."

The motion highlights both December's mass gathering, where people were reportedly being dropped into

Tynemouth via taxi, along with the events last June in which eight people were arrested.

Fights broke out across the day as drunks staggered in front of traffic and impromptu 'afterdark' raves broke out as temperatures hit 33 degrees.

On both occasions, the events came shortly after lockdown restrictions were eased. Also on both occasions, Cllr Bartoli claims officials were caught "unaware."

He added: "It is not a criticism, as I did not flag it up either, but when we know we are going to have a relaxation of the lockdown rules we just want the police and council to have a bit more of a plan.

"It is the same way we used to have a plan when there was a bank holiday - we just want to see some resources and planning."

Among his suggestions include a more "visible" police presence or a Public Space Protection Order - which would need to be implemented by the local authority.

Northumbria Police, which has administered more Covid-19 fines than any other UK police force, did launch Operation Coastwatch last summer as part of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour at the coast.

However new figures, published by Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, show there was a massive surge in anti-social behaviour last year - much of which was linked to Covid-19.

Between April and August, incidents increased by 68 per cent across the North East year-on-year. At the peak during April and May, up to 53% of these were linked to Covid-19.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said while that figure has since dropped it showed the impact the first lockdown had on the police.

She said: "Anti-social behaviour can have a huge impact on people's dayto-day lives and we need to work together as a region to tackle it.

"That means the police tackling those breaking the law.

"It means working with councils to solve problem neighbours, littering and graffiti and it means working with community groups to rebuild the youth services destroyed by ten years of Government austerity."

The council motion calls for all parties to "work constructively" to tackle the issue at the coast.

Chief Inspector Ron Charlton said: "We recognise the impact anti-social behaviour can have on our communities and we remain committed to tackling this issue throughout the pandemic.

"We continue to run proactive patrols to tackle anti-social behaviour and make sure the latest coronavirus legislation is being followed."

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| A police incident at Cullercoats Bay during the summer
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Author:Ian Johnson Reporter ian.johnson01@reachplc.com @IANJOHNSONCHRON
Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 31, 2021
Words:648
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