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FAMILY IS TOLD TO STAY APART; Lives have been made a misery.

MEMBERS of a Merseyside family have been told to stay away from each other in an attempt to stop them making the lives of their community a misery.

The court ruling is only part of an anti-social behaviour order made against the five members of the Bridge family in New Brighton.

They have also been told they cannot congregate in groups of more than two anywhere in Wirral.

It is thought to be the first time in the country that an asbo has been taken out against so many members of a single family.

The allegations against them are so serious that they have also been banned from areas around a police station and council building for fear of reprisals against officers.

Last week Wirral council took the unusual step of applying for a secret court hearing to gain a temporary asbo against John Bridge, 40, Karen Bridge, 37, and their children, John Bridge Junior, 20, Alan Bridge, 18, and Luke Bridge, 16.

It is a step taken only in exceptional circumstances and the first the family knew of the orders was when Wirral council's asbo team and police told them of the court's decision.

The temporary orders last until 4pm tomorrow. Today magistrates in Birkenhead will hear from the Bridge family, who will have a chance to challenge the asbos.

At the same time the council will be applying for the orders to be extended. Breach of an anti-social behaviour order could result in a five-year prison sentence or fine, or both.

Complaints against the family date back to when they moved into the house in Grosvenor Road.

The allegations have included: n Cars being driven recklessly by the older children.

n Threatening behaviour. n Causing criminal damage activity. n Foul and abusive language. Neighbours are reported to have been too afraid to speak out against the family, but have given anonymous statements about them.

As part of the asbo currently in force the family members have been given a curfew preventing them from going out between 11pm and 7am.

As well as the ban on meeting together, they must not threaten violence, use foul language or cause damage to any property.

The order also instructs the family not to attempt to follow police or council officers and not to attempt to intimidate them.

The court has also told the family not to enter exclusion areas around Manor Road police station and Wirral council offices in Birkenhead.

Caroline Laing, manager of Wirral council's anti-social behaviour team, said: ``The original application was without notice and today is their opportunity to challenge that. But we will be looking to extend this interim asbo until a final hearing. ''

CAPTION(S):

ASBO RULING: Grosvenor Road in New Brighton where the family lives.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2004
Words:459
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