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Path to trouble.

Byline: Michelle Ruane

Young vandals have led a concerned mum to call for the closure of a path which runs around her home.

The public walkway passes alongside and to the rear of Heidi Johnson's home in Mersey Road, Redcar, leading walkers towards nearby Pennine Crescent.

But the mum-of-three says in recent years she has witnessed a rise in problems caused by youths who use the path.

In a recent incident part of her garden fence was set alight, with the blaze spreading to children's toys in her garden.

Rubbish is also dumped along the path, which is a magnet for groups of youths who use the enclosed area to smoke and drink.

Now Heidi and husband Stephen are calling for action to have the path closed.

"There's always litter dumped and my husband has found a syringe in the past," said Heidi, mum of Ashleigh, 14, Corey, six, and 16-month-old Joely.

"One of the fence panels has been kicked in and a few weeks ago it was set alight and the fire spread to the kids' trampoline and paddling pool and other things we'd been storing behind the garage.

"One night two teenage lads were in my garden. It's just frightening. I daren't leave my children in the garden alone.

"If I hear a noise at night I get terrified that the fence is going to get set on fire again. If you go out and say something to the kids who hang around you just get abuse."

She added: "We can't afford to keep replacing our fence and just want the path closed. It wouldn't be much of an inconvenience for those people who use it now."

Local authorities can apply to use Government powers introduced to shut off rights of way or divert them in order to prevent crime and reduce public nuisance.

But Councillor Chris Abbott, Redcar and Cleveland Council's cabinet member for housing and neighbourhood renewal, said the issue of closing the path from Mersey Road has been raised in the past.

On that occasion he said it was opposed in a petition by residents who saw it as a safe route to school for children.

"What is needed is more action by community wardens and police to deal with those who are causing the problems on the path," he added.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 28, 2005
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