HARLOW MP Robert Halfon met local businesses and police, fire, and crime commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst, at the Clock House pub in the town centre, in the hope of finding solutions to anti-social behaviour and drug problems.
Speaking about whether he thought the meeting would be a success, Mr Halfon said: “The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We’ve got a big problem in this part of the town.
“The shopkeepers tell me the problems they’re facing from anti-social behaviour in this part of the town. It doesn’t happen in the Water Gardens, it happens here, so there’s something wrong.
“I needed Roger Hirst to hear first hand from the public. At least he can hear what’s going on, and he said he’s going away with an action plan. I can’t force anyone to do anything.
“My job is to bring people together so that we can campaign for a better Harlow and a crime-free Harlow. They shouldn’t have aggravation. This should be a lovely place to be and it can be.”
Speaking during the meeting, Mr Hirst said: “We’ve just won a £660,000 grant from central government to spend on precisely this sort of stuff. Harlow clearly is a good place to be spending some of that money.”
The meeting, on December 7, was attended by local business people, councillors, pub staff, and youth workers, who were all keen to voice their opinions about the issue.
According to Tony Edwards, district councillor for the Toddbrook Ward, the problems have gone further than simply anti-social behaviour and have strayed into criminal activity.
He said: “My wife witnessed somebody wandering around with a machete at one point threatening people.”
Tony Fagg, franchisee for the McDonald’s restaurants in the area, has received intelligence that suggests where some of the troublemakers affecting his businesses are from.
He said: “At about 5.30 in the afternoon a group of kids come in to have a fight largely. We believe they’re from St. Mark’s school.”
Despite the problems, managing director of the council Brian Keane believes the police are not to blame.
He said: “The police, with the resources they’ve had, have done a decent job, but they can’t be everywhere.”