doc

SIX youths have been banned from an underground car park in Rochford after terrorising residents and businesses.

The youngsters have been made to sign acceptable behaviour contracts by police after a string of incidents affecting people living and working at Boleyn House, in Roche Close, Rochford.

The youths are blamed for setting rubbish alight and causing criminal damage over several months.

Issues came to a head in January, when £2,000 of damage was caused in the area.

Claire Downes is a senior beauty therapist at Diamond Beauty, next door to the residents’ entrance to the flats.

She said: “We’ve had to walk customers to their cars because they felt so unsafe.

“Only a couple of weeks ago, I saw two police officers chasing some kids around here.

“It used to be especially in the evenings and in the winter.

They’d kick a ball against the glass windows. It’s calmed down with the lighter evenings, though.”

A total of 16 youngsters had been identified as being in the car park since November last year, with neighbourhood police having written to all their parents.

The property management company at the flats, which sit above a row of businesses on the ground floor, has also been patrolling the car park – which is for customers of the Co-op supermarket.

Six youngsters have now signed the contracts, formally banning them from the car park.

Paul Wilson, who lives in Boleyn House, said: “They’ve changed it so only residents can get into the stairwell now.

“We used to be able to smell smoke from what they were doing at the bottom of the stairwell.”

Keith Gordon, Conservative councillor for Rochford ward, said: “We have had a lot of problems with Boleyn House.

“We’ve had discussions with the police, the property management company and even the MP has been involved.”

A police spokesman said: “There has been a considerable reduction in nuisance in this location in the last couple of weeks.”