Mayor calls for unity as police grilled on youth crime at meeting

Sue West from the Littlehampton Brownies and Guides group, Littlehampton mayor Billy Blanchard-Cooper and June Caffyn from Shopmobility
Sue West from the Littlehampton Brownies and Guides group, Littlehampton mayor Billy Blanchard-Cooper and June Caffyn from Shopmobility

The mayor has called for unity to eradicate youth crime in our town as residents grilled police.

At the annual meeting of Littlehampton Town Council last night, residents packed out the Millennium Chamber in Manor House, Church Street to question chief inspector Kris Ottery about what Sussex Police is doing to deal with youth gangs terrorising the community.

Chief Inspector Kris Ottery at Littlehampton Police Station

Chief Inspector Kris Ottery at Littlehampton Police Station

Emotions ran high as Gary Hughesdon from Café 72 in High Street, Littlehampton, told chief inspector Ottery: “You’re not running this town – they are.”

He said youths aged 12 or 13 ran through his café throwing eggs, and he had seen drug dealing in broad daylight in the market on Friday mornings. On one occasion, he claimed a woman had bags of drugs hanging out of her top and was shouting: ‘pick one, whatever you like’.

Annette Humphrey from the Littlehampton Badminton and Squash Club in Sparks Court, which had been plagued by gangs who started a fire outside the building, said they bragged about being excluded from school. She said: “How can they just be allowed to run the streets and make our lives a misery?”

Chief inspector Ottery said he had made sure more officers were patrolling Littlehampton town centre and urged residents to log all incidents with police via 101 so they could build a picture of youth crime hotspots. “You should not have to feel this way,” he told one upset resident. Click here to find out what Sussex Police is doing to tackle youth crime.

Simon Vickers, chairman of the Littlehampton Traders Partnership, praised the added police presence, and said: ‘we are with you’.

Littlehampton mayor Billy Blanchard-Cooper, who will be handing over the reins to councillor James Walsh next month, urged the town to work together to overcome the problems. He said: “When the Windmill Theatre was at risk did we lay down and let it happen? No, we worked together as a town and made sure that the doors remained open and this is what we must do now. We cannot let a small group ruin things for us in the town, frankly we’re better than that.”

At the meeting. he gave town merit awards to Sue West from the Littlehampton Brownies and Guides group, and June Caffyn from Shopmobility for their dedication to the town.

He added: “This rich tapestry that makes up our town is what makes it the wonderful place I am pleased to have been Mayor of and get to know even better since becoming part of the affectingly branded ‘Chain Gang’.

“It has been an honour of which I have thoroughly enjoyed, I wish I could continue in this role as I feel even with all the many engagements I have attended I am still only just scratching the surface.”

He thanked all the ‘individuals, groups, organisations and societies who work so hard to make our town special’ and reminded everyone about all the exciting events coming up in the town calendar, including Armed Forces Day, the 100th centenary commemorations of the First World War and the Suffragette movement, The Love Festival, which this year has a two week calendar of activities, the Littlehampton Town Show, two Screen on the Green evenings and Christmas activities including the lights switch on.