By Bruce Smith STRAINS of classical music will soon await any hooligans who approach a Leeds supermarket.
In the latest salvo against anti-social behaviour, the Leeds Coop store at South Parkway,Seacroft, are to broadcast the classics through outside speakers to deter loitering yobs.
It is hoped that any undesirables will Bach off once they encounter the genius's works and those of other composers including Beethoven and Mozart being lined up in the store's defence.
The scheme is being trumpeted after trials in other parts of the country suggest that classical music is more than troublecausers can stand.
Now when groups of loitering youths start to get out of hand outside the foodstore in South Parkway the staff will play classical music to them.
Hoping the strategy will become the Leeds Co-op's latest weapon against hooliganism, Neil Honeywood, security manager of Leeds Co-op's Food Division, said: "Youngsters gather outside stores because it's light and there's a supply of food and shelter from the rain.
"But they can become noisy and intimidating - and that's when the nuisance starts. But classical music usually moves a group on within minutes. They don't want to listen to that - it's just not cool."
The music is controlled by staff inside the store who can turn it on and off at will and adjust the volume to outside speakers.
The tactic was first tried in Worcester, Bristol and north Wales last year, where more easy listening is believed to have proved a perfect antidote to lingering teenagers with more of a taste in rock music and gangsta rap. Since then it has gone on to work successfully in Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Scotland.
The initiative at the Seacroft store is believed to be the first appearance in Leeds – following consultations and support from the police, Leeds City Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Unit and local residents.
Leeds Co-operative Society operates more than 60 outlets in four trading divisions covering convenience food stores, travel agencies, opticians and funeral services.
Councillor Les Carter, Executive Board member responsible for community safety, said: "I applaud this kind of independent initiative from local businesses. I can assure the Co-op and businesses and residents throughout Leeds that we are absolutely determined to stamp out anti-social behaviour.
"I hope playing classical music outside the shop has the desired effect. At the very least, it might broaden some young people's taste in music.
"However, they might think twice before playing the 1812 Overture!"