Emergency meeting called as Cross Gates community 'terrorised' by anti-social behaviour

A community meeting has been called in Cross Gates as residents and businesses say they are being 'terrorised' by anti-social behaviour.

By Abbey Maclure
Friday, 10th January 2020, 5:00 pm

Katrina Slater, 43, runs community Facebook group Crossgates Past, Present and Future and has organised the meeting - calling for urgent action against youths causing misery.

She has recorded 49 incidents shared on the group in just three months, including youths throwing stones at cars and taxis, smashing bus stop shelters, setting fire to bins and riding their bikes dangerously.

The mum-of-three said: "I really want to reassure the community that something is happening.

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49 incidents of anti-social behaviour in Cross Gates have been reported on a community Facebook group in three months alone

“Seeing all these posts on the page, I thought - we need to do something about it. There is no point always whingeing and complaining, we need to make a positive difference."

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 28 at The New Travellers Rest and councillors, a local headteacher, an anti-social behaviour officer and a representative from West Yorkshire Police have all promised to attend.

Leeds East MP Richard Burgon has also told Katrina he is aware of the meeting and will attend if he is in Leeds.

Katrina says she wants to work together with the different authorities to get to the root of the problem, airing their experiences in a "constructive" way.

Councillor Peter Gruen said there is not one 'single solution' to anti-social behaviour in his ward of Cross Gates and Whinmoor

She added: “We can look at ways we can help by reporting any crimes, and someone from Whinmoor Warriors is coming along to the meeting to see if they can help get the kids into some kind of sport.

“I really want these kids to be aware of the consequences of what they’re doing, of how much disruption and upset it’s causing.”

Business owner Nathan Clough, 28, says both his Cross Gates candle store and dessert takeaway have been blighted with anti-social behaviour since they opened.

Nathan said: “The kids are terrorising residents and businesses - causing thousands of pounds of damage and it doesn’t seem like enough is being done.

“They’re outside the takeaway and in the shopping centre, riding their bikes into old ladies and causing havoc."

Police say they are aware of residents' concerns and want to work closely with the council's ASB team to reduce the number of incidents in the area.

Inspector Mick Preston, who heads the Leeds East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are aware of some concerns that have been raised by residents about recent anti-social behaviour in the area and we will be attending the meeting to discuss the issues with them alongside local elected members.

“Anti-social behaviour that impacts on people’s quality of life is unacceptable and we will continue to work closely alongside our partners in the local authority, particularly Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team, to identify those responsible and take effective action to reduce incidents and improve the situation for residents.”

Four councillors will also attend the community meeting, two from the Cross Gates and Whinmoor ward and two from the Seacroft and Killingbeck ward.

Coun Peter Gruen, of Cross Gates and Whinmoor, said that a joined-up approach with youth services, head-teachers, parents and police is crucial to putting an end to the destructive behaviour.

He added: "Looking at the comments on Facebook, I have been relieved to see they do address parental responsibility.

"It's not just the shopping centre's management, councillors or anti-social behaviour officers that should do more, it's also a question of - 'hey, parents, do you know where your kids are? Do you know what they are doing?'

"I don't think there is a single solution - or a single person or group - that has the answer. It is about all of us working together and a degree of re-education.

"I really think it’s a two way process, we support the community and they support us."

Back in July 2019, residents in nearby Swarcliffe were shocked after a 22-year-old woman with Downs Syndrome was targeted by a group of yobs.

The incident highlighted the anti-social behaviour problem in east Leeds and two public meetings, with anti-social behaviour officers, police and residents followed.

Coun Gruen added: "Everybody got together and had a really good discussion around the issues.

"People left thinking - I'm not on my own, there are other people involved with a genuine willingness to see something different."

The community meeting to discuss anti-social behaviour in Cross Gates will be held at The New Travellers Rest pub, on Cross Gates Lane, at 6pm on January 28.