CALLS have been made for a flagship Ribble Valley tourist attraction to become an alcohol-free zone after claims it is becoming more like an “open air drinking den”.
Mr Andy Purdy, who runs the catering concession at Edisford recreation area, said action must be taken after he was forced to call the police to deal with rowdy revellers enjoying last weekend’s soaring temperatures.
Mr Purdy, who sells ice-cream, hot food and manages the pitch and putt course, said he had never experienced such bad behaviour during the 10 years he has worked at the riverside attraction.
“We had a large influx of people who were not family orientated, they were more beer orientated and this area became what was in effect an open air drinking den,” he said.
Mr Purdy explained the trouble was caused by a large number of young people drinking alcohol. “They occupied the pitch and putt area and refused to move,” he recalled, “and the police couldn’t do anything as there was simply too many of them.
“I couldn’t open the pitch and putt as a result which I’m very disappointed about as I’ve spent a lot of money, time and effort to reinstate it. I’ve got it back up to a beautiful level and I was pleased to see the sunshine, but that was not to be because of the folks who didn’t want to vacate it as they were having drinks and barbecues. They left the pitch and putt surface burnt and the rowdiness and foul language ended up upsetting everyone.”
He added the area was left littered with beer cans and broken bottles which took him around three hours to clear up.
Mr Purdy said the recreation area at Edisford used to be totally family orientated.
“Now it seems to be orientated towards drinkers and, as a flagship tourist attraction for the Ribble Valley, that needs to be looked at. I would go so far as saying it should be an alcohol free zone.”
Clitheroe Police confirmed officers had been called to deal with several issues involving unruly youths around the pitch and putt at Edisford and regular patrols of the area had been set up on Saturday and Sunday.
Insp. Chris Saville said officers would take action to deal with any recurrence of last weekend’s problems and he would investigate longer term measures to tackle the problem: “We will not tolerate disorderly behaviour in any part of Ribble Valley, but we do need the support of the public to let us know where there are problems. We have existing powers to deal immediately with these issues, particularly any incidence of under-age drinking or unacceptable behaviour.
“This is also an issue which I will take to the Community Safety Partnership in search of a longer term solution, which could mean extending the existing ban on drinking alcohol in public places from the town centre to include other areas.”
Ribble Valley Borough Councillor for the Edisford Ward Coun. Alan Yearing said: “I will look into this further with the borough council to see what we can do in future to prevent similar occurrences.”
Chris Hughes, Ribble Valley Borough Council’s head of cultural and leisure services, confirmed extra staff had to be brought in to clean up the area.
“The activity at Edisford was typical of a hot weekend, with hundreds of people enjoying the facilities, despite the apparent actions of some rowdy youths,” he said. “We had an extra cleaner on duty on Saturday and Sunday morning, and all day Monday, to deal with extra litter.”