THE chair of Corringham and Fobbing Forum has quit the post as a wave of fear and fury hit the local community this week.
Vandalism and the anti-social behaviour of young people dominated Monday's meeting, prompting Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for public protection to call on residents to make a difference.
The meeting heard that a new, Olympics-inspired play zone in Corringham had been virtually wrecked by vandals, while the town centre, and particularly its library, had been menaced by young people.
The meeting ended with the chair of the forum, Danni Tate handing in her resignation, with immediate effect.
Yet some councillors were quick to play down initial reports and have told the Enquirer that some drastic measures, like shutting the library, are not being considered.
Several commented to the enquirer that it was important to put what had happened into perspective.
Local Conservative councillor Mark Coxshall was among those who counselled caution, saying problems in the library were in danger of being blown out of proportion.
“There have been some problems with young people in libraries, and that's not just an issue in Corringham, but the Council reacted and have placed security staff in libraries which has largely brought an end to the problem,” he said.
“There is no truth at all that vandalism and bad behaviour will force the closure of the library.”
Public protection portfolio-holder, Cllr Angie Gaywood, was another to try and keep a lid on the issue, saying that the Council was not being inundated with worried residents complaining, though she acknowledged vandalism was a significant concern for the authority.
She said: “There is a much-used phrase - mindless vandalism - which perfectly sums up what has happened at the AdiZone play area and in and around Corringham town centre.
“Yet, strangely, nobody has complained to our public protection team, or informed them of what has been happening. I would like to make an urgent appeal to local people. If you see this sort of behaviour going on, let us know, let the police know and be prepared to help put a stop to it.
“This is far more than teenage high-jinks and even anti-social behaviour, this is criminal behaviour; criminal damage which will cost thousands of pounds to put right - if it can be put right.
“At a time when the nation as a whole is celebrating Olympic success and seeking a sporting legacy for young people, it is up to every single one of us to do everything we can to fulfil that aim.
“At a time when the nation is focusing on standards of English among young people it is up to each and every person to do what they can to help.
“So, if you see something going on report it.
“Call the police, call the council, don't just leave it to somebody else.
“It would be marvellous if these mindless vandals could be brought to justice and - just perhaps - made to fix the mess they have made of a wonderful community facility enjoyed by so many.
“Thurrock Council is analysing the damage done to the AdiZone before considering what, if anything, can be done and how it can be financed.”
Cllr Gaywood also reflected on the problems at Corrinhgam library, saying: “Corringham library was not alone in having security over the summer holiday period.
“Experience has shown that several libraries face anti-social behaviour issues during the school break and one person was employed to travel between libraries this summer.
“Regular visits from police and PCSOs also helped maintain security.
“There is no intention to close libraries as suggested in the story.”
And she called on local people to act if they saw vandalism, adding: “If you wish to report an incident, contact Essex Police on 0300 333 4444 or in an emergency 999; call the council on 01375 652211, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning your local housing office.”