The quiet leafy Yorkshire suburb which is now being plagued by antisocial behaviour

For residents living nearby, Molescroft Pavilion offers a peaceful green oasis and respite for themselves, families and children alike.

Molescroft Pavilion

The park in the Beverley suburb boasts a bowling green, children’s climbing frames, a basketball court and a wide open green space lined by trees on its boundary.

The sight of families basking in the summer sunshine or watching as their children play would never hint at what prompted Humberside Police to step up patrols there recently.

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But officers recently made a show of force after Molescroft Pavilion played host to night after night of gatherings of youths, only subsiding in the last couple of weeks.

The park in Molescroft

Residents and park users spoke of their “horror” at all night drinking sessions, fires, attempted fence scaling and a sea of rubbish left in their wake.

‘So bad we’re considering moving’

Maggie Fergie, who lives in Hillcrest Drive next to the Pavilion, said she had spent “a lot of time” yelling at youths on the other side of her fence while her children tried to sleep.

The mother said: “I’ve got horror stories from there, it’s gotten so bad that we’re considering moving. We bought the house because we thought the park was the most attractive thing about it, now it’s the worst.

The playground at Molescroft Pavilion

“I’ve spent a lot of my time yelling at the teenagers. My daughter’s bedroom is right next to the fence and they’ve sat playing loud music, drinking and smoking weed on the other side late at night.

“I’ve had to tell them to be quiet a few times, most of the time they’ll turn it off afterwards. I find they can be polite when you approach them and tell them to move. I just tell them I have young children trying to sleep, but there’s always one that’s cocky or won’t listen.

“I don’t think many of the ones coming were from round here. They were on the Pavilion playing loud dance music into the night. It’s disrespectful. About two or three weeks ago there was a group sat on the other side of the fence while my son was playing in the garden.

“As soon as I showed my face over the fence they left. I think they assumed straight away I was going to tell them off. I once saw a car driving around on the Pavilion grass, I thought it’s a park, there’s children around.

“More recently they’ve moved to the other end of the Pavilion. As a parent I think it’s down to their parents as well. I have a 14 year old daughter and there’s no way I wouldn’t know where she if she was out at night. But like my husband’s said, what else is there for them to do?

“If they weren’t here they’d probably outside a shop trying to buy cigarettes.”

One park user said the sight of cars driving around the Pavilion’s car park, often with boots full of alcohol, had been an “intimidating” sight.

The park user, who visited with her niece and asked not to be named, said: “I live close to here and sometimes on a night I’ll walk with a friend and we come passed the park.

“We’ve walked passed a couple of nights recently and it hasn’t seemed too bad and they don’t normally come during the day.

“And the park’s used by groups for events at night as well, you get football teams training and holding games, there was a rounders match with about 20 people on it one evening.

“When the kids were gathering they were usually coming in from about 7pm. One night I walked past and there was rubbish everywhere on the field. Sometimes cars will come in and they’ll be circling around the car park. It was a bit intimidating to see them there at first.

“When it was bad they were coming with boots full of crates of beer. They’d sit and drink them on the grass and leave their empty cans and boxes behind. One night we were walking passed and there must have been about 50 people there. they had a big ghetto blaster and were playing music. we wondered what was going on.

“Another time they lit a fire in the park, we never say anything to them because we don’t want a confrontation.

“If they come and they’re behaving then it’s not an issue. I think the ones misbehaving tend to target one place then move elsewhere. There’s been problems down at Beverley Beck too recently.”

‘Rubbish thrown over our fence’

A Woodhall Way resident living next to the Pavilion said until the gatherings died down youths walking past her home carrying crates of beer were an almost nightly occurrence.

The resident who asked to remain anonymous said: “To be fair it doesn’t seem to have happened for a week or so since the police presence has stepped up. Before that you couldn’t walk your dog on there at night. Their behaviour got very frustrating at one point.

“We were getting rubbish thrown over our fence and all sorts, someone tried to climb over it at one point. The day after the gatherings we’d find smashed glass, empty bottles and cans, at one point it was all over the children’s play area.

“But I’ve noticed walking our dogs on there in the last week or so it’s been much better. This year was the first year we saw it like that. We’d see groups of youths walking down the road to the Pavilion with crates of beer under their arms.”

Lorraine Symones, who lives in Hillcrest Drive close to the Pavilion, said screams from the Pavilion in the early hours made her worry that people could be in danger.

The resident said: “In the last couple of months there’s been times where I’ve heard screaming and shouting from there early in the morning. If you have to sleep with your windows open at this time of year you can hear it and it makes you wonder if the person’s all right and I’m surprised someone hasn’t reported it.

“Personally I don’t feel intimidated by them, I’d still walk through there and see them sat in groups, sometimes they’d acknowledge me but they didn’t give me any trouble.”

Gatherings ‘knock at the door of a wider problem’

Antisocial behaviour in the Pavilion became such an issue for residents that the authorities, including local councillors, had to step in.

Coun Linda Johnson said she and others had held meetings with Molescroft Parish Council and East Riding Council officers to see what could be done to keep young people occupied.

The Liberal Democrat, whose St Marys ward covers the Pavilion, said: “Over the past month it’s quietened down there. It began kicking off after the sad death of the young lad. The Pavilion was a place for the young people who knew him to gather. But once they started gathering it began attracting kids from elsewhere.

“We had issues with youngsters drinking and throwing empty glass bottles around, litter picking groups have also been on there clearing up after them.

“There’s since been meetings between East Riding officers, ward councillors and Molescroft Parish Council, we’ve been speaking about stepping up the provision for young people going forward.

“But it seems that for now a lot of the ones causing trouble have gone elsewhere or back to where they came from. We want to look at things like expanding the skate park in Beverley which desperately needs refurbishing.

“Molescroft Parish Council has given funding to the Cherry Tree Community Centre to hire a youth worker for three years. I think it’s about recognising that times have changed. Not all kids want to play football or cricket these days.

“Their interest in things like skateboarding and BMXs shows they’re looking for something a bit edgier and with a bit of danger to it. The Cherry Tree Community Centre even runs a litter picking group and there’s young members in that which is really fantastic.”

Conservative Coun Paul Nickerson said the gatherings “knock at the door of a wider problem” of a lack of things for local young people to do.

The councillor, whose Minster and Woodmansey ward neighbours that of the Pavilion, said: “I and other ward councillors totally condemn antisocial behaviour that threatens residents’ property or peace and quiet and makes them worried and scared.

“I think the important thing is that it’s not just councillors and the police who’ve responded to this, the community has led the way. Local litter pickers went up there and cleared up the mess, it’s been a well co-ordinated community response.

“There’s no excuse for antisocial behaviour like this, but we also have an obligation to provide things for our young people to do. That’s been difficult during the coronavirus pandemic, but if we take these incidents seriously going forward then things like this should not occur.

“This knocks at the door of a wider problem that we’re starting to confront. We have to invest in our young people, not just in youth clubs but in helping them catch up in areas like education following the pandemic.

“It’s an ongoing task. There’s a lot of pressure on young people but having said that their parents also need to play their part as well. There’s no reason why 12 year olds should be riding around on their bikes after dark.”