A CHURCH youth club harassed by drunken yobs has been forced to lay on a ‘bouncer’ at the door.
Volunteers at the teenage drop-in centre at Ashton St Thomas’ Church Hall say the facility is being plagued by rowdy, intoxicated young men, and others using the churchyard as an ‘unofficial loo’.
Now club leader and vicar’s wife Sue Thomas has made a formal protest to Wigan Council about a bid for a later-hours licence for the neighbouring Kings Arms pub.
She wants the application to be turned down on grounds of public nuisance, and in a bid to protect children from harm.
Councillors will consider the application for half an hour’s extra entertainment licence at the Warrington Road hostelry – to 1.30am each day – plus an extra hour’s drinking time, on Monday.
Mrs Thomas, who said she was objecting to the longer licensing hours in a personal capacity, said that the church had good relations with Sam’s Bar and the other neighbouring pubs, but she was concerned about anything which would increase the amount of drinking in the area.
In a letter which will go before councillors on the licensing sub-committee, she said: “There are already a number of people who walk down our road from a relatively early hour in the evening until daybreak, who are unruly due to excess consumption of alcohol.
“About once a fortnight I see men urinating on St Thomas’ Church car park, often before it has even gone dark. I don’t challenge these individuals as I feel vulnerable.
“On a Friday night there is an additional concern for the young people who gather at a drop-in centre we run at the Church Hall for 11 to 16-year-olds.
“On race nights, we have had young men who have been drinking running through our car park into the pub next door, and we now have decided to a position a man on the hall door.”
Mrs Thomas said she is frequently woken by groups of people walking down Warrington Road in the early hours being rowdy, particularly on weekends when there are meetings at Haydock Park.
This is usually accompanied by a influx of abandoned beer and spirit bottles, and takeaway wrappers, in the vicarage gardens.
She said: “I am concerned that any increase in the availability of alcohol in Ashton is available at any time of the day and night, then more people who are intent on consuming large quantities of alcohol are, likely to be attracted to the town to drink and these are the grounds on which I am objecting.”
She is being strongly backed by Ashton independent councillor Paul Tushingham.
He said: “The sad truth is that a minority of these people just don’t give a damn, and you can see them all over the place stood by the side of the road relieving themselves in public view.
“At one time there was at least a bit of decency and they would find somewhere private to go, but now it seems anything goes.
“There was even one occasion when I came out and there was a young woman crouched down on the steps of St Thomas’s Church relieving herself in public view.
There was nobody available at The Kings Arms to comment.