Hope for solution at anti-social behaviour hotspot after caravan dumped and torched

However, the police have come in for criticism from residents who say they should do more to clamp down on offenders.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 4:45 am

Emergency services were called to the unadopted route between Devonshire Road and Oxford Road in Atherton in the early hours of Sunday morning after the vehicle which had been dumped there last Friday was spotted ablaze.

Residents have been calling for access to be restricted, although blocking off the route entirely is not possible as Network Rail needs to use it to reach the railway line and there are also allotments in the area.

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The remains of the caravan after it had been torched

However, Wigan Council said it was still looking into the options to restrict access and would be meeting the three ward councillors for Atherton this week.

There has also been criticism of the way the police have handled the problems in the area.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the incident with the caravan was being treated as suspected arson and enquiries were ongoing.

The fire service was called to the burning vehicle at around 4am on Sunday, with police turning up shortly afterwards..

Coun Stuart Gerrard, from the Independent Network (IN), said: “We know what is going on in this area and there is going to be a barrier put up.

“I’m also hoping we can get something in place as a temporary measure until the gate is manufactured, because it is having to be made to size. It is not off-the-shelf.

“We shouldn’t be having to do this but needs must. We’ve got people who are determined to cause anti-social behaviour and we are quite literally having to put barriers in place to stop them.

“I am a bit appalled with what has happened when the residents have reported the caravan to the police.

“The right procedure would have been for the police to come and remove it. Coun Jamie Hodgkinson warned them that something would happen to it over the weekend, but no-one seemed to care.

“The attitude at the moment seems to be that they will get round to it but this backs onto people’s properties and it needed to be a priority. It was fortunate the fire service were there within a few minutes of it being reported to stop it spreading.”

Residents who have experienced numerous problems with fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles being burnt out on the stretch of unadopted road expressed frustration at the latest incident but relief that a gate is being made.

Zoe Irlam said: “One of my neighbours has been living here for around 50 years and it has been an annual issue. “The police did not attend until the fire brigade was on the scene.

“I do lose a little faith in our police service because the caravan was reported to them but I have confidence in my neighbours and my own diligence that the police have enough photographic evidence of the people who did this to ensure a proper and full investigation.

“I am not letting this drop until there is a gate on. I have every faith this time it is going to be sorted.”

Wigan Council said permission would need to be sought from the town hall as the highways authority to put any restrictions on access in place.

It said the options being considered include a drop-down bollard.

The local authority said it had spoken to the Atherton councillors and would be meeting them later this week.

It also said most of the debris from the caravan was cleared away on Monday, with employees returning to finish the job on Tuesday.

Anyone with information should ring police on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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