Furious residents are demanding action is taken immediately to halt a serious spate of anti-social behaviour on a troubled borough street.
People living on Glebe Street in Leigh say their neighbourhood has been blighted by criminal activity which has caused a mass exodus of residents.
In the latest incident a group of offenders are alleged to have threatened a resident outside his home in the middle of the night while wielding baseball bats.
Claims have also been made that drug dealing and even illegal sex work is rife on Glebe Street along with examples of intimidating or threatening behaviour by large groups of people congregating outside.
The authorities have been quick to stress they are taking the problems in the area very seriously, with meetings involving Leigh MP Jo Platt, councillors and residents’ groups taking place in recent days.
Action has periodically taken place since the issue hit the headlines last year with reports of people carrying machetes on the street.
However, that has been unable to find a permanent solution to the problems and patience is fraying among those living with the issues day in and day out.
Residents reported heated exchanges with town hall civil servants and elected representatives whena delegation recently arrived to install a security camera on Glebe Street.
One nearby resident, who asked not to be identified, said: “There are armed gangs running around who seem to be able to do what they want and the police don’t arrest anybody.
“Nothing is happening and half the houses are now empty. Groups of people are causing mayhem.
“Last week a gang was outside one house with baseball bats threatening to burn the house down.
“The council came last week and put the camera up and that has cooled things at the moment, but there’s still a tension in the air.
“Dozens of people are attending residents’ meetings and when councillors turned up recently people were screaming at him that someone was going to get murdered if nothing is done.”
Another said: “I’ve lived here for years and this is the worst it has ever been. We’ve got drug dealing, people walking round with guns, machetes and knives, prostitution.
“I’ve seen doors being put through in the middle of the night and people intimidating you as you drive down Glebe Street. You name it, it’s down our street.
“We’ve been promised a camera for the past 12 months and it’s finally gone up. I think that was because the community kicked off when the councillors were here.
“This is a bad area and it shouldn’t be. It’s ideal for a community close to the town centre. Private landlords have bought up houses because the market has died down and rent them out to anybody.
“Everyone’s had enough. We had the week of action last year and that helped for a bit but people can disappear for a bit and then come back.”
Police said officers were deployed to Glebe Street for a disturbance at around 9.30pm on Thursday August 15. A group was standing in the street but dispersed.
MP Ms Platt stressed work was taking place but admitted it was unacceptable residents were still living with such serious problems.
She said: “Residents in Glebe Street and surrounding areas are quite rightly concerned by ongoing antisocial and criminal behaviour.
“Having called the meeting last year between the council, police, residents and businesses, I was encouraged by the initial response that has had a positive effect and continue to be so by some the difficult work that has been done since the month of action.
“Both the council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) recognise the seriousness and impact that ASB is having to the area and I will continue to ensure that the matter is kept high on the agenda.
“That being said, with residents still in the front line of antisocial behaviour and intimidation 12 months later clearly more needs to be done.
“A recent meeting with stakeholders acknowledged some of the good work being done in the community and identified areas that still need to be addressed.
“I will keep a very close eye developments and ask that anyone who is experiencing antisocial behaviour to report it either to the council or to GMP. This is a serious problem and it will only ever be resolved by working together.”
Ward councillor Dane Anderton said he had visited the area with council staff and fellow elected representatives to talk to residents and meetings had been held with the police to discuss tackling the problems.
He also urged residents to continue using crime reporting systems, despite public annoyance over how long it can take to answer the phone.
Coun Anderton said: “We fully acknowledge the situation with a need to revisit the steps in place to address residents’ concerns.
“We aim to build strong relationships between residents, GMP, council services, local agencies and community groups, ensuring a local community-informed strategy is developed.
“We know reporting incidents can be frustrating but we urge people to keep reporting incidents to the police and the council.”
Coun Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for police, crime and civil contingencies, said: “We are taking the concerns of residents extremely seriously. We held a meeting with councillors, GMP, Jo Platt MP, Leigh Neighbours and Leigh Residents Association to look at what needs to be done to tackle these ongoing issues.
“There are a number of practical measures which we have already taken to improve things for residents including installing the rapid deployment camera, but recognise more needs to be done in the long-term to tackle some of the historical issues in this area.
“A strategy addressing this will look at anti-social behaviour, housing, environmental issues and community cohesion. In the meantime, the council’s community resilience team, including representatives from GMP, Inspiring healthy lifestyles and targeted youth support, will have a higher presence in the area.
“While some of the matters are very complex and will not be resolved overnight, we are all determined to tackle the anti-social behaviour and to improve the quality of life for all residents affected.”