Residents along a river bank in Spalding are living in fear after thorny shrubs planted to deter anti-social behaviour in the summer were ripped out.
One couple whose home backs onto Coronation Channel woke up on Saturday to find what they had hoped would bring peace again to a picturesque part of town had been destroyed – and their fence kicked in.
Concerned they were targeted because a Lincolnshire Free Press feature on the police Twitter patrol highlighted the planting done by the Environment Agency, they have broken their silence to reveal how life in what should be an ideal retirement location has become a nightmare.
The woman, in her 70s, said: “I laid awake until 4am on the Sunday morning worrying about it.
“We have lived here for 20 years and love seeing walkers strolling by and have even invited people into our garden for a drink.
“But for the past three years living here has been a nightmare as soon as the warmer weather comes.
“Every day from about 3pm until it gets dark we can expect groups of foreign drinkers and their families congregating along the bank, shouting and swimming in the river.
“They tie rope to the tree and swing out screaming like Tarzan – and even throw their children in the river in rubber rings.
“It’s not the fact they are swimming that bothers us - even though there are signs clearly saying they shouldn’t.
“Youths have been swimming there before and we’ve happily chatted to them.
“What bothers us is the constant noise and how they throw their rubbish on our property and think nothing of dropping their trousers coming down the bank to urinate up our fence.
“We were so pleased when the shrubs were planted because it gave us hope things could change. Now we are terrified we are facing a fourth year of having no peace at home and worrying about what we will find when we return if we go out.
”It’s a nightmare - no-one knows because we have kept silent until now because we feared we would be targeted. Now we have.”
MP John Hayes worked with the Environment Agency to get the shrubs planted and was shocked to hear they had been pulled up and the couple’s fence vandalised.
Vowing to contact the agency again to get more thorny shrubs planted, he said he would also be calling on the police to make random checks of the bank.
He said: “This is not a public space for swimming. If people want to swim they should go to the seaside or the swimming pool. We need to crack down on this.”
Insp Jim Tyner said: “The Coronation Channel path should be an area of enjoyment for all of us. Unfortunately, the actions of a few spoil it for others.
“Readers will know from the recent Twitter patrol that this is an area that already forms part of our patrol plan as we know that it is used for drinking and related anti-social behaviour.
“We know from our patrols that the area is used by adults and by teenagers for parties and when we come across anti-social behaviour we take positive action.
“Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere, so it is important that people call us on 101 when offences are taking place.
“My Community Policing Team and SHDC’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team have worked tirelessly with local residents and with other agencies to improve the situation, and it is disheartening to see the recent damage. We will continue our patrols and any offences will be robustly dealt with.”