Concerns have been raised about an eyesore youth shelter, which one councillor has branded a drug den.
The structure down at Rothbury’s riverside was discussed at length at last week’s parish council meeting.
Coun Avril Graham complained that youths are using the shelter to take drugs, while a resident voiced concerns in a letter to the parish council.
The meeting also heard that it was recently daubed with graffiti, having been repainted before Christmas.
The letter, read out at the meeting, stated: ‘Since the installation, we have suffered graffiti being sprayed onto our wall, graffiti being sprayed onto the bridge and graffiti being constantly sprayed onto the shelter itself. Some of this graffiti has been extremely vulgar.
‘In February 2015, we suffered serious damage to our garden balustrades by youths who were reportedly using the shelter. It is worth noting that prior to the installation of the shelter we never suffered any incidents of vandalism, graffiti or excess noise.’
The resident added that a light which was installed near to the shelter has not worked for a number of years and it is now ‘adorned by several pairs of trainers and is an eyesore’.
The villager also complained that vehicles using the nearby bridge can no longer see the shelter, as railings on the bridge have been replaced by solid parapets. Echoing the concerns, Coun Graham said: “I have had complaints about it. It is not just the graffiti, it is also the issue of people using it as a drug den to buy and sell drugs. I see it and smell it when I go past with my dogs.
“The lamp post is a concern – trainers tied to a lamp post is a sign of where you can buy drugs.”
But Coun Steven Bridgett said: “You have got to be very careful with what you are saying. I don’t think every person down there is smoking drugs. I have never seen it. Don’t brand everyone down there as drug-takers.”
He added that the light hasn’t worked since the floods of 2008, but said: “There is no need for it because that area is now one of the most well-lit areas in the village thanks to lighting on the bridge.”
Coun Hilary Woodburn added: “Do you demolish the shelter because of a few? I have seen it used in the summer by families and older people.”
She added that one option could be to cover the shelter in anti-graffiti paint.
The police have agreed to monitor the area and urged the public to report any offences they see at the shelter. Councillors will also contact Northumbria Police to get their opinions on the comments.