Whilst the good weather we had during the first lockdown got many of us out walking and discovering parts of Wilmslow and the surrounding areas that we didn't know exist, it also sometimes seemed to attract large (and probably illegal in the context of the COVID restrictions) gatherings of teenagers meaning often inevitable underage drinking, smoking cannabis, littering and generally causing a public nuisance.
I was also young myself once and used to meet up with my friends, but I don't recall participating in the blatant anti-social behaviour I've witnessed over the last couple of months on the stretch of the River Bollin in Wilmslow Park, which now seems to have become a regular meeting place for large groups of teenagers in their 'uniforms' of black head to toe sports gear, which itself I could imagine could be quite intimidating to some people.
One such occasion only a couple of weeks ago involved a group of c30 teenagers (I'd say average age of 14 or 15) gathered at the weir on the river, some of whom thought it was a great idea to jump from a great height into the river below. I was walking with my 9-year-old daughter and wife and sadly my daughter had to ask what they were all smoking, which I explained was a type of drug. Beer bottles and cans along with all sorts of other litter were spread all over, so I made a point of clearing their mess up in front of them which got the usual 'do-gooder' Geers.
That same evening, I was walking across the bridge over the River Bollin where Cheshire East Council had put out some temporary barriers and cones to create a barrier around part of the pavement which has collapsed. I was dismayed to see that (undoubtedly the same group of teenagers) had thrown all of the traffic cones over the bridge, into the river.
My 9-year-old daughter and I decided to do something about it this weekend and between us we managed to extract 16 traffic cones from the river and return them to their rightful place. Thankfully I'd bought some waders which I knew would come in handy one day, particularly getting some of the cones from the deeper section of the river.
I can't take all the credit as another good citizen had removed a fair few cones from the shallower section, which I then took back up to the roadside.
My fear is that I'll walk back down and see them all thrown back into the river again.
I am a huge supporter of our police so I won't be 'bashing' then in any way, but going forward I will be putting a call in to the local police to report any large gatherings of teenagers along this stretch of the river, particularly if they're partaking in the same activities, I've outlined above.
Yes, I know teenagers need to socialise and 'let their hair down' etc., but equally everyone else in the Wilmslow community should be able to enjoy this same local beauty spot without feeling intimidated or having to clear up their mess!