‘Suffering’ residents in historic village with stunning surroundings are being forced to leave


It’s a village that boasts stunning surroundings, a charming character and a historic high street that is packed with independent businesses. But it has two personalities – with ugly scenes after dark becoming far too common for some residents.

Whalley, in Lancashire, is a picture perfect chocolate box village overlooked by the impressive Whelley Nab. By day, its cobbles welcome visitors to its bars, restaurants and shops, while the ruins of an ancient abbey point towards the village’s rich history.

But despite beauty in abundance which rivals the Lake District, Whalley has a growing dark side, Lancs Live reports. Residents have spoken out about vandalism, drunkenness and anti-social behavior which are all tainting the village when the sun goes down.

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The situation is fast becoming unmanageable, according to some. However, some residents insist it is absolutely not a problem, – making the village into something of a tale of two halves.

Michael Wedgeworth, chair of the Queen Street Residents’ Action Group, said: “I’m chair of the Queen Street Residents’ Action Group. They’re absolutely sick of the nonsense that goes on, with things like people fighting in the street outside and climbing over walls of houses and terrific noise.



Whalley is surrounded by natural beauty

“And we’ve been trying to persuade the council to take a more proactive approach to reinforce the licensing conditions and if possible to modify the existing conditions so that people don’t have to live with all this disruption in their lives. It’s very stressful for the people who live nearby, and of course, it spills out into the rest of the village.

“We’re always hearing about two or three o’clock in the morning people walking past, shouting their heads off…Quite a few people at the top of Queen Street moved out of it, sold the houses and moved away, three or four at the same time.”

He added: “It’s about 30 or 40 people who are affected, but there’s a wider impact on the village, because they spill out of these places and run down the main street.

“On one occasion at around 3am, I heard a terrific noise outside our house and I look out the window, and there’s a guy doing press ups in the street with the cars going past, which was extremely dangerous for him.

“Some councils take a more dynamic approach to try and reinforce conditions, but Ribble Valley Borough Council doesn’t seem to want to do that. It’s been going on for quite some time. There are some perfectly well run places in the village where the rules are clearly enforced and they don’t stand any nonsense.”

A recent report, entitled Cumulative Impact Assessment 2022-2025 submitted to Ribble Valley Borough Council says incidents tend to peak at August and around Christmas time, and highlights how a ‘concentration of occurrences’ can be found in certain zones, which ‘encompass a higher concentration of bars, off licences, late night takeaways as well as hotel and retail premises’ and notes that peak times are weekends between 6pm and 2am, with the highest times between 7pm and 11pm.

The report goes on to state: “Concerns have been raised due to the increase in Anti-Social Behavior (ASB) in Whalley, along with activity associated with the night-time economy (NTE) and violent crime.” And the report also features a raft of impassioned comments from residents.

One resident demands: “Why should Whalley residents suffer? We must have ten or twelve licensed premises, the village is saturated, no more please…This used to be a quiet and pleasant village which is being destroyed by noise, disturbance and anti social behaviour, no more.”

Another said: “There are too many licensed premises in the village. There are some very responsible licensed premises namely The Swan, Whalley Wine bar, The Dog.”



Whalley
Whalley

Meanwhile, a mum who lives in the area stated: “I am upset and distressed by the amount of anti-social behavior and music disturbance I am subjected to every weekend without fail. I am also upset about how this affects my child, regularly woken up by mainly the shouting.

“I am not able to live safely in my home, I am always anxious about the weekend and what has and could happen. I can’t even use my front door at the weekend because of what I may stumble across and am usually too frightened to even look out of my window due to the people outside my house. I have a right to live free from fear and this is not happening at the moment.”

A further emotional testimonial highlights “Shouting and screaming, aggressive behaviour, drunken behaviour. Urination on the street and in gardens. Broken glass on street. Late night noise from taxis arriving and dispersing on Accrington Road and Queen Street, which are both residential streets.”

It goes on to state: “This noise can continue until 4am leading to inability to sleep or to have windows open – recommended in Covid times. The streets don’t necessarily feel safe. I just want to have peace and quiet on the street where I live – a right enjoyed by others who do not live in the middle of Whalley.”

Yet despite these shocking testimonials, by day, the beautiful, balmy village takes on an entirely different aspect which belies some of its more sordid night time goings on, basking in its sunny renown as a peaceful shopping and tourist destination. Many retailers point to its reputation as a renowned leisure and tourist hotspot, and say anti-social behavior has gone down after the lifting of restrictions last year.

Iby Hussain of Romero Original takeaway, which sells pizzas, kebabs and burgers. on King Street, says Whalley’s atmosphere is changing and that those changes are due to people coming into the village from outside the area. He told Lancs Live: “To be honest, we have been here 27 years and you get to know all the locals.



Haider Hussain (left) and Iby Hussain of Romero Original takeaway, which sells pizzas, kebabs and burgers.  on King Street, Whalley
Haider Hussain (left) and Iby Hussain of Romero Original takeaway, which sells pizzas, kebabs and burgers. on King Street, Whalley

“There’s a lot of new people in the village, and the atmosphere is changing. It’s people coming in from other places. Whalley has got a family environment, but you get strangers coming in and they act differently and we have to deal with it ourselves.” .

“It’s not high level, we do see new faces and new people. It’s low level for us because here, people want to be seen, and then they’re on their way.”

Meanwhile, up at Hansel and Gretel Designer Children’s Wear at the top end of King Street, owner Denise Heap said anti social behavior was not a problem – but the roadworks at the other end of King Street were, adding: “With everything that’s going on it’s horrible. The road works came at the end of February and they aim to be finished by mid June. It’s not great at all – all the retail businesses, day time, are feeling it.”



Denise Heap
Denise Heap

“It’s a lovely village, it really is, and we were all just getting back on our feet from Covid then this was thrown on us. They’re supposed to be widening the pavement and they are moving the crossing at the top end.

“None of us retailers have had any problems with anything like break ins or things like that and I’ve been here 21 years. It seems to be more where there’s an open space, like the abbey grounds.”

Katie Cookson, co-owner of Jack’s of Whalley, a small, family run business on King Street which sells craft beers, gin, whiskey and other spirits, told Lancs Live that the business shuts at 11pm and described the village as ‘a vibrant place ‘ and a ‘lovely community.’ She said: “Since the restrictions have gone down, it’s been better; it’s almost back to normal and people are more comfortable. We shut at 11, and we never wanted to be a late night place and with Whalley getting bigger, we could see there was a gap in the market.

“We could tell people were coming to Whalley as a destination, so we thought we’d give it a try. We don’t have any issues with vandalism or anti social behavior here, and it’s a very friendly, vibrant place to work in with a lovely community.”



katie cookson
katie cookson

Marianne Hyde, owner of Precious, a small independent boutique on King Street which sells contemporary casual ladies’ wear and beautiful, pastel spring and summer clothes, told Lancs Live how the retailers all worked together. She said: “In the daytime, it does not affect us at all; we all work together, recommending each other’s establishments whether it be food or drink or other retailers.

“I think it’s calmed down since this time last year – there were new places opening and it was just people getting over excited. We have got the summer to come and people are so friendly. We see it all the time, and stop and say what lovely people we have had in today, and we are so lucky because Whalley is a fabulous place to be.”

Councillor Ged Mirfin for Whalley and Painter Wood, who said he was ‘disappointed’ with a Ribble Valley Borough Council licensing meeting on Tuesday, told Lancs Live that the report would be debated by the full council at its next meeting, but said ‘urgent action’ was needed to protect the Ribble Valley and ensure its towns and destinations remained as safe as possible. He said: “What is required, very urgently, is the positioning of more CCTV cameras connected up to the central control room system.

“We want to make the Ribble Valley the safest night time economy in Lancashire and in order for that to happen, we need an increase in the number of CCTV cameras particularly in the center of Clitheroe and Whalley but also in Longridge. Let’s do the right thing and improve the safety of the community and support the police in doing their job which is identifying and arresting individuals that are responsible for anti social behaviour.”

Highlighting how the public toilets in Whalley had been left in ‘a woeful state’ by vandals on a Saturday night last month, he added: “One of the residents found the place in an absolutely woeful state and so serious was the damage that they have had to re kit out the toilets, as not only were the toilets and cubicles broken but mirrors and hand driers and lights. It was thought to cost about two and a half thousand this time but during the course of the last 18 months this is the sixth time that damage has occurred, and the cost of that damage is somewhere between £35,000 and £38,000 across the various six incidents.”

Calling for the council to be more proactive in instigating licensing reviews, Coun Mirfin would like to see enforcement and granting of licenses carried out separately within the licensing department, a legal expert appointed to advise, environmental health officers taking a more proactive role, and restrictions imposed on the serving of alcohol in the early hours of the morning as well as late night levies.

He added: “Personally, I’m dreading the summer months if there is an escalation in anti-social behaviour. It is a very popular location not just for drinkers but for people who are coming to have a meal in the village. It’s also a very popular destination for young people and it is a lovely location for them because it is safe and we want to keep it that way.”

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police told Lancs Live: “We work hard with our partners and local businesses to ensure Whalley continues to be a safe place to live, work and visit. We regularly study crime patterns to ensure we have the right resources in the right places at the right times.

“We are not aware of any spikes in anti-social behaviour. We would encourage people to report any issues to police via 101. We will investigate all concerns raised and take the appropriate action.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council was approached for comment.




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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