Hoodlums run riot in park
By JURIS GRANEY
YACHTIES are again warning fellow sailors to avoid stopping at Maclean's McLachlan Park because of escalating anti-social behaviour in the area.
People who have moored at the park recently have faced alcoholfuelled abuse from a small group of people who have threatened to damage property and inflict harm on the crew.
Early last year the boat of a visiting Melbourne family was boarded by unruly youths who tried to damage fittings and spat at the owners of the vessel and their children.
In another incident last year, youths jumped into a dinghy attached to a yacht, started the motor and damaged the vessel.
And the Maclean Chamber of Commerce has had enough of the behaviour, which it believes has the potential to destroy the town's image.
Chamber president Bob Little confirmed reports of yacht owners being harassed.
"A couple of years ago something appeared in a magazine warning people not to stop at Maclean because they would be harassed," he said.
"Thankfully it stopped and we started getting people back, but it seems that the problem has risen again."
But the harassment has spread throughout the town with a business owner telling the chamber of the 'rising harassment and threatening behaviour ... by a group of teenage persons in Maclean'.
The woman said the situation had reached an 'impossible stage'.
The chamber is now hitting back at anti-social behaviour, planning to distribute letters to all business owners on what they should do if they are harassed.
It is the first step in its plan to clean up the town's streets.
"There has been an escalation in anti-social and obnoxious behaviour," Mr Little said.
"There is also the harassment," Chamber vice-president Simon Willmore added.
"If someone wants to walk down to the park with their child and is afraid, or has to cross to the other side of the street, or if people feel uneasy or threatened by a group of people, then that is harassment in my book."
Mr Willmore and Mr Little said most of the kids in town were good, but there was a select few who were causing problems.
The chamber has also spoken with local police and established a list of procedures that retailers should exercise if they feel threatened or harassed.
"If shop owners see something like anti-social behaviour they should report it and not leave it up to someone else to report it," Mr Little said. "People have to remain vigilant."
Mr Little also said the council needed to 'pick up its act' in enforcing alcohol free zones.
"Individual owners have spoken to council, but the chamber intends to speak to them as a group and discuss these issues with them," he said.
The Chamber also plans to hold a workshop for retailers alerting them to their rights in respect to anti-social behaviour.