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Bures residents plead: 'Don't let our village become Clacton-by-the-Stour'

Worried residents are calling for reassurance their small village will not become a hotspot for 'tourists and troublemakers' this summer.

Maggie Elder said that, over the past two weekends, Bures recreation ground had attracted large numbers of people, including groups of youths, who arrive by car and train from across Suffolk and Essex.

It follows problems over the past two years and a post on social media, which said: “Come to Bures to party, as nobody bothers you.”

Resident Maggie Elder on the Millennium Bridge where youth congregated this weekend. Picture by Mecha Morton
Resident Maggie Elder on the Millennium Bridge where youth congregated this weekend. Picture by Mecha Morton

“It started two or three years ago and after that post last year, we had hundreds of people arriving," said retired teacher, Maggie Elder.

"People park their cars all over the place; they also arrive by train with cans of beer, walk around half-naked, and the noise is terrible, often until late at night.

"We are not geared up to be a major tourist destination.

Burns in Bures cricket green after a barbecue last weekend. Picture submitted.
Burns in Bures cricket green after a barbecue last weekend. Picture submitted.

"We are a very small village; we have only just got a village shop.

We dread the summer. We don’t want Bures to become a kind of Clacton-by-the-Stour. We want our village back.

In the past, people have complained of under-age drinking, drug-taking, youths urinating and groups holding barbecues in the centre of the green, ruining the grass.

They say they have also suffered abusive language, while rubbish, including human waste and nappies, has been left strewn across the recreation ground.

Litter found on the recreation ground after the weekend.
Litter found on the recreation ground after the weekend.

Last weekend, groups of youths congregated on the Millennium footbridge that crosses the River Stour, using it as a diving platform, and blocking access.

Litter was also found on the cricket pitch and burn marks in the cricket pitch from barbecues.

“We are right on the Suffolk and Essex border and this causes difficulties,” said Mrs Elder, a retired teacher.

“Essex officers don’t turn up and Suffolk send maybe two officers to deal with a crowd of 300.

"In my opinion, the council has also made it even worse by installing portaloos and a pop-up Friday night pizza parlour, as this encourages people even more.”

Gill Jackson, chairman of Bures Sportsground Committee, said: “Last year, we had a major problem with more visitors than we could cope with.

"The impact of Covid exacerbated the problem, with schools and indoor leisure facilities closed.

"Young people shared the idea of visiting Bures on social media and very large numbers came.

“The sportsground committee, along with Bures Hamlet and Bures St Mary parish councils, met police from both Suffolk and Essex.

There is now CCTV, additional barbecue slabs in the grass, extra bins, a regular adult presence and a noticeboard explaining that we welcome visitors who behave respectfully.

"We are on the patrol route for the police and they have generally been very responsive.

"Mostly the behaviour is not criminal and the visitors are just enjoying themselves.

"If large numbers of youngsters are rowdy in the evenings we would encourage residents to ask the police to patrol. This is something we do as the committee running the recreation ground.

“The Pizza on the Green business operates from Bures Common, and has been welcomed by residents and isn’t really part of the picture.

“The toilet facility is used primarily by local parents and children.

It is certainly not there to encourage visitors, but we would rather it was used than young people relieving themselves on the field.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: “The local safer neighbourhood team (SNT) is keen to reassure members of the public that, if there is a repeat of the issues experienced in previous years, then officers will take the necessary action to tackle this.

“SNT will liaise with local councillors to explore what preventative measures can be put in place, including communications reminding people to behave in an appropriate manner.

Suffolk Constabulary does not tolerate drug use and anti-social behaviour – especially in public spaces such as this.

"Local officers will be routinely patrolling the area and will deal robustly with anyone committing offences.”

A spokesman for Essex Police, said: “Bures recreation ground falls into the area served by Suffolk Police but our officers continue to support our Suffolk colleagues with patrols and resources where needed.”

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