Shop and council staff have been left picking up the pieces in Shrewsbury after an Easter Bank Holiday weekend of carnage, all as they prepare for a hugely important week with non-essential shops and pub beer gardens opening this coming Monday.
Now local community leaders are calling for a united front and for those involved in the ugly incidents to support the town instead of bringing fear and destruction.
Shoplatch has been a hotspot for violent incidents - with one cafe owner describing finding blood on the pavement three days in a row from separate incidents, as well as witnessing drug deals and booze being bought for teenagers.
Vandals smashed windows in Claremont Bank and at Strands hairdressers in Grope Lane, where hair straighteners and hairdryers were stolen. Staff at Robson Stores in Sundorne were left in tears after threats and abuse, to the point where the shop had to be closed early for the first time ever.
The Quarry has also been a cause for concern, with hundreds gathering. Police put in place dispersal notices to try to stop large groups, and Shrewsbury Town Council has hired two new security guards to patrol the park.
Gwen Burgess, who runs Darwin's Sandwich Evolution in Shoplatch, called for people to support the town.
"With the shops opening up again it is important that we make our town as welcoming as possible," she said. "Our traders have had such a tough time and we need people to come into town. But people need to know that it's safe.
"I can understand it must be difficult for teenagers, not having anything to do, but the behaviour is getting worse."
Shrewsbury police inspector Saf Ali said an arrest has been made on suspicion of criminal damage and patrols will be increased. He added: "When it comes to criminal damage, we've got staff to deal with it. When you get people out in the Quarry and it's large numbers it's difficult to enforce it all the time.
"I think it is important to remember the majority of people have been fine and this is just a small group of youths. We know some of them and we are investigating incidents. We have made an arrest and a suspect is on bail after damaging a door.
"If there is persistent disregard for the rules then we are issuing Covid notices. We'll have five or six people patrolling the Quarry at the weekend."
'The standard of behaviour has got worse'
It is supposed to be a time for hope and new beginnings, but Easter brought violence, vandalism and tears to the streets of Shrewsbury at the weekend.
Blood was spilled, windows were smashed, premises were robbed and shops forced to close in a spate of ugly, anti-social incidents.
Gwen Burgess, owner of Darwin’s Sandwich Evolution in Shoplatch, described finding blood on the pavement three days in a row from separate incidents, as well as witnessing drug deals and alcohol being bought for teens.
She said: “We’ve had a lot of problems with large groups of teenagers hanging around by the bus stop in Shoplatch. I can understand it must be difficult for them, not having anything to do.
“The standard of behaviour has got worse. Some days we’ve had to close early.”
Gwen and Ashley Davies, who runs Ashley’s Bar, said Shoplatch has had its problems from some time, though the weekend was particularly bad.
“On Saturday, Sunday and Monday there was blood on the floor outside,” said Gwen, who is also Shrewsbury’s mayor and a councillor for Meole. “It was coming from down by Joules. On Sunday morning we had lots of specks of blood outside.
“It’s just getting worse. My partner was working in the cellar and he had people banging on the window for 20-30 minutes because he asked someone if they could move their bike away from the shop window.
“I’ve seen people giving alcohol to teenagers and doing drug deals right in front of me. I’ve taken photos and sent them to the police.
“We have this bus stop outside which seems to be a meeting place for them. One of my customers was punched by someone at that bus stop.”
She added: “With the shops opening up again it is important that we make our town as welcoming as possible. Our traders have had such a tough time and we need people to come into town. But people need to know that it’s safe.”
Elsewhere in the town vandals smashed windows in Claremont Bank and at Strands hairdressers in Grope Lane, where hair straighteners and hairdryers were stolen. Staff at Robson Stores in Sundorne were left in tears after threats and abuse, to the point where the shop had to be closed early for the first time ever.
Police have also been trying to contend with large crowds in the Quarry, where dispersal notices have been used to break up groups and send them away. Shrewsbury Town Council has also hired security guards to patrol the park.
Shrewsbury police inspector Saf Ali moved to reassure the public that there will be a strong presence, especially as the non-essential shops, hairdressers and pub beer gardens return next week.
He said: “The Quarry has been a bit of a problem. We’ve had Section 34 dispersal orders in place over the last couple of weekends. We’ve got more staff on this weekend. We’re working with the town council. When it comes to parks, it’s not just a Shrewsbury problem. It’s urban parks up and down the country.”