RESIDENTS have voiced concerns about park staff 'running scared’ of youths congregating in a borough’s park.

Ribble Valley residents have raised concerns about the anti-social behaviour prevalent at the grounds of Clitheroe Castle, in particular the use of gas canisters containing 'hippy crack,' which is nitrous oxide - otherwise known as laughing gas.

Gary Kent, 43, Waterloo Road in Clitheroe said: “I believe that there is a reticence to tackle this issue as the wardens are scared of these gangs.

“The problem is you get a lot of youths congregating the castle grounds, particularly in the skate Park.

“I have spoken to many people who won’t even walk around the grounds at night because they feel intimidated by youths congregating in the field.

“You can also see a lot of them using these gas canisters.

“When you look at what is happening in Manchester, with their spice epidemic, you start to think its becoming a country-wide issue.

“I honestly think it won’t be long before there’s a fatality because youngsters do not know what these substances do to them.”

Ribble Valley Lib Dem leader, Allan Knox, who also lives in Clitheroe, said: “We need more interaction with young people to give them positive things to do with their time.

“We need a better and stronger youth service interacting with these people over a longer period of time.”

Ribble Valley Police said: “The police are aware of youths congregating on the castle field grounds. We do patrol when resources allow.

“We try to educate and engage with children in these cases and would recommend any parents noticing substance misuse to google ‘Talk to Frank’.

“This nitrous oxide which can cause respiratory problems if not used under the proper medical guidance.”

A spokesperson for Ribble Valley Council said: “The council is very aware of the issues highlighted and via the Community Safety Partnership is working with a number of organisations to address the problem.”