LARGE groups of foreign language students have turned a local park into a hub of anti-social behaviour and vandalism, residents have claimed.
People living in the area have reported up to 50 teenagers who gather regularly at Hythe Bridge Street Pocket Park beside Castle Mill Stream to drink large amounts of alcohol before going on to local nightclubs.
James Young, an artist and musician from Upper Fisher Row, said their behaviour is damaging the area and making life a misery for people who live there.
He said: “It’s been going on for about three years now and it’s just become worse and worse. They gather there to drink cheap booze so they don’t have to spend lots of money in local clubs.
“They get incredibly drunk and make an awful lot of noise, shouting and yelling and playing loud music on boom boxes.
“It’s become a focus point for foreign language students who have started gathering at the place.
“They start arriving at about 10.30pm when we’re just starting to head to bed and the noise makes it very hard for us to sleep.”
Mr Young, who has lived in Upper Fisher Row for over 30 years, said the problems have recently escalated and have led to violence and vandalism in the park.
He said: “You get what you’d expect with young people who don’t know how to handle alcohol.
“They get into fights and extreme emotional states and they have damaged and uprooted trees and left litter everywhere. They even managed to break one of the branches of an old willow tree.”
Pratima Mitchell, who also lives in Upper Fisher Row, said the problem wasn’t always confined to the local park. She said: “I came home one night and I found dozens of young people lying in my street.
They were extremely drunk and they were vomiting everywhere and in a very bad way. They asked us not to tell their parents which shows you just how young they are, they’re certainly not old enough to be legally drinking alcohol.”
Councillor for Jericho and Osney Susanna Pressel said she had been aware of the issue for a number of years.
She said: “I have helped to set up meetings between the language schools, the city council and the police in the past and I’m now setting up another one.
“There are regular meetings anyway, but sometimes we need an extra one to deal with this recurring problem.
“I’m also speaking to Trading Standards because if there is underage drinking going on we need to find out where the young people are getting the alcohol from.”
There are around 50 institutions in the city offering language courses for foreign students.
Oxford City Council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “We are aware of the issues around Hythe Bridge Street and we have been working with our partner agencies to try to resolve them.
“There is an Oxford Language School Forum which was set up about 18 months ago and is helping to address the problems which includes monitoring and patrolling by city council officers and police officers.”
EF International Language Centre, in Pullens Lane, Headington, which is one of the largest in the city, declined to comment when approached by the Oxford Mail. Thames Valley Police said it had received reports of anti-social behaviour but added it was a council matter.
Our top stories:
5:10pm Thursday 8th October 2015
A 15-YEAR-OLD girl was raped in Barns Road, Cowley on her way to the bus stop. According to Thames Valley Police the girl was walking to the stop before Blackbird Leys bridge between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday, September 20. She was approached by a man who walked alongside her. As they came to the bridge he grabbed her arm and pulled her down to a muddy track at the side of the bridge. He then raped the victim and left her on the track, walking away. The offender is described as white, aged in his late teens, 5ft 7ins or 5ft 8ins tall and slim. He had very short dark hair, blue eyes, freckles on his face and a short ginger beard, and was wearing a chain around his neck, black trainers and dark grey Nike jogging bottoms. The girl reported the rape to police on Tuesday ((06/10)) this week. Investigating officer Det Insp Steve Raffield of Banbury CID said: “Specialist officers are supporting the victim who has reported this rape to us. "What happened to this young girl is unimaginable and I am sure that members of the public will be shocked to hear about this incident, which happened in broad daylight. "“A full investigation is now under way and there are officers in the area today making enquiries and providing reassurance to members of the public who may have concerns. “Incidents like this are extremely rare, but it is essential that we identify the offender as soon as possible. I would urge anyone who has any information about this incident, or who saw or heard anything out of the ordinary in the Barns Road area around the time of the offence, to contact me as soon as possible by calling 101.”
5:00pm Thursday 8th October 2015
A boy has been taken to hospital after being involved in a crash in Bicester.
6:36pm Thursday 8th October 2015
CCTV footage from an Oxford travellers’ site has shown a man who was allegedly kept as a slave being pushed around and treated “like a ragdoll”.
4:50pm Thursday 8th October 2015
AN E-FIT of a man who ran away after being caught holding a little girl's hand in Greater Leys has been released by Thames Valley Police. According to officers, a two-year-old girl was playing outside a property in Shepherds Hill at about 6.20pm on Friday, September 11. When her mother came to check on her she saw a man holding the girl's hand. When she challenged the man, he ran away. He is described as white, in his thirties, about 5ft 7ins or 5ft 8ins with short spiky blond or brown hair. He was wearing a knee-length jacket that may have been leather. Investigating officer Det Con Lorna Briggs of Force CID in Oxford said: “We are keeping an open mind regarding this incident. There might be a innocent explanation as to why the man was holding the girl’s hand. “If anyone recognises the man in the E-fit or has any information about the incident then please contact your local police station."
4:50pm Thursday 8th October 2015
A BEGGAR has been banned by police from approaching people in Oxford and asking them for money, food or cigarettes.
7:50am Thursday 8th October 2015
MISSING teen Michaela Rose from Chipping Norton was found safe and well last night.