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Residents in fear of violent gang

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TREES have been set alight and used drugs discarded by a group of youths causing havoc in a quiet residential road. In the past few months, people living in Thrale Way and Craige Walk in Rainham have suffered gangs of youths cutting down trees, starting fires, hurling abuse and throwing eggs and bricks.

Now residents are calling on the police and Medway Council to help stop the chaos. The last straw came when plastic bottles with tubes inserted in them and containing drug residue were found in woodland close to the houses.

Toni Baker, who helps her husband run the area's Neighbourhood Watch scheme, said: "My children are nine and six years old and I was very worried when I heard about the drugs being found."

The residents say gangs of youths, sometimes numbering more than 20, hang out every night in a large clearing in the wooded area next to Craige Walk. One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said she had seen the group cutting down trees and making bonfires.

She said: "We have had to call the fire brigade a number of times. Our children see the flames and get scared. And what are the youths carrying in their pockets to be able to cut down the trees? They must have knives."

The woman's 73-year-old husband was also threatened by the group as he walked his dog.

Some residents have had enough and are considering moving after eggs and bricks were thrown at their windows.

A neighbour in Thrale Way said: "We are constantly on edge, and cannot sit in our garden in the summer due to the noise, the bad language and the distinct possibility of some missile being thrown over the garden wall."

In the past 10 days four streets lights in Craige Walk and nearby Gregory Close have been demolished. On Christmas Eve two street lights were pulled down and two garages broken into. The residents have so far managed to encourage the council to remove the benches from the wooded area, in a bid to discourage the group from hanging out. But they still came back.

Now the neighbours want the trees cut down and more action from the police.

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