Cromer disorder: Pubs shut as seaside town 'in lockdown'

Image caption,
Cromer Pier said its Theatre Bar was closed on the advice of police

A seaside town reportedly went into "lockdown" on Saturday night as disorder forced pubs and bars in the resort to shut.

Venues in Cromer, Norfolk, closed for the "safety of customers and staff". Some remained closed on Sunday.

Norfolk Police said extra officers were on patrol following "low level disorder", but there were no arrests.

The force said pubs "made the decision to close" after thefts and anti-social behaviour.

Police said reports of a stabbing were unfounded, but they said there had been thefts from shops and pubs and officers had been called to reports of groups refusing to leave pubs and not paying for drinks at an Indian restaurant.

Image caption,
Aryun Nessa has suffered bruising after her arm was trapped by a door while she tried to get people to leave a restaurant

The wife of the owner of the Masala Twist restaurant said she was pinned behind a door by six women shouting abuse as she screamed that they were breaking her arm on Saturday night.

Aryun Nessa said she and her husband, together with their young daughter and nephew, had been trying to get up to 40 people to leave their restaurant after they started shouting and stealing bottles of beer.

"The door was shut on my arm - I am quite badly bruised and it's very painful," she said.

"It's a lovely town - calm, quiet, with lovely people, but after last night's experience it has got me thinking what are we doing here."

Image caption,
Police were carrying out extra patrols in the traditional seaside town on Sunday
Image caption,
Some businesses in the town have chosen to remain shut on Sunday

North Norfolk District Council said a group of travellers in 23 caravans had set up camp in the town's Runton Road clifftop car park but most had now left.

Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said said they arrived on Friday evening and the council had served a notice on Saturday for them to leave.

At the scene

Jenny Kirk, BBC News

Coming to Cromer today, at first glance you would not know there had been any problems last night. The streets are bustling, as you would expect, with holidaymakers eating ice-creams and chips.

However, if you look more closely some of the shops and businesses that would have been trading on a peak summer Sunday have closed - including several town pubs that shut following reports of disturbances.

But the leader of the district council and the town mayor - both of whom I have spoken to today - wanted to stress that the seaside resort was a safe place to be and very much open for visitors.

Residents said a group of people had been fighting in the town, which they had described as "in lockdown".

In a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday, Cromer Pier said its Theatre Bar was closed along with other pubs in the town.

"Apologies for any inconvenience whilst we support our local police in bringing a difficult situation in the town under control," it said.

Image caption,
North Norfolk District Council said travellers were illegally camped on a seafront car park

Nearby in East Runton, holidaymaker Chris Perry said up to 20 police cars and dog units arrived after the landlord at a campsite bar refused to serve some people. Police confirmed they attended the site.

The town has been hosting its annual carnival week, which finished on Friday, and draws in about 250,000 people to north Norfolk, according to the organisers.

The chairman of the carnival committee, Tony Shipp, said people taking part in a parade on Friday had been pelted with objects including bottles.

"It's been a fantastic carnival week but this has taken the shine off things," he said.

A cafe owner from the resort said businesses had taken a "huge hit" on what should have been their busiest weekend of the year.

Laurie Scott said: "There was a large group of people in town, causing some commotion and being very intimidating concerning businesses, so much so that... all of the pubs in Cromer - maybe six, seven, eight pubs - were closed at 7pm to guarantee the safety of their customers and staff."

Image caption,
The town has staged its annual carnival this week which featured an appearance by the Red Arrows on Wednesday

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: "Certainly from the people I've talked to in the town, what happened yesterday was pretty intolerable and it is really important that the police deal very firmly with the perpetrators of this."

Supt Malcolm Cooke of Norfolk Police said: "We acknowledge there have been a number of incidents in Cromer over the weekend, which will understandably cause concern.

"However, I can assure residents these incidents have been dealt with appropriately and are of a nature routinely dealt with in towns such as Cromer on a busy August weekend."

Pubs, restaurants and shops in nearby Sheringham also closed early on Saturday because of concern the problems in Cromer might spread, according to organisers of a festival and visitors to the town.

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