Saturday, September 03, 2005

Junk Hurled At Island Ship

Passengers and crew on the ferry service to Lundy are having bottles and abuse thrown at them when the boat sails into Bideford. For the past few weeks a group of around six youths have been greeting the passengers on the Oldenburg by throwing cans and bottles, spitting at them and launching into a tirade of verbal abuse on Bideford Quay. Ship superintendent Jack Bater has been working on the Oldenburg for more than a decade and is alarmed by the attacks. He told reporters " Every time the ship docks visitors and locals are greeted by throwing, spitting and abuse. "We are always wondering when she comes in next whether it will happen again. They are lobbing things at the crew when they are going about their jobs." Mr Bater was concerned about the danger posed and also the impact on visitors adding: "It is not a good reflection of the town." The Oldenburg services Lundy Island but because of the tide at Bideford does not run to a regular timetable from the quay. When she does leave the quay it is early in the morning and, it appears, the problematic youths do not get up in time to cause similar problems on her outward trip. Mr Bater added: "There have been no injuries so far but it is only a matter of time." Disaster almost struck when the youths untied some of the ropes securing the Oldenburg to the Quay. On Tuesday, August 23, the youngsters managed to untie the ropes known as the ship's aft ropes but, luckily, forward ropes were still tied. Mr Bater added: " It could have been catastrophic. If she had got loose it could have caused millions of pounds of damage." Police are aware of the incident and have recently reported trouble with youths along the quayside. They gave chase to the group who recklessly untied the ropes and Sgt Steve Gliddon said: "We haven't received any complaints in relation to throwing bottles but we are aware of problems at the back of the quay where there are no cameras and I will be talking to the council about this. "We would urge members of the public to report any incidents to us and will be stepping up high visibility patrols in the area."

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