A PUBLIC meeting was to be held to address allegations of anti-social behaviour in Haltwhistle.

It comes after a long-serving councillor told a meeting of Tynedale Local Area Council that he had been told by around 20 members of the public at a town council meeting that gangs of youths are carrying knives in the town.

Haltwhistle Town Council chairman Alan Sharp told Northumbria Police's acting neighbourhood inspector for Tynedale, Kate Benson, that residents were 'scared to walk down the street at night' following a spate of anti-social behaviour.

The meeting, arranged by the town council, was due to take place on Wednesday, March 29 at Haltwhistle Methodist Chapel.

Cllr Alan Sharp said he hoped that the meeting would improve public feeling and help tackle allegations.

He explained ahead of the meeting, that he felt there had been an increased police presence in the town and that action was being taken since the last meeting, where concerns were played down by the acting Insp, who said she didn't believe there are gangs in Haltwhistle and "there is no background and substance to reports of people carrying knives."

She told the meeting: “We have gossip in Haltwhistle and people fan the flames. Haltwhistle is a safe place to live.

“There are levels of anti-social behaviour – you get that in most towns – but there isn’t a knife issue and there isn’t gangs. We’re perhaps blocking children wrongly.

“People put two and two together and they come up with five.”

Haltwhistle councillor Ian Hutchinson added: "I've got concerns about what's going on in Haltwhistle, but it's still one of the safest places to live in Northumberland, if not anywhere in the country. 

"There was nothing like this at one time in Haltwhistle.

"I would appeal to anyone who sees anything to report it to the police.

"What the police need is someone who is witnessing the event, to actually report the event."