Louts pelt York street cleaners

Street cleaning officer Paul Willey clears up the mess in Coney Street, York

Music fans buy festival tickets at HMV, Coney Street, York

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , mark.stead@thepress.co.uk

DRUNKEN yobs pelted street cleaners with cans and bottles, hurled abuse and left York's main shopping street strewn with pub furniture as a queue for music festival tickets turned ugly.

The area outside the HMV store in Coney Street "looked like a bombsite" after rock fans arrived in the early hours to secure their places at the Leeds Festival.

They took tables and chairs from nearby bars, as well as pub umbrellas to shelter them from the rain, before leaving them littering the street along with piles of other rubbish.

Some urinated in doorways and lanes leading to neighbouring shops, while city centre street-cleaning teams endured a torrent of abuse and had to dodge cans and plastic bottles hurled at them as they tried to tidy up - leading to police being called in to calm the situation yesterday morning The louts have been criticised by the City of York Council cleaners, Coney Street businesses and HMV after tempers flared at about 5am when a 200-strong queue of people looking to snap up tickets for August's three-day Bramham Park festival, headlined by Metallica, The Killers and Rage Against The Machine, gathered outside the store hours before its 8am opening.

"We started street-washing at 1am and there were already people huddled in the HMV doorway," said street cleaning officer Paul Willey.

"By around 5am, there were around 200 of them - some had a supermarket trolley filled with beer and had taken tables and chairs from outside pubs to use while they waited. When we asked them to move so we could clean up, some refused, chucked bottles and cans at us and shouted abuse, while others were urinating in lanes and up walls.

"We had to call police and extra cleaners because the place looked like a bombsite.

"There was rubbish everywhere and they were even playing football in St Helen's Square and Davygate. They'd obviously been there hours and wanted something to do.

"Coney Street was an eyesore, and while we obviously don't mind clearing it up, we do mind getting abuse for doing our job. Some of them were clearly drunk, and while only a minority were out of order, I just can't grasp their mentality - we shouldn't have to put up with that. It makes you think what's the point?' "We also can't understand why HMV didn't let us know people might be queuing because we could have had extra staff ready to deal with it. I've been a city centre street-cleaner for 15 years and I've never seen it as bad as this - I hope it's not a sign of things to come."

Gemma Kennedy, 23, who works in the nearby Office shoe shop where staff arrived to find its side lane reeking of urine, said: "It was absolutely disgusting. It looks like some people have brought their festival mentality to the street.

"I go to festivals myself but I'd never have such disregard for people's property and leave others to clean it up. Those who did this don't seem to have any consideration, and I can't believe the rest of the queue put up with it and did and said nothing."

Police confirmed they were called to the scene to maintain order but no arrests were made.


HMV apology

THE city council cleaners who ran a gauntlet of abuse outside HMV have been praised by the music chain, which says it will do what it can to avoid a repeat.

"It was unfortunate and regrettable that a small minority of people queuing for the tickets showed a lack of consideration and respect for most of the other fans there, and also for the environment they were in," said spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

"All we wanted to do was give real music fans a chance to buy tickets for this great event rather than missing out online or having to resort to touts. If anybody was upset or offended by the behaviour, including our immediate trading neighbours, then on behalf of HMV, I offer our most sincere apologies.

"We're also very grateful to the council and their employees for being on the case so promptly to clear up the litter - they did a great job."


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