IT might have caused a bit of a stink, but a woodland used by youths as a drug den has been transformed back into a tranquil haven thanks to a lorry load of manure.
A council has come out smelling of roses after wielding a new and cost-effective weapon in the fight against anti-social behaviour.
Pig dung has been spread in a thick layer in woods in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, to deter youths from congregating and upsetting elderly people living close by.
A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council said: “Following complaints, an inspection of the area revealed it was being used to drink alcohol and take drugs, as paraphernalia known as ‘bongs’ were found.
“The Neighbourhood Safety Team commissioned the Area Care Service to cut back trees and thinned out the area to make it clearly visible from a footpath. The area care staff also provided and spread the pig manure.”
The woodland between Willowbank and Stainton Way has been crime-free since the innovative deterrent was introduced several weeks ago.
He added: “Feedback from the residents indicated that although there was a slight whiff in Willowbank, they would much rather have a pong than a bong.”
Middlesbrough Council is faced with cutting more than £50m from its budget over four years, which includes reducing the number of its street wardens whose role includes dealing with episodes of anti-social behaviour.
As well as carrying out high visibility patrols, the uniformed council workers can confiscate alcohol from young people and request the names and addresses of anyone acting in an anti-social manner.
It has already been recommended to reduce the number of posts by 16 for the 2012-13 financial calendar, saving £450,000, and it is proposed that the service could be shrunk next year by a further £60,000.
Councillor Jan Brunton, who represents the Coulby Newham ward, said initially she had disagreed with the crime-fighting approach but her opinion had changed.
“At first I was against it because of the smell. I would rather have found another way, so we tried to find a manure that did not smell as much due to the people living nearby. But I am pleased to say it has worked. I don’t know where the youths have gone, but they’re not here.
"It does not smell now but the manure is still here, so it has acted as a deterrent.”