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House full of "worst kind of scumbags" shut down

A gang of violent drug-dealing yobs who have terrorised a Middlesbrough street have had their base shut down.

Action has been taken by Middlesbrough Council to boot out the occupants of 73 Portman Street and have the property secured following pleas from terrified neighbours who branded them "the worst kind of scumbags".

People had reported seeing drug dealing and using, gangs congregating, violence and drunken arguments in the street - all coming from the same house. In one incident 10 men were witnessed physically fighting.

The Council's Selective Licensing Neighbourhood Safety officers began compiling evidence about bad behaviour at the address working with residents, local business owners and local landlords - all of whom remained anonymous due to fear of reprisals.

The authority also worked with Cleveland Police who made a number of arrests at the property during a raid last month, in the course of which knives, hammers and drug using equipment was found.

Currently the council and police are working with other partner agencies as part of Operation Stronghold to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in Newport.

Reporting one incident via email one resident summed up by saying: "This street is absolutely buzzing with the worst kind of scumbags this town has produced and things need to change.

"Why are they allowed to be housed in a street with families and kids playing in the street to see them dealing and smacked out of their heads? We need help."

As a result the authority took the matter to Teesside Magistrates' Court where a closure order on the property was granted.

The order means that anyone entering the property in the next three months - including the tenant, 56-year-old Anthony Thompson - is committing a criminal offence.

Following the case Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "We absolutely will not stop booting these people out and we will always be on the side of the neighbour in this case who was at their wits' end and crying out for help.

"I don't care if we have to shut down every single one of these houses that is full of bad people causing misery - if that's what is needed to make things better for the good people then that's what we'll do."

In October Middlesbrough Council secured a closure order on 97 Portman Street and booted out the tenants Michael Todd, 48, and Kayleigh Gallon, 30.

In this latest case the court heard that both Todd and Gallon were amongst those seen visiting the property.

Another property, 43 Thornton Street in North Ormesby - dubbed a "house of horrors" - was shut down in July.

Anyone with information on drugs activity in their local area is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101, or report anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online via the Crimestoppers website.

Anyone with any community problems which could be helped by the Neighbourhood Safety team can call 01642 728100 in complete confidence