COUNCILLORS came to the rescue of Ripon's hornblower as he faced a crowd of abusive youths.

The incident, which did not disrupt the 1,000 year old ceremony in the Market Place, was the second in recent months.

A crowd of about 40 youths was seen gathering in the Market Place by councillors leaving a meeting in Ripon Town Hall.

Onlookers said the youngsters were shouting abuse at the newly-appointed hornblower.

Four councillors, including Sid Hawke, the city's deputy mayor, stood guard to ensure that the ceremony went ahead.

Coun Hawke condemned the behaviour and said it would not be tolerated.

"We just stood in a line and eventually the yobs just disappeared and the hornblowing went ahead as usual," he said. "But I think it was as well that the four of us were there to keep an eye on things."

The latest anti-social behaviour towards the hornblower, who was dressed in his traditional fawn frock coat and tricorn hat, comes only a short time after 67-year-old George Pickles took up the office following a lengthy search for a replacement following the retirement of Alan Oliver.

Each day at 9pm the Ripon horn is blown at the four corners of the Market Place obelisk and then sounded outside the mayor's home.

Coun Hawke believes the situation has become worse since the revamp of the Market Place, which has created a large open space, attracting skateboarders and BMX riders.

Mr Pickles, who had not blown a horn until taking up the post, has become a favourite with locals and visitors, who gather to hear the history of the ceremony.

He is also a popular figure in Harrogate's Valley Gardens, where he runs the sports pavilion.

The leader of Harrogate Borough Council Councillor Mike Gardner said if the trouble continued, police could apply for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders to ban the youths from the area.