AN action plan has been drawn up to tackle chronic anti-social behaviour near Darlington Football Club's former ground.

Councillors in the Park East area of Darlington have been plagued by complaints from residents in Quaker Lane and Polam Lane, near Darlington FC's former home - the Feethams ground.

Since July, the police and Darlington Borough Council's own uniformed wardens have been called out 27 times following reports of criminal acts, rowdy behaviour, fires, and suspicious circumstances.

Yesterday, Labour councillors Cyndi Hughes, Joe Lyonette and Glen Reynolds welcomed the action plan.

Two months ago, the derelict Quaker Centre, next to Feethams, was demolished. Before the demolition, police were frequently being called out to deal with arson attacks and vandalism.

In June, children started a fire on the second floor of the Quaker Centre, causing a blaze which took almost three hours to put out.

The action plan involves uniformed wardens routinely patrolling the area, and the council's dedicated anti-social behaviour unit acting as a collecting point for information.

The officers will try to identify those causing the problems. They will send warning letters and possibly conduct interviews with the parents of the children involved.

Quaker Lane includes a derelict area of land awaiting planning permission from the Cricket Club. The area is often used as a shortcut by young people.

Councillor Hughes said: "I'm delighted that the council and the police are taking our concerns and residents' complaints so seriously.

"This action plan gives a strong message to louts that their behaviour will not be tolerated.

"Residents can feel reassured that the anti-social behaviour officers will be offering support to local people and obtaining evidence so further action can be taken if necessary. The local ward councillors will be keeping a close eye on this to ensure that matters improve."

Sue Collingwood, community inspector for Darlington police, said: "We are working closely with the council, looking at what can be done. The situation down there had improved but it has come back.

"It is not a particularly safe area for youths, and we would appeal to parents in the area to ask where their children are going when they are heading out."