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Firework attacks leave residents in fear

People living on an estate in Tameside say they are too afraid to leave their homes at night in case they are attacked with fireworks.

Kids said to be as young as 10 are running wild on the streets of Ashton St Peters, in Tameside, Manchester- shooting fireworks at each other from their bare hands.

Some residents say it is like living in a war zone, with constant bangs and flashes from the explosions, which can sometimes go on for hours.

It is a huge problem in the run up to Diwali, Halloween and Bonfire night, and police admit they just don't have the resources to tackle it.

GMP have already been called to deal with a number of incidents - including a stray firework which set fire to a family home.

Those living on and around the St Peter's ward say they feel like prisoners in their own homes, already too afraid to go outside in case they are hit by a stray rocket.

On Monday night, police held a public meeting to discuss the issue, but it ended abruptly after emotions ran high. There were however calls for firework sales to be banned in Tameside completely, with some believing it was the only solution to the problem.

One young mum, Aimee Henderson, 23, told how she and her baby daughter had been targeted by firework-hurling yobs on several occasions over the last three years - once when she was seven months pregnant. "I was walking down Blandford Street," she said. "I was going to meet my midwife. They were messing with the fireworks, they saw me and started firing them towards me. I told them I was pregnant, shouted at them to stop, but they didn't. I had to run. "I was terrified, I was in bits, crying. How could they do that to a pregnant woman?

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On Sunday night, a stray firework went through the bedroom window of a young family on Blandford Street.

It set fire to the bed, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage and filling the home with smoke.

The family managed to escape unharmed, before the youths believed to have been responsible for the fireworks ran in to help put out the flames.

Despite their efforts potentially stopping the blaze from engulfing the entire house, the dad of family slammed the idiotic and dangerous act, saying it could have easily killed their baby daughter had she been sleeping upstairs at the time.

He also questioned why it took police three hours to turn up - something officers have apologised for, saying they were 'not proud of it'.

This question was echoed by several residents at the public meeting, with others asking 'just where are the police?'.

Greater Manchester Police Tameside inspector Lee Derbyshire apologised profusely for the delay, explaining how resources were tied up with another incident in the town centre.

"It's not something we are proud of," he said.

"There was a large scale disturbance in Ashton town centre which used up a lot of resources."

He later added: "We are under unprecedented pressure, what we need is bodies on the ground, but we do not have the resources and instead are having to make difficult decisions minute by minute."

But Insp Derbyshire said that efforts to bring anti-social behaviour in the town and surrounding areas had seen some positive results.

"We have seen a 33 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour over the summer," he added.

"We feel for the people here, and we would love to provide them with the resources, troops out there getting hold of these offenders, and we are doing the best we can with what we have.''

Credit: MEN syndication