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Forced to close after ‘intimidating’ behaviour’

A rural business said it has lost money after anti-social behaviour forced it to cut its operating hours.

The Little Cow Shed on Davenport Lane, Brereton, has reported “piles of litter, smells of illegal substances” and cars “racing up and down the lane”.

Etty Holland, who manages the enterprise that sells fresh milkshakes, ice cream and hot drinks, told The Chronicle that she first discovered evidence that an “intimidating” group had been hanging around at night, after seeing McDonalds packets on the car park and smelling cannabis in one of the converted containers.

She said: “Inside the containers, there’s fake grass on the walls. You could smell that people had been smoking weed in there by the smell of the grass. We don’t want regular customers coming in and smelling that.”

Miss Holland explained that she had been in contact with the police, who told her that arrests had been made for dangerous driving after people had been caught “racing around the car park and up and down the lane”.

She said: “Someone could get hurt and we don’t want to cause anyone in the village unnecessary disruption. When something like this happens, you have to have the local community and people’s safety at the forefront, which is why we’ve decided to close between 9.30pm and 6.30am.”

The family-run business, which opened two years ago, now plans to have cctv installed and an ANPR camera, which will monitor the registration plates of cars using the car park.

“They are expensive measures to take” she said, “but at the same time, it’s a really nice place to be in the evenings, so if that’s what we need to do to try and protect the business and the local community, that’s what we will do.

“We’re losing a bit in business, but the biggest impact is that someone has to come down to lock up every night and then open up again at 6.30am when there are other things we should be doing on the farm.”

Miss Holland added: “I believe that Tesco in Congleton had some real problems with a bad group of kids, so I’m not sure if it’s because they’ve been booted from there and migrated on to us.

“It’s not nice for anyone that comes when there are big groups that can be intimidating. It’s out of the way and secluded, so it’s the perfect place to get up to no good.”

She said The Little Cow Shed hoped to boost sales with the addition of a hot food stall, serving bacon and egg baps between 9am and noon at weekends.

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