AN EASTLEIGH councillor has hit out at police for not having “enough presence” after gang violence caused McDonald’s to hire security.

The McDonald’s branch in High Street, Eastleigh, announced last week that it had to hire security guards to protect staff and customers on Friday and Saturday nights, after trouble involving a gang of youths flared up on Monday, January 27.

The youngsters threw chairs around the fast food restaurant at around 5.30pm, which led to a 17-year-old boy being arrested.

Now, Eastleigh borough councillor Alex Bourne has hit out at the police, claiming there are not enough on the streets to “put people off these crimes”.

He said: “It’s a sad indictment on Eastleigh that things like this are taking place and I’m very disappointed that the incident has happened. If only police didn’t close the old Eastleigh Station down. We don’t have enough police presence in the area to put people off these crimes. We have some good police community support officers but there isn’t enough.”

This was one of three incidents in Eastleigh town centre during that week, and officers have reportedly increased the number of patrols in the area, carrying out stop and searches to “identify and deal with” troublemakers.

Hampshire Constabulary Chief Inspector Darren Miller, who leads the Eastleigh and Hedge End districts, said: “We understand that communities may feel we are less visible in the town centre, however we have increased patrols in these areas and the officers in Eastleigh Central neighbourhood policing team work tirelessly to tackle offenders and protect the public.

“Following the closure of Eastleigh Police Station last year we relocated to an office nearby on Hathaway Close and as such our patrol capability is the same as when we were in the old station.

“We continue to work with partners to reduce incidents in the town centre. As a result of our activity we have made several arrests in connection with three recent incidents and these investigations are ongoing."