Tuesday, August 9, 2011


LAKESIDE Shopping Centre has denied there’s any trouble today, as social networking sites send the rumour mill into overdrive.
Rumours have spread like wildfire that trains carrying gangs of youths have been held back from Chafford Hundred Station, amid fears they were planning to loot the shopping centre.
The Gazette has also had calls from worried readers who’ve heard the centre and the train station are completely shut, as well as calls from people who claim shoppers were locked in the centre at one point, as a gang of up to 150 “suspicious youths” arrived.
All have been checked out, and proven untrue.
A spokesman for Lakeside confirmed it had delayed opening of stores until 10.30am, and was keeping in regular contact with the police.
She added: “It's business as usual. Our security are liaising with police on the threat which is stemming from social media.
“We embrace social media and are monitoring any mentions of 'Lakeside' and the situation.”
The Gazette can confirm that some shops in Lakeside are taking extra precautions because of the looting and riots in London.
One of these shops is Marks and Spencer, which is open and accessible from inside the shopping centre, but has the shutters down on its entrances outside the centre.
Clare Wilkes, spokesman for the retail giant, said: “M&S is taking protecting our customers, staff and property, as far as we can from any criminal behaviour.
“This is our number one priority.
“We are complying fully with advice from police, which was first to close the store, and then to close the exterior doors.
“At the moment it is a precautionary measure to prevent any criminal behaviour.”
A spokesman for British Transport Police confirmed that officers had been down to Chafford Hundred Station this morning to “check the area” but had found “no signs of disorder or rioting”.
The Argos store in Lakeside’s Retail Park was closed this morning, the Gazette is waiting to hear back from the catalogue store as to why.