Angry Ampthill residents are demanding that CCTV cameras be turned back on in the centre of the historical Georgian market town after a shop window was smashed during a weekend drunken brawl.
People posting on the Ampthill Facebook page said there was a “drinking culture” in the town with well-heeled residents going out “binge-drinking”. And one sneered: “I guess this stuff happens in the ghetto.”
Some blamed the incident on a new bistro-bar called Number 4 which opened across the road just before Christmas on the site of what used to be a controversial lap-dancing club.
They claimed its late-night weekend disco could attract the same drunken yobs and hooligans who used to frequent the notorious Cellar Bar at the town centre White Hart hotel before it was closed down.
But this was firmly denied by bar manager Rebecca Ruffhead, who insisted they catered for a different, older clientele.
She said her bar staff refused to serve anybody who had drunk too much and bouncers would have intervened had their customers been involved.
Ms Ruffhead added: “It’s not fair to blame us. These people could have come from anywhere. We have never had any trouble here since we opened.”
Large spots of blood could be seen on the pavement outside the Phonus Insurance office on Sunday morning amid shards of broken glass.
Amber Keel said on the Facebook page: “I’m gonna put it out there and know I won’t be popular, but that No4 Bar and Grill is to blame as far as I’m concerned!
“Another White Hart in the old days! Ampthill does not need a nightclub!”
She added: “I saw an altercation right outside about 12.40am. But I had two kids with me and didn’t feel safe enough to do anything about it.”
Corinna Speake, whose husband is a partner in the Phonus, spent five hours clearing up and securing the property. She said: “The inconvenience and cost is no joke. Yes someone was hurt, but we do not know who.”
Town councillors voted to turn off CCTV cameras in the centre of Ampthill last year in a bid to save thousands of pounds and keep council tax down
But the move was not popular with many residents, who claimed the 24-hour monitoring had helped keep crime down.
Richard Battson posted on Facebook: “Turn the CCTV back on.” And Judy Flores added: “Yeah, no use having cameras that aren’t monitored.”
Joss Plummer said: “Please let’s not go back to this rubbish behaviour in the town centre – it’s been much improved over recent couple of years.”
Anthony Wright posted: “Ampthill doesn’t deserve this.”
But others blamed the “culture of drinking” in the picturesque town. Shane Redman said: “People talk as if Ampthill is a safe and affluent area. But it has no less than seven pubs and numerous other social clubs or bars.
“This is a town with a culture of drinking. Fridays have long been a night of binge drinking and these are often the results.”
Adam Croft, who lives in neighbouring Flitwick, said: “I guess this stuff happens in the ghetto.”
Herbert Cholmondely, 82, from Woburn, said: “I am not surprised by this carnage. Drinking is the easy road to evil and damnation. Drink will pollute your body and soul and cause you to break windows.”