TEENAGE gangs and groups of older children are driving families away from the Hive at certain times.
Worcester’s award-winning landmark building has a designated children’s section but parents say they are reluctant to use the space at peak periods, such as Saturdays, due to the large number of teenagers who gather there.
Kate James, of Spetchley, near Worcester, used to visit the Hive on Saturdays with her seven-year-old son Tommy, but now goes during quieter periods in order to avoid noisy youths.
She said: “Every time I’ve been there, it’s more like a youth club. There are young adults swearing constantly and you overhear conversations about sex.
“The Hive is a wonderful place and it’s somewhere my son can come and do homework away from the distractions of home.
“It’s meant to be there for everybody. I’ve been a teenager and if you’ve got a place to hang out, you’re going to hang out there, but they should have respect for other users.”
Ceri Vines, aged 46, from St Peter’s, Worcester, used to regularly take his two daughters, aged five and six, to the Hive on Saturdays but was put off by the number of older children and teenagers congregating in the area.
Mr Vines said he now visits St John’s Library instead or goes to the Hive on Sunday mornings when it is quieter.
He said: “Although many were going downstairs to the games area, others were loitering noisily around the children’s books area, with skateboards and mobile phones. It wasn’t a relaxing place for young children.”
Mr Vines said although he never personally reported an issue to staff, there was lots of security around and at least one member of staff had to ask a group to calm down.
Catherine Mulvey, 30, from Bevere, near Worcester, often visits with her children Jacob, seven, and Daisy, two, but said the large gangs can be intimidating.
She said: “I understand they have as much right to be in there as we do as long as they aren’t causing trouble but the problem lies in the fact that there are big gangs who take over the children’s section and it can be quite intimidating.
“Some of them are swearing, shouting or talking inappropriately for a children’s section and taking over the equipment meant for younger children.
“Staff and security do step in and I have seen patrols carried out by police officers but perhaps there needs to be organised activities, rather than them wandering around.”
The £60 million super library, which is a joint initiative between Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester, is Europe’s first fully integrated and jointly run university and local authority library.
Opened by the Queen last summer it has already won several high-profile awards. Only last week we reported how the University of Worcester had won the Contribution to the Local Community category of the 2013 Guardian University Awards.
Judges said it had created “a real legacy that could be replicated in other institutions”.
Tthe state-of-the-art building has proved popular, welcoming 600,000 people through its doors in Sawmill Walk, The Butts, in just 224 days, and seeing a 105 per cent increase in borrowing.
But the unique partnership between university and public library has also attracted criticism from students.
Commenting on our website, Andy_R said: “As a student representative at Worcester University, I hear nothing but complaints about the Hive. It’s in the wrong place, our books are mixed up with the public library books, there’s no student parking, no dedicated student areas, it’s noisy, inconvenient, and the public hog the computers to play games when we want to study there.”
Laura Worsfold, business development manager at the Hive, said: “We want people to relax and enjoy the services we offer and have security measures in place to make this possible, including CCTV and a security presence on site.
“If any issues do occur, staff are on hand to deal with them instantly. Anyone with concerns or suggestions should speak to a member of staff on site.”
A spokesman for West Mercia Police said based on the number of calls they receive, levels of anti-social behaviour at the Hive are no higher than in other areas of the city where youths also gather.
They said: “We work closely with the security team at the Hive to deal with any known troublemakers and take action where any criminal offences may have occurred.”