An Andover councillor has written to local secondary schools following incidents of alleged vandalism by youths in the town centre.

Cllr Stu Waue, who sits on the town council, wrote to Harrow Way, John Hanson and Winton Academy following claims of windows being broken, floors being rendered unusable, and abuse levelled at shopkeepers on the town’s high street, with young people having been pictured on the roof of shops backing on to Black Swan Yard. There is no suggestion pupils from these schools are responsible for the incidents.

In his letter, Cllr Waue called on the schools to speak to students about the dangers of such actions.

He wrote: “I am a firm believer in a 'belt and braces' approach of not only using preventative measures, but also in disparaging such behaviour to the point that their peers might stop encouraging or joining in with such antics. This is why I am writing to yourselves.

“We only have three weeks between now and the summer holidays, when there may be a significant increase in such incidents as teenagers find themselves with not much to do. Obviously we don’t expect schools to accept responsibility for seeking and punishing the individuals, nor do we expect them to take responsibility for what pupils get up to when they are not at school.

“But where you have similarly aged students in your charge for six hours a day over the next three weeks, you do have the opportunity to speak to them as a captive audience and mention the social irresponsibility of such actions whilst simultaneously putting the point across of what could happen to them if something goes wrong. How you do so is entirely up to you – assemblies, tutor time, newsletters – whatever method you believe would be most effective.

“If you could try to spread this message over the next three weeks, myself, Iris and the workers and residents of the affected buildings would be extremely grateful. If we all work together as a town we have a chance of making a difference for the better.”

His letter follows last week’s report by the Advertiser, in which Andover Clothing Exchange founder Tania Hall said that the issue was “becoming more and more of a problem”, with fears that a fire could be lit in the building following a bin being damaged by fire to the rear of the former Dorothy Perkins store.

The community have rallied around to support her, with donations for anti-climb paint and steps being taken by M&S, whose empty building adjoins the clothing exchange, to secure their building.

Russell Stevens, headteacher at John Hanson, told the Advertiser: "I have been in direct communication with Cllr Waue and offered the school’s support in tackling any anti-social behaviour being undertaken by a few of the young people residing in the Andover Area."

The other schools were contacted for comment