A Weightwatchers group terrorised by gangs of youths in Wealdstone has been forced to move.
The support network for people who want to lose weight, met at the Wealdstone Centre in High Street, Wealdstone, every Tuesday but its members were so terrified of abusive teens loitering outside they moved.
They say up to 40 yobs hang around the pathway leading from the High Street to Peel House Car Park shouting abuse, swearing and using threatening behaviour towards each other and passers-by.
The former leader of the group, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, left her job this week because of the incidents.
The mother-of-three said: "There are sometimes 30 to 40 kids hanging around. Their language is abusive and very intimidating. It is just not safe and enough was enough.
"Two weeks ago the centre’s caretaker had to let members out the side entrance because kids were throwing firecrackers.
"I am now going to have to look for a new job because I can’t run the classes at the new venue, but I would rather be penniless than lying injured in the street."
Ruth Smith, 44, has lived in Wealdstone for 25 years and is a member of WeightWatchers.
She said: "Women have been terrified leaving the centre. They have been hassled by these groups.
"The Wealdstone Centre is a great place to meet and the facilities are good but it seems that the community is unable to use it because of the thugs that loiter outside."
Mrs Smith also said that a police community support officer told the leader of WeightWatchers that she should find a new venue away from the High Street because it is ‘too dangerous’.
Mrs Smith said: "Shouldn’t the police be trying to make the area safe so that ordinary members of the public can use The Wealdstone Centre? It cannot be used to its full potential because people are scared. Wealdstone has recently opened the High Street to traffic to bring back life and custom to the area.
"This is not going to happen if we are being forced from using the good facilities because of the thugs who appear to be running our streets."
William Goddard, spokesman for Harrow police, said: "The Wealdstone and Marlborough Safer Neighbour-hoods Teams regularly patrol the High Street. We have spoken to representatives from the WeightWatchers group about their fears regarding young people hanging around the venue they use for their evening meetings.
"However, we are not aware of any specific allegations of criminal activity committed against members."
WeightWatchers now meet at the Harrow East Labour Party Office in Byron Road, Wealdstone, on Mondays from 7.15pm.