By Rob Banks, Crime Editor
Suffolk Police have taken delivery of two fearsome battle tanks to help keep the working classes away from the county’s elite holiday resorts.
The Challenger 2 tanks will be stationed on the approaches to Aldeburgh and Southwold from this weekend, ensuring only the “right sort” of visitors get through to enjoy the towns.
Each tank is equipped with a 120-millimetre main gun capable of firing high explosive and armour-piercing shells, while gunners can also make use of a chain gun and machine gun on board.
Senior officers hope the vehicles, which each have 4,200 rounds available, will deter inquisitive poor people from travelling to the jewels on the Suffolk coast.
A spokesman told the Suffolk Gazette: “In recent years there have been issues with an unruly working class element visiting Aldeburgh and Southwold.
“They do not speak with the correct accent, don’t read the right newspaper – and some don’t even like opera.
“Clearly the locals, and those with loads of money, would rather keep them away, and so we need to take appropriate action to make sure they don’t get through.”
Police have been training two of their patrol car drivers to operate the tanks, which are on loan from the British Army for six months until the holiday season is over.
They have been on exercise in Tunstall Forest, with only a couple of minor mishaps involving a bird-watching hide and three hikers.
The police spokesman explained: “There were one or two teething problems while our drivers got used to the controls. One of the tanks took a wrong turn and ploughed straight into a bird-watching hide in the forest, while another hit three hikers when the driver forgot where the brake was.
“However, nobody was seriously hurt and the drivers have now got the hang of everything.”
He said the tanks would be taking up positions from next Monday.
But last night there was a furious reaction when the Suffolk Gazette broke the news to some residents. Cynthia Jones, who lives in Alderton, said: “I like to visit Aldeburgh, but although I am quite wealthy, I drive an older car. Will this tank just turn its gun on me, assuming I am a poor person?
“There will be a terrible accident within hours, and it will ruin Suffolk’s tourist industry.”
Others warned Suffolk Police could end up with egg on their faces, just as they did when their Apache gunship helicopter accidentally blew up a vicarage in Needham Market.