Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Police extend search to other parts of Cheltenham in hunt for suspected terror plot clues

POLICE have widened their search in the hunt for clues to Cheltenham's suspected terror plot.

Officers admitted the investigation is now taking in other parts of the town as they try to find out how suspicious chemicals ended up in an Up Hatherley garage.

FACING THE PUBLIC:  Hundreds of residents gather to hear the latest
FACING THE PUBLIC: Hundreds of residents gather to hear the latest

Superintendent Neil Mantle reassured residents at a packed meeting at St Margaret's Hall, in Conniston Road, by saying they were no longer in danger.

Two men, aged 52 and 31, remain in police custody after being arrested on Friday in connection with terrorism offences. It followed the discovery of suspicious items in a garage in Buttermere Close, Up Hatherley.

Officers have until tomorrow to quiz the men, after which they will have to apply for an extension to detain them further.

Almost 200 people packed the hall on Tuesday night to hear officers and council bosses talk about the investigation.

Superintendent Mantle told residents: "In terms of this community, there is no longer a threat.

"In terms of the wider community across Cheltenham, that is the focus of the rest of our investigation.

"We want to find out what and why this happened and why these items were in the location they were in."

Angry residents demanded to know more details about the men who had been arrested.

But Superintendent Mantle refused to be drawn, insisting any information could compromise a prosecution if the case reached court.

There were also calls for police to search all the garages in the block.

Superintendent Mantle said officers were satisfied there was nothing more to find in the area.

"We don't have the power to just look in people's garages. In terms of the investigation, we have done as much as we need to do," he said.

"As for any other garages, we do not have any information to give us cause for concern."

The garages are owned by the borough council, but are looked after by Cheltenham Borough Homes.

Council chief executive Andrew North, who was also at the meeting, said: "We don't have legislative powers to just walk in.

"But there is no reason why people should not show us their garages over a period of time.

"If residents do not feel safe, then we should take that seriously and persuade people to let us see what is in them."


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