Prince gets CCTV to take on hoodies in his model village

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The Independent Online

* Prince Charles has provided many a solution to the problems facing modern society, but sometimes even our future King is required to lie down in the face of the jackboot march of progress.

The Prince of Wales has been forced to install CCTV cameras in Poundbury, the so-called model village he created in rural Dorset, following a spate of "antisocial behaviour" among disaffected young residents.

Five cameras are to be put up in the main square in a bid to stamp out yobbish behaviour blighting the lives of locals in the hitherto idyllic village.

Recent months are said to have seen an outbreak of graffiti, along with reports of break-ins and "window smashing" at 10 local stores.

Older residents have also complained to the police of being harassed by large groups of youths wearing hooded tops.

"In terms of crime and antisocial behaviour, we are no different to anywhere else," says the Duchy of Cornwall, which runs the Prince's estates.

"We are quite lucky generally in terms of vandalism and antisocial issues. But we do get youthful high-jinks, and graffiti has been a persistent problem."

Thankfully for the Prince, Dorchester police are also backing the £5,000 scheme to thrust Poundbury into the modern world.

"It will be a useful crime- fighting tool, and helps with crime prevention," reckons a spokesman. "We also find it good for getting evidence of antisocial behaviour."

* Samuel West is about to become theatre's latest superstar to find himself on the wrong end of a hate campaign from the religious right.

Christian Voice, the organisation that stopped a recent tour of Jerry Springer: the Opera, has now turned its howitzers on West's next show, The Romans in Britain.

The Howard Brenton play became one of the most controversial shows of the 1980s after Mary Whitehouse prosecuted its director over a scene depicting homosexual rape.

Her case was eventually dropped, but not before it had established a legal precedent - that the Sexual Offences Act applies to theatre - which has (so far) prevented any revival.

Christian Voice now intends to picket Sheffield Theatres, where West is artistic director, at the opening in early February. If the rape scene isn't cut from the script, they'll also consider legal action.

A champion of free speech, West will vigorously defend his production. He'll need a thick skin.

* Being a proud Scotsman, Rod Stewart is partial to black pudding and the occasional haggis; but he draws a line at the New Age practice of eating a baby's placenta.

Instead, the randy rocker and his fiancé, Penny Lancaster, pictured right - who recently produced a son, Alastair - have buried the wee laddie's afterbirth under a walnut tree in the garden of their Essex home.

"We doused the placenta in tea tree oil and placed it in a hole we'd dug in the garden," Lancaster tells Hello! magazine. "I said a few words. Rod then passed a spade to [his son] Liam, who shovelled in some earth. After that, we all jumped on top and flattened the ground. It was sort of symbolic."


* Never let it be said that the BBC is out of touch with the harsh commercial realities of modern life.

The pop artist Simon Davies has just been forced to abandon his latest project - a series of paintings of BBC weather maps and test cards from the 1970s - at the behest of penny-pinching Corporation lawyers.

One Victoria Mitchell, of the BBC Commercial Agency, has sent him a stiff letter pointing out that selling such paintings would constitute a breach of copyright.

"She informed me that the BBC had no objection to what I was doing, as long as it was for personal use only," Davies tells me.

"This a problem, because I was hoping that, by painting, on a really limited scale, the test card and weather maps, I might be able to sell them to fund my other work."

* Could yet another Hollywood superstar be hoping to reignite his career in the West End?

I only ask because the veteran smoothie Tom Berenger was spotted at the bar of the Baglioni Hotel in Kensington on Saturday. Although it was Christmas Eve, he was taking dinner alone.

"I came in at 9pm, and saw Berenger sitting in the corner in a pink shirt," reports a female admirer. "We recognised him from Platoon. He still looks in great shape, still has a permatan, and was drawing admiring glances from local girls.

"Since he was alone, we presumed he was here on a business trip. But it did seem a little sad. I guess we can want for a bit of company at Christmas time."