UPDATE 10.15pm: Fears fanned rioting flames

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AN eerie silence filled the streets of Milton Keynes tonight as thousands of people waited for the rumoured rioting to begin.

Many had spent the day at their computers where online myths abounded about where and when the violence was erupting.

By mid afternoon, if the urban heresay was to be believed, Sainsbury’s at Central Milton Keynes had been mobbed, petrol bombs had been hurled in Bradville, the railway station was under siege and cars were being overturned in a Bletchley car park.

In fact not a single rumour proved to be true. The city was calm - almost suspiciously calm - with only a smattering of police cars crammed with officers wearing yellow vests giving an indication of what could come.

Fears were sparked anew just before 6pm where fire broke out in a row of four garages at Beanhill, spreading to a house.

Fear fanned the flames but at this stage the cause is not known. There is nothing to suggest a link to riots.

When a gang of 70 youths rampaged through Bletchley at around 7.30pm, police and the public were once again poised for the worse.

Doors were closed, all-nightshops closed early, children were summoned inside and the police helicopter hovered noisily over the city.

Within minutes the damage was done: a smattering of car windows cracked, a shop front smashed, shouts, jostling and threats.

Was it a riot or was it an over-excited gang of would-be offenders jumping on the much-publicised bandwagon?

By 9pm four of the gang were tucked up in police cells. The unofficial view of the emergency services was that “a few dozen thugs trying to be bad” constituted the Milton Keynes rioters.

Tentatively, by 10pm, the city dared to hope the situation was under control.

Only time will tell...