High Street action plan launched with new Community Safety team in place

Published Tuesday, 9th October 2018

Summit attendees

An action plan aimed at reducing problems such as aggressive begging, rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour has been launched.

Following a summit held on Monday 24 September, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council – working in partnership with Southend Police, Southend Business Improvement District (BID) and several other local charities and agencies, has developed an action plan which will address six key areas.

Additionally, and commencing work on 15 October 2018, six new uniformed Community Safety team officers working across a seven-day week will support the Police and other agencies in reducing antisocial behaviour in the town centre.

The six objectives of the action plan are:

  • End rough sleeping in the High Street
  • Reduce begging, professional begging and associated anti-social behaviour
  • Improve communications to ensure a consistent approach and enable better understanding of key issues
  • Make the High Street feel safer and attractive to local community and visitors
  • Improve anti-social behaviour enforcement in the High Street
  • Reduce Street drinking and improve interventions for street drinkers

Following the summit, a number of initiatives were swiftly put into place.

  • The recruitment of a six-person Community Safety team for the town centre
  • Improving the street scene in conjunction with businesses by carefully removing any unattended items from privately owned shopfronts, doorways and publicly owned highway. Personal possessions would be stored and made available to collect
  • Increasing the number of outreach visits in order to help rough sleepers, including substance misuse experts
  • Launching a highly visible campaign later this month across central Southend to encourage shoppers to donate to local charity, instead of giving their change to people begging.
  • Developing a strategy to identify and implement enforcement legislation that will help us ensure street drinking is reduced
  • Develop a community grant to support cultural events in the High Street, and commission more High Street events that encourage footfall into the area
  • New ‘no drinking’ signage commissioned and installed and ensure necessary powers are being implemented
  • Developing a new treatment programme to improve support available to street drinkers.

Cllr James Courtenay, deputy leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said:

“At the summit we agreed as a group to intensify our joint work to support those who are genuinely homeless while adopting a zero-tolerance approach to aggressive begging, street drinking and antisocial behaviour, all of which deter shoppers and visitors and damage the local economy.

“Local residents and businesses alike are calling out for action and we are listening to them. It has been clear that we need more staff on the high street to support the activity already underway by police offices and BID street rangers. Having uniformed council officers present seven days a week, just three weeks after the summit, shows the emphasis we are placing on addressing the public’s concerns, and the pace at which we’re moving ahead with our action plan.

“These early actions are just the very step in collectively tackling the issues the High Street faces, and there will be far more to come.”

Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, Southend’s District Commander said, “The investment in and introduction of these new officers is brilliant news. We already have a strong & vibrant Community Safety Hub with police & partner agencies co-located working together on joint proactive initiatives. That Partnership Team will now become even stronger and I look forward to working closely with this new team to deal with the local issues and concerns that really affect our communities.”

Dawn Jeakings, Chair and Director of Southend BID, said, “We’re delighted that these initiatives are coming so swiftly into place and that greater resources are being devoted to these issues. We are now moving into a busy period for the High Street and seafront areas, with a number of events such as the firework spectaculars and Christmas Lights Switch-On, bringing more people into Southend. So, the Action Plan and Community Safety team have been created at an ideal and important time for the town centre.”