Delegates to this week’s Southend High Street Summit have committed to tougher action on crime, antisocial behaviour and aggressive begging in Southend town centre – backed up by extra resourcing.
Senior councillors and officers from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Essex Police, Southend BID and constituency MP James Duddridge attended the summit at Southend Civic Centre on Monday morning in a bid to agree a joint approach to reaffirming the High Street as an attractive destination for commerce and recreation.
Cllr James Courtenay, deputy leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “This week’s summit was a solid step towards bringing improvements to the high street as a place of leisure and retail.
“We’ve 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.
“As a result of this summit, we will shortly develop an agreed and detailed action plan – based on the frank and challenging discussions we had today - with immediate as well as longer term actions and objectives.
“We recently secured almost £1m of central government funding to tackle rough sleeping between now and March 2020. This will fund extra homelessness support services, outreach work and homelessness prevention. Additionally we are already in the process of recruiting six community safety officers, who will provide a visible presence in the town centre later this year. Essex Police’s additional officers for Southend are expected to be in place in the New Year. This new resource will work with Southend BID’s 4 Street Rangers. This is all extra resource for our town centre and should be welcomed. As a group, we now need to ensure that our activity is co-ordinated, our work is highly visible and that it is communicated clearly to the local residents and businesses.”
Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, Southend’s District Commander said, “These are exciting times for Southend with the extra police officers and community safety officers arriving in the near future. This builds our capacity to deliver highly visible & proactive policing which is what the public want. We’ve delivered a number of proactive initiatives in recent weeks & months. Op Southend in August showed what we can achieve with a focused and coordinated partnership approach resulting in significant reductions in violent crime as a result. Yesterday’s Summit showed to me that all key agencies are absolutely committed to delivering the very best for Southend and tackling the issues that affect the community.”
Dawn Jeakings, Chair and Director of Southend BID, said, “We were very pleased to attend today’s meeting about joint partnership working here in Southend. It was a very constructive gathering and we look forward to working together with our colleagues in the weeks and months to come to ensure our town is safe and offers a welcoming environment to both visitors and businesses.”
Officers clamp down on rogue traders
A joint operation between Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Trading Standards officers and Essex Police has led to 19 local businesses being investigated.
The operation was part of Rogue Trader Week - a nationally coordinated exercise set up to help combat doorstep crime and cold caller traders who target the elderly and the vulnerable. This often leads to residents being conned into paying for over-priced and unnecessary work.
Following up on information received from the general public and from other regional authorities, officers patrolled residential areas in the town that are targeted by rogue traders and also spoke with residents where current work was being undertaken to ensure that the arrangements were satisfactory.
In all, 24 businesses were either questioned or visited by officers during the day, and 19 did not comply with UK legislation and will now be investigated by Trading Standards.
Cllr Mark Flewitt, cabinet member for public protection, said: “Rogue traders operate outside of the law and also con innocent – and often vulnerable - people out of their hard earned money.
“These traders are a blight on the local community and give a bad name to the many hardworking traders we have in our borough.
“It is still too early to comment on any individual cases, but we are confident that those in question can expect a thorough investigation to take place. There is no place for rogue traders in our town and the full force of the law will be used on guilty parties.”
Residents are advised to avoid rogue traders by finding a business through the Buy with Confidence scheme, the only approved scheme operated by Trading Standards.
Buy with Confidence can be contacted either by calling 03454 04 05 06 or by visiting their website at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk
If any resident is concerned that they or someone they know may have been the victim of a rogue trader, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer for advice.
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