December 4 2013 Latest news:
Safira Ali, Senior reporter
Friday, August 16, 2013
A new crime-fighting taskforce has been launched this week to tackle anti-social behaviour in Brentwood town centre.
The night time economy working group is aiming to cut down low-level crime, nuisance behaviour and disturbances in the town, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
The working group, which is made up of councillors, police, traders, licensees and residents, met for the first time last night (Thursday) to set an action plan to fight crime.
Top of the list was anti-social behaviour in the town centre, of which there were 87 – almost three a day - in June, according to the latest figures available on crime mapping website Police.uk.
Cllr Chris Hossack said the group was set up after Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, visited Brentwood in April and said there concerns about the night time economy.
Cllr Hossack said: “I said, if it’s an issue let’s look into it. We had a public meeting and people said their top concerns were about anti-social behaviour and how it impacted them.”
He said they have a list of proposals and will see if they are feasible, including 24-hour public toilets and shuttle buses or discounted taxis from the town centre to the train station.
He added: “When people leave the High Street some are urinating in people’s gardens. We are looking at new toilets or using the existing toilets and managing them, but we have to look at these costs.”
Ashley Culverwell, head of borough health, safety and localism for Brentwood Council, who has helped set up the group, said: “The group’s aim is to make sure that we have a safe night-time economy and not at the expense of the residents. We are trying to ensure that it is well managed and we don’t want people to spoil the night-time economy for everybody else.”
Cllr Russell Quirk (Brentwood First, Hutton North) said he would give the scheme the “benefit of the doubt”, and added: “A working group is welcome as long as it is driven by input from councillors of all parties and, importantly, residents and the public too.”
Cllr Mike Le Surf (Labour, Brentwood South) said the scheme was needed and he raised it at a council meeting earlier this year. He was planning to support residents through a town centre partnership using ward budgets.
He added: “I welcome any action to deal with the issues for residents around town centre living but the group should be led by the residents themselves.”