Delegates, including James Duddridge, to the 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.”
James Duddridge said, "It was great to sit around the table with the other stakeholders passionate about our town. I am pleased that many action points have been agreed to take action to make our High Street one we can all be proud to shop, work and visit."