New street team to help crack down on anti-social behaviour
PUBLISHED: 08:33 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:35 03 October 2018
A new team of street rangers are to be brought in to tackle vandalism and anti-social behaviour in a town centre.
The new Business Improvement District (BID), called Our Colchester, is introducing three street ambassadors to act as the link between members of the public, businesses, the council and police to improve the state of Colchester’s streets.
When surveyed, three-quarters of businesses said they wanted to see dedicated street ambassadors on the streets of Colchester to help tackle issues such as street begging and shoplifting.
Peter Scopes, Our Colchester chairman and Lion Walk Shopping Centre manager, said: “Our team will be specifically there for building a bridge between levy payers and the BID.
“They will be greeting visitors with brochures with information about the town and assisting local enforcement in fighting anti-social behaviour.
“These priorities came out of the research we conducted before the BID ballot.
“All of the work the team and Our Colchester do absolutely has to be directed by what businesses want - that’s why we are here.”
Mr Scopes made it clear that while the team would be working towards accreditation from relevant security organisations, the team cannot move on rough sleepers or make arrests.
He added: “The team will have the same powers of the public, but they work on behalf of all 491 businesses that work with us.”
The three-man team are currently being trained and will be out on the streets of Colchester on October 15.
Our Colchester collects a levy from all the participating organisations - a percentage of the value of the that it uses to fund its plans for the town centre.
The levy can only be spent improving the district - which extends from the magistrates’ court to Colchester Retail Park - and is not redistributed by the government as business rates are.
The BID won the enthusiastic backing of business owners, with 85% of the 491 voters in favour of the new plan - however only a third of all businesses in the district came out for the ballot.
Mr Scopes said: “The atmosphere at the launch event was just overwhelmingly positive.
“Some business owners came along and learned for the first time what a BID is and have discovered what will be happening over the next five years.”