Bury St Edmunds: Street rangers facing the axe

A STREET ranger service which was dubbed a key part of the work of a town centre improvement group is being axed.

Bury St Edmunds is set to lose its rangers – who were brought in to bolster security and safety in the town centre and help visitors – after the board of Bid4Bury decided to terminate the contract with the company providing the service from April.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury, said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and the views and feedback from our members have been taken into consideration in arriving at this decision.

“Fundamentally, the board do not think the annual cost of this service, of nearly �100,000, demonstrates good value for money for our membership and at this very difficult economic time for our businesses, the board feels the expenditure of Bid4Bury can be better directed elsewhere.

“This decision is no reflection upon the three current street rangers who the board believes have done an excellent job throughout their time.”

Ipswich Central – the company responsible for running the Business Improvement District (BID) in Ipswich – provides the street ranger service in Bury, which was launched in 2010.

Setting up the team of street rangers was one of Bid4Bury’s key pledges and was said to be a further development from the former town wardens who used to patrol in the town until 2006.

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Paul Haynes, manager of the Arc shopping centre in Bury and who has previously been interim chair of Bid4Bury, said the decision to axe the street ranger service had come “somewhat as a surprise” to him.

“What I would say is, that I and the Arc’s management team have found the rangers do an excellent job,” he said.

He added that they would be gathering feedback from Arc tenants to pass on to the Bid4Bury board.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Central spoke of how invaluable street rangers had been in the success of the BID in Ipswich.

“Therefore, given our own experience, we are surprised at the decision reached by the Bid4Bury board to switch off the provision of street rangers. However, their business decision should be respected.

“Our priority is now the staff affected by this decision who will, understandably, be concerned about future employment and deserve our full support.”

Richard Bird, owner of Abbeygate’s Street Level caf� and restaurant, which is a Bid4Bury member, said he believed the street rangers were “not necessary now”, adding how he was shocked to discover how much the service was costing.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “The existing number of Pcs and PCSOs working in communities across the county will remain the same.

“Two Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) cover Bury town, Bury Central SNT and Bury East West SNT. The officers in both teams work to tackle the community policing issues that matter to local people. “