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Worthing town centre traders receive joint letter on issue of anti-social behaviour

Released: Thursday, 23 May 2019

Traders are being assured that everything is being done to make Worthing town centre a safe, comfortable place to visit.

A joint letter from Worthing Borough Council, Sussex Police and the Town Centre Initiative is being delivered to all centre businesses outlining the efforts to engage the street community and tackle anti-social behaviour following a spate of recent negative publicity.

In it the traders are assured all three organisations are regularly meeting to discuss initiatives to deal with the issue. The letter says:

“We all know town centres are changing and these are challenging times for all businesses. However the Council completely shares the view of our business community that retail remains a vital part of our town centre offering. We also have a joint goal of continuing to attract people into the town centre, and ensuring that we have safe and pleasant spaces for people to enjoy.”

The letter says that many of the problems are on a national scale with Worthing no better or worse than other centres but recognises that work has to be done to make improvements.

It says the Council's Rough Sleeper and Outreach Teams have been working hard to get rough sleepers access to services and into housing and mentions that the encampment outside Laura Ashley has been removed after a successful intervention.

Section 41 Notices which enable the removal of belongings left in Montague Street have been served and renewed efforts to improve intelligence and information gathering among traders, Council and police are to be made, the letter says. In addition efforts to make empty properties harder to access will also be explored.

However the letter also says that those sleeping rough remain vulnerable and service engagement with them at the earliest opportunity is vital. It also asks traders to report any evidence of anti-social behaviour to the police straight away and advises that those wishing to support street dwellers should either buy them a hot drink or donate to homeless charities rather than give money to individuals which might deter them from seeking help.

Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Val Turner, said:

“Firstly we should recognise that this is not just a Worthing issue but that hasn't stopped us from making important interventions. We recognise the absolute need for residents to feel comfortable when they visit our town centre and we understand the concerns of traders.”

“Our teams dealing in this field are first class and have to deal with a range of complex issues but I want to assure everyone that we are entirely focussed on the problem.”

Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell, Sussex Police district commander, said:

“The individuals involved in antisocial behaviour are the minority and we know who they are. Rest assured they are dealt with robustly when we are aware of crimes being committed and this is demonstrated by the arrests that we have made recently in relation to specific incidents. We are determined to not let a small number of people disrupt others enjoyment of our town.”

“However the street community are some of the most vulnerable in our town and the recent negative comments on social media platforms and local media have increased resulted in them being targeted and becoming victims of crime. We are urging anyone who witnesses any physical or verbal abuse, either in public or online, to any member of the community to report it to us without delay.”

Chairman of the Town Centre Initiative, Michael Clinch, said,:

“The Worthing Town Centre Initiative are pleased to be working with partners to ensure our Town Centre is safe and welcoming. There have already been improvements and we will continue to raise business concerns so action can be taken. However, it is important that everyone does their bit and incidents need to be reported to the Police.”

“The TCI know that Worthing is predominantly a safe and welcoming town and are pleased that everyone is working together to reinforce this.”

Photo: Montague Street in Worthing town centre

PR19-084 - Montague Street in Worthing town centre

(PR19-084)

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