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More street marshals could be coming to North Devon

Thursday, 29 February 2024 08:34

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Barnstaple street marshals (courtesy: North Devon District Council)

It follows the successes in Barnstaple

Town and parish councils in North Devon could be asked to contribute towards keeping anti-social behaviour-busting street marshals.

Next week North Devon Council’s strategy and resources committee is expected to approve a new three-month contract with Gardant Security, which has provided the service in Barnstaple for the last 15 months.

The council has been funding the two marshals to the tune of £50,000 since last October, after government funding from the Safer Streets programme ran out.

It is proposing to put an additional £27,500 to keep the project going until the end of June. This will be allocated from £200,000 of additional business rate income earmarked for safety and security in North Devon town centres.

Street marshals have been successful in Barnstaple with the number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents reducing by a third and 96 per cent of businesses saying they have a positive impact on the community.

Footfall is up in shops, while drug use, violence and street drinking has gone down. Street marshals, who have the same powers as police community support officers, have also been first responders in medical emergencies, which it is claimed has saved the NHS more than £10,000.

In recent months, the scheme has been extended to Ilfracombe and a number of fixed penalty notices have been issued for breaches of public space protection orders, which ban specific acts in designated areas.

The street marshals work as part of a team consisting of North Devon Council’s anti-social behaviour officer, CCTV staff, civil enforcement officers and the police neighbourhood team.

Council officers are looking at the long-term funding of the project, with one option to bring the service in-house, which could offer better value, and the ability to control consistency of staff.

There are currently no grants available to fund it, officers said in their report to the strategy and resources committee.

Barnstaple Town Council has agreed to consider paying something towards the street marshals, and other parishes and towns may have an opportunity to get involved.

Cllr Frank Beiderman (Ind, Fremington) said at a recent North Devon Council meeting that the project had been “amazing”  and had “definitely improved the vibe in Barnstaple town centre” but a large amount of North Devon is outside the three main towns of Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and South Molton.

“We do get problems in some of our coastal resorts in the summer months, particularly around ASB and youngsters drinking. It would be nice to see if there is any flexibility in the scheme and perhaps our parish and town councils can contribute towards the cost.”

Deputy chief executive of the council and head finance officer Jon Triggs said adapting the scheme to other areas would be part of the review over the next three months.
 

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