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North Devon street marshals to stay

Tuesday, 5 March 2024 15:17

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Image: North Devon District Council

Council exploring long-term funding

Street marshals are to stay in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe after claiming they are having a positive impact on the town.

But some councillors are concerned about North Devon Council’s decision to fund the marshals for up to another two years.

The council’s strategy and resources committee has agreed that £27,000 can be used to keep the scheme going until the end of June, whilst additional funding is sought.

The council is also considering whether it should run the service itself rather than employ a security firm.

Councillors said the street marshals, who work in pairs, had made Barnstaple safer, particularly for women and elderly people, and it is now a popular place to visit, with shops seeing the benefits.

Anti-social behaviour has dropped by a third and the scheme has been equally successful in Ilfracombe.

The council’s deputy chief executive Jon Triggs said if it was taken away, there is a fear anti-social behaviour incidents would return.

For the last six months, North Devon Council has funded street marshals after government cash from the Safer Streets programme ran out. It has put £50,000 into the scheme so far and has another £200,000 which could finance it for another two years.

Parish and town councils are being asked if they want their areas to be included in the scheme and contribute towards it like Barnstaple Town Council is to do.

Cllr Glyn Lane (Ind, Landkey) questioned whether so much money should be spent when the council is trying to save money.

“We have a police presence in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe, shop security, security in Green Lanes shopping centre and CCTV plus an environmental health team in Barnstaple town centre. How effective are the street marshals when we have all this?

But Cllr David Clayton (Barnstaple with Westacott) said the problem was people not seeing many police officers patrolling the streets who provide “a visible presence against anti social disorder.”

He said it was “policing on the cheap”.

Cllr Graham Bell (Lib Dem, Braunton East) said there are “no police” in the Braunton area and he would like to see the “excellent” street marshals there.

Councillors said it is “an essential service” as not only can marshals deal with low-level crime, but also medical emergencies.

Cllr Malcolm Prowse (Ind, Bratton Fleming) said it is also about regeneration.

“If we didn’t have the street marshals, the £12 million we had to regenerate the town could be lost. Barnstaple is a completely difference place from three years ago. It is a town we can be proud of.”

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