Joint report by Place Manager (Town Centre) and Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (attached).
The Committee considered a joint report by the Place Manager (Town Centre) and Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (circulated previously) regarding the Street Marshal Scheme.
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive highlighted the following:
· The concept of providing a reassuring visible presence in town centres was first introduced following the pandemic in December 2020. Known locally as Place Makers (nationally as Covid Marshals) their role was primarily to provide a warm, friendly welcome to residents and visitors and to provide assistance to both residents and businesses on Covid restrictions and regulations, in line with Public Health measures when town centres re-opened.
· This visible presence was highly valued by both members of the public and businesses and schemes in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe were funded through the Welcome Back Fund following the lockdown periods in 2021.
· The scheme was reinstated in March 2022 using the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) with an expanded role to include de-escalating situations that could lead to Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB).
· Following the success of these schemes; a subsequent increase in antisocial behaviour incidents in Barnstaple Town Centre once they stopped and a public survey which determined that an increased presence by uniformed enforcement officers was the main intervention that would make people feel safer, a successful bid to Safer Streets round four was submitted which included funding for street marshals in Barnstaple.
· The street marshals have been an unprecedented success, contributing towards a significant reduction in overall crime and incidents of ASB reported to the Police. In the 12 month period June 2022 to May 2023 compared to the same 12 month period the year before (2021-2022). Reported crime had decreased by 18% a reduction of 382 incidents. Reported incidents of ASB have decreased by 34% a reduction of 145 incidents.
· The Safer Streets funding comes to end on 30 September 2023, the purpose of this report is therefore to set out the benefits of the current scheme and seek approval for funding to enable a scheme to continue until the end of March 2024 in both Barnstaple and Ilfracombe with a view to seeking a long-term partnership funding solution from April 2024.
· The options for consideration were either to continue with the scheme or to stop.
· The aim of the current scheme and role of street marshals as outlined in paragraph 4.10 of the report.
· The proposal and benefits of the scheme.
· The scheme was valued by businesses and the community as outlined in paragraph 4.15 of the report.
· There were significant benefits to all public services, it would therefore be appropriate that a long term, multi-agency funding solution be sought to ensure the scheme for Barnstaple and Ilfracombe was sustainable moving forwards. Approving funding until April 2024 would enable such an agreement to be explored and implemented and a further report would be brought back to Members once this had been identified. Over the next six months discussions would take place between NDC officers and multi-agency stakeholders to seek options for a sustainable solution moving forwards for this much valued provision for our town centres.
· An email received from Toby Davies, Local Police Commander was read to the Committee regarding the benefits of the scheme and advising that he was keen to keep the scheme in place for both Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and that he would work with the Council to look at options for securing sustainable funding.
· As part of the Safer Streets fund during 2022-23, an element of NDC officer time was recharged to the project where officers were directly providing interventions under the scheme. The result of this created a budget underspend within the 2022-23 year on those service budget areas where those officers were providing the interventions.
· As part of closing the 2022-23 year, it was approved as part of the financial outturn to place the above savings into a specific earmarked reserve to reinvest back into our town centres as part of ongoing management provisions such as safety and security.
Councillor Crabb advised that Ilfracombe Town Council was happy to have a conversation regarding future funding of the scheme.
(a) That Contract Procedure Rules be waived and approval be given to enter a new contract up to 31 March 2024 with the existing provider on the basis that they have been delivering the service for the last 9 months and have established trusted, invaluable contacts and relationships with NDC staff, Police, businesses and the wider community.
(b) That authority be delegated to the Place Manager (town centres) and the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive to determine the exact operating hours of the scheme in consultation with key partners such as Police, based on demand and available budget.
(c) That the cost of the Street Marshal contract be funded from the Town Centre Management earmarked reserve as set out in Section 5 of the report;
(d) That the Committee was keen for the street marshals to become authorised persons as soon as possible.