Bury St Edmunds secure funds to sponsor two PCSOs for town centre amidst calls for better law enforcement
A council has secured funds to sponsor two police community support officers (PCSOs) in Bury St Edmunds for the next two years.
Bury St Edmunds Town Council have confirmed that the sponsorship agreement, which began in 2016 with the appointment of the first council-funded PCSO Emily Howell, has been approved for a further two years until December 2020.
The PCSOs will work with councillors to identify problem areas within the town and address areas of concern for both the council and residents.
Greg Luton, council clerk, said: "This is an exciting development and one we've been waiting for for some time.
"Having two PCSOs sponsored by the town council is very good news and we look forward to working with them once they are appointed."
He added that the police have already recruited potential candidates for the positions, which will cost the council £34,000 each per year.
The announcement comes after the question of law enforcement in the town was raised at a St Edmundsbury Borough Council overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday.
Discussions around cracking down on drivers who leave their car engines running when stopped and boy racers who gather in the arc car park at night saw concerns raised about the council's ability to issue warnings and fines.
About curtailing idling drivers, Cllr Clive Springett said: "I totally agree with the move but I do think that if we're not going to enforce it then what's the point?
"We have serious problems trying to prevent parents from parking on zig zag lines outside schools so getting them to turn their engines off is going to be difficult.
"I'm a bit optimistic but I fully support it."
Councillors voted to unanimously support adopting 'option A' which would see them undertake a campaign which would initially target schools and then expand.
But Cllr Andrew Speed, who is both a borough councillor and chairman of the town council, asked for the decision to be reviewed in 12 months' time with the possibility of moving to 'option B' which would see fixed penalty notices issued to repeat offenders.
"I'll support option A on the condition that we revisit option B when we feel it could work, especially with the new PCSOs which the town council hope to have within the next 12 months," he said.
A move to add a condition to the current public space protection order (PSPO) in place in the town centre between 6pm and 4am was met with similar concerns, with calls for more means of enforcement than just CCTV cameras.
Celia Lawrence, who spoke on behalf of Nelson Road Residents' Association, said: "A concern we have is that even if we get the order, who is going to enforce it? We had to deal with this all summer without any support from the police."
Cllr Speed also said that the timings would see drivers return to the town centre after 4am and continue to wreak havoc.
"Let's make it 24 hours please. We've been talking about this for a long time so let's just crack on and get it approved," he said.
"I can't see any sense in having this silly time frame."
The additional condition would prohibit several characteristics of anti-social behaviour, including the use of a vehicle to perform stunts, the repeated sounding of horns and revving of engines and playing music loudly.
The council unanimously agreed to recommend the proposals when it goes before the joint executive committee on March 12, with conditions to reconsider the length of time it is in place for, to clarify which stunts are prohibited and to include idling within the restrictions.