Town centre benches are being removed from the streets in a bid to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.
Tomorrow (Friday 11th) Hastings Borough Council (HBC) will be remove benches from outside Jempsons, that are currently seen as a hot-spot for anti-social behaviour and activity and are causing problems for the businesses in the town, their staff, visitors and residents.
HBC says in the last six months the council has been stepping up its efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour. Wardens have been enforcing the council’s borough-wide Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO), prioritising the town centre and working closely with police. In that time they have issued 42 community protection written warnings and 22 full community protection notices, with 19 of these being specifically for drinking related offences.
The council is also waiting on a number of court proceedings, delayed due to the impact of Covid-19, including applications for Criminal Behaviour Orders for the worst street drinking offenders in town.
Councillor Paul Barnett, lead councillor for urban environment and community safety, says: “There is a small anti-social minority who congregate on these benches in the town centre. They become abusive among themselves and to passers-by. It can seem very threatening and intimidating to staff, visitors and residents.
“I am really glad that we are taking this action and reclaiming this space with the removal of these benches. It is an action that sends a message: we won’t tolerate abusive anti-social behaviour in our town.
“This action is just the start. We anticipate a series of court cases soon and will continue to press for enforcement action against serious anti-social behaviour. We are increasing our staff presence in Wellington Place and will ensure that the public feel they can safely shop and enjoy the café culture there.
“However the council has only limited powers to deal with some aspects of anti-social behaviour, which is why it is so important that we continue to work closely with partners such as the police to tackle this issue, and that they continue to do what they can.”
Town centre manager John Bownas added: “Businesses in the town centre are being effectively blighted by this small group of anti-social individuals. While everyone has a right to use public spaces, the sort of behaviour we see almost daily from these drinkers isn’t something that shoppers ought to have to tolerate.
“It’s sad that this latest step has become necessary, as on the rare occasions when the drinkers are not around these benches get used by other members of the public. We hope that the authorities and support agencies can help the worst offenders change their ways so that the benches can be put back in the foreseeable future.”