I have written before about anti-social behaviour in our town centre and it’s something I’m again increasingly concerned about.
Let’s be clear: the intimidating behaviour we have seen recently are seeing is totally unacceptable.
The actions of this small minority are affecting everyone. Whilst many shoppers just choose to go and shop somewhere else, local business owners and workers don’t have that choice.
And it comes when work is finally underway to redevelop our markets and once again draw visitors to our town.
Many constituents have raised this issue with me, and I have stood there myself and seen the behaviour and the negative effect it is having has.
I recently met with the police to discuss this, and I have raised concerns with the leader of the council. Both have confirmed that they share my concerns and are treating this matter as a priority.
They have also confirmed that they will look going to provide extra resources to tackle this problem. This is vital so that we they have the officers on the ground to enforce the new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) – which criminalises the use of intoxicating substances, such as psychoactive substances which are still being consumed legal highs in some parts of the town.
We need to get the message out that Barnsley town centre is open for business and it’s a safe place to go. I want it to be somewhere we can all be proud of. Somewhere that people actively want to come and visit, feel comfortable to spend time with their friends and family and do their shopping – which of course provides essential valuable income for our local economy.
We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Barnsley has a higher than average shop occupancy, has bold plans underway for re-development, and excellent town centre management and local police teams working to ensure all runs smoothly. I am pleased that the police and the council are responding by committing extra resources and I hope we will all see the impact soon.
In the meantime, if you do witness anti-social behaviour, I hope that you will report it. That certainly does NOT mean intervening or getting involved, it just means logging what you've seen and calling it in to the authorities. Let's make sure that the police and the town centre management team are assisted with the information they need to properly do their jobs.
Together we need to be crystal clear: that we won't allow a tiny minority of people to spoil our town centre; that we will work to ensure it is the vibrant, welcoming and safe place I know people want it to be; and that anti-social behaviour of any kind is utterly totally unacceptable in Barnsley.
This article was first published in the Barnsley Chronicle on 6 May 2016