Burnley Council leader column | We must work together to tackle town centre anti-social behaviour

During the past week, the spotlight has been on Burnley town centre due to a notable increase in media and council attention surrounding the issue of anti-social behaviour.
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Specifically, there have been numerous complaints about begging in and around Charter Walk, which has raised legitimate concerns.

In response, the council is taking the matter seriously and has committed to implementing a multi-agency approach. Collaborating with various partners, the council is currently working on formulating a comprehensive plan of action to tackle this issue effectively.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab AnwarBurnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
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As we confront these challenges, it is crucial to refrain from painting an excessively negative picture of Burnley. While addressing the issues, we must avoid using fearmongering to achieve political objectives, as this approach proves to be ultimately counterproductive. Our focus should be on collaborating and finding constructive solutions. This calls for determined yet responsible measures from the police, partners, and elected members, working together to effectively address the concerns at hand.

The impact on visitors to the shopping centre is clearly noticeable, and our primary objective is to foster a positive experience for all residents when they go out shopping, ensuring they are free from any form of intimidation or harassment. Furthermore, we are committed to prioritising the safety of businesses, making them feel secure within our town centre.

It is great news that additional resources from the Police Crime Commissioner's office have been earmarked for Operation Centurion. These resources will be utilised to address anti-social behaviour issues in Padiham. The funding will specifically go towards increasing the visible presence of officers in our communities by utilising officer overtime.

Operation Centurion is welcomed but I also acknowledge the importance of extending the coverage of projects like this to other parts of the borough where a need has been identified.

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As we try to tackle the concerns around Padiham town centre we need to tread carefully as we run the risk of unfairly stigmatizing our young people. Particularly during the Summer holidays, it's crucial to provide them with positive activities to engage in. To this end, we will actively promote our HAF (Holiday Activities and Food) programs, which aim to direct them towards meaningful and constructive diversionary activities.

We can't overlook the fact that Burnley is presently facing a shortage of police staff compared to the past, even with the addition of new recruits. This situation puts a strain on how quickly they can respond so we will work alongside the police to strike a balance between managing expectations and delivering for our residents.

Considering the cuts to public funding, whether it pertains to policing numbers or the provision of youth activities, it is imperative that we find comprehensive and compassionate solutions to address these challenges.

We need to support each other, and all stakeholders need to take collective ownership. It is only through working together that we can effectively tackle these issues and create a safer Burnley and Padiham for everyone.