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Survey reveals concerns with antisocial behaviour in Bridgend town centre

PEOPLE fear Bridgend town centre is suffering from antisocial behaviour issues, according to a council survey.

Earlier this year, Bridgend Council launched a consultation regarding its plans for the development of the town centre over the next 10 years.  A report by council officers revealed 81% of respondents thought the area suffers from antisocial behaviour.

Independent councillor Norah Clarke said the town was “somewhere that you would avoid” at night time before the pandemic.

Last year, the local authority revealed its ‘master plan’ for Bridgend town centre, which sets out its strategy for major building projects and regeneration.

A report summarising the master plan revealed:

“Nighttime crime, in terms of anti-social behaviour, is particularly an issue around the bus station… Although serious crime is low, the town centre struggles with a perception of safety in terms of anti-social behaviour.”

During a meeting held on April 26, Cllr Clarke asked whether the council is considering introducing “a lot more CCTV”. “I think that it’s the most important thing when we’re talking about people’s safety.”

Janine Nightingale, the council’s corporate director for communities, said “community safety is at the heart of everything we’re doing”.

Ms Nightingale said the council is working with the police on the plan for the town centre and they want to “retain” CCTV in the town centre.

She added:

“The perception of crime, dare I say, is sometimes higher than the actuality of the crime in the town centre. That’s not unique, because people do feel vulnerable at night… but there needs to be a basket of things we put together really, not just CCTV.

“CCTV can record an event and it can direct police to an area but it may not prevent the event from happening, for instance, antisocial behaviour etcetera.”

She said the council and police need to “ensure we’ve got the right police presence day and night” and future developments are designed in a way that avoids creating “dark, unlit areas, so streets are welcoming and open”.

The masterplan summary also said it is “necessary” to improve people’s views of the safety of the town and tackle antisocial behaviour.

According to the report, this could be achieved by improving multi-storey car parks, allowing “flexible” access to vehicles in some parts of the town centre, improving natural surveillance in some streets and ensuring “secure cycle storage”. Other options include involving the police early on during the design and planning process.

In February, Conservative MP for Bridgend Jamie Wallis called for a rehabilitation facility to be moved out of the town centre, claiming it was damaging local businesses. He said many business owners had reported incidents of antisocial behaviour to him concerning visitors to the Dyfodol centre on Market Street, Bridgend.

A report published by council officers in December revealed the closure of children and young people’s facilities during lockdown caused an increase in antisocial behaviour “in some areas” of the county borough.

In August 2020, South Wales Police and the council announced an antisocial behaviour campaign following reports of “excessive noise, road safety concerns and nuisance behaviour” near Bridgend Life Centre.

Conservative councillor Carolyn Webster said residents were suffering from sleepless nights due to people driving “at very high speeds and with loud exhausts” during the lockdown.
 Some of the major projects included in the town centre master plan are: a new entrance to the railway station from Tremains Road and Llynfi Lane, improving the Northern Gateway, relocating Bridgend College to the town centre, creating a “culture hub” to be used for indoor events.
Other projects include creating a new town square, making more residential accommodation in town, improving access to the town centre, relocating the police station and improving retail.
The consultation on the master plan took place between December 2020 and March 2021, attracting 1402 responses over surveys, social media, emails, letters and group sessions.

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