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Residents want proposed new rules tackling antisocial behaviour to cover Highcliffe after spate of problems

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RESIDENTS in Highcliffe say they are “staggered” that new rules to tackle alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour will not extend to their village.

BCP Council’s cabinet will be asked to adopt a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at its next meeting on 23rd June after a survey revealed residents believed the problem was escalating.

It would give Community Safety Accredited (CSA) officers the power to confiscate alcohol from those causing or likely to cause a public nuisance, although it does not ban street-drinking.

There has been suspected drug-taking at Cliffhanger car park (photo: Google)
There has been suspected drug-taking at Cliffhanger car park (photo: Google)

The order would cover 29 of the 33 wards within the BCP region, but not Highcliffe and Walkford because, the council said, there is “insufficient evidence to demonstrate there are persistent problems”.

However, Highcliffe Residents’ Association said villagers had seen an escalation of anti-social behaviour over the last few months, including noise issues and suspected drug-taking at the Cliffhanger car park, as reported in the A&T.

Only this week, police issued a warning to a reckless teenager caught climbing onto the roof of a moving car being driven in the car park off Waterford Road.

A spokesperson for the residents’ association said: “We have had non-stop reports of vandalism, cars being raced around on two wheels, drinking on the recreation ground and littering, but as far as I’m aware we have not been consulted on this.

“I’m staggered that Highcliffe has not been included under the order – we strongly believe we should be and that is what we will be pushing for.”

The driver was caught climbing onto the roof of the moving car (photo: Dorset Police)
The driver was caught climbing onto the roof of the moving car (photo: Dorset Police)

Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council said it had made “strong representations” during the consultation for the ward to be covered by the order.

Cllr Nigel Brooks, who is also a BCP councillor, told the A&T: “The anti-social behaviour issues experienced in recent weeks, particularly at the Cliffhanger public car park in Waterford Road, underline the importance of having the additional powers of the order in Highcliffe, so I am continuing to press the case for a PSPO through to the point of a cabinet decision.”

But BCP Council stated the order will deal specifically with alcohol-related anti-social behaviour by adults, not criminal activity like drug-taking and vandalism.

Cllr May Haines, BCP Council cabinet member for community safety, said: “As part of the supporting information for the consultation, we had to provide evidence that street-based alcohol-related anti-social behaviour was impacting negatively on the areas.

“The areas covered by the PSPO have been identified based on evidence of reports made over a 12-month period spanning 2019-2020.”

A cabinet report said the public consultation between March and April revealed deep concerns over the issue.

Residents said the behaviour of street drinkers was intimidating. Of the 294 survey responses, 89% agreed an order was the way forward to combat an “increasing problem”.

Evidence has also been gathered from Dorset Police and departments within the council, including the parks and open spaces, seafront services and the anti-social behaviour team.

The authority has allocated £240,000 for six additional uniformed CSA officers.

As well as having powers to confiscate alcohol, they can gather evidence for the anti-social behaviour team, which may take formal action by imposing anti-social behaviour injunctions and community protection notices.

Officers could also refer individuals to support agencies for homelessness, mental health problems and addiction.

If agreed, the order could be in place by 1st July in time for the summer months when the problem gets worse around coastal areas. which the council say will “greatly assist with our approach to summer planning, particularly around the coastal areas” where the problem is said to be worse.

The maximum duration of a PSPO is three years but the council can at any time extend it for a further three.

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