'˜We want residents to start positively engaging with us and report issues'
Last month, The Gazette reported how council staff and police were joining forces under a new banner of '˜Team Blackpool' to tackle issues affecting the resort.
Council workers across several departments, including security, street cleaning, and civil enforcement, will join the new taskforce, and ‘will take part in joint activities and campaigns’.
Concerns over a rise in begging and street drinking in Blackpool town centre were among the reasons for the new taskforce, which will be made up of existing staff.
It followed fears raised to The Gazette from businesses over how anti-social behaviour was blighting areas of Blackpool - and their demands to find a solution.
But the launch, handled by Blackpool Council, caused confusion among many who struggled to see how ‘Team Blackpool’ was any different to the current system in place.
So we asked council leaders to answer a series of questions to explain to readers and residents how it will work in practice.
1) If an aggressive beggar is upsetting the public on Birley Street for example, what will happen under Team Blackpool?
The biggest change here is the number of officers that we would expect to deal with this problem.
All officers that are willing and able to will be expected, as a bare minimum, to approach the person to offer assistance.
Officers that have had further training would be able to issue community protection warnings.
These officers could be from teams that are currently working on the streets but where this doesn’t currently fall under their remit such as civil enforcement and streetscene officers.
2) If someone has a noise complaint, for example, how will members of Team Blackpool deal with it compared to the past?
The current out of hours noise team at the council take calls and then visits the area to monitor levels and record evidence.
The Police will be adding resource to this which means they can approach the culprits there and then to deal with the problem.
3) The police will soon have a base in the town centre as their HQ moves out of the town centre. You say council staff will be involved in morning police briefings.
Where and when will these take place and how will the discussions change with council staff on board?
The nature of the meetings are to discuss issues that have appeared overnight and also planned activity for that day.
By having a council rep at these meetings they can request resource from our teams and officers can immediately be assigned.
Historically this would have required calls after these meetings and approval sought from senior officers.
We can also request resource depending on what issues we are dealing with on the day.
4) Will members have access to radio equipment to report incidents that need tackling - such as walkie-talkies so they can be addressed quickly?
There are currently a number of teams that have access to walkie talkies but we are reviewing this which will result in more teams being linked in.
5) How many council staff will be ‘upskilled’ under the Team Blackpool banner to take on this extra role?
Will their contracts change and will they be paid more?
In the first instance we will be seeing which staff are willing to volunteer to take on these duties, this won’t result in any changes to their contract or pay.
In the long term this could result in hundreds of staff being upskilled and where appropriate job roles may change.
6) If a council worker does not feel comfortable taking on this responsibility, can they refuse?
Yes, staff will be asked to volunteer to carry out these duties.
7) Public service budgets are facing unprecedented budget pressures. Is this not just a cost-saving exercise?
No, it’s a better use of resources. Multi-skilling has been recommended in a LGA report on remodelling the public protection function.
8) How soon do you think we will see results from the ‘Team Blackpool’ initiative?
Immediately. We were able to move travellers off public land quickly thanks to the additional resource the police we able to offer us.
The work of Team Blackpool will be reported back to councillors.
9) Can you give a date to local people when you hope aggressive beggars will be gone from the streets of Blackpool? How soon will people see tangible results from this new way of doing things?
We have done more to help beggars than any other local authority.
We have dealt with more than 100 beggars, many of whom are no longer problematic.
This is not an issue that any town or city will ever be able to eradicate.
10) Blackpool Council brought in an outside company, 3GS, to tackle litter louts. But that contract was later terminated because 3GS had not “realised or resulted in the benefits” anticipated. Why do you think this will be different?
This partnership will be closely managed in house.
We have proven expertise in enforcement and working with the police.
11) We all need to be ambassadors for Blackpool for its future prosperity. How can the public help make Team Blackpool a success?
We want residents to positively engage with us and report the issues that are causing them concern.
Together with the police we can use this intelligence to tackle the anti-social behaviour and make a real difference.
Residents can report
ASB online at www.blackpool.gov.uk/asb
Tell us your view?