'Who is going to want to come on holiday here?' Traders react to anti-social behaviour

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:58 26 July 2019

From left to right: Mandy Smith and Justin Sanders of Bayleaf and Jacquie Hayward of Franklins. Picuture: Daniel Wilkins

From left to right: Mandy Smith and Justin Sanders of Bayleaf and Jacquie Hayward of Franklins. Picuture: Daniel Wilkins

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'Enough is enough' - town centre traders have called for more protection as antisocial behaviour escalates.

The door of Bayleaf Cafe Bar, in The Strand. Picture: Justin SandersThe door of Bayleaf Cafe Bar, in The Strand. Picture: Justin Sanders

Business owners in The Strand say antisocial behaviour has got worse in the last 12 months, with some saying it is no longer a surprise when they find their livelihood targeted.

In the latest incident, on Tuesday, July 16, glass in the front door of Bayleaf Café was smashed.

Traders have come together to call on the police and the council to do more to protect them and their customers. They are calling for a public space protection order (PSPO) to be enforced and for those being antisocial to be dispersed.

The district council implemented a PSPO order in 2017 following calls by police to give them more power.

Police have regularly used the order with some being given fixed penalty notices.

Devon and Cornwall Police says recent arrests and charges show they are working to resolve the problem.

Justin Sanders, who runs Bayleaf, was behind the counter when his door was damaged.

He said: "I was shocked. I would say I didn't believe it but after what's going on in The Strand, I cannot say that."

Mr Sanders said it will cost his business more than £800 for the repairs.

Mandy Smith, assistant manager, said: "We had six customers in here when it happened and they are not going to come back - I wouldn't if I was them.

"It has become almost daily - sometimes, three times a day."

The PSPO, made in June 2017, was requested by the Exmouth neighbourhood policing team after 135 reported antisocial behaviour incidents in the Magnolia Centre, London Inn car park, Chapel Street and The Strand over the course of a year.

A district council spokesman said: "The order requires people to stop certain antisocial behaviour if asked to do so by a police or a council officer.

"The local policing team have told us that they regularly use the existence of the order to persuade people to modify their behaviour. Some fixed penalty notices have also been issued. If traders are concerned about people gathering or staying in the area they should contact their local policing team using the 101 system."

A Police spokesman said: "We continue to work closely with our partners to tackle antisocial behaviour in Exmouth, as shown with recent arrests and charges we have made within the area.

"As ever, we can only do this effectively with the support of local businesses and our public; please continue to report these matters to the local team on 101@dc.police.uk to help us in tackling this challenge."

Jacquie Hayward, who has run Franklins, in The Strand, for 15 years, said the incidents in The Strand have escalated in the last year and ultimately it will be those trying to make a living in Exmouth who will suffer.

She said: "This town relies heavily on tourism. Does anyone think anyone is going to come on holiday here when they see what is going on? What would The Strand be like if we all shut up shop?

"We are the lifeblood of this town and its time for the council to give something back."

The town council is in the process of taking over and improving the existing CCTV network but Mrs Hayward said this is not the 'be all and end all' and that the town needs a regular police presence.

Andrew Humphreys, who has run a jewellery shop in The Strand, said businesses are losing money 'hand over fist' as some customers are 'turning away' from spending their cash in The Strand.

He said: "What we don't understand is that they seem to be able to put this PSPO into force and the police and council pass the buck to each other.

"Obviously we don't care whose issue it is we just need it to be in place. The Strand is such a nice little area but when footfall falls we don't become profitable."

The Journal previously reported the vandalism of The Strand's model dinosaurs, which were damaged within days of the Jurassic Coast trail being reintroduced prior to Exmouth Festival in June.

Jodie Swannick, of Normandy Close, was given a conditional discharge after appearing at Exeter Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (July 17). She pleaded guilty to destroying glass panels of a door belonging to the Bayleaf Café. Swannick was ordered to pay £600 in compensation.

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