Tempers were running high during the meeting of the Southport Area Committee as some members completely opposed the use of a private security contractor to patrol Southport town centre.
The proposal to use a private security firm to patrol the town was put forth by Councillor David Barton. If the proposal goes through, security guards would end up patrolling the town centre using cameras, guard dogs and vehicles equipped with CCTVs.
Reports suggest that the proposal to use Battle Investigations, a private security firm from Liverpool, was made without involving Merseyside Police and Sefton Council. Hence, it did not go down well with everyone.
Southport Business Improvement District (BID) CEO Hugh Evans also expressed his concerns about hiring a private security contractor to patrol the area. He said that it would harm the community more than benefitting it. Evans said that having security guards would portray a poor image of the town, and this was something that the stakeholders needed to consider very carefully before going ahead with the proposal.
Evans also revealed that the BID was not consulted about the proposal; had the BID been consulted, it would have been against it. He went on reiterate that Southport was a safe town and people should not get swayed by reading news reports.
Southport Neighbourhood Inspector Graham Fisher agreed with Evans, pointing to recent statistics that reveal that anti-social activities and behaviour in the town have decreased. Fisher added that while he would be happy to see positive results from the patrolling security guards, he was worried about how people would perceive Southport.
However, Barton was unhappy with the criticism of his plans. He issued a written statement saying that he had consulted Merseyside Police. The statement also criticised the BID’s ability to improve security in the area.
It is anticipated that the private security firm would send its first team of security guards by the end of September to begin patrolling Southport town centre.