District council set to continue funding community safety work

Restrictions are in place at Richmondshire District Council's office at Mercury House.

Richmondshire District Council looks set to reaffirm its commitment to promoting community safety.

Leaders of the district council, which was rated 7th in the 2018 Halifax Rural Quality of Life rankings following analysis of factors such as crime rates and education, said they intend to continue funding community safety initiatives despite the reserves it has previously used to fund them running out.

The authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Ian Threlfall, said the £29,000 from taxpayers for schemes ranging from counter terrorism to preventing the sale of high energy drinks to children represented “exceedingly good value for money”.

Cllr Thelfall, who is chairman of the Safer Richmondshire Hub, said if the council did not dip into its budget it could no longer coordinate community safety initiatives and could only support the county-wide governance arrangements on a very limited basis.

He said: “We have a legal duty, but also a moral responsibility to maintain community safety for our residents. It is not a vast sum of money, but it is very important that we bring our partners, such as Citizens Advice, Trading Standards, the police and fire services, together.

“It gives an opportunity to work through current issues.”

Cllr Threlfall said with the rise of threats such as credit card fraud meant all residents were potential beneficiaries of the authority’s community safety work.

Recent community safety initiatives include shop owners signing up to the Responsible Retailer scheme to agree to refuse the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.

The Safer Richmondshire Hub, which includes Richmondshire District Council, North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards, recognised that energy drinks were having a negative effect on anti-social behaviour.

Another key part to the council’s community safety work is it its role in Prevent, which is part of the UK’s counter terrorism strategy.
The Safer Richmondshire Hub manages a Counter Terrorism Local Profile which helps to assess the terrorism or extremism risk.

While continuing the service will extend the financial pressure on the council, next week’s meeting of its corporate board will hear a proposal to extend the current level of community safety funding until April 2020.

A council spokesman said the time-limited funding would allow a post–election political administration to take a longer term view on how community safety will be provided.