POLICE and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford met with the Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce to discuss crime in the town centre last week.

On Friday, February 9, Mr Shelford, the Avon and Somerset force commissioner, accompanied by Sergeant Kat, met with the Chamber before strolling through the town centre to hear how local businesses had been impacted by crimes in the area.

Diogo Rodrigues, Bridgwater Chamber manager, also highlighted key concerns regularly voiced by local businesses.

Read more: MP warns Bridgwater crime levels may scare off visitors

Primary issues raised by the local business owners included incidents of anti-social behaviour, particularly related to drinking in the town centre, and disturbances caused by young individuals.

Later in the day, at Angel Place Shopping Centre, Bridgwater Chamber members had the opportunity to express their concerns directly to Mr Shelford and call for action.Bridgwater Mercury: Roundtable discussion with Chamber of Commerce members at Angel Place.Roundtable discussion with Chamber of Commerce members at Angel Place. (Image: Jeff Searle)

Some of the most notable concerns raised included anti-social behaviour, public drinking, shoplifting, drug-related activities, and speeding.

Commenting on the shared concerns, Mr Rodrigues said: “What is obvious is that the concerns of these business owners are the same concerns that many regular town centre visitors would have.

"The problem that businesses face is that all these issues deter people from visiting the town centre which has a negative effect on trade”.

With Sergeant Kat in attendance, discussions focused on steps the police could take to address the issues highlighted during the day.

Kat outlined existing initiatives while also acknowledging the need for further interventions.Bridgwater Mercury: The crime commissioner will return in six months to re-evaluate the situation.The crime commissioner will return in six months to re-evaluate the situation. (Image: Jeff Searle)

A Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to empower law enforcement in tackling anti-social behaviour effectively in the town centre was considered as an option to safeguard the future of local businesses.

Mr Shelford pledged to return in six months to assess the progress made and gather feedback from local businesses.

Mr Rodrigues added: “We’ll gladly host the Police and Crime Commissioner again in the summer and we welcome the opportunity for our Chamber members to lobby Avon & Somerset Police directly”.