We have taken a big step forward with Avon and Somerset police accepting my proposal for a Support and Enforcement Zone in the Town Centre. When I was first elected last year, rough sleeping had become an epidemic in the centre of Weston-super-Mare. I first believed that this was a homelessness issue and I spent weeks investigating, in an effort to offer help. However it became apparent the issue was much more complicated, with only a very small handful of the people I met being homeless, all of whom were already receiving support and help from North Somerset Council or through the many excellent charities like the YMCA, which are supported by and work with the Council. I did though meet many more rough sleepers who used the opportunity to beg, occasionally aggressively, sometimes raising amounts of £100 a day. Clearly this isn’t right and the matter needed to be addressed.
I feel very strongly that those who need help and protection in our community must have access to this. By accepting my proposal for a Support and Enforcement Zone, Avon and Somerset police working with other agencies will be able to do this. They will identify those who need support and make sure they receive it, and also take enforcement action against those who act illegally and others who try to exploit residents and visitors.