Night Time Economy Update
To receive an update on Windsor’s Night Time Economy – To include recent premises licence decisions.
The Community Protection Principal gave an update on homelessness and the MEAM Coordinator. He stated that since the last update the weather had got warmer with increased tourism and rough sleeping challenges. There were currently 18 known individuals rough sleeping with more coming to beg from Slough.
The Council had a policy of supporting individuals before enforcement action was taken and the Borough would do everything it could to wraparound support including drug and alcohol support and mental health support. A grant of more than £80,000 had been made available to appoint two outreach workers to signpost people and work with them in conjunction with multiple agencies such as Dash, Street Angels and the Safety Hub and they would always try and address underlying issues to help support those vulnerable people however, there were times when support was refused. The Council have also helped individuals with storing their personal belongings until they could collect them later. The Community Protection Principal said he encouraged businesses in the Town Centre to do their bit by liaising with the Town Manager on how they can help individuals sleeping rough.
Mr Kenyan asked why SWEP ended as it should be available 365 days a year. He added he understood the church was involved but now, the church had backed away. The Community Protection Principal stated SWEP was only used during extreme weather and he was unable to answer on behalf of the church but, they were still very much involved in supporting vulnerable individuals. Councillor Price stated the church was run by volunteers and funded by the church but, there was a limit to the amount of time and money that volunteers and the church could commit to so, the service was ran during the harshest weather and now arrangements were being worked on for the work to continue over the coming winter months.
A local resident stated he respected and appreciated all the work carried out by the Council to alleviate homelessness. However, he used a taxi to get home and the driver had said he had taken a job to get three homeless people back to their homes. It was very hard to distinguish between a genuine homeless person and those begging but who had homes. The Community Protection Principal said there was no simple answer to that and it was a moving picture. There were known individuals who travelled to Windsor to beg but there were also unknown individuals. Community Wardens were instructed to remove items from regular begging pitches if they had been left for a considerable amount of time overnight to discourage people begging. He added the Council would not give up on genuine homeless people but will continue to disrupt those who are not genuinely homeless.
Paul Roach, Town Manager confirmed he surveyed the bus stops along the High Street every day on his way to work and if people were camped there, he notified the outreach team. He had a lot of information on most people that came into the town to beg but, it was not something the Council was able to enforce; aggressive begging was a police matter.
The Town Manager stated that businesses had been doing a lot of work as he had been asking them to take some ownership over helping to alleviate homelessness and begging. Businesses were able to signpost homeless people to the Windsor Homeless Project and More Than a Shelter and the Council supported those charities throughout the year. Councillor Knowles raised the issue of the hidden homeless and asked how the Council were addressing it. The Community Protection Principal responded the MEAM Coordinator was there to identify those people that fell into that category and the Council were approximately on year away from producing and implementing a strategy. Councillor Price stated a Task & Finish Group was being set up by the Infrastructure Overview & Scrutiny Panel on homelessness in the Royal Borough.
Night time economy
The Community Protection Principal explained that two new licence applications had been received; one was for a craft beer establishment and the other was for a Costcutter on Springfield Road. There was also an application in the pipeline for 20,000 people to attend a health and fitness weekend at Windsor Great Park. The application could be reviewed until 8 August 2019 and all comments were welcomed.
Councillor Davey stated following a recent planning meeting, Avanti in the Town Centre had carried out work on their premises that was refused but, they were still trading and not rectifying the works. The Chairman responded the Communications Team had released a statement about enforcement action being taken to return the building back to what it was before the works were done.
Councillor Knowles explained that the event in Windsor Great Park was a perfect storm of multiple events, and encouraged residents to look into it. It was due to take place during the Windsor Horse Show and Ascot Races. The road network would become heavily congested and the idea had not worked very well in other areas where it had been held. The Chairman replied it was being held on Crown Estate land and the Council had little influence over what went on at the Great Park; however, there would be a traffic management plan in place.
Councillor Price stated there had recently been a triathlon but the road closures had not been communicated to residents; there had been no notification and the marshals gave the main priority to the athletes. The Community Protection Principal said he would take the comments back to the Lead Officer so they could be addressed for future events.