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Crime fears as plug is pulled on Falmouth taxi marshalls
11:00am Thursday 30th January 2014 in Cornwall
Falmouth’s taxi marshals will patrol the rank for the last time this weekend with police fearing the revocation of the service will lead to an increase in late night crime and disorder.
Falmouth Town Council, which acts as administrators of the scheme, has pulled the plug after promises of funding from local businesses failed to materialise. Notice has been served meaning the marshals will be out for the last time on Saturday, unless a new funding stream is identified.
Town clerk, Mark Williams, told councillors: “This was a service funded by contributions from pubs, clubs and businesses involved the late night economy. When it was set up, the agreement was the council would be the exchequer for the service and if it got to the situation it was drawing on the public purse, we would serve notice on it – that is where we are.”
The council’s finance committee was told many local businesses had pledged financial support, but few actually came up with the cash. A grant application made to the local police and crime commissioner had also been rejected.
The council’s finance officer, Ruth Thomas, said: “Without substantial sustained funding it is difficult to see how this scheme can continue to deliver even though there is no question of its effectiveness.
“Falmouth Town Council does not have the resources to facilitate the delivery of this scheme if it remains to be funded by voluntary contribution.”
The value of the scheme was also confirmed by PC Andy Hocking who said that before the marshals, people had been afraid to use the taxi rank as it “gained a disreputable notoriety” with incidents of antisocial or criminal behaviour being recorded every weekend.
He said: “The scheme proved to be an instant success with a marked decrease in incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour from the outset. The marshals have provided reassurance to taxi operators and passengers alike. Falmouth is a safer place to be as a result of taxi marshals.
“The marshals defuse petty arguments on the taxi rank, preventing escalation of potential serious injury or public order incidents. It seems unthinkable that such a successful initiative could falter.
“Should the taxi marshal service stop due to the lack of funds, it would impact greatly on public safety and without a doubt herald an increase in crime and injury in the area of The Moor.”
Councillors decided to call time on the scheme after hearing it will cost around £7,000 over the next year to run it one night a week. Councillor Trish Minson said: “I do not think we have any option but to serve notice, albeit reluctantly.”
Committee chair, Candy Atherton added: “I think there will be some impact, but we have to be realistic. The door is always open to any commercial company who may wish to approach the town council with a serious commitment.”
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