Agenda item

Questions by Members of the Council

Two valid questions on notice have been received for a response at this meeting.



1.            Question to the Elected Mayor by Councillor Linda Arkley


Is the Elected Mayor looking at the high levels of Anti-Social Behaviour in Cullercoats? As a matter of urgency will she meet with me to discuss the steps to be taken, to ensure the safety of residents and visitors?


Councillor Elected Mayor responded on behalf of the Elected Mayor as follows:


I am totally committed to keeping our residents and visitors safe and I take the issue of ASB very seriously, working closely with colleagues in Northumbria Police and also with the PCC, Kim McGuiness.


In 2019 following reports of ASB on Cullercoats Bay and a review of how we manage our public open spaces, a joint approach with Northumbria Police was agreed and “Operation Coast Watch” became our annual plan for tackling ASB and associated environment issues such as littering.


Operation Coast Watch runs from spring through to the autumn, is a 7-day week operation, and is flexible depending on the weather forecast, we jointly review this according to what is happened and allows for extra resource and patrols in our high footfall areas when the weather is warm.


Then we activate and increase patrols. Police colleagues work jointly with our community protection team to patrol the open public spaces in the borough.

They share the resource and plan individual operations depending upon need, intelligence and over the summer the engage with the residents and visitors and are on hand to respond quickly to anti-social behaviour. Police officers have the power to issue dispersal orders to those engaged in anti-social behaviour.


Both the Council’s Community protection team and police officers can issue fixed penalty notices on the spot for any irresponsible use of alcohol in our public open spaces including beaches and issues around environmental crime such as littering.


As part of Operations Coast Watch in the joint work with the PCC, we work closely with Nexus focussing on the Metro stations at the coast the coast including Cullercoats metro stations where the multi-agency teams are deployed to address ASB and also tackle underage alcohol use.


A new additional mobile and fixed CCTV monitoring is now a key part of the Coast Watch approach together with the joint work with the local community group Cullercoats Collective. They share their intelligence around large groups gathering, share the use of illegal substances, underage alcohol consumption and littering.


This collaboration working with them and taking this approach to tackle anti-social behaviour and environmental crime has made a difference.



Officers met with the Cullercoats Collective in February 2022 to begin planning the approach to the summer. The community group was pleased with how the operation ran in 2021 and have committed to providing support during this summer period. 


Working together has worked, collectively both Northumbria Police and the Community Protection Team have seen a reduction in reported anti-social behaviour incidents over the last three summer periods and these have been attributed to a combination of increased visibility and quick enforcement action.


The most recent figures have shown a 42% decrease in reported incidents in 2021 compared to 2022 and 32% decrease in 2019.


We have clear evidence that this approach works, and I know that Council officers have very recently offered to meet with you to discuss the work we are doing in your ward and the impact it is having.  I have also asked my Cabinet Lead Member for Community Safety, Cllr Carole Burdis to meet with you and the other Ward Members, including officers to discuss these issues further and I will also attend.


Councillor L Arkley asked the following supplementary question:


We recognise that there are some outstanding issues and residents have requested if there is any further funding available to be used to increase patrols to tackle the issue in this area


Councillor Elected Mayor responded as follows:


I can assure you all considerations will discussed to what additional resources are available at the meeting when arranged.


2.            Question to the Elected Mayor by Councillor George Westwater


Anti-Social Behaviour seems to be an increasing problem across the Borough.  Can the Elected Mayor confirm that all possible steps are being taken, working with other public bodies, to combat the problem and what new measures are being implemented?


Councillor C Johnson responded on behalf of the Elected Mayor as follows:


As the Elected members I know how important it is to tackle the issues of ASB for our residents, our communities, our visitors and our businesses across the borough. This issue is a priority for the Council working closely with our PCC, Kim McGuiness and Police colleagues.


There has been an increase in ASB in our public spaces since early spring this year, but this is a national trend and it’s not just an isolated issue within North Tyneside.


We responded immediately and our Community Protection Team and Police colleagues were very proactive, working closely to share intelligence and develop joint operational plans.


50% of our Community Protection resource is focussed on reducing ASB and additional staff have also been recruited to increase visibility and to have a wider presence during the spring and summer months. The team deliver a 7-day week service from 6am until 9pm and include community protection officers, environmental enforcement wardens and marshals. . New and additional mobile and fixed CCTV is also in place providing essential surveillance and enabling early intervention.


Together with the Police we have RAG rated, 52 open public spaces across the borough and have an action plan for each. This has helped to identify hotspot areas including but not limited to those on the coast and has assisted with our co-ordinated approach.


We have a range of different measures in place to tackle anti-social behaviour including Coast Watch, the award-winning project VITA which has funding for a further year to engage young people and offer diversionary activities. Operational respect takes prompt joint action with the police to stop issues escalating as well as using police powers to disperse large groups and arrest offenders.


In addition to this proactive joint action with police colleague in April the Elected Mayor asked the Deputy Mayor and me as Cabinet Lead for Community Safety to establish a North Tyneside Anti-social Behaviour Task Force that works with the senior leadership team, the Chief Superintendent Mark Hall and Superintendent Sam Rennison. The purpose of the task group is to ensure that we have a joined-up approach to tackling anti-social behaviour and associated crime across the borough, aligned with the priorities of the PCC Kim McGuinness and in a way that builds public confidence. This approach will help develop a shared understanding of the issues and inform practical action and to focus on the areas with the highest prevalence of anti-social behaviour including the coast. I do stress this isn’t just the coast, there are pockets everywhere, the public transport system and our open spaces.


The Task Force had its first meeting in June. It was well supported by a range of partners including the office of the PCC, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue, Northumbria Police, the Business Forum, secondary schools, Nexus, the Youth Justice Service and the Young Mayor. There are four elected Members are also part of the task force and the key priorities emerge from that first meeting and the taskforce will continue to meet every four to six weeks to review its effectiveness of the joint actions.


Councillor G Westwater asked the following supplementary question:


As a member of the anti-social behaviour group, I was a little concerned with Nexus decision not to renew the CCTV monitoring contract for metro stations within the borough, with no arrangement to be in place. Can you inform Council when we will have a reliable CCTV surveillance again and how the Council failed to ensure a seamless move to the new arrangements?


Councillor C Burdis asked C Johnson to respond in his capacity of the Chair of the Joint Transport Committee as follows:


It was a very great concern to me as well. I can confirm there is CCTV across the whole network in North Tyneside. The issue is accessing the CCTV live. Following the meeting I immediately met with Martin Kearney to ensure we get live access very soon.

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