Last Friday (12th January), Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Shelford visited Weston-super-Mare AFC, elected leaders in the area and in North Somerset, to understand policing and crime concerns as part of his weekly Friday Engagement visits.
The PCC started the day at a breakfast meeting with Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset.
From this meeting in Minehead, the PCC visited Optima Stadium where he met with Weston-super-Mare Association Football Club representatives, Neil Bassom Club Secretary, Ed Bliss, Director and Head
of Match Day Operations, and Alex Crowther, Director of Commutations.
Discussions centred around policing and safety issues during football matches. And how the club engages with the community through sport, in particular football, to bring communities together, especially young people. Mr Blossom says the club’s fan base has increased to about 900 during match days and that they have a good working relationship with the police.
Mr Alex Crowther, the Club’s Director of Communications says in 2012 the Club set up The Sports Active Seagulls Community Trust to engage with its surrounding community of Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset through the provision of sport, in particular football. They currently provide opportunities throughout Weston-super-Mare offering services such as a Youth Club, In school sessions, after school sessions, a development centre, holiday courses, work experience and run street game sessions working alongside North Somerset Council. The club is also exploring ways to expand its range of services and activities.
From the Optima Stadium, the PCC went to Weston-super-Mare high street where he met with John Penrose MP. The local Neighbourhood Police Team Sergeant Lee Kerslake also joined them. They discussed local crime issues around shoplifting, anti-social behaviour, county lines, safety issues, and how the police are working together with the community to address local concerns.
Following this, the PCC met with the Mayor of Weston-super-Mare Councillor Ciaran Cronnelly. As raised by the MP, the Mayor also expressed that Weston-super-Mare residents were concerned about safety and the increase of ASB in the town centre. Another issue of concern was cyber crime and how to protect the elderly. They discussed ways for the community to collaborate with the police to address the challenges. The PCC responded saying it was pleasing to hear police officers provide regular updates to Council meetings.
The PCC finished the day with a visit to North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox’ s constituency office in Tickenham where they discussed recent criminal incidents of theft and burglary.
Commenting on the visits, the PCC Mark Shelford said: “I was pleased to hear how local organisations, and people in our local communities make enormous efforts to work together to tackle local issues and support people. I have heard and listened to all concerns raised, and together, with our partners, we can work to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and keep communities safe.”