TACKLING crime and antisocial behaviour in trouble hotspots is key to ‘levelling up' Clacton, a think-tank claims.

Right-leaning think-tank Onward has highlighted neighbourhood crime as a major concern in five communities in England and Wales as part of a report published last week.

The study, which looked at Clacton, Oldham, South Tyneside, Walsall and Barry, said dealing with antisocial behaviour should be a priority in helping “left-behind” areas.

The report said in Clacton, poverty was concentrated in clusters of streets with poor housing stock and among elderly residents with little family support, both placing high pressure on public services.

“Local leaders face an uphill battle,” it added.

“They are underpowered, with decisions taken too often in Whitehall instead of by communities and councillors.

“In Clacton, groups of men drinking around the fountain in the town square drove away both residents and potential visitors.”

It added that residents felt “powerless” over the issue.

Data in the report revealed public order offences are 4.4 times higher in the area around Clacton today than they were in 2015, compared to just 2.5 times nationally.

Onward called on local authorities to focus on policing trouble hotspots.

The report added the decline of domestic tourism in Clacton has had a profound impact on the local economy and that there is a struggling private sector generating too few jobs while schools are underperforming.

The report said that the need for community support to tackle deprivation was particularly acute in Jaywick but that the lack of a local economic strategy was a barrier to progress in the town centre, although residents resented the amount of care that went into the seafront for visitors when residential areas a few roads away looked "far less pristine".

But it added that Clacton has “enormous potential to deliver on levelling up goals”.

This report said policymakers in Clacton should focus on strengthening the economy by taking a “hyper-local approach”, improving public services by prioritising securing investment in education and teacher transfers, as well as restoring a sense of community.

“Neighbourhood police forces could adopt a hotspot policing effort to tackle antisocial behaviour and other low-level crimes,” it added.

“Local leaders could also make greater use of Section 215 notices to deal with eyesores and revitalise the high street.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Clacton town centreClacton town centre (Image: Newsquest)

TENDRING Council’s leader Neil Stock said the authority will be looking at the findings and recommendations in detail.

He added: “The report picks up on many themes we have consistently raised in the past – such as the impact poor transport links can have and the connections between health, education, housing and economic opportunities – and it also recognises the good work we are doing, with partners, to tackle such issues.

“Indeed, we – with our partners – have many initiatives already in place which exactly address the challenges identified.

“It also highlights what we have said right from the introduction of Levelling Up; that this programme cannot be simply about a North/South divide, but must work to support all areas which risk falling behind, including coastal communities which have well-documented challenges.

“We will continue to make that case to ministers and officials in Whitehall.

“What was disappointing to read is the perception that things which happened decades ago are still tainting people’s perceptions of the fantastic work which is happening - and I would encourage people to work with us and be positive about our opportunities in order to maximise them.

“It is also sad to read people’s attitudes towards ‘the council’ for many things which are beyond our powers - this strengthens the importance of our work with partners who can impact these issues, and to seek further powers from government through devolution.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Hot spot policing is successful and is already happening across the county including Clacton and Jaywick, with levels of ASB falling.

"In Tendring ASB has fallen by 23.8 per cent in the past 12 months thanks to proactive and targeted policing operations.

"Essex Police is the largest and strongest it has ever been and officers are working really hard in their communities, being visible and preventing crime from happening.”

He added: “It is encouraging to see a leading think tank catching up with our local thinking and actions.

"I’m pleased that our hotspot policing pilot has not only been picked up by them but also the Home Office and is being rolled out across the country with the support of Operation Grip funding.”